A study by researchers at Yale University has found that the abnormal immune system response that causes multiple sclerosis can be triggered by a lack of a specific fatty acid in fat tissue.
Multiple sclerosis is characterized by attacking and damaging the central nervous system, which the researchers found could be treated with a change in diet that helps some people with this autoimmune disease.
According to the study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, fatty tissue in patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis lacks normal levels of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid found in high levels in avocado and other foods such as meats, cheese, nuts, sunflower seeds, eggs, pasta, milk, olives and others.
The lack of these fatty acids results in a loss of metabolic sensors that activate T cells that mediate the immune system’s response to infectious diseases, including attacks on healthy cells of the central nervous system, according to the researchers.
“We have known for some time that both genetics and the environment play a role in the development of multiple sclerosis. This paper suggests that one of the environmental factors involved is diet”the study authors explain.
Loss of vision, pain, lack of coordination and other debilitating symptoms are signs of multiple sclerosis, however, researchers believe that more studies are needed to determine if and to what extent a diet rich in oleic acid can help patients with this disease.