Just wanted to share that I have been following the Swank diet for about a year now. I had a relapse a year ago, which led to my clinically definite MS diagnosis. I found the Swank Foundation website and others (Paleo diet), but chose to go Swank. Although there are no double-blind studies on the matter, I believed enough research linked to general health topics which are related to MS did exist, with reagard to specific aspects of the Swank diet. I realized that my diet was very low in the essential fatty acids and decided to follow the Swank diet.
What do we know about MS? (Or perhaps I should say, "What do we think we know about MS?")
There appears to be a cardiovascular component, where something that shouldn't crosses the blood/brain barrier. Vitamin C and E at the levels of supplementation on the Swank diet and taken together have been shown to strengthen the cardiovascular system and also to help prevent Alzheimer's. (Would this cardiovascular strenghtening help ammeliorate the problems that appear to let something cross the blood/brain barrier? Perhaps.) The C and E supplementation interest me a lot and I believe have proven beneficial effects in areas that could be related to MS.
The Cod Liver Oil and salmon content of the diet would help create and maintain a healthy balance of Omega 3s and 6s as would the elimination of saturated fats. The elimination of excess saturated fats would be generally helpful. Myelin is made of fat and Swank believed there would be a lipid metabolism problem associated with MS. There is a current study on lipid metabolism in MS. In addition, A daily multi-vitamin and Cod Liver Oil dose gives us a generous amount of vitamin D. There are recent studies of links between vitamin D and the development of MS. In addition, there are many thoughts about deficiencies of vitamin D or the essential fatty acids and the development of many "modern" or immunological diseases.
There are some studies I have come across of death rates for people with MS who had high saturated fat consumption compared to those with lower saturated fat consumption. I find this information compelling.
Aside from the specifics of the Swank diet, I have read about the anti-oxidants. I think they are being shown to have a health-protective effect. I have added high anti-oxidant foods to my diet. For example, I eat blueberries and berries almost every day.
No, I would agree that no diet has been scientifically proven to help MS. Still, taking in what I can gather, I see that there are dietary choices I can make that will help me in general and possibly more specifically with the MS. Will I wiggle the health margins in my favor by making these changes over time? I can't be entirely sure, but I am betting on it.
If nothing else, despite my reduced mobility and lack of ability to exercise, I have lost 55 lbs. in a year, following diet alone. I was overweight when I had my attack last year. Now I am not. I don't have the cravings I used to have. I feel healthy (despite the bum leg, which, is slowly coming around). People tell me I look great. People tell me my skin and hair look great and even glow. (Gotta be that fish oil... )
I cannot say that the Swank diet is for everyone. I cannot say it has been definitively proven to help with the MS. All I can say is that I'm glad I found it and I enjoy the benefical results that are obvious to me.
Also, as for following it, I have not yet cooked from the cookbook section of the book. I just selct Swank friendly foods. I have found the diet to be a modification and not a big food-preparation change.
Anwyay, I've rambled enough. For those of you interested in further information, check out the Swank Foundation website.
Here's wishing you good luck, good health, and happy eating!
After my first attack in 1997 I went straight from the neurologist to a health food store where I found suggestions for fish oil and Swank, so I started doing both. I followed the diet faithfully for a long time and when my father died in June 2003 I fell off the wagon and treated myself kind of poorly and I think that the stress of losing my Dad and the increase in saturated fat consumption made me have another attack in September of 2003.
There were 6 years between attacks, and I think that so much time went by that I didn't think I had MS. Anyway, do I think that the Swank diet helped? I don't know, but I'll tell you what I do think. I believe that our minds control our bodies in ways so profound and complex that it is probably our best bets to BELIEVE that we can get better and help ourselves. If you read Swank's book, as I did 6 plus years ago, he says that he has charted the course of MS of thousands of patients over many years and that his diet has greatly improved the course of disease. When I read this I believed it and maybe that was what really helped me.
Yeah, I wish there were clinical studies to prove it, but I have a suspision that studies get done by people trying to make money, and nobody has a real financial motivation in getting you to eat a healthy diet. It's too complicated and there's so many factors involved.
And what about the placebo effect? What the hell is that about? I think it proves the mind/body connection pretty conclusively. In other words, for many of us, simply believing that we can get better we do so. Not for everyone, of course, or my poor Dad would be here with me today. But I think many of us would greatly improve our conditions with good diet, exercise and a positive outlook.
Best of luck to you all, my friends.
I'm new here, so just noticed this question. The answer is yes. This is probably the seminal paper :-I have seen people claiming that certain diets have helped them - but is there any proof anywhere?
Effect of low saturated fat diet in early and late cases of multiple sclerosis : Lancet 1990
The article itself is available ($USD 30) from :-
You can also find a heap more by clicking the Related Articles link from the abstract.
That said, you would probably get a lot more out of a book that has been referenced in this thread, Taking control of Multiple Sclerosis by Professor George Jelinek. In it he spends considerable time going through research on the diet's, and other complementary therapies, effects on MS. I can't recommend strongly enough reading this book. Especially for people whose doctors have said that diet has nothing to do with MS; in the best possible case their doctors are ill informed. Don't just trust them, find out for yourself.
That one's best through the Australian Online Bookshop :-
http://www.bookworm.com.au/cgi-bin/book ... lk=4151225
And it's also on Amazon :-
There's a short transcript of a radio story with Prof. Jelinek, which tends to focus on the effects of sunlight, but also briefly mentions diet, here :-
Hope this helps,
The Swank diet recommends high unsaturated fats (like olive oil and fish oils) and limited saturated fats (animal fats, butter, fried foods). That does work the same as statin drugs (cholesterol lowering). Another theory is that it creates anti-inflammatory hormones (good fats) while bat fats make the ones that cause inflammation.
There are also some good anti-inflammatory herbs, especially turmeric. THere was a study in mice-MS that showed that mice who were taking turmeric didn't get worse while the ones who didn't take it had worsening symptoms. Not sure if that's true, but I've been taking it for months and the numbness in my fingers that was there for almost a year went away and I haven't had a relapse (I'm also on Rebif).
I lost my motivation though, once I started Avonex, and also found the diet became expensive for me.
That said, I want to go back on it and I probably will, as soon as I can afford it.
The blind spot growing in my eye has reminded me, that if there is something that might help, and definitely will not hurt, it is up to me to try it. It takes a lot of strength though and self-pity is always waiting to jump on my back.
We all wish we could have the solid approval of the medical world that, yes, there is a definite correlation between diet and MS, but for now I will conduct my own research. Would I rather be able to fill my belly with bread and cheese, OR possibly be able to continue to see five feet in front of me and to keep my brain from shrinking (atrophy)? For me, the choice is clear.
While I was in the hospital receiving I.V. steroids, a friend brought me a book. You can heal your life, by Louise Hay. I agree with Amy, that a positive attitude, though so very difficult at times, is essential. This book is filled with healing affirmations and "attitude work." It is a bit hokey at times, but I love it.
Good luck to you all,
As far as I know there is no really conclusive research yet on any particular dietary approash, but one group is actively raising funds for that purpose. What I have found so far is mostly anecdotal but convincing enough for me to seriously try it. Knowing that if I balance my diet and research my supplement levels properly, it will at least do me no harm. I am definately feeling a lot "cleaner" and energetic, and am losing wieght (a very pleasing effect!).
Hope this is of interest to someone somewhere. I kept out of the discussion so far 'cause I knew I'd write heaps if I started...can't help it...
Great to see you posting on a thread you started!
I recently encountered two bits of information that might be of interest to people on the diet thread.
The first is an abstract I uncovered doing research on MS and hormones. The abstract is entitled: Phosphate depletion is the link between growth, stress and diet in the aetiology of MS, by Haglin, L of Sweden, published in Medical Hypotheses, 2004: 63 (2): 262-7. The last line of the abstract (PMID: 15236787) concludes: Low SP levels have been reported in MS patients and the hypothesis that PD causes MS is presented here.
To those of you who know about MS and nutrition, is this a viable theory?
The other bit of information comes from a general article on “fat” published last week (July 11th) in the Washington Post. Title of the article: Decoding the Surprisingly Active Life of Fat Cells.
The article caught my eye because of the Swank MS diet and the possible role of good vs. bad fats in MS. Plus, I’ve at least been able to learn that our brains primarily consist of fat cells. Now, if you’re into thinking MS is not an auto-immune disorder the article struck me as providing food for thought on that topic as well.
Select quotes from the article:
What do people think about the hypothesis that phosphate depletion causes MS and/or the tidbits from the article on fat cells and inflammation?At the same time, scientists have come to the surprising conclusion that fat has the power to mimic the effects of the body’s immune system, in particular by provoking an inflammatory response.
Where does the inflammation come from: Surprise: It’s the fat cells themselves.
But not from the fat cells alone. Scientists recently discovered that fat tissue is comprised of far more than just fat cells—it is a complex amalgamation that includes key immune system cells called macrophages. Macrophages and fat cells produce powerful substances called tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6, which help regulate the immune system.
But a surplus of fat cells and macrophages probably triggers unnecessary inflammation…As fat mass increases, this is associated with a systematic stress response and inflammatory response, and that exhibits itself in a variety of diseases…
I have no idea if the news about fat cells and inflammation is one of those things that is a given in MS research or not, so I’m really curious about anything people have to say about that as well.
Re the link to phosphate causing MS.
Without reading the full article it is difficult to say but having read the abstract I'm far -far -far from convinced. Hypophosphatemia has many symptoms in common with Guillain-Barré but that doesn't mean they are related and has never, as far as I know, shown anything but peripheral nerve involvement.
Reduced phosphate in the body can affect many systems and I can see where it MIGHT resemble other theories about MS such as decreased intestinal absorption but that isn't really a concrete reason either.
If the levels of SP are low then there are lots of questions that cannot be answered without reading the full article such as what sort of phosphate are we talking about - the whole range or just one particular kind? Did they try to rebalance the SP levels with phosphate salt, are we talking mild, moderate or severe SP loss. Along with all the standard questions as to how many people with MS were involved etc etc
Hypohosphatemia is pretty rare in the developed world- it is unlikely that everyone with MS therefore has MS because of too little phosphate in adolescence. Kids have much more to worry about from too much phosphate than too little such as hyperphosphataemia which can lead to renal failure.
We are more likely to have an excess of phosphate than too little - that's why it's not usually added to multivits supplements. Phosphate is already added to a whole load of 'convenience' foods by manufacturers and found naturally in milk, meat, eggs, cheese, wholegrain cereals, wholemeal flour and oatcakes.
A bit of quick research looking up phosphates on The Who leads me to conclude we really do have more than enough in our diets, and children and adolescents are usually well over the minimum requirements.
Well that's what I think anyway,
Studying something like diet following the most trusted research methodology (double-blind, placebo-controlled) is next to impossible. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial can not be utilized when it comes to diet treatments. What could be a placebo for food? How could such a study be blinded? These things can't be done to make it fit the "trusted" model. Furthermore, any diet study designed to show "positive results" would have to show something extraordinary for the medical industry to take notice.
But the USDA has conducted studies on food regarding prevention of cancer and/or heart disease; this is where we can start. I do the simple things like eating a lot of fresh, healthy foods; take good care of my teeth and gums; keep my skin healthy; walk every day as far as my gimpy body will allow; and do yoga. If this sort of lifestyle is recommended by medical experts like Dr. Weil for "normal" people to maintain good health, and to provide longevity, then it must be beneficial to gimps like me.
I've yet to have a doctor tell me that I shouldn't eat and live this way, so I will continue.
Avoid:Aspartame, caffeine as well as carbonation add extra toxins
We'll subject ourselves to painful daily to weekly injections of drugs that only help maybe 30% of us, suffer from serious side effects, spend more money than we can afford for prescriptions...but we won't change the way we eat because (a) diet isn't proven to help even though there's abundant anecdotal evidence, and (b) frankly, we just don't want to! Resistance to dietary change runs deep, deep.
I'm as guilty as anyone. Years ago I adopted a strict macrobiotic diet in support of a dear friend who had metastasized breast cancer. She well outlived her prognosis, and while I was on the diet I felt much better than I ever had before. And yet, not long after my friend died, I started to drift back to my old way of eating. It was as if I ceased to be intentional about my diet altogether, flying along on autopilot.
One tip I remember from my instruction in macrobiotics is that if you're going to make a significant change in your diet, it's best to do it all at once. Keeping one foot in the old way and one in the new won't ease the transition; it'll just prolong the agony of giving up what you're used to. You have to re-educate your palate to appreciate new and simpler foods, and if you continue to indulge in sweets or the odd Big Mac or whatever, re-education will be slow to happen.
Since my MS diagnosis, I've been working on improving the quality of what I eat. I've ordered the George Jelinek book, and am looking forward to reading what he has to say. Time for further change, I think.
It starts with doors...I'd watch out for doors if I were you. ~Neil Gaiman
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