Diet May Slow Lou Gehrig's Disease
Researchers Tested Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet on Mice
WebMD News Archive
April 21, 2006 -- Tests on mice link a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet to
slower progression of Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
ALS is often called Lou Gehrig's disease, after the famed baseball player
who died with the condition in 1941. ALS, currently incurable, is a
progressive, degenerative neurological disorder.
In ALS the nerve cells, called motor neurons, of the brain and spinal cord
that control voluntary muscle movement gradually deteriorate, for reasons not
yet understood. As a result, muscles waste away, leading to paralysis and
death, usually in two to five years.
The new ALS study only included mice, not people. The report, published
online in BMC Neuroscience, doesn't make any dietary recommendations
for people with ALS.
About the Study
The researchers included Giulio Pasinetti, MD, PhD, of the Neuroinflammation
Research Laboratories at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Pasinetti and colleagues studied two groups of male mice with ALS. The
researchers fed one group of mice a standard diet. The other group of mice got
a diet that was higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates.
The special diet was designed to force the mice to break down fat for
energy. During the process of breaking down that fat, the body makes substances
The mice on the high-fat, low-carb diet gained more weight, had over 3.5
times higher levels of ketones in their bloodstream, and had a slower worsening
of muscular motor function.
Motor function was measured by the length of time that the mice could run on
a treadmill in their cages.
The mice on the special diet also had more motor neurons in the spinal cord
than the other mice.
However, survival was similar between the two groups, the researchers