A study by Dutch researchers suggests that eating foods high in polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E could bring down the risk of developing motor neurone disease by 60 percent. Researchers from the University Medical Center in Utrecht in the Netherlands report their findings in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
The study tracked 132 patients who had potential or definite amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). All patients were asked about their diet before they fell ill. Particular attention was paid to polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. These results were compared with 220 healthy people after taking age, sex, energy intake, weight, and smoking into consideration. While the total energy intake in both groups was the same, patients with ALS ate less of polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E. An intake of 18 and 22 mg of the vitamin was associated with a 60 percent lower risk of developing ALS. "This study showed a higher premorbid [pre-illness] dietary intake of polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E was associated with a 50 to 60% decreased risk of developing ALS," wrote lead researcher Dr Jan Veldink. He added that it was not clear why these two components appeared to reduce the occurrence of the disease, but it was probably linked to a reduction in the cell damage and death as the disease progressed. Previous research had stressed on polyunsaturated fats being able to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids include the omega 3 found in some vegetable oils and omega 6 found in oily fish and green leafy vegetables. MND is a fatal condition that begins as a wasting of the muscles. It has been linked to genetic and environmental factors.