Salty Food Could Mean Increased Symptoms for MS Patients

Dietary sodium associated with worse symptoms and disease progression in MS patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) High-salt diets typically ring alarm bells because of their association with heart disease. A new study shows that salt intake may affect some patients' neurological health, too.

Researchers looked at the effect that dietary salt has on disease progression for multiple sclerosis, or MS, patients. They found that MS patients who consumed the most salt were more likely to have worse symptoms and more disease progression than other patients.

The researchers suggested that MS patients should consider controlling the salt in their diets to ease symptoms.

"Talk to a dietitian about ways to limit your salt intake."

Mauricio Farez, MD, of the Raúl Carrea Institute for Neurological Research in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and colleagues conducted the study.

MS is a progressive autoimmune disease that damages the nervous system. People with MS sometimes develop numbness or weakness, slurred speech and difficulty with daily tasks.

This study looked at whether salt intake affected MS disease activity.

The researchers recruited two groups of MS patients for the study.

The first group included 70 patients with MS who had gone through periods of symptom flare-ups followed by significant improvements. The researchers followed these patients for two years to track their disease activity.

The patients in the first group gave three urine samples over a period of nine months to measure their salt intake.

The second group included 52 MS patients with similar disease histories. The researchers took urine samples from these patients once to compare them to the first group.

They found that both groups consumed about 4 grams of salt per day.

Rates of exacerbation of symptoms in those who had medium or high salt intake were 2.75 times worse than in those with low salt intake.

When the researchers looked at X-rays of the patients, they found that those who ate the most salt were almost 3.5 times more likely than other patients to have more disease activity.

The authors of the study concluded that salt intake control may benefit patients with MS.

The study was published Aug. 28 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

The research was funded by the Raúl Carrea Institute for Neurological Research and grants from two pharmaceutical companies. Several researchers reported financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis and Questcor.

Review Date: 
August 28, 2014
Last Updated:
August 31, 2014