Multiple sclerosis (MS) has been diagnosed in more than 400,000 Americans, with about 200 new cases identified each week.

The overwhelming approach in addressing MS is centered on drugs designed to alter the course of the disease once it has manifested. Fortunately, leading edge researchers around the globe are exploring other approaches, including modifiable lifestyle factors, that may be leveraged in a situation like MS, in which the immune system has became out of balance.

In this video blog, I review a study published by German researchers in which they manipulated the fatty acid availability in laboratory animals while they assessed various markers of immune regulation.

What these researchers discovered is that when short chain fatty acids were enhanced in the laboratory animal model of human MS, the immune markers that are typically out of balance were brought under control. When long chain fatty acids were accentuated, the immune markers worsened.

We make short chain fatty acids when our gut bacteria are provided fuel in the form of prebiotic fiber. So the take home message is that this research would indicate that it may be reasonable for MS patients to consider increasing their consumption of prebiotic foods as a method of achieving immune balance.

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  • TechnoTriticale

    re: When long chain fatty acids were accentuated, the immune markers worsened.

    The LCFA used here was palmitic acid, the major component of palm oil, often used in processed foods by inept “paleo” and low-carb brands. Wiki also tells us “Excess carbohydrates in the body are converted to palmitic acid.”

    So this study doesn’t seem to have anything specifically to say about LCFAs like DHA & EPA, which I would expect to have a beneficial role in neurological ailments.

  • AnnieV.

    Thanks for the link at the end, Dr. Perlmutter, to the foods that you are doing so well in encouraging us to eat!

  • Rebecca Cody

    I found the stories of several MS and other autoimmune disease sufferers reported on Dr McDougall’s website quite impressive. I’ve never known anybody else’s diet to turn these ailments around.

    • Darcy Gagnon

      Wahls Paleo Protocol, for me, has drastically improved my MS. McDougall made my MS spiral out of control, until I could barely move, gave up driving, needed a wheelchair, fell all the time, and rarely left my home. My attitude was great, but physically I felt like I was simply waiting to die. Now I am walking without any assistance, no more wheelchairs, I drive safely again, I shop for, and cook, all my delicious healing foods, I clean, I exercise, and my husband has his life back.
      So now you have heard of somebody else’s diet that is turning these ailments around. AIP is also helping many people.

      • Rebecca Cody

        Wow, Darcy! I’m so happy you found a diet that is helping you live normally. We are truly biological individuals, and, as the old saying goes, one man’s meat is another’s poison. You’re living proof.

        I think as we learn more about our DNA and how it affects bodily functions, as well as how to use epigenetics in our favor, it will help us pinpoint what will work best for individuals. I say that because I’m one who has seizures caused by aspartame. Since I figured that out I haven’t had either aspartame or any seizures. Eventually I found it is connected with a genetic polymorphism, MTHFR, which slows methylation dramatically, thus making detoxification through the liver very slow. We each have our own little, or big, quirks that bother us but not everybody.

      • David Parrish

        Ditto here. Tried a low fat diet and it just about killed me. Fatty fish, good fats, lower carbs (but continuing to eat good ones in moderation), and elimination of gluten have been good changes for me. An anti-imflammatory diet I believe has helped me recover and maintain mostly good health.

  • Marcus

    So, would it be reasonable to suggest that foods rich in long chain fatty acids may not be so great for folks with MS? Or is this all driven by gut bacteria with dietary fatty acids not playing such an important role?

    The original MS diets that have worked well for many folks are the super low saturated fat diets. A few strands of this remain and people tend to do better.

    The modern MS diets seem to originate from the ancestral diets and often promote foods rich in long chain fatty acids like coconut oil.

    Would be interesting to know your opinion on fatty acids in the diet and the impact this has on gut health and short / long chain fatty acids in the gut.

    • Bakunin

      I believe I read that coconut oil contains medium-chained fatty acids, am I wrong?

  • Mike Keyes

    we already know what causes m.s and how to get over m.s

    • David Parrish

      Mike Keyes, please share. As someone who has managed to do mostly well with ms despite very little help from conventional medicine and mostly by my own research, I would love to compare your opinion with mine. Terry Wahls, a clinical research doctor who has access to and understanding of scientific literature, went through quite an ordeal before finding her “cure”. I think she is definately onto something (and her research is what led me to Dr Perlmutter’s Grain Brain), but I don’t know that she would declare her approach a cure for all ms patients. Its a fairly wide ranging disease, with varying outcomes. It is hard to know if the outcomes differ because of environment, genetics, or both, though in my case diet seems to have made a great difference. I am thankful to Dr. Perlmutter and Terry Wahls for their insights.

      • Mike Keyes

        look me up on fb and send me a message and il give you some help . as im almost a nutritionist and building a website autoimmunediseaserecovery .com so will be charging fees .

        you have positioned your self . normally people do this with processed diet drinks and food .

        • Mildred Lage

          ALMOST a nutritionist, and you think you know the answers and will charge fees. Astounding.

          • Mike Keyes

            yes thats right im not the norm . these doctors have had 100 years to work it out . its easy .

  • Bonnie Jacobus

    Several people who have been poisoned by fluoroquinolone antibiotics displayed MS symptoms. Is there a definitive test other than symptoms since most of them actually didn’t have MS?

  • Christy Rheu

    The above youtube video “Multiple Sclerosis – Prebiotic Foods May Make a Huge Difference” didn’t have anything to do with prebiotic foods; they were trying to sell a supplement that contained asparagus and onion but also food Dr. Perlmutter says NOT to eat.
    I AM GREATLY DISAPPOINTED THIS KIND OF ADVERTISING IS ALLOWED Dr. Perlmutter’s website. It discredits his statements.