Researchers at McGill University in Canada have demonstrated a link between the amount of methionine in a diet and the development and progression of multiple sclerosis, having implications for not only MS but other auto-immune diseases.
Using the MS mouse model, EAE, the researchers restricted the amount of methionine in the diet of one group of EAE mice to compare with the control EAE mice who were not restricted in their methionine diet. They found that those mice on the restricted diet were less likely to develop MS as compared to the control mice, and those of the restricted diet who did develop MS did so later than those on the control diet.
Why is this important?
Methionine is an essential amino acid used by our bodies to build many proteins we need for everyday functioning. Methionine also plays an important role in the regulation of our immune system and the activity of T-cells. T-cells are a type of white blood cell known to attack our myelin, causing the damage that results in our symptoms. If you have high levels of methionine, it will increase the activity of the T-cells potentially resulting in more damage to the myelin. In theory, if you reduce the amount of methionine available in your body, it would reduce the activity of the T-cells, which would also reduce the amount of inflammation in our bodies, another important consideration not only in MS, but other auto-immune diseases.
There are, as always, important things to remember and consider when new research comes out. First, more research always needs to be completed, especially in human trials, but these results are still significant and promising. Second, if you’re loathe to rid animal products from your diet maybe try reducing the amount of meat you eat, after all the study restricted the amount of methionine, they didn’t remove it plus there are other benefits of reducing meat in your diet overall (decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke for a start). Lastly, methionine is an essential amino acid, that means our bodies can’t create it, or can’t create enough of it alone to sustain our need. This means we need it, but you can get it from non-animal sources, such as Brazil nuts, soy protein, oats, peanuts, chickpeas etc. It seems a varied plant-heavy diet should give you all that you need if you are considering dropping meat from your diet.
Diet is such a contentious topic when it comes to managing your multiple sclerosis, so much so that doctors are often hesitant to suggest one over another. There are plenty of diets out there claiming benefits for MS and as it’s your body and your disease, it’s your decision. This study definitely adds more food for thought.
Do you have a particular diet you follow? If so, why?