Adherence to a ketogenic diet for 6 months decreased body fat, inflammation, fatigue, depression, and disability in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to preliminary study findings revealed in a press release by the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers enrolled 65 individuals with relapsing-remitting MS into their study during which 83% of the participants fully adhered to a high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet for 6 months. Daily urinalysis was evaluated for the presence of ketones to confirm diet adherence.

“A ketogenic diet helps lower blood sugar levels in people with type II diabetes and improves seizure control in people with epilepsy. However, it has not been well-studied in people with MS,” Nicholas Brenton, MD, said. “Our study explored whether eating a ketogenic diet is safe, tolerable, and beneficial for people living with MS.”

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The patients completed surveys and measurements 3 times—at study onset, and again at 3 and 6 months. Surveys assessed the quality of life by analyzing physical and mental health scores, especially for fatigue and depression. Physical tests included laboratory analysis of blood samples for inflammatory biomarkers, body fat percentage, the 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT), and a test measuring MS disease progression.

Average physical health scores improved from 67 to 79, while average mental health scores rose from 71 to 82 at study completion. Fatigue and depression scores declined as did inflammatory biomarker levels in the blood.

Distance walked on the 6MWT increased from an average of 1631 ft to an average of 1733 ft by the end of the study. The average score on the MS disease progression test decreased from 2.3 to 1.9, reflecting reduced disability of participants after the 6-month ketogenic diet.

“Our study provides evidence that a ketogenic diet may indeed be safe and beneficial, reducing some symptoms for people with MS,” Dr. Brenton said. However, he emphasized the associated risks and importance of routine monitoring by medical professionals while on a ketogenic diet, encouraging “that people with MS consult with their doctor before making any big changes to their diet.”


Ketogenic diet may reduce disability, improve quality of life in people with MS. News release. American Academy of Neurology; March 1, 2022.