How much does our diet play a role in underlying health issues? In some cases, it might play an even larger part than we believe. As recently reported in Yale News, researchers from Yale University determined a potential link between fatty acids, and in particular, oleic acid, and multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is often considered to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks itself. However, this new study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggests that increasing oleic acid intake can ultimately benefit those with MS.
According to WebMD, oleic acid is:
an omega-9 fatty acid. Oleic acid is most commonly used for preventing heart disease and reducing cholesterol.
While oleic acid can be made in the body, it is often also found in avocados, sunflower seeds, cheese, nuts, eggs, pork, and milk, among others. When testing fatty tissue sourced from patients with MS, researchers determined that they had oleic acid deficiencies.
Without enough oleic acids, the body is unable to suppress T cells, which play a role in the immune system. Thus, as the immune system becomes overactive, it starts to attack healthy cells, causing MS-related symptoms. However, during the study, researchers found that an increase in oleic acids directly prompted an increase in T cell regulation.
Despite the promising results of the study, more research is needed to determine whether diet changes would be helpful for patients.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
While there is no known cause for multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurological and autoimmune disease which inhibits communication between the brain and the body, the condition is caused by the body mistakenly attacking itself. In this case, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath, or the protective covering of nerve cells. MS can be progressive, which means no remission, or relapsing and remitting, in which there are periods of symptoms interspersed with periods of remission. Typically, MS affects females at 2x the rate of males. Symptoms include:
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Depression and anxiety
- Vision, mobility, and thinking/planning difficulties
- Eye or back pain
- Heat intolerance
- Excessive urination, particularly at night
- Difficulty speaking