WHY IS A KETO DIET BENEFICIAL TO PEOPLE WITH MS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) consists of more than lesions; one of the main driving factors in MS is silent inflammation. Neurologists focus on lesions to help diagnose the disease. Accordingly they are often the main topic in MS circles. Invariably however silent inflammation is what is causing the biggest problems behind the scenes!
On the website the of The MS Society of Canada the correlation between inflammation and MS Lesions is discussed: “Lesions form as a result of inflammation, which occurs when white blood cells and fluid build up around blood vessels. This inflammation damages the myelin and the axons. Wherever tissue is destroyed, a lesion forms and a gradual build-up of scar tissue occurs.”
PROCESSED SUGAR AND INFLAMMATION
Processed sugars trigger the release of cytokines, which cause inflammation. In 2017 a study conducted at the University of California San Francisco found that reduced glucose metabolism activated a protein called CtBP. This protein suppresses the activity of inflammatory genes. Lead researcher Raymond Swanson, MD, stated: “I was most surprised by the magnitude of this effect because I thought Ketogenic diets might help just a little bit. But when we got these big effects… I thought wow, there’s really something here.”
On a keto diet, the body adapts to metabolizing non-glucose fuels. This eliminates or removes many of the typical sources of chronic inflammation caused by foods . This decreases the chances of inflammation-based illnesses and pain. Interestingly it also slows the process of aging! The results of a 2015 trial in Germany suggest that people with MS can improve their quality of life by sticking to a Ketogenic diet. The researchers note that the ketogenic diet appears to have the potential to treat the Neurodegenerative component of MS.
THE KETO DIET BENEFITS THE BODY AT THE CELLULAR LEVEL
The Ketogenic diet appears to benefit the body at the cellular level. It increases the amount of food available to the cells. This reduces oxidative stress, while increasing antioxidant levels in the blood. The combined effect may help protect the nerve and brain cells, which could potentially slow Neurodegeneration.
INCREASES IN MITOCHONDRIAL DENSITY
One of the key attributes of the Ketogenic diet in terms of benefiting the body at a cellular level, is that it increases Mitochondrial density within the body. Mitochondria are small little organelles that act like the power plants of the cells. Mitochondria act as the cell’s powerhouse. New research shows that they also perform many essential cellular functions. These extend far beyond energy production within the human body. They convert calories from food, heat from the sun and oxygen into energy, specifically the molecule Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP’s are essential for maintaining energy levels, but they’re also vital for preserving brain cells, keeping yourself more youthful and increasing your life span.
NEURO PROTECTIVE QUALITIES OF THE KETO DIET
In addition to this there is growing experimental evidence for the broad Neuro-protective properties of the Keto Diet. Signalling pathways within the mitochondria offer protection. In recent years, the field of Neuro-metabolism has been greatly amplified by interest in dietary treatments such as the Ketogenic diet. Interest has been prompted by the recognition that bio-energetic failure may be a critical factor in diseases of the nervous system such as MS. Evidently there is increasing appreciation for the concept of energy failure, principally from mitochondrial dysfunction. It would appear that this results in neuronal death as observed in Neuro-degenerative diseases. What that means is that the capability of a nerve cell to make fuel for itself is enhanced when the body is in ketosis. Similarly the Ketogenic diet is an effective treatment against Multiple Sclerosis, because dysfunctional energy creation pathways, are at the root of most diseases.
There are many excellent articles available on line that explain the neuro-protective qualities of a Keto diet. If you are happy to wade through the medical terms here is a particularly good one: