Science, Cavemen and the Best Diet for MS April 15, 2012Posted by manonamsion in Uncategorized.
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, 2011Posted by manonamsion in Uncategorized.
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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 – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sex and the Single Guy . . . with MS October 30, 2011Posted by manonamsion in Uncategorized.
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, 2011Posted by manonamsion in multiple sclerosis, swank diet.
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, 2010Posted by manonamsion in multiple sclerosis, swank diet.
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 (email@example.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, 2010Posted by manonamsion in Uncategorized.
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, 2010Posted by manonamsion in Exercise, multiple sclerosis, swank diet.
Tags: Exercise, Jelinek, MS, Swank diet
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, 2010Posted by manonamsion in Uncategorized.
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!
Eating well while eating to be well . . . June 13, 2010Posted by manonamsion in multiple sclerosis, swank diet.
Tags: MS, Swank diet, vegan
How many times have I heard something like this: “Oh, I could never give up cheese [or beef or ice cream or etc. etc. etc.]?” Pretty much every time I introduce someone to the Swank Diet! Well, I wasn’t sure that I could do it when I first started, but I was sure that I can’t give up walking! And if an ultra-low saturated fat diet is the way you need to eat to stop the progression of multiple sclerosis, giving up some of the foods I loved was what I needed to do.
Now that I’ve totally changed my diet over the last 10 months, I will never go back. I actually really enjoy the way I eat now. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are the foundation of my diet. I still can’t belive that I haven’t eaten a bit of cheese in almost a year now!
I recently got a great e-mail from SJ, a reader of this blog. Here’s what she had to say:
“I’ve had MS for four years, was incredibly ill for the first two years then my mother encouraged me to read Dr Jelinek’s book. Wow, is all I say. I had a last supper consisting of a farmyard of animals and haven’t looked back. Two years later, I’m in better health than ever. But you’ll know this story, it’s yours! And well done both on sticking to the diet and on publicizing it.
“So your blog inspired mine – and I’m about to release a blog of recipes based on the diet. I’ve always been a good cook (well, people eat my food and come back again, so….) and I’ve been looking at a lot of vegan sites and I think we could use one that basically tells everyone, in one central base, how to eat brilliantly on this diet.
“Like you, I’d feel so honoured if just one new person comes onto this diet and changes their life in the way we have. But the greatest challenge is getting people to change the way they think about this diet and give up things like cheese and meat (I had such a problem for a while, but two weeks into the diet I was super super healthy already). Fish meals are awesome (especially seafood), and I’ve been experimenting for the past year with baking cakes, as well as clever ways to achieve things with fish etc.”
Well, SJ has delivered! Her new blog, My MS Free Life, is terrific. Her subtitle says it all: “Gives up favourite food. Gets back life! Sets about recreating favourite food. Has cake and eats it!” Take a look at her blog, and you can have your cake and eat it, too. I made her fat-free potato chips (or as my English friends say, crisps) this afternoon . . . and my teenagers loved them so much, they spent the evening making more! Now if only SJ can invent fat and dairy free cheese that isn’t disgusting . . . Oh well, we can’t have it all. SJ and I choose our health!
Tags: Jelinek, MS, Swank diet
Are you a passive patient or are you an advocate for yourself in the medical system? I’m always surprised by the intelligent people I know who follow doctors’ orders without asking any questions or even understanding their medical condition, the medications they take or their doctor’s recommendations. My diagnosis with multiple sclerosis in 2008 was my first real window into the reality of the health care system – and the degree to which your care is only as good as the doctor you select and the research you do on your own.
My diagnosis story is a good example. My first symptom was a bout of optic neuritis, which was misdiagnosed by a retina specialist as vitreous separation. When my vision suddenly came back, but my hand went numb, I was sent to a neurologist (who was not an MS specialist). After several tests, she was stumped. When I asked about the results of the MRI she had sent me for, she told me it wasn’t in the file. Minutes later, her assistant handed her a sheet of paper and she looked at me and said “You have MS.”
Over the next 10 minutes, she proceeded to tell me that I needed to check into the hospital immediately for 3 days of tests and IV steroids (notwithstanding the fact that my hand had been numb for over two months due to her delays); that I would need to take a weekly shot (Avonex) that would put me out of commission for a couple of days a week with flu-like symptoms (with no discussion of other treatment options); and that I needed to find a less stressful job that would let me work from home at least one day a week when I had flu-like symptoms and other MS problems. I thought my life as I knew it was over.
I was lucky to have a close friend who is a doctor who, that night. called around and found me a terrific MS specialist in New York City. That doctor spent two hours the next day with my wife and me, discussing MS, treatment options, prognosis, etc. After talking with the doctor and doing my own research, I went on Copaxone immediately, which has minimal side effects (mostly annoying site reactions). I don’t have time in my life for flu-like symptoms, and I don’t have much faith in the interferon drugs, for reasons that Dr. Jelinek details well. I didn’t need to be hospitalized, and I certainly didn’t need to change my career plans!
I continue to have a great relationship with my MS specialist, and my appointments every few months are a dialog. I bring lots of questions, and he is very open to having an intelligent discussion with a well-informed patient. Needless to say, at this point, I think I am more knowledgable about MS than the original neurologist I saw. I also do my own research, and that’s how I found the Swank diet.
So here’s the bottom line: don’t be a passive patient. No one cares more about your health and your future than you do, and you owe it to yourself to become knowledgable about your condition and your options. If your doctor isn’t willing to have a dialog with you, I recommend you find another doctor. Also, if you have access to an MS specialist, rather than a general neurologist, you are much more likely to get up-to-date medical advice and recommendations. (Note that I use the words “medical advice,” not “doctor’s orders.” While I certainly don’t suggest you ignore what your doctor recommends, you shouldn’t just be taking orders.)
Beyond your doctor, however, you should be doing what you can to learn about and understand multiple sclerosis. Most doctors are focused on the drug therapies they can prescribe, often because they are not well-informed about nutrition and lifestyle factors, and frequently because they do not think you will change your behavior even if confronted with the need to do so. But be careful in your research – there is a lot of junk out there and some of it can hurt you. As you know, I am convinced in the value of the Swank diet, but before I proceeded with that, I read Dr. Swank’s book and the secondary research provided by Dr. George Jelinek. As an accomplished doctor who is also living with multiple sclerosis, George Jelinek offers us the unique perspective of someone who truly understands the medical profession, medical research AND the immediacy and urgency of proper care that only a patient can really understand. His book is a fantastic resource, detailing his opinions on all the treatment options, from the most conventional to some that sound really out there. His website is terrific, and I’m delighted that his book will be available in the United States soon.
I am not a doctor, and I will never offer you medical advice. But I do urge you to drive the car instead of being a passenger. As for the road I have chosen, I understand that many will not take that fork in the road. But you aren’t making that decision if you haven’t educated yourself – you are simply choosing to let someone else drive, closing your eyes and heading down the road with your eyes closed. Read Dr. Jelinek’s book or website and then make your informed decision. Be the driver.
Man on a MSion