Multiple Sclerosis and the Ketogenic Diet

Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.) is a common inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. In this disease, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath (the protective outer layering that covers nerves).

Decreased myelin sheath leads to disrupted neuron signaling and communication deficiencies between the brain and the rest of the body. There is no cure for M.S., but nutritional therapies have been shown to decrease disease progression and improve the overall quality of life.

Since M.S. is an inflammatory disease, and the ketogenic diet has been shown to improve inflammatory markers, the hypothesis is that patients with M.S. who follow a ketogenic diet will experience reductions in inflammation and thus reduce symptoms.

Additionally, increases in pro-inflammatory cytokines (specifically IL-17) have been observed in M.S. patients, which has been shown to cause insulin resistance and impaired glucose metabolism. Furthermore, cerebral glucose hypometabolism (decreased glucose metabolism in the brain) has been observed in M.S. patients due to neuronal mitochondrial dysfunction.

Moreover, changes in the gut microbiome have been linked to autoimmune conditions like M.S. but, both the ketogenic diet and fasting have been shown to improve gut microbiota diversity. Since the ketogenic diet has been shown to reduce inflammation, produce ketone bodies that function as antioxidants, improve gut microbiome diversity, and improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, researchers hypothesized that the ketogenic diet may act as a potent nutritional therapy for multiple sclerosis.