These foods may lessen MS symptoms and boost gut health

A new study found eating certain foods to alter gut bacteria may lessen symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Researchers had observed that people with MS lack the strain of bacteria that breaks down isoflavones, a nutrient commonly found in foods such as soya and beans. They hypothesised that the absence of this bacteria may be connected to MS and its symptoms.

The researchers fed one group of mice with an MS-like condition a diet full of isoflavones, and another on a diet without any isoflavones. They found that eating isoflavones helped protect against disease. They then removed the strain of gut bacteria that metabolises isoflavones and found the diet with isoflavones was no able to protect against MS-like symptoms.

“This study suggests that an isoflavone diet may be protective so long as the isoflavone metabolizing gut bacteria are present in the intestines,” say the researchers. They said feeding isoflavones led to an increase of the bacteria that consume it – specifically the strains Adlercreutzia and Parabacteroides distasonis.

MS prevalence is significantly lower in countries such as Japan and China, where people eat a lot of isoflavones compared to the Western diet which has low isoflavone consumption.