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High Dietary Salt Intake Negatively Affects MS Symptoms

Update Date: Aug 28, 2014 06:30 PM EDT

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is disease that affects the connections in the central nervous system, which include the brain and the spinal cord. People with MS might suffer from symptoms, such as partial paralysis and balance problems. There is currently no cure for the disease, but researchers have been identifying risk factors that might exacerbate the condition. In a new study, researchers found that high dietary salt intake could worsen symptoms for MS patients.

For this study, the researchers recruited 70 people who had relapsing-remitting MS. They collected urine samples at three different occasions within the time span of nine months. The team measured changes in levels of dietary salt intake, creatinine, which is a marker of inflammation and vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels have been tied to MS. The patient's neurological health was monitored from 2010 to 2012. The researchers added one more group of patients for comparison. This group included 52 patients with relapsing-remitting MS who provided urine samples between June and July of 2013.

Overall, in both groups, the average dietary salt intake was a little bit over four grams per day. Men tended to have higher levels than women. The levels ranged from less than two grams to more than 4.8 grams per day. Levels greater than 4.8 were considered high.

The researchers examined the link between salt intake and MS symptoms. They found that when salt intake increased, MS symptoms worsened. People who had the highest levels of salt had roughly three more episodes and were four times more likely to experience these episodes in comparison to people who had the lowest levels of salt.

The team then took x-rays and brain scans to analyze brain health. They found evidence that people who consumed more salt had further deterioration. People with the highest levels were around 3.5 times more likely to have test results that showed signs of progression.

The researchers stated that their study was purely observational and they did not conclude a cause-and-effect relationship. However, since eating too much salt is not healthy in general, people who consume a lot of salt can benefit from reducing their intake.

The study, "Sodium intake is associated with increased disease activity in multiple sclerosis," can be accessed here.

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