March is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Month, a time to get the word out about the causes, symptoms and treatments available for this debilitating autoimmune disease.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS occurs when damage to the myelin sheath of nerves interferes with the transmission of nerve signals between the brain and spinal cord and other parts of the body. It can cause muscle weakness, exhaustion, blindness – even death.
Who Gets MS?
The progress of MS in individuals is unpredictable and usually strikes people between 20 and 50 years of age. Twice as many women as men get MS. Scientists believe that multiple factors – immunity, a person’s response to inflammation, environment and genetics – all play a role in a person’s predisposition to MS.
MS affects 2.5 million people worldwide, but little is known about what causes it. Scientists believe that MS is triggered when people who are genetically predisposed to MS encounter an as yet unknown environmental factor.
Research: MS and the Gut Microbiome
Research to study a possible link between MS and the gut microbiome provides interesting insights. Scientists have not only identified gut bacteria that may stimulate inflammation that favors MS, but also have identified probiotics that may help to fight MS.
For example, in a recent research study, scientists analyzed the microbiomes of 71 MS patients not undergoing treatment and 71 healthy controls to discover which gut bacteria would create an environment favorable to MS. Among their findings:
- Specific bacteria – Akkermansia muciniphila and Acinetobacter calcoaceticus – were found at significantly increased levels in patients with MS.
- Parabacteroides distasonis, which was reduced in MS patients, produced an anti-inflammatory response.
- Transferring gut bacteria from MS patients to mice produced an autoimmune inflammatory response.
In another study (*) to discover the effect of probiotics on the inflammatory response of MS patients, 60 people with MS took a placebo or the probiotics, L. acidophilus, casei, fermentum and bifidobacterium bifidum. After 12 weeks, compared to the placebo group, the probiotics group had less depression and anxiety. Those taking probiotics also saw lower levels of inflammation, oxidative stress, circulating insulin and insulin resistance, while the ability of the body to produce insulin improved. In addition, HDL, the “good” cholesterol, increased as a percentage of total cholesterol, improving lipid profiles.
* Reference: Clinical Nutrition Journal; 2016, August, 2016, Published Online
Yummy Yogurt Lassi
This quick, easy recipe is so refreshing, you’ll want to make it every day! And it’s one more way to get your probiotics.
I cup plain live-culture yogurt, not Greek style
1 cup mango or your favorite fruit juice
1/4 tsp cardamon powder
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
Directions: In a blender, pour the yogurt and juice and gently blend for a few seconds. Stop and add half the cardamon and half the pistachios. Blend for another few seconds. Pour into a large glass and top with remaining cardamon and pistachios. Enjoy immediately, or chill for 20 minutes for a cooler drink.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease.