The ketogenic diet has been very popular for weight loss, diabetes and managing conditions like epilepsy, but will it help MS?
Story at a glance
Various studies show that the MS patients following a ketogenic diet can benefit from:
- Improved mitochondrial function
- More energy
- Improved memory and motor function
- Reduced oxidative stress
- Less inflammation
- Higher levels of antioxidants
- Weight loss – decreased body fat and increased lean muscle mass
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate diet, rich in healthy fat and allows for a modest amount of protein. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to reach a state ketosis where the body uses ketones as a major source of energy instead of glucose. This diet is very helpful for weight loss but also for various health conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, autism and MS as it supports immune modulation because of a decrease in inflammation, which helps to protect our nerves.
The following guidelines are for educational purposes only. They are not intended to give specific advice. If you have health conditions or health concerns, it is important to work with a coach or practitioner to make sure that the dietary changes you make will not have a negative impact on your health. The keto diet is quite restrictive and so it’s important to follow it properly and it may not be the best diet for everyone. Achieving a state of ketosis depends on many factors including age, gender, activity level, metabolism, what you eat and your state of health.
The general recommended guidelines for the ketogenic diet are to get about 70-80% of the daily calories from fat, 5 -10% of the daily calories from carbohydrates and 20-25% of the daily calories from proteins. This diet is low in carbs, high in fat, but not high in protein. Eating large amounts of protein will be converted to sugar and cause the blood sugar levels to rise.
Eating unprocessed animal protein, healthy fats such as butter, ghee, extra-virgin organic olive oil, organic coconut oil and avocado oil are recommended. Some of the low carb vegetables include celery, zucchini, cucumbers and the leafy greens. Fruit are very limited to lemon juice, a small kiwi or a very small serving of berries. Nuts and seeds are also limited.
What is Ketoacidosis?
Excessive ketone bodies in the blood is a condition known as ketoacidosis which usually occurs in type 1 diabetes because they do not produce insulin, which would prevent the overproduction of ketones. In a few rare cases, ketoacidosis has occurred in people who were not diabetic if they ate a very low carbohydrate diet for a long period of time.
Multiple Sclerosis and the Keto Diet
Over 2.5 M people are living with MS. It is considered an inflammatory disease where nerves in the central nervous system (CNS) become damaged which results in disability. MS patients have lesions in their CNS which are visible on MRI imaging. It is speculated that MS is caused by a dysregulated immune system that attacks nerves in the CNS for no apparent reason. Mitochondrial disfunction is also present in MS. Researchers and neurologists still don’t know what causes MS and there is no cure. Disease modifying drugs are used to suppress parts of the immune system in an attempt to manage symptoms, but MS patients continue to experience a decline in their quality of life and ongoing disability. With standard of care, the prognosis for MS is bleak.
Keto diet for MS Research
Several studies have revealed that the keto diet offers benefits for all neurological disease, including MS.
Researchers have shown that when the body uses ketone bodies as a major source of fuel, several benefits are observed:
- Improved mitochondrial function
- Improved breakdown of neurotransmitters like glutamate and GABA
- More energy
- Decreased oxidative stress which is caused by chronic inflammation from dysbiosis – chronic infections.
Oxidative stress is involved in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and other chronic diseases.
Inflammation in chronic disease is caused by our immune system defending us from chronic infections and the toxins they produce, and thus it is the result of the immune system doing its job. But just as in a human war where damage can occur when our soldiers defend us from an enemy, so too is it true that we can experience pain, swelling, and other symptoms when our immune system is fighting significant infections. In this case, we must support our system and not suppress it.
MS Keto Diet Studies
- A 1997 study compared MS patients with healthy controls and found there was an inverse correlation between the degree of fatigue and the amount of glucose metabolism in the brain. MS patients who restricted glucose in their diet had more energy.
- A second study found that the makeup of microbes that live in the colon and neuropathology were closely interrelated. The MS patients who followed the keto diet had significant reductions in the population and diversity of microbes in the colon. After being on the ketogenic diet for six months, they completely restored the microbial bio-fermentation mass.
- A third study found that relapsing remitting MS patients who followed a keto diet, experienced a decrease in a specific enzyme involved in the production of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules, thus supporting immune modulation as inflammation was decreased.
- A forth study found that ketone bodies can improve motor function, as a result of their neuroprotective properties. The ketogenic diet also has a satiating effect and a weight loss effect with an increase in lean mass and a decrease in fat mass. The keto diet also lowers levels of oxidative stress and inflammation.
- A 2020 Study in PharmacologyOnLine stated, “In conclusion, we can assert that KD [keto diet] significantly decreases brain inflammation and reverses both memory dysfunction and motor impairment. There are many evidences that metabolic substrates (and certain hormones) can reduce inflammatory responses, and as a consequence, provide both structural and functional neuroprotective effects. This type of diet may represent a therapeutic alternative. Patients with MS may readily benefit from this non-pharmacological treatment option.”
The greatest health benefit for someone who has MS and is following a keto diet, is that this diet has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Because MS is an inflammatory disease, this benefit is very important.
The ketogenic diet is a great start … but can you do more to experience more symptom improvements?
It is important to first determine your goal. Are you aiming to have some symptom improvement or regain your health and get back to doing all the things you love to do?
If you truly want to recover from multiple sclerosis or other diseases, the keto diet is a start. But it won’t give you the level of health you want.
The very best diet requires that you first understand what is causing your symptoms. I have shared lots of current research that shows that MS and other chronic diseases are caused by infections – we are in a state of dysbiosis. We have too many disease-causing microbes and not enough health promoting microbes.
In a disease state, it is important to greatly reduce the food to the infections that are causing our symptoms. Carbohydrates are the favourite food for most disease-causing microbes and as we restrict the carbs, we notice a significant decrease in inflammation and wonderful symptom improvements.
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over 30 years ago and I have been able to live MS free since that time because I focussed on treating chronic infections using a holistic approach. I’ve also had the wonderful privilege to coach hundreds of Wellness Champions in their recovery.
And a key discovery that I have made is that the best diet for recovering from MS and other chronic diseases is the one that provides nutrition to the body but also supports immune modulation. It’s very important to decrease the food to the infections that are causing our symptoms, but we should also avoid foods that our body reacts negatively to. We must consider food sensitivities and how our body reacts to oxalates, lectins, glutamate and other substances. For example, people who suffer from chronic disease do not tolerate dairy products and therefore it is very important to avoid all dairy products except for ghee and possibly butter. The keto diet allows for dairy products.
The Live Disease Free diet takes into account the health of the individual and their level of inflammation. It also considers that people diagnosed with MS and chronic disease often have a leaky gut and a leaky brain. This diet is focused on reducing inflammation and is not concerned about reaching or maintaining ketosis. It is less restrictive and helps the individual to follow a low carb diet that gives them the greatest symptom improvement, with the goal of preparing them to treat the infections that are causing the disease. The Live Disease Free diet is the first step to recovery, but it will not treat the infections. For the greatest degree of recovery, the infections that are causing the disease must also be treated.
Real MS Solutions for Today!
If you’re frustrated with the fact that our standard of care STILL doesn’t offer a real solution for treating MS, then click on the link below to watch my free masterclass training and discover REAL solutions that have allow myself and many others to live free from MS symptoms.
Clinically diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 28, Pam chose an alternative approach to recovery. Now decades later and still symptom free, she coaches others on how to treat the root cause of chronic disease, using a holistic approach. She can teach you how, too.
Pam is the author of Become a Wellness Champion and founder of Live Disease Free. She is a wellness expert, coach and speaker.
The Live Disease Free Academy has helped hundreds of Wellness Champions in over 15 countries take charge of their health and experience profound improvements in their life.