NASHVILLE—Adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet may be associated with less severe depressive and cognitive impairment symptoms among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study presented at the 2018 CMSC Annual Meeting.
Symptoms of depression, fatigue, and cognitive impairment are common among people with MS and adversely affect quality of life. In the general population, adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet has been associated with improvements in mood, fatigue, and cognitive impairment. It unknown, however, if similar associations exist in the MS population.
To study this question, Leah Mische, a medical student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues assessed the associations between adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet and self-reported symptoms of depression, fatigue, and cognitive impairment in patients with MS.
Thirty-four patients with MS completed a 24-hour dietary recall. Researchers used the responses to quantify patients’ adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet using a validated scoring approach that incorporates high intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, polyunsaturated fat, and nuts and legumes, low intakes of red and processed meats, and moderate alcohol consumption.
Patients with a greater than median intake of each food group received 1 point. Scores for red and processed meats (where lower intakes are desired) were reversed, and those with moderate alcohol consumption also received 1 point.
The investigators obtained overall Mediterranean diet scores, which ranged from 0 (poor diet quality) to 8 (high diet quality), by summing up individual food group points. In addition, participants provided information about depression, fatigue, and cognitive impairment symptoms by completing Neuro-Quality of Life subscales. Finally, the researchers assessed the association between Mediterranean diet scores and Neuro-Quality of Life subscales using Spearman correlations and linear regression models adjusted for age and sex.
The mean age of participants was 44.6, and 67% were female. Higher Mediterranean diet scores were associated with less severe depressive and cognitive impairment symptoms. In addition, patients in the top tertile of Mediterranean diet scores had a significantly lower average depressive symptoms score, compared with those in the bottom tertile (mean difference, 4.1). Mediterranean diet scores were not associated with fatigue severity.
“Interventional studies are needed to determine the directionality of this relationship,” Ms. Mische and colleagues concluded.