Multiple Sclerosis Community
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1773941 tn?1331676759

MS and SWANK diet

I was just wondering if anyone has tried the SWANK diet to control their MS?  If so, how did it work for you and would you recommend it?
15 Responses
1382889 tn?1505071193
I tried a variation of it. Low fat, restricted meat and dairy, etc.  Didn't really notice a difference per se. Hard to tell since my normal MO for attacks and remission seem to be all or nothing.  Meaning I have an attack and eventually, always my sx go away.

It has been like this for three attacks now and my first two I didn't change my diet at all since I had no idea I should even consider it.  When I finally got dx, I did change my diet and like always my sx went away.

I eat pretty normally now but have never been a big meat or dairy eater anyway so not a real change.  If you feel you need to be doing something, give the diet a try but know there is nothing proven w it. It's a good diet to follow anyway. Very healthy.

My advice would be though not to stress yourself out about following anything too closely. The best way to live with MS is to do just that, live.  Eat well, get exercise, rest/sleep, keep your stress low.

Good luck!

667078 tn?1316000935
This kicked around a lot. No diet has been proven to help MS. I do not go for websites or books. I do not know what the Swank Diet is specifically.

When the first Doctor said I may have MS I felt so powerless so I looked at what I could do for my health. I wanted to be as healthy as I could inspite of MS. I did not want to have extra health issues and I did not want extra weight with a disability. For me it makes no sense to haul around extra pounds or ask others to physically help me with extra weight. I improved my diet and started exercising. Since then I have lost 40 pounds and toned up most of my muscles.

I slowly changed my diet. I eat lots fruits, vegetables, lean meat, nuts, whole grains. I lay off gluten just because it does not agree with me. I eat Greek yogurt. Drink water, green tea, some coffee, and a Soda occasionally when I am out. I only shop the perimeter of a market. I love farmer's market and buying meat locally when I can.

I do not take a DMD because I have PPMS so I try to boost my Glutathione levels. It is an amino acid the body make. I do it through diet. Adding certain foods. I also take CoQ10. The Glutathione and CoQ10 are being studied by the NIH and in the U.K. for MS.

All my numbers are good. BP, glucose, cholesterol, I have good vitamin levels including D with out supplements.

The trick was changing my diet slowly and losing weight slowly. Also building up exercise slowly.

As I have lost weight exercise is a little easier. I tried all kinds of exercise until one fit for me. I am as fit as I was when I worked construction and climbed ladders all day. I am a lot weaker but I am still in good tone.

My MS is progressing but I think I am healthier than I was before diagnosis.

1806039 tn?1316177256
John McDougall MD has an extremely informative video lecture on the home page of his web site, www.**************.com, that describes the huge success Dr. Swank had with his diet.  He also talks about continuing Dr. Swank's work with a huge study the results of which are about to be published.

Best of luck and health to you!
1453990 tn?1329231426
Published is great.  My question is: "Is it peer reviewed?"   One of the problems is that there have been a few studies on the Swank Diet and variations.  The studies have generally been flawed in design: "Open Label" (failure to double blind), statistically insignificant sample sets, or flawed cohort selection.  With the web, it is easy to "publish" a study, but that is not the same thing as "being accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal" like Neurology.


900662 tn?1469390305
Here's what I found about the Swank diet

As many as 50% to 75% of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States and other Western countries use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM),1 typically in combination with conventional MS therapy.1,2 However, only one third of MS patients report discussing CAM with their nonneurologist providers, and fewer than one tenth discuss CAM with their neurologists.3 Thus, it is important for MS care providers to initiate frank discussions with patients and to be prepared to provide accurate information about CAM in a nonjudgmental manner. This chapter outlines some of the more popular CAM therapies among MS patients and reviews the importance of talking about CAM with patients.

Low-Fat Diet/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements

Diets are one of the most commonly used1 and highly rated CAMs by MS patients.3 Some evidence suggests that diets low in saturated fats and high in polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids (FAs), may have disease-modifying effects in MS, but more research is needed.4,5 The “Swank diet,” developed by US neurologist Roy Swank in the late 1940s, is still widely used among MS patients. It follows a stringent regimen that emphasizes low intake of saturated fats and advises fish oil supplementation, which is high in omega-3 FAs.6 Long-term evaluation of the Swank diet reported significantly lower disease progression and improved survival.7 However, the trial was not blinded or randomized and had no control group.1

Research on omega-3 FA supplementation in MS has produced mixed results. Small trials reported that omega-3 FA supplementation may reduce production of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (a protein important for T-cell migration into the central nervous system)8 and improve physical and mental functioning in MS.9 In contrast, preliminary results from a recent randomized trial of interferon therapy combined with omega-3 FA supplements for 6 months demonstrated no therapeutic effect of omega-3 FAs in MRI activity, relapse rate, disability progression, Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite and quality of life scores, and fatigue.10 In a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study, omega-3 FA supplementation for 3 months had no effect on depression in MS patients.11

Without large, well-designed studies, definitive evidence is lacking to recommend use of a specific diet regimen in MS.

However, a well-balanced, healthy diet can be supported in patients for its benefits to overall health and wellness, regardless of whether it alters MS disease course. Omega-3 FA supplements are generally safe, but should be used with caution in combination with disease-modifying therapies.1 Omega-3 FAs may interact with anticoagulants, ticlopidine, and clopidogrel, and may reduce the effectiveness of insulin and hypertension medications.
572651 tn?1530999357
They are actually doing a study out at OHS in Oregon on this very topic.  I wrote about it a few months ago when they were recruiting.  They will have two groups - one on a vegan diet and the other on normal diet.  

It will be interesting to once and for all see some controlled results to answer this question.

best, L
1312898 tn?1314568133
I've never understood how a vegan diet can be that healthy.  I can understand vegetarians but with vegan being so  limited, I would be miserable.  

A diet that doesn't have chocolate would be hard for me:)

1394601 tn?1328032308
I really don't much care what studies are done.  I just wouldn't use any diet that denies me food that I enjoy.  Is there any diet that cures  MS...NO!!!  I will continue eating all foods in moderation...including sweets, real butter and whipping cream (not the fake stuff that tastes like plastic).  

I normally eat  only fruits and vegetables for my first two meals.  That doesn't mean on a half of baked summer squash I don;t add a teaspoon or more of butter with it.  I love three bean salad for lunch.  It sure wouldn't taste good without olive oil and a little sugar.

I do think we can eat healthy without a huge list of no no's.  In fact, I bet most toss the diet after a month  or so then begin craving all those foods that were denied.
1734735 tn?1413778071
I was always brought up living the 5 food groups as a result of my mother who was a home economics teacher. Protein is just so important and I ate an abundance of steak, chicken, fish, lamb etc.

For me a vegan diet seemed so alien, confronting, unattractive. A few months ago I would sooner have jumped off a bridge if I thought that was all I had left to live for. I love my food.

And then a friend's naturopath phoned me talking this diet which had caused her MS to abate, in fact got her out of a wheelchair. Then, I attended a health talk by a seventh day adventist lady who had also sent her MS into remission with this diet.

I poo pooed both stories as they didn't really satisfy me that in fact they actually had MS and if they had had these startling results then why had the MS society or my neurologist or my doctor told me about it.

Well, the thing that tipped me over the edge and changed my view happened last weekend. I was handed a copy of Professor George Jelinek's book Overcoming MS - an evidence based guide. Hello, I thought this looks interesting.

I finished the book in two nights and am now a believer.  Dr Roy Swank has been ripped off. Commencing in 1949, he spent 34 years studying a group of 150 MS patients and then followed them up after 50 years. His results with the diet are miraculous to say the least.

However, the medical profession do not acknowledge the results as they don't fit the current accepted methodology of Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT). This is unfair because RCT didn't exist when Swank started. Dr George minot won a nobel prize for curing pernicious anaemia through B12 levels in 1934 using exactly the same methodology that was accepted back then.

Smoking has never been proven using RCT but from population-based epidemiological and case-control studies. Yet we all accept it kills us.

I felt very comfortable that the Jelinek meticulously poured over all the research, some 700 references. I loved all the medical research that backs up the link with cow's milk protein that seems to look very similar in structure to mylin.

Most compelling of all was Prof Jelinek's own story being diagnosed at 45years and has now been relapse free for over 10 years since starting the diet.

I may be brain washed and desperate to stop my rapid decline but I am willing to give it a try and so far am not missing the dairy or meat. I'll let you all know in 3 years which is when the results should be most evident. It isn't a cure. It is meant to stop the progression from where I am now.

I'm certainly not going off copaxone which seems to hold 70% of progression for RRMS. However, I fear that I am in the PRMS category so DMD won't be prescribed for me in 12mths.

Well, that probably a bit more than my 20 cents worth.

667078 tn?1316000935
I find I do not enjoy the foods I liked anymore now that I stopped eating them. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and cheddar cheese and crackers recently and did not enjoy either. It is funny how your taste buds can change. Sugar, salt, and fat have lost their appeal. I would much rather eat fresh fruits and vegetables. I much prefer water or green tea.

I feel a lot better not carrying extra weight. I am not working to cure MS just to feel better.

I will not deny the next person their favorite foods.

1773941 tn?1331676759
Thank you everyone for the wonderful information and opinions!  I always try to eat healthy and have read Swank's book, but am still getting the nerve up to give up some foods.  
Thanks again, Nicoal
667078 tn?1316000935
I change my diet very slowly. I think it is too hard to change a diet all at once. I am still giving foods up and adding new ones. That is the other trick to replace old foods with new ones. I eat more fruits and vegetables than I ever dreamed of. It is no fun to feel deprived.

1394601 tn?1328032308
Am I understanding  your  post saying you think you have PRMS and won't be allowed on a DMD for a  year?  That is simply  not true.  I am curious who told you that and why?
1734735 tn?1413778071
I may be wrong, but from my research the DMDs appear to be for the treatment of RRMS only. Once you get diagnosed witha more progressive form such as PRMS, PPMS or even SPMS then I don't believe that any of the DMDs are clinically proven to offer any benefit.

I am led to believe that the neuro can only diagnose with something other than RRMS after 12 months of assessing my clinical symptoms and if that occurs then I understand he would pull me off a DMD as it saves the taxpayer $1100 bucks per month.

Anyway, tongue in cheek, I won't be needing any DMD the way this diet is going. It's only been 5 days but amazingly today I felt the best I have felt in 4 months since being diagnosed. Well, apart from brown urine, sorry, had to spoil it didn't I.

Very happy to hear alternative view.
1394601 tn?1328032308
Alex we all make our own decisions.   The National Multiple Sclerosis disagrees with you.  Here is their recommendations.

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