High-Calorie and High-Carb Diet Could Slow ALS Progression

Club Sandwich with French FriesFor individuals with ALS, adopting a diet high in carbohydrates and calories could slow the progression of the fatal neurodegenerative disease, suggests a new study recently published in journal The Lancet.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. ALS is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease with few treatment options. The disease affects approximately 30,000 people in the United States alone.

The majority of patients with ALS have difficulties eating and swallowing due to muscle weakness and atrophy. However, recent research using rodent models discovered that mildly obese mice with ALS tend to live longer and that mice with an ALS-causing gene lived longer when fed a diet high in calories and fat.

To assess the effects of high-calorie diets on humans with ALS, the researchers in the present study analyzed 20 patients with advanced ALS who already had to be fed with percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes. The participants were divided into three groups. The first group was fed a high-carbohydrate/high-calorie diet, the second a high-fat/high-calorie diet, and the third a standard diet. The third group acted as a control group.

According to the study, patients in the in the high-carbohydrate/high-calorie groups experience fewer adverse event related to ALS compared to the control group (23 versus 42). The high-carb/high-calorie patients also experienced no serious adverse events including death while the control group experienced nine.

The patients in the high-carbohydrate/high-calorie groups additionally gained more weight per month compared to the control group.

Comments lead researchers Dr. Anne-Marie Wills of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts:

“Although the sample size was small, we are optimistic about these results, because they are consistent with previous studies in ALS mouse models that showed that hypercaloric diets improve survival. Not only could this type of nutritional intervention be a novel way to treat and slow down the progression of ALS, it might also be useful in other neurological diseases.”

Additional research is necessary, but a high-calorie/high-carbohydrate diet appears promising for patients with ALS.


Diet high in calories and carbs could slow ALS progression:
Hypercaloric enteral nutrition in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 2 trial:

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