The things we eat and certain lifestyle habits we adopt can affect our well-being in ways that we’re just beginning to figure out. Still, we do know that making certain modifications to our diet and exercise routines can offer a whole host of benefits. Take, for instance, making the switch to a plant-based diet, which can do a ton of great things for your body. Now, researchers may have unveiled another advantage to eating plant foods. As it turns out, eating lots of plant-based foods could help fight the symptoms of diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS).
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, found that eating more isoflavone—a compound found in many of the foods common in plant-based diets—could help protect against the neurological condition.
“Our study suggests that isoflavones help in suppressing MS-like diseases by calming down our immune system,” the study’s lead author, Ashutosh Mangalam, Ph.D., associate professor of pathology at the University of Iowa, told Eat This, Not That! in an interview. Though he says a healthy gut microbiome is critical to this process, as certain bacteria are required to break down and metabolize isoflavones.
The study, which included mice, found that diet could have a significant effect on the progression of MS and on the symptoms exhibited. Foods rich in isoflavones potentially yielding b health outcomes. The question is, which foods contain the highest concentration of this helpful compound?
“Good sources of isoflavones are legumes such as soybean and chickpeas, nuts such as pistachios and peanuts, and fruits such as currants and raisins,” says Mangalam, adding that soybeans are the richest source of isoflavones.
While this research is promising, there are also lifestyle changes that could help protect against the disease that have already been tested in greater detail. Anthony Reder, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Chicago suggests that following a Mediterranean-style diet, getting out in the sun, and engaging in moderate physical activity regularly may help to prevent MS. And while we may know that smoking and inactivity can send the “number of attacks and rate of progression” skyrocketing, there is no be-all and end-all cure—at least not yet. “We await the perfect probiotic,” says Reder.
For more on dietary changes that could help improve your health, be sure to check out these expert-recommended Foods To Eat and Avoid If You Have an Autoimmune Disease.