Could eating meat be linked to multiple sclerosis?

Those who eat meat may have a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) than those who don’t, a new study has concluded.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut looked at the diet, gut bacteria, immune systems and blood of 25 people with MS. A control group of 24 people without MS was used for comparison.

The study found that those who ate meat had less bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a type if gut bacteria that helps digest vegetables. Also, people in the study that had MS consumed more meat than people without, which led the researchers to suggest there may be a connection.

There was also found to be higher levels of an immune cell called T-helper 17, which helps other cells know what to attack.

Researchers theorised that in MS, something goes wrong in a person’s gut bacteria, causing it to disassociate from the immune system, which causes the body to act like it is under attack from infection. The body then increases the amount of T-helper 17, which could cause the damage that happens with MS.

The research team said they want to conduct more research and hope to eventually be able to understand the relationship between immune response, gut bacteria, and diet to hopefully help prevent MS and manage symptoms better.