The question whether dietary habits and lifestyle have influence on the course of multiple sclerosis (MS) is still a matter of debate, and at present, MS therapy is not associated with any information on diet and lifestyle. Here we show that dietary factors and lifestyle may exacerbate or ameliorate MS symptoms by modulating the inflammatory status of the disease both in relapsing-remitting MS and in primary-progressive MS. This is achieved by controlling both the metabolic and inflammatory pathways in the human cell and the composition of commensal gut microbiota. What increases inflammation are hypercaloric Western-style diets, characterized by high salt, animal fat, red meat, sugar-sweetened drinks, fried food, low fiber, and lack of physical exercise. The persistence of this type of diet upregulates the metabolism of human cells toward biosynthetic pathways including those of proinflammatory molecules and also leads to a dysbiotic gut microbiota, alteration of intestinal immunity, and low-grade systemic inflammation. Conversely, exercise and low-calorie diets based on the assumption of vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish, prebiotics, and probiotics act on nuclear receptors and enzymes that upregulate oxidative metabolism, downregulate the synthesis of proinflammatory molecules, and restore or maintain a healthy symbiotic gut microbiota. Now that we know the molecular mechanisms by which dietary factors and exercise affect the inflammatory status in MS, we can expect that a nutritional intervention with anti-inflammatory food and dietary supplements can alleviate possible side effects of immune-modulatory drugs and the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and thus favor patient wellness.
Keywords: complementary alternative medicine; gut microbiota; inflammation; lifestyle; multiple sclerosis; nutrition.
© The Author(s) 2015.