According to a new study, higher levels of good cholesterol, aka high-density lipoprotein (HDL), may improve fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The study investigated the effects of blood cholesterol on fatigue caused by multiple sclerosis. It showed that lowering total blood cholesterol levels helps reduce exhaustion.
Fatigue or tiredness is one of the most frequent and debilitating symptoms experienced by people with a history of multiple sclerosis, affecting their ability to work and quality of life. There are limited treatment options for fatigue caused by multiple sclerosis.
Prof. Murali Ramanathan of the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences said, “Fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis has been viewed as a complex and difficult clinical problem with contributions from disability, depression, and inflammation.”
The professor added, “Our study implicates lipids and fat metabolism in fatigue. This is a novel finding that may open doors to new approaches for treating fatigue.”
Previous studies have found that a healthy diet, exercise, stress reduction, along with neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) are effective at reducing fatigue in patients with MS. However, the studies did not find biological changes that led to such improvements.
The current study examined a few changes in the participants’ body mass index (BMI), calories, triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL (low-density lipoprotein).
The study researchers looked at a group of progressive MS patients who followed the Wahls diet, which was created by Terry Wahls, a clinical professor of internal medicine and neurology. The Wahls diet is rich in vegetables and fruits, and excludes eggs, dairy, and gluten. The diet also includes consumption of plant protein, meat, fish oil, and vitamin B.
The patients were also enrolled in a home-based exercise program, which included strength training and stretches, meditation, self-massage, and NMES to encourage muscle contraction and movement to manage or reduce stress.
The researchers, however, found that adherence to the Wahls diet was the primary factor linked to fatigue reduction. Ramanathan said, “Higher levels of HDL had the greatest impact on fatigue possibly because good cholesterol plays a critical role in muscle, stimulating glucose uptake and increasing respiration in cells to improve physical performance and muscle strength.”