Sticking to a low-fat, vegan diet may help people with multiple sclerosis fight fatigue, according to a new study presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.
The study, which began in 2008, is the first randomized-controlled trial to examine the effect of a low fat vegan diet on managing MS, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system.
Results showed that participants with MS who followed a plant-based diet for one year experienced significantly less fatigue than those who continued to eat meat, fish, and dairy products. The vegan diet tested in the study is based on the McDougall Diet, which was designed by Dr. Roy Swank—a neurologist at the Oregon Health & Sciences University—in the 1940s and 1950s to fight symptoms of MS, according to a press release accompanying the study.
“Fatigue can be a debilitating problem for many people living with relapsing-remitting MS,” said study author Dr. Vijayshree Yadav in a press release. “So this study’s results—showing some notable improvement in fatigue for people who follow this diet—are a hopeful hint of something that could help many people with MS.”
According to the National MS Society, fatigue occurs in about 80 percent of people with MS and may be the most prominent symptom that MS patients experience.