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Why we need to stay ahead of our doctors! December 21, 2013

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The most popular post I ever wrote was entitled “‘If the Swank Diet works, why hasn’t my neurologist told me about it?’ (or, Why the Man on a MSion is not some kind of nut)”; it still get a lot of hits off Google when people search for the Swank Diet.  Why?  Because if you are new to MS, it’s likely that you haven’t yet learned that while our doctors want to help us, the nature of medical education and research sometimes gets in the way.  I was put in mind of that fact when I read a great blog post on the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis website by my very wise friend Rebecca Hoover.  In her post, entitled “Suddenly patients are ahead of their doctors!”, Rebecca explains both the very minimal training that doctors receive on nutrition, and the stunning 17 years it takes, on average, for new discoveries to become part of medical practice.  As pointed out in one of the comments on the post, Dr. Swank started his study over 63 years ago and published his findings decades ago.  We don’t have decades to waste – we need to be healthy now!  This is why resources such as Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis and Rebecca’s fabulous and informative blog are so important.  So I want to thank Dr. Jelenik and everyone at OMS, and folks like Rebecca, for getting the word out.  It would be a terrible thing to learn about the Swank Diet and OMS program in 17 years . . . while sitting in a wheelchair!

New York Meet-up!!! Saturday, July 13, 2013 July 7, 2013

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I’m very excited to share that a fellow fan of Dr. Jelinek’s Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis program has organized a meet-up luncheon in New York!  Sorry about the last minute notice, but it is taking place this upcoming Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 12:00 Noon at the fabulous Candle 79 (http://www.candle79.com/), New York’s premiere vegan restaurant on the Upper East Side.

Our organizer needs to get a final count to the restaurant, so if you are interested in meeting fellow Swank dieters (including the Man on a MSion, who will share his real name!), please send an e-mail directly to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. (Name protected, since the event is now past.)

This is a great opportunity to share ideas, support each other and maybe even help develop an OMS chapter here in the U.S.  I hope that some of you can reorganize your schedules and get to New York on Saturday (but please RSVP).

POSTSCRIPT:

Well, there were only a few of us, but we had a nice lunch, and it was good to meet others following the program.  Hopefully, we’ll do it again sometime and I’ll be certain to alert you all!

 

Science, Cavemen and the Best Diet for MS April 15, 2012

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I am often asked how I got started on the Swank Diet and why I chose the Swank Diet over the other diets out there that are promoted as “cures” for multiples sclerosis.  The short answer is that the Swank Diet is proven effective for keeping MS patients healthy.  Dr. Swank’s amazing long-term study of his patients, best described by Dr. Jelinek, proves that adherence to a diet ultra-low in saturated fats helps keep MS at bay.  There is strong science behind the Swank Diet.  For me, scientific proof beats scientific theory any day of the week.

I know that other diets of the Paleo variety are all the rage right now, whether called the Paleo diet, the cave-man diet or the best bet diet.  And while these diets may be effective for some people with undiagnosed allergies to certain types of food, like gluten and legumes, they are not proven effective for MS, and, indeed, allow foods like red meat and organ meat that are not permitted under the Swank Diet and are unhealthy in many other regards.  My friend Rebecca has laid this out very nicely on her excellent blog, and rather than repeat it all here, I urge you to read her posting on the science of the Swank/Jelinek program and on the risks of the Paleo diet specifically.

The biggest difference between the Swank diet and these other diets is that they allow red meat and organ meat (and therefore allow you to eat too much saturated fat) and they prohibit grains and legumes.  By all means, if you have a sensitivity to grains or legumes, you should cut them out of your diet.  However, for the vast majority of the population that do not have these sensitivities, whole grains and legumes are good for you and an important part of a healthy diet.  Please remember that Dr. Swank did not limit his patients’ intake of grains and legumes, and he had spectacular results!  (If you want to give up grains and legumes, however, go ahead, but don’t increase your intake of saturated fats!)

The idea that our bodies are designed to eat like cavemen has some appeal, especially as auto-immune disease becomes more prevalent and we search for answers as to why.  But not everyone gets MS, and I’m willing to accept that something has gone awry in my body that requires me to take unusual action not required of the general population.  I’m already older than most cavemen lived to be, so I need a program that focuses on keeping people like me – middle aged with MS – healthy long into old age.  For me, that’s the Swank Diet – proven effective over decades of study.

Start a New Year with a Resolution – Any Day of the Year! December 31, 2011

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We all know that it’s common for people to make New Year’s resolutions, and as we enter 2012, I hope that if you have multiple sclerosis and you are not following the Swank Diet, you will make it your New Year’s resolution to learn more about it and start following it.  There can be no greater favor you can do for yourself – and for the people who love and depend on you – than resolving to be as healthy as you can.

But if you are reading this and it isn’t New Year’s Day, remember that you can start a new year of your life any day of the year.  For the Man on a MSion, September 1 is what I c all my “Swankiversary” – the day I started (2 1/2 years ago now) on the path to greater health with the Swank Diet.  As my regular readers know, I am way fitter than I was that September day in 2009, I have had no relapses and my MRI shows no progression of the disease.   (Yes, I also take Copaxone, and I can’t know for sure what is keeping the MS at bay.  But I am generally more healthy and fit, and don’t we need all the weapons in our arsenal to overcome MS?  We can’t afford to ignore Dr. Swank’s stunning results over 35 years!)

So as I get ready to go out for New Year’s Eve on the town (yes, I’ll be giving the kitchen my special order, as always!) with my wife and my dearest friends, I wish you all the best of health in 2012.   And if I can help give you a boost on your climb to better health and help you start a new year, any day of the year, please e-mail me any time – manonamsion@gmail.com.

Sex and the Single Guy . . . with MS October 30, 2011

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I recently received an e-mail from MS Mingle, a single European guy with MS, asking if he could guest blog here at Man on a MSion about life as a single guy with MS who isn’t letting MS slow him down.  As you know, the Man on a MSion is a middle aged, happily married guy with a couple of kids, and I’ve never faced the dating scene with MS.  I agreed that some perspective from MS Mingle would be of interest, so without further ado, here’s what MS Mingle would like to share.  (By the way, MS Mingle has his own blog – for those of you who speak Dutch!)

Dating science meets multiple sclerosis
 
As you know Man on a MSion is happily married. Not all men have had that luck, yet. For starters myself, I am a single guy and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about a year ago. As you might imagine, having MS doesn’t really benefit your love life. But it could. It turns out that improving your chances with the opposite sex, also heals your MS.
 
Whether you want to improve your chances in romance or stop your MS from progressing, you will have to dedicate yourself to a healthy lifestyle (physically and mentally): eat healthy, exercise and rest and/or  meditate. My biggest challenge was to deal with the anxiety that comes with MS. Thoughts constantly ran through my head. Thoughts like ‘will the diet work’ and ‘am I having an attack right now’, and to stay on topic: will MS affect my chances of having a girlfriend? 
 
And this is where dating science and doctor Jelinek’s knowledge converge. Jelinek states that when you want to overcome MS you should amongst others ‘commit to an ongoing process of exploring and resolving emotional and spiritual ‘dis-ease’ and resolving unfinished business’. This process is what dating science calls working on one’s inner game. The term stands for the continuing ability to feel self secure, non needy and at ease with yourself. And I feel this is the key to both beating MS and improving your dating life as you go.
 
I finally covered my inner game after nine months on the Jelinek diet. It was when I realized that the diet wasn’t just some unproven treatment like my neurologist said, but that it had actually started to take effect. I noticed that my periodical attacks remained absent, which really made me feel reassured: my efforts had paid of. This feeling took the heat of  having MS. And allowed me feel assured in my dealings with women.
 
As I stated at the beginning of my post, having MS could be beneficial to you love life. If you decide to start eating ultra healthy, exercise and take your rest, your chances with women will improve dramatically. Beating MS changes your outlook on life to a positive one, and the diet and exercise will have a positive effect on your physique. You will become a fit guy who is totally at ease with himself. And you don’t have to know dating science in order to understand what effect that will have on women.
 
MS Mingle is a 28 years old man from the Netherlands with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. He blogs about his dating life and multiple sclerosis.

The Man on a MSion is Alive . . . and WELL!!! October 2, 2011

Posted by manonamsion in multiple sclerosis, swank diet.
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My Intelligent friend Rebecca Hoover has apparently received some questions lately from fans of this site speculating that things must not be going well for the Man on a MSion because I have not posted lately.  In fact the opposite is true – I am still Swanking, feeling great, keeping off the weight I lost and, most importantly, keeping those MS symptoms at bay!!!  The fact is that while MS became the focus of my life after I was diagnosed about 3 years ago, the Swank diet has allowed me to go back to my regularly-scheduled programming.  I have MS, but it doesn’t have me.

I just had my annual MRI, and was very pleased to find out that my disease has had no progression in the last 2 years (since I started Swanking).  I also have had no relapses in that time.  Do I KNOW that is because of the Swank diet?  No, I have no way of knowing that for sure – but I do know that I feel great and have reduced my risk of heart disease and stroke.   And I do know about Dr. Swank’s extraordinary results over several decades.  And I know that Rebecca, Dr. Jelinek and many others have had extraordinary results.

Yes, your neurologist probably hasn’t ever discussed diet with you, or may have even told you that diet doesn’t matter.  As I’ve explained before, your neurologist simply isn’t trained to think that way.  And I am not a doctor and would never tell you to disregard your doctor’s advice.  But this is not some crazy, strange cure-all.  This is eating a healthy diet.  Even if it doesn’t do anything to help your MS (and all the evidence says it does), the worst that will happen is that you will avoid heart disease and stroke.  Do you need heart disease or a stroke on top of everything you are dealing with?

So if you aren’t Swanking, why not?  And if you are, keep up the good work!  And thanks to any of you who have been thinking of me and wondering how I am doing!  I promise to do a better job of posting this year.  Consider it my 2 year Swankiversary resolution.

Quick fixes and hard work December 12, 2010

Posted by manonamsion in multiple sclerosis, swank diet.
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I’m blogging again today on CCSVI at the risk of getting the angry comments I always get when I suggest that the hard work of the Swank diet is currently a better path than the quick fix of a risky experimental procedure based upon an unproven hypothesis.   Having MS myself, I understand the fear and desperation that leads us to look for the “fix” for this disease.  But with a proven – and totally safe – method to control this disease already in hand, I continue to question why one would travel (frequently, it seems, to an underdeveloped country), for surgery that is uncertain at best and deadly at worst.

Let’s compare the options of CCSVI surgery vs. following the Swank Diet:

Surgery to correct CCSVI

While there is some correlation between MS and CCSVI, it certainly is far from universal and the causal link is unproven.  A recent study showed that 62% of MS patients had CCSVI, but this was also true for 26% of healthy controls and 45% of participants with other neurological disorders.   At the very least, if there is some kind of causal link – i.e., that CCSVI causes MS – it is bound to be a complex one.

Additionally, the surgery itself has not been shown to provide lasting effects due to “restenosis” in almost half of surgical patients.  Recently, at least two patients have died of post-operative complications.  In short, as with any surgery, there are significant risks that must be considered. 

I am not saying that surgery is never justified, and I am not saying that CCSVI has nothing to do with MS.  I am just stating the fact that it is very early in the research on this prospect.

The Swank Diet for Multiple Sclerosis

In contrast,  the Swank Diet has been proven to be more effective in preventing disease progression than any drug on the market – or in clinical trials.   When I first learned of the Swank diet, my reaction was that it could not really work, because if it did, everyone would do it and my neurologist would have told me about it.   But when I found Dr. George Jelinek’s brilliant website, Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, and read his fantastic new book, Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, I came to understand that the medical establishment has disregarded the most effective treatment option for multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Swank studied a group of his patients over a period of over 34 years and tracked their disease progression.  Those who followed his recommendations, primarily to reduce saturated fat intake to below 20 grams per day, were called “good dieters” and those who violated these recommendations were called “poor dieters.”  It is worth noting that even the poor dieters reduced their saturated fat far below the intake of the average American (which has only gone up over the ensuing decades, by the way): their saturated fat intake averaged 29-32 grams per day, while the average American consumes over 100 grams per day!  So following the Swank diet means following the Swank diet, not dabbling in the Swank diet.  Going for “moderation” simply does not do the trick.

The Swank results?  Stunning.  Disease progression among good dieters was minimal over a 34 year period, while disease progression among poor dieters was, quite frankly, scary.  Those with minimal impairment who followed the diet remained minimally impaired; those who didn’t follow the diet were likely to end in a wheelchair, bedridden or dead.  I’m not going to reproduce all the results here, but I highly recommend you read the page on Dr. Jelinek’s website that provides the detail.  It convinced me, and I haven’t consumed more than 10-15 grams of saturated fat on any day since I read it.

Now, it is true, as Dr. Jelinek details, that there has been criticism of the methodology of Dr. Swank’s research.  This amazing study over decades is not considered good science by many doctors because it was not a double-blind study – both the doctor and the patients knew who was on the diet and who was not following diet.  In the world of drug testing, this is a flaw because of the possibility of both researcher bias and placebo effect on patients, and under this view, the success of the diet is not “proven.”  But ask yourself how on Earth you could ever do a double blind study of such a comprehensive life style change over any time period, much less a 34 year period.  While the scientists may consider this flaw insurmountable, as someone with the disease, stunning results achieved over more than three decades is enough for me!

The Bottom Line

The excitement over CCSVI surgery as a quick fix to multiple sclerosis is certainly understandable.  But he hard work of changing your dietary habits has been proven the more effective path.  As for downside, the risks of surgery speak for themselves, while the risk of a low saturated fat diet is that you won’t develop heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer in addition to your MS! 

I hope that someday there is a quick fix for MS – I even hope it proves to be surgery to correct CCSVI, since that is furthest along.  I would probably opt for a quick  fix myself, although after a 15 months of healthy living, I would never go back to how I used to eat.  In the meantime, I hope you opt for the hard work of eating right and staying healthy.

I am here to help you.  Post a comment or send me an e-mail (manonamsion@gmail.com) and I will answer your questions, or refer you to where you can get answers.  Please do this for yourself.

A thank you to Dr. George Jelinek on my Swankiversary . . . October 17, 2010

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Those of you who are regular readers of this blog may have been asking  yourselves whether the Man on MSion is still on a mission . . ..  My apologies for my absence for the last couple of months.  One of the things about having a chronic condition is that it is always there and sometimes you just want a break from thinking about it.  I took that break and now I’m back!

I’ve now been on the Swank/Jelinek program for over 1 year.  Now that I’m used to healthy eating and exercise, and feeling good because of it, I don’t really think about why I’m doing it anymore – it has become second nature.  And that allows me to not think about having MS when I don’t want to.  That’s a good feeling (but I’ll try not to let it lead me to abandon my blog again!)

It’s also a good feeling to have gone for over a year without any exacerbations or new symptoms.  I just had my annual MRI and saw my neurologist, and it was good to hear that not only do I have no new lesions, but some the existing ones have “slightly decreased conspicuity.”  That’s doctor-speak for them being less significant!!!

I’m looking forward to many good annual check-ups in the future and I’m happy to feel like I’ve taken control.  I’m honestly not sure that I would have ever even tried the Swank Diet if I hadn’t found the secondary support for the program on Dr. George Jelinek’s website.  So I want to take this opportunity on my “Swankiversary” to thank Dr. Jelinek for inspiring me to change my diet and lifestyle, and for all he has done for all of us looking for a way to take control and overcome multiple sclerosis.

If you are reading this and haven’t read Dr. Jelinek’s website, please do yourself a favor and do so now.  Also, for my fellow Americans, Dr. Jelinek’s fantastic, indispensable book is finally available on the Barnes & Noble website and on the Amazon.com website.  It is a couple of bucks cheaper from Amazon, but Barnes & Noble is shipping immediately, while Amazon takes 1-3 months.  Spend the money and get the book RIGHT NOW!  (It is still way cheaper than having it shipped from Australia, as I did!)

Don’t just sit there, do something! July 26, 2010

Posted by manonamsion in Exercise, multiple sclerosis, swank diet.
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So it is summer, and you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much . . . and this one will be a short one.  This is my first summer on the Swank Diet (I started last September), and it is nice to be spending my summer over 35 pounds lighter!  While I still have a way to go, I have way more energy and I’m using it to ride my bike and get exercise every opportunity I can. 

Multiple sclerosis does not mean you can’t exercise; in fact, it makes it more critical.   Yes, we must get adequate sleep; you will know what works for you (for me, it means at least 7 hours every night).  Yes, some of us are heat sensitive, and we need to be sensible.  But getting out in the sun to get some exercise (not to the point of exhaustion) will let your body manufacture some natural vitamin D, while keeping your body in shape.   Good advice for anyone; great advice for those with MS.

I wouldn’t be the Man on a MSion if I didn’t give you the scientific facts on the benefits of exercise for those this MS, but I’m going to let Dr. Jelinek do the heavy lifting today.  I’ve got to get back outside!!!

Guest Blogging on OvercomingMultipleSclerosis.org: Who decided that eating right is “alternative” medicine? July 9, 2010

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I’m honored to be  guest blogging this week on www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org, Dr. Jelinek’s fantastic resource for people ready to take control of their multiple sclerosis.  Here’s what I had to say:

For some reason, it is the accepted wisdom that “conventional” medicine consists of pills, injections, infusions and even surgery, while adhering to a restricted diet, exercising and meditation are “alternative” medicine.  It’s funny that we are all attuned to the risks of “chemicals” on our bodies (bpa in plastic bottles, alar on apples, radon in our basements, radiation from our cell phones), but give virtually no thought to the vast majority of substances we put into our bodies every day – our food.  Shouldn’t the most conventional medicine of all be paying attention to what we put into our bodies as food?

I will admit that I never paid attention to what I was putting into my body until I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and learned about the Swank Diet.  And the more I learned  from Dr. Jelinek’s website about the importance of Vitamin D, omega 3s and saturated fat, the more convinced I became that MS is tied to our lifestyle choices, and for those of us who have not lost function due to MS, we have the choice to arrest the progression of the disease.  (This also got me thinking – and reading about other impacts of our diet on disease, and why I recommend The China Study so highly.)

Now, I believe in so-called conventional medicine too, and I take my Copaxone shot every day.  But I’m less excited about undergoing the knife for liberation therapy (based on the unproven CCSVI theory) when there is a healthy, natural way to stay well.

I have been on the Swank/Jelinek program for about 10 months now, and I am more fit than I have been in years.  In addition to having lost 35 pounds and taken 4 inches off my waist, I exercise regularly and my cholesterol is under 160 – without the statins I used to take.  As I’ve said to my wife, being diagnosed with MS may be the best thing to ever happen for my health.  If I can stave off my MS symptoms while avoiding diabetes, heart disease and stroke, what could be better?  Certainly not something high in saturated fat!

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