Sweet hope for people with multiple sclerosis: Chemicals in chocolate shown to reduce fatigue

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(Natural News) Good news for chocolate lovers who are also suffering from multiple sclerosis: Researchers from Oxford Brookes University in the U.K. confirmed that flavonoids in cocoa help fight fatigue. These chemicals possess anti-inflammatory properties that may be especially beneficial for people with multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that affects nearly one million people in the U.S. and about 2.5 million people all over the world. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of MS and it can greatly affect a person’s quality of life. In their study, the researchers examined the effect of cocoa drink consumption on fatigue associated with MS.

The researchers recruited 40 people recently diagnosed with the relapsing-remitting form of MS and fatigue. They divided the participants into two groups: One group drank a cup of a flavonoid-rich drink made from rice milk and cocoa powder; while the other group received a low-flavonoid version of this drink. The participants drank their assigned drink every day for six weeks. They were also told to wait 30 minutes before taking any prescribed medication or eating or drinking anything else.

The researchers assessed the participants’ fatigue levels and their fatigability – a measurement of how long a person can maintain cognitive and physical performance before fatigue sets in. They did the assessments at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the study. The researchers also assessed the participants’ activity levels using a pedometer. Additionally, the participants rated their fatigue on a scale of 1 to 10, at 10 a.m., 3 p.m., and 8 p.m. daily.

Results showed that participants who drank the flavonoid-rich cocoa drink experienced a 45 percent improvement in fatigue compared with those who drank the low-flavonoid version. In addition, the high-flavonoid group was able to walk farther than those in the low-flavonoid group during a six-minute walking test.

Participants in the high-flavonoid group also reported feeling less pain. However, the researchers did not objectively measure this symptom.

Overall, the researchers concluded that the use of dietary interventions, such as flavonoid-rich cocoa, may be used to reduce fatigue and improve walking endurance in people suffering from MS. This is also an easy, safe, and cost-effective way to improve the lives of people with MS, allowing them to feel more in control of their condition.

“This work is still in its early stages, but with more data we very much hope to find a dietary approach that could help people with MS manage their symptoms, cheaply and safely, in the future,” said lead researcher Dr. Shelly Coe, senior lecturer in nutrition at Oxford Brookes University.

More ways to fight MS-related fatigue

If you’re living with MS, making simple lifestyle changes can help you manage and treat fatigue. These practices can help you keep a sense of consistency, increase your productivity, and budget your energy:

  • Stay cool – Heat can drain energy, so when your core body temperature rises, your MS fatigue worsens. Keep your body cool by keeping your home air-conditioned, having a mini fan on-hand, drinking cold water throughout the day, and seeking shade when outdoors. (Related: Multiple sclerosis can be mitigated by making healthy lifestyle changes.)
  • Take good care of yourself – If you’re overweight and out of shape, everything you do requires more energy. Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to help save energy and improve fatigue.
  • Take breaks – Don’t exhaust yourself. Learn how to pace yourself and when to take breaks during the day to help you save energy for more important things.

You don’t have to suffer from MS to enjoy the health benefits of eating chocolate. Visit Chocolate.news to learn more.

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