Intermittent fasting has been identified as an unconventional way to reduce Multiple Sclerosis-like symptoms, a study on mice by U.S. researchers has revealed.
Multiple Sclerosis is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord, also known as the central nervous system.
In the study, mice were either allowed to eat freely, or fed every other day for four weeks before receiving an immunization to trigger MS-like symptoms.
Both groups of mice were then continued on the same diets for another seven weeks.
According to researchers, the result showed that mice that fasted every day were less likely to develop signs of neurological damage, such as difficulty
walking, limb weakness and paralysis.
Though some of the mice that fasted developed MS-like symptoms, but they appeared later and were less severe than the mice that ate every day. The fasting mice also had better immune system.
“There are several possible ways fasting can affect inflammation and the immune response,” Laura Piccio, an associate Professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine said.
“One is by changing hormone levels. We found that levels of the anti-inflammatory hormone corticosterone were nearly twice as high in the fasting mice.”
The researchers also say after four weeks, the mice that fasted sheltered a more diverse ecosystem in their guts than the non-fasting group. Moreover, transferring gut bacteria from non-fasting mice to the fasting group made the recipients less susceptible
to developing MS-like symptoms. According to the study, the result suggests that something in the microbial community was protecting the mice.
Based on the study, which was published in June in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers at the University are now recruiting human patients with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis for a 12-week study.