Challenges With Tailoring Diets in Multiple Sclerosis: Laura Piccio, MD, PhD


The neurologist and physician scientist at Washington University in St. Louis provided insight on the general dieting strategies patients with multiple sclerosis should take as more information becomes available. [WATCH TIME: 6 minutes

WATCH TIME: 6 minutes

"You need a well-designed study to demonstrate that one diet is better, or more specific, for that particular disease. What we’re doing as a scientific community is increase the number of high-quality studies that could answer some of these questions."

Over the years, diet has become an increasingly important aspect to the management of multiple sclerosis (MS). Establishing and maintaining a healthy body weight has been associated with decreased risk for MS-related disability and disease activity. Additionally, diet affects the composition of the gut microbiome, which in turn has important effects on the immune system that may be relevant for MS. While there are several benefits that dieting brings, there is no definitive diet that has been specifically proven to be most optimal in changing the course of MS.

At the 2023 Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum, held February 23-25, in San Diego, California, a study presented by Laura Piccio, MD, PhD, assessed the effects of intermittent calorie restriction (iCR) in patients with MS. A cohort of 42 individuals with the disease were split into 2 groups: unrestricted diet, or iCR diet, with 2 of the 7 days of the week eating non-starchy vegetables that totaled 400-500 calories. The remaining 5 days were normal calorie intake. Patients were followed for 12 weeks, with data points evaluated at the 6- and 12-week marks.

In an interview with NeurologyLive®, Piccio stressed the increase in information on dietary strategies; however, noted that claims have been not supported by robust scientific evidence. Piccio, a neurologist and physician scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, provided perspective on her analysis, including the reasons for why she chose to observe this type of dietary strategy, as well as the clinical changes seen at the end of the trial. Additionally, she detailed some of the difficulties with individualizing dietary plans based on previously published data.

Click here for more coverage of ACTRIMS 2023.

1. Ghezzi L, Tosti V, Cantoni C, et al. Randomized clinical trial of intermittent calorie restriction in people with multiple sclerosis: effects on immunometabolic and cognitive measures. Presented at: 2023 ACTRIMS Forum; February 23-25; San Diego, CA. Cutting Edge Developments.
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