Swank diet discussion

A board to discuss various diet-centered approaches to treating or controlling Multiple Sclerosis, e.g., the Swank Diet

Postby Mamacita » Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:27 am

My husband and I are on the Best Bet Diet (He has MS, I don't), so it's a little different from Swank. And I know that technically potato chips are forbidden on Swank.

Personally, I try to remember that Swank was writing from a different nutritional era. The research he did and the stats he kept are amazing, and I'm really grateful. But the main point of the Swank diet, by my interpretation, is to drastically reduce your consumption of saturated fat.

I'm not quite buying his total ban on commercial potato chips. The Cape Cod brand of potato chips are only potatoes, salt, and canola oil. And canola oil has only 1g saturated fat per Tablespoon. In the era of hydrogenated oils that Swank was writing in, I'm not sure a potato chip like the Cape Cod chips even existed.

Anyway, before we found out my husband was sensitive to corn, we also used homemade popcorn (with canola oil and salt) and fritos to curb our snack cravings. There are also some good tortilla chips out there, some without any saturated fat, but you have to hunt for them. Try Madhouse Munchies tortilla chips. You can buy them off Amazon, if you can't find them locally. They're the best ones we found. Yum.

We also eat toasted pecans. I have a recipe for this that I posted on my blog that you can check out, if you want (http://multiplesclerosisrecipes.blogspot.com), but you can also just google for recipes. And we eat a lot of pistacios. You have to count fat with the nuts, but we can usually squeeze them in.

We also make homemade sweetpotato fries and regular french fries with canola oil. I posted instructions for those on my blog too. We love those.

As for sweets, my husband doesn't eat any sweet treats at all anymore. There is some strange sugar addiction that happens if you eat sweets at all, but if you give them up completely, you eventually adapt (or so he tells me...I still sneak sweets since I don't have MS). But, if you're not ready to go cold turkey, we loved Nana's lemon cookies. They're legume free, dairy free, gluten free, and they're sweetened with fruit sugar. They have about 20g sugar for the whole cookie (it's a big cookie), so they still pack a sugar punch. But as far as cookies go, they're pretty diet friendly. And the cookie is big enough to split into two servings. You can google for Nana's cookies to find places to buy online if you can't find them locally.

Good luck!
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regarding the Swank diet

Postby jazzcat » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:19 am

Hey, Mamacita,

Glad to hear you and your husband are having good results with the Best Bet diet. I am on the Swank diet and believe that his diet is a healthy one to prevent all sorts of ailments, including diabetes type II, which both of my parents have. I have MS and have had is since 1998, when I had Optic Neuritis. I had a relapse that affected my left leg and gave me my diagnosis in the summer of 03. I started the Swank diet the spring of that year, because I suspected an MS diagnosis and also because I thought the diet to be very healthy.

You can have products with "safe" oils but have to count the oils and fats. No hard fats. Then, through the consumption of cod liver oil and the consumption of fatty fish (2-3 times a week), we are creating optimum healthy fat/oil ratio to the unhealthy kind. Of course we avoid saturated fat (no more than 15 grams a day) and do not eat deep fried things and palm oil and hard fats.

The other key to the Swank diet is to take vitamin C and E, to help build vascular health. In MS something crosses over the blood brain barrier and the C and E are supposed to address this. The vitamin D in the cod liver oil should be noted as well. There appear to be links to lack of vitamin D and the development of MS in genetically susceptible individuals.

Anyway, I reviewed other diet info, including the Best Bet diet. After that, I decided to vary the grains that I eat so that I would reduce my gluten intake. I eat more rice, wild rice, corn products, etc.

Best of everything to you whatever you choose to do!
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CCSVI and Best Bet Diet and Swank Diet

Postby daverestonvirginia » Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:21 pm

"The report on the CCSVI meeting. They are 500 for 500 in Italy and both Stanford and Buffalo have confirmed that every MS patient they have examined has CCSVI. We can now say without any reasonable doubt that MS is primarily a vascular disease and secondarily an autoimmune disease. Any reasonable treatment for MS must address BOTH the vascular component and the autoimmune component.

The great value and success of the nutritional strategies are because they treat both components." part of an Ashton Embry statement a BBD web site.

I have always believed in the nutritional stategies. Thoughts?
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Postby cheerleader » Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:51 pm

I agree, to a certain point. Jeff was stable and in "remission" on the swank diet and the endothelial health program I devised for him with the input of Dr. John Cooke of Stanford. However, even after living a low fat, healthy and active lifestyle with plenty of vitamin D, antioxidants, and proteolytic enzymes...he still had two closed internal jugular veins, and reflux of damaging blood into his brain. He has most likely had this his whole life.

He felt almost an immediate relief of fatigue and heat intolerance after the stents were put in, and four months later, he continues to heal. Less bladder urgency, less spasms, much better sleep, much clearer head. He will continue to remain on his program (just as a heart attack or stroke victim should)....but his stenosis would not have gone away on its own, I'm afraid to say.

Diet, exercise, nutrition, etc can help keep blood moving, but it appears (in all the cases we've seen so far) only endovascular surgery can remove a stenosis.
Husband dx RRMS 3/07
dx dual jugular vein stenosis (CCSVI) 4/09
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Postby daverestonvirginia » Fri Sep 11, 2009 1:38 pm

cheer, Thanks for the quick reply, I think I am starting to get an understanding of this new way of thinking with ccsvi. And if things keep going the way I believe they are all of us with MS will be getting our jugular veins checked at some point in time.

May I say at this time how thankful I am for people like you and your husband and the other's Dr. Drake have been treating for being path breakers for the rest of us. It is great to hear how Jeff is doing I feel I am in a very simular position to where he was.

I will continue to follow the ccsvi developments, for now stay on my Best Bet Diet and who knows next time I meet with my neuro we could be talking about tetsing ccsvi testing?
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Postby jimmylegs » Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:12 am

i agree that surgery is one of few options in certain cases (such as living/dying with the consequences of not having surgery).

i highly doubt there are nutritionists out there asserting that diet can correct birth defects or tramautic injury.

personally i will be interested to see whether we find, in MS patients with stenoses, that

A) 100% result from birth defects or injuries of some kind
B) 100% of new stenoses post-surgery are directly attributable to the presence of the stent(s)
C) 0% of stenoses developing post-surgery are attributable to anything other than the stent(s)
D) 100% of MS stenoses are etiologically distinct from preventable stenoses seen elsewhere in the body.
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I'm sticking with it - read Dr. Jelinek

Postby Longing4Cheese » Fri Sep 18, 2009 2:48 pm

Especially if one does not have dramatic symptoms, it's hard to determine a direct cause and effect relationship between treatment and symptoms, whether it's drugs or "lifestyle," or that in-between area (in my opinion), what one puts in one's body every day, aka FOOD. I have not shown any gadolinium-enhancing lesions. My lesions as seen on MRI have not changed, according to the radiologist and my neurologist, since I began having them done twice yearly in 2007. I feel slightly better in terms of my physical symptoms (dragging leg, arm weakness on one side) than I did a year or two ago, when I first began doing the Swank diet.

If I had been on one of the CRAB drugs, I think many neurologists would tell you that my neurological condition was stabilized because of the drug, and would think it was very important that I continue taking it. However, I did not take a CRAB drug until a year and a half after diagnosis (and 4 years after obvious symptoms began, though I did not know what they signified until diagnosed). I took Copaxone for six months, until I had an allergic reaction to it (this past June), and I've been off of Copaxone for over three months now. So, in 27 months since diagnosis, I've been on a disease-modifying drug for 6 months. I feel better these days than I did when I was on the Copaxone, though I'm not claiming a cause-and-effect relationship there, either. Overall I feel better than I did a year ago, too...and I just moved to a terribly hot climate, where sometimes I work outside (it's 104 degrees outside as I write this...and I'll be working outside this afternoon/evening).

Unless you can clone yourself and give one of you a treatment and not the other, you'll never know if progress, stasis, or regression is the result of any particular therapy, right? Would I have reversed my symptoms if I had been on Avonex for the last 2 years? Impossible to know. Would I be limping dramatically right now if I had continued to eat cheese and red meat and butter and other sat-fatty foods, instead of getting Swanky? Impossible to know for sure.

If you want more information to help you decide, the best source that I know of about the Swank diet is the book by Professor George Jelinek, M.D., called "Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis:Natural and Medical Therapies to Prevent Its Progression." You can get it on Amazon.com. HIGHLY recommended.

I am a faithful Swank dieter, with modifications -- actually, I eat less saturated fat than Swank recommended (I keep my saturated fat intake to about 6-12 g/day; I substitute with better fats). To be sure, I eat a lot better than the 1950s-1960s type diet that you'll read about in his book.

Interestingly, Dr. Jelinek disagrees with Swank on how/why the diet works, but argues persuasively that it DOES work, that Swank's study design is not fatally flawed (as Swank's detractors insist), and also argues that Swank got a raw deal when he published his findings after 30+ years of research, which is of course a much longer trial period than any other in MS research. I am not a neurologist, so I can't discern between Swank's and Jelinek's explanations of how the diet works (actually, I think Jelinek declines to elaborate on his remark that he disagrees with Swank's hypothesis that saturated fats in the bloodstream cause microemboli, causing breaches in the blood-brain barrier and thus allowing T-cells in to ravage myelin, etc.)

Anyway, I'll take Jelinek's endorsement of Swank's study, especially in light of the current state of MS therapies and my light symptoms & apparent lack of lesion activity. Also, there's nothing saying that one cannot eat in this fashion AND do a disease-modifying drug. I may be trying Rituxan in a few months, but I will always stick to this diet as well.

Much credit goes to my wife for supporting this choice and participating in the search for good recipes and restaurants that enable me to live a delicious and healthy "foodie" lifestyle.

Exercise, vitamin D and calcium, antioxidants, etc. are also very important, I think.

Be well,

Longing4Cheese (Jack Sprat)
Male, 44, Dx PPMS 6/2007, Re-Dx RRMS 1/2009. Unofficial EDSS: 2-ish. Modified Swank diet, supplements and exercise (walk, yoga, weights). Tried Copaxone 1/09, stopped after possible allergic reaxn 6/09. Began Avonex April 2010.
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Swan Diet + Ann Boroch Diet + Sugar Addicts Diet

Postby Ruthless67 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:59 pm

I was diagnosed in 1997 when I had Optic Neuritis in my right eye. I started on Row L. Swank’s, Low Fat MS Diet the very next day. I was on the diet for three years, lost about 20 pounds, felt great and was exacerbation free. Then I got very lax about my diet, I was feeling so much better and I began to enjoy all foods, liquor and deserts once again.
In August 2001 a very prolonged and stressful situation came up I had my second bout of Optic Neuritis, this time in my left eye, the vision has come back now but it has left the optic nerve with some permanent damage. The colors are off, and when I’m tired it’s more like black & white. Glasses help somewhat, but it’s still not clear vision, it’s distorted.
For the next few years I avoided fried foods and food with hydrogenated fats in them. But I was back to sugar and alcohol. I muddled through, not good, not bad. I tried the compounded Prokarin Patch for about a year and a half for my MS. But we were traveling in our motorhome and it wasn’t always an easy matter to find a compounding pharmacy. I also managed to put the 20 pounds back on and then some.
I had a Neurologist talk me into trying Avonex shots in 2005. I used the beta-interferon drug until May 2008. I was becoming less and less comfortable about injecting myself with a drug powerful enough to suppress my immune system and possibly cause permanent liver damage, week after week. Then I saw Ann Boroch on TV talking about her book, “Healing Multiple Sclerosis.”
I have been on her diet ever since (Which is an anti-candida diet) and I feel great. I was having real problems with fatigue and body bloating prior to starting the diet. As well as some elimination problems. Those are virtually all gone. As well as those extra 40 pounds. My family doctor is amazed at my turnaround and how good my blood work is, good cholesterol levels, glucose and triglycerides looked good. Yes, I still have balance problems, vision problems and my feet and legs have their own spastic moments; but for the most part I feel great and I get out and run all my own errands. So life is good.
In April 2009 I added a new dimension to the Healing MS Diet by incorporating the 7 step plan from the book The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program. The steps helped me wean myself completely off all sugar and alcohol and I couldn’t be happier. I’m starting to realize what an amazing world unto it’s self our body is. If you read this book, you’ll understand when I say, I’m doing the food and eating my nightly potato!
I hate hearing “They don’t know what causes MS and they don’t have a cure for it.” Then I read the latest MS breakthrough where they identify a symptom and create a new drug to treat that symptom, but often the side effects from that new drug is worse than the symptoms it’s supposed to treat. And these new drugs cost a fortune!! Our diets and some medicines are making us sick and sicker and the pharmaceutical companies richer & richer. I know the candida diet is a strict one, especially when you make the decision to terminate all use of sugar in your diet. But I’ll tell you, once you realize what poison sugar is to the body, it becomes much easier to eliminate it from your diet. Who would intentionally poison themselves???????
I’m willing to continue to stick with the Candida cleansing diet and I don’t miss the sugar and alcohol at all. I’m healing myself from the inside out. I refuse to continue poisoning myself and being a guinea pig and meal ticket to the pharmaceutical drug companies. Or eat the processed crap that’s being presented out there as food!
So, that’s where I’m at in my journey.
Then I find this site!!!! Now I'm facinated by CCSVI!!!!!!
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Postby lyndacarol » Sat Oct 31, 2009 5:55 am

Ruthless67--I agree with you 100% when you said:
But I’ll tell you, once you realize what poison sugar is to the body, it becomes much easier to eliminate it from your diet. Who would intentionally poison themselves???????
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Postby LR1234 » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:12 am

I also agree. I am on the best bet diet (although occasionally I do eat peas and runner beans!) and I have found as well as doing the BBD that eating one wholegrain in the morning i.e certified gluten free porridge and than eating no grains for the rest of the day really helps. I eat lots of chicken, lean meat, fish and root veg plus green veg and smother the lot in Olive oil. Since sticking strictly to this diet I have seen some more improvements.
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Re: Swan Diet + Ann Boroch Diet + Sugar Addicts Diet

Postby NHE » Sat Oct 31, 2009 4:27 pm

Ruthless67 wrote:Who would intentionally poison themselves???????

Well, cigarette smokers readily come to mind. There are others as well...

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Going with the Swank Diet - Supplements?

Postby LoveActually » Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:49 am

I have a list of 9 supplements that should be taken while on the Swank Diet, some I added. There is only two that I know I need for sure, B12 and Multi Vitamin. Anyone who's familiar (JL and anyone else), can you look them over and tell me if I'm missing something important or if there's something I don't necessarily need because I'll get enough from a multi vitamin or other source?


1. Probiotics
2. Cod Liver Oil
3. Multi Vitamin
4. Vitamin C
5. Vitamin D
6. Vitamin E
7. Omega 3
8. B12
9. Protein Powder

Also, any ideas on the cheapest place to buy these things?

October 29, 2009 - Dx with RRMS
June 22, 2010 - Dx's changed to Devic's (NMO)
January 4, 2011 - Dx w/Syringomyelia T4-T9, Migraines, and Possible MS (again - long story)
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Postby jimmylegs » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:06 pm

hey there LA, here are some thoughts:

probiotics: sounds good to me.

cod liver oil: if you are going to take both vitamin D and cod liver oil, please be careful! ... or do you mean fish oil, which i am given to understand does not have potentially dangerous concentrations of vit A and vit D (presumably because it's not from the liver)...

multi: pick a good one - here's a link where you can see how the products you are thinking about choosing stack up: http://vitaminone.com/AdultRankings.htm

vitamin C - sounds good

vitamin D - make sure it's vitamin D3! personally i get a small phial of 1,000,000IU/gm liquid for under $40 CDN and it lasts me ages. currently taking a drop a week (25,000IU per drop).

vitamin E - please ***ensure*** that your vitamin E is natural source E8 complex. [please do not go for the cheapest thing you can find easily which will probably be d- or dl-alpha tocopherol forms (not good enough and potentially harmful) ] ...natural source vitamin E from things like sunflower oil are good and safe. my supplement is new roots E8 complex and it's got sunflower oil in it, plus i also eat sunflower seeds and use sunflower oil in salad dressing....

omega 3 - looks good... per best bet, go for 3 grams daily combined EPA plus DHA...

vitamin b12 - i would say add at least a b50 complex to the daily intake of b12. i sincerely doubt there will be enough b complex in most multivitamin products. have you had any recent b12 tests, by the way?

protein powder - protein = important! good thing to have in there.

i notice the therapeutic multi MINERAL suggested in the swank regimen is not included here.. where minerals are concerned, i tend to agree more with the Best Bet recommendations at http://www.direct-ms.org/supplements, such as:
Calcium – 1000 to 1200 mg
Magnesium – 500 to 600 mg
Zinc – 25 to 50 mg
Selenium – 200 mcg

i know there is a concern with mineral balance and that you shouldn't overdo certain minerals at the expense of others, but i do pretty well with my multivit/min product, plus Inno-vite cal-mag multimineral with D3 and zinc, a 50mg zinc, and 200mg selenium.

best bet also recommends supplementing copper and manganese... but my copper levels are fine without it and have actually crept up slightly... i let the manganese come from the multi and don't worry about adding extra...

you might also want to have your iron levels checked.

all that said, i understand that all this info is a lot to take in at first. it took me a while to get on board with the mineral side of things, as compared to the vitamin side.

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Postby LoveActually » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:26 pm

Thank you JL, I'm definitely going to print all that info out.

My main concern was over doing some things or taking something that wasn't necessary. Thank you for clearing all that up for me. :)

I haven't had a recent B12 test but I'm going to speak with my GP soon (probably Monday) and get that set up.

The Cod liver oil, that's what the Swank website says but I wasn't sure of it. I was thinking of going with the fish oil instead.

I'll check out your links as well. Thank you so much.
October 29, 2009 - Dx with RRMS
June 22, 2010 - Dx's changed to Devic's (NMO)
January 4, 2011 - Dx w/Syringomyelia T4-T9, Migraines, and Possible MS (again - long story)
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Re: Going with the Swank Diet

Postby NHE » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:07 pm

LoveActually wrote:The Cod liver oil, that's what the Swank website says but I wasn't sure of it. I was thinking of going with the fish oil instead.

I chose this route myself. A multivitamin will most likely contain vitamin A. Cod liver oil is a fairly rich source of vitamin A while it contains only moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin A can be toxic in large amounts and I've read reports that indicate that one really shouldn't take more than 2500 IU/day. This would make it impossible to get high levels of omega-3 fatty acids from cod liver oil without over doing the vitamin A. As such, I decided to go with separate omega-3 and vitamin D supplements. I currently take a combined calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D3 supplement and 6 grams/day of fish oil which provide 1800 mg of omega-3.

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