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

Posted 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.



1. csercom - April 18, 2012

You’re blogs have inspired me to try the Swank diet after 10 years with SPMS and a slow but unrelenting decline – it is time to take control, I have read everything from Swank to Jelinek to Cabot and it makes perfect sense! I have been on this diet for a mere 6 weeks now and felt incredibly tired to my surprise, but I guess it’s the poor overworked liver detoxing, also the body adjusting to a completely different way of eating! But just the last couple of days my faith has been rewarded and I have more energy and the looming wheelchair seems less of a threat!

2. Alan - April 19, 2012

Swank does allow small amounts of lean red meat the 2nd year. The problem with this is that unless you’re expert and dilligent, you are more likely to consume too much saturated fat – which is an even bigger problem with the “paleo”. As you note, the avoidance of meat is not just healthier for those with MS.

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