To spare you a lot of details, after two years of gluten-free, low-sodium, low dairy, low processed foods diet, I’m switching to something called the Swank Diet. It’s something recommended for people with M.S. specifically, and it’s heart-healthy and cancer-preventing as well, which is an added bonus since people with M.S. are more likely to have both of those issues. This diet has a 50-year study and is the top recommended diet from the M.S. organization as a whole. Also, it should be noted that there are many many different diet suggestions out there, but honestly the ones that work are the ones I’m going to do. And there isn’t a ton of research for much of anything. So mostly what I have to go on is outcomes for myself and for others. I’ve heard and read about Wahls and Paleo, yes, and all that good stuff they talk about. Still…this is my choice because it’s my life. The only year so far that I’ve had no progression was the year I did this Swank diet in the past, so I’m following my heart and some great advice…and going back.
I fully believed in and followed the diet I was previously on, and I was a rule follower about it. Unfortunately, after two years, I didn’t really notice a difference, which is the whole point of doing something so drastic. In fact, I’ve progressed in the completely wrong direction, which is never great news to hear. The Swank Diet focuses on extremely low saturated fats. Yes, we all need fat in our diets of course, but this one allows you to get those from healthy oils and vegetables instead of animal fats and processed and hydrogenated fats.
Saturated fats are known to be a part of the western diet more than in other countries, and in the western world, where sadly M.S. is far more prevalent. In addition, after eating high saturated meals, it’s been proven that a person’s blood cells clump together and block circulation to certain capillaries. The thought is that these clumps block tiny blood vessels in the blood-brain barrier leading to inflammation and lesions in the Central Nervous System. If you cut out saturated fats, you can eliminate the clumps of blood cells. No more clumps means no more blockages and no more inflammation. 94% of the people that remained on this diet in the Swank study (eating 20g or less of saturated fat daily) did not experience disability progression. Yes. That is what I said. And that’s amazing. After 34 years people that followed the study had a death rate of 31%, while those that ate a normal diet had a death rate of over 80%. That’s pretty great (very hard) stuff.
The Basic Rules of the Swank Diet
- Oils: Limit your oils to between 20 and 50 grams per day. (This gets complicated because there are a lot of good/bad oils on my lists, but it’s all still limited.)
- Saturated Fat: Do not consume more than 15 grams of saturated fat each day.
- Red Meat: Do not eat any red meat the first year. After the first year, you may have three ounces of red meat per week. This rule applies to pork and wild game.
- Dairy: Any dairy products cannot contain more than one percent butterfat. Clearly, this leaves out butter itself. Any dairy products with any saturated fat should be limited to two servings per day. However, fat-free dairy products are allowed in any amount. Artificial “dairy” products, such as margarine or shortening, are not allowed.
- Processed Foods: Do not eat any processed foods containing saturated fat. (so basically almost everything)
- Supplements: Take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement, along with a capsule containing the equivalent of one tsp of cod liver oil.
For more info: http://www.swankmsdiet.org/the-diet/
Not so bad, right? Wish me luck!