Following the calorie-restricted diet plan known as intermittent fasting may lead to positive metabolic changes among people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

In a study published in the journal eBioMedicine, researchers underlined some of the benefits of calorie restriction on MS disease course, what with the clinical trial leading to better outcomes among patients that follow intermittent fasting compared to a traditional weight loss diet.

The scientists behind the study found that diet could be an important factor in MS progression, potentially through “direct modulation of the immune system, via alterations to gut bacteria, or by changes to metabolism.”

In mouse studies, intermittent fasting led to a less aggressive MS disease course, helping ease the inflammation that advances the condition. Unfortunately, the effects of the diet on MS patients have not been thoroughly explored yet.

Researchers previously evaluated the effects of different calorie-restrictive diets in people with relapsing-remitting MS. They found that both intermittent fasting and a traditional calorie-restricted plan were safe for weight loss.

The team aimed to expand on these findings by analyzing how diets influenced metabolism and immune function. To do this, the researchers used blood samples collected at the start of the study and four and eight weeks.

The results showed that participants who followed the intermittent fasting plan showed significant changes in multiple types of immune T-cells central to the abnormal immune responses and inflammation in progressing MS.

However, no notable immune cell changes were observed among individuals who followed a weight-maintaining diet or daily calorie restriction.

Per the researchers, the findings suggest that metabolic and immune cell changes may interact to underlie the changes that can happen by following calorie-restricted diets in MS.

But the researchers noted that the new study only had a short duration.

“MS is a disease that evolves over decades, so it’s unclear whether what the long-term implications of our findings are. Future larger studies are needed to replicate our findings as well as disentangle the underlying mechanisms,” the researchers concluded.