Treating Multiple Sclerosis with the Swank MS Diet

Treating Multiple Sclerosis with the Swank MS Diet
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A plant-based diet may not only be the safest treatment for multiple sclerosis; it may also be the most effective.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Multiple sclerosis is an “unpredictable and frightening” degenerative autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system in which our body attacks our own nerves. It often strikes in the prime of life, and can cause symptoms in the brain—cognitive impairment, in the eye—painful loss of vision, tremor, weakness, loss of bladder control, pain, and fatigue.

The most frequently prescribed drug for multiple sclerosis is beta interferon, which can make you feel lousy, and cost $30,000 a year, but hey—it might be worthwhile, if it actually worked. We learned last year that it doesn’t seem to prevent or delay long-term disability.

That leaves chemo drugs, like mitoxantrone, that causes irreversible heart damage in one out of every eight people who go on the drug, and treatment-related acute leukemia. It causes leukemia in nearly 1% of people who take it. But hey, MS is no walk in the park. If only there was a cheap, simple, safe, side-effect free solution that also just so happened to be the most effective treatment for MS ever described.

Dr. Roy Swank, who we lost at age 99, was a distinguished neurologist whose research culminated in over 170 scientific papers. Let’s look at a few.

As far back as 1950, we knew that there were areas in the world that had a lot of MS (North America, Europe), and other places (Africa and Asia) that hardly had any. And now, we have all these migration studies showing that if you move from a high-risk area to a low-risk area, your risk drops, and vice versa. So, it seemed less genetics, and more lifestyle.

Dr. Swank had an idea, as he recounts in an interview with Dr. John McDougall, at the ripe young age of 84: “It seems possible to me that this could be a matter of food, because the further north you go the less vegetarian a life is led, and the more people are carnivores, you might say; they spend a lot more time eating meat.”

After looking at the multiple sclerosis data from World War II in occupied countries where meat and dairy were rationed, and his famous study in ’52 finding “the frequency of MS…directly related to the amount of saturated animal fat consumed daily in different areas” of Norway, he concluded it might be the animal fat. So, he decided to put it to the test, by restricting people’s intake of saturated animal fat.

Here’s his first 47 patients, before cutting out about 90% of the saturated fat from their diet. And, here’s after, showing a decrease in both the frequency and severity of MS attacks. Normally, you’re lucky if you get people to stick to a diet for six months. And so, that’s why most dietary trials last a year, at the most. This is reporting results from the first three-and-a-half years.

Then came the five-and-a-half year follow-up; he adds another hundred patients. Then, the seven-year follow-up, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Then, the 20-year follow-up; the 34-year follow-up.

How did they do? If you can get people early in their disease, when they’re only mildly disabled, and restrict their saturated fat intake, Dr. Swank showed he could stop their disease, in 95% of cases—no further disability, 34 years later. But, if they started slacking on their diet—even years in, their disease could become reactivated. They felt so great they were like, hey, I can cheat a little bit; I got this disease under control. But, eating just eight grams of saturated fat more a day was accompanied by a striking increase in disability, and nearly tripling of the death rate.

How about a 50-year follow-up? They were able to track down 15 of the original patients that stuck to the diet, now in their 70s and 80s, with multiple sclerosis for over 50 years, and 13 out of 15 were walking around normal in all respects. They were active and, evidently, unusually youthful-looking. Conclusion: “This study indicated that, in all probability, MS is caused largely by consumption of saturated animal fat.”

He thought it was the sludging of the blood, caused by even a single meal of saturated fats, that can clog tiny capillaries that feed our nervous system. See, diets rich in saturated fat and cholesterol can thicken the blood, and make our red cells sticky. A single meal of sausage and eggs can stick our blood cells together like rolls of quarters. And, this kind of hyperaggregation can lead to a reduction in blood flow and oxygenation of our tissues.

If you put someone’s blood through a machine that sucks out about 90% of the cholesterol in their blood, you can demonstrate an immediate improvement in microcirculation in the heart muscle. But, what about the brain?

Eyes are the windows to your brain. You can visualize, in real-time, changes in blood vessel function in the retina at the back of the eye—which gives you a sense of what’s happening further back in the brain. And, if you lower the cholesterol level in the blood, you can immediately get a significant improvement in vasodilation; the little veins open wider, and let the blood flow.

So, yes, it could be the animal fat leading to clogging of our capillaries. But, now we know animal fats can have all sorts of other deleterious effects, such as inflammation. So, who knows what the actual mechanism may be by which cutting animal fat can cut MS progression. Regardless, patients with MS that follow a diet with no more than 10 or 15 grams of saturated fat can expect to survive, and thrive, to a ripe old age. Of course, cutting out saturated fat completely might be better, given that, you know, heart disease is our #1 killer.

The bottom line is that the results Dr. Swank published “remain the most effective treatment of multiple sclerosis ever reported in the peer review [medical] literature. In patients with early stage MS, 95% were without progression of their disease 34 years later after adopting his low-saturated fat dietary program. Even patients with initially advanced disease showed significant benefit. To date, no medication or invasive procedure has ever [even] come close to demonstrating such success.”

Doesn’t cost $30,000 dollars; doesn’t give you leukemia—and, works, better!

Of course, this all begs one big, obvious question. If Dr. Swank’s “results are so stunningly impressive, why haven’t other physicians, neurologists, or centers adopted this method of treatment?” Good question.

One reason may be that MRI machines weren’t invented until the 1970s. MRIs are how we track the progress of MS today. We don’t have to rely on patients’ subjective reports, or doctors’ clinical judgments. We can see the disease get better or worse, right there in black and white.

It’s like in the 1970s, when Nathan Pritikin appeared to reverse heart disease by the thousands, but no one took him seriously, until angiography was invented, and the likes of Ornish and Esselstyn could hold up images like this—proving conclusively that a plant-based diet could literally open up arteries, right there in black and white.

So, what we need is someone to repeat Swank’s experiments today, with MRI scans every step of the way. And, I’m happy to report that exact experiment was just completed, by Dr. John McDougall. Dr. Swank was one of Dr. McDougall’s medical mentors, and Dr. McDougall is one of mine. Study enrollment was completed last year, and we should have the results sometime soon.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to kenjisekine via flickr

 

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Multiple sclerosis is an “unpredictable and frightening” degenerative autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system in which our body attacks our own nerves. It often strikes in the prime of life, and can cause symptoms in the brain—cognitive impairment, in the eye—painful loss of vision, tremor, weakness, loss of bladder control, pain, and fatigue.

The most frequently prescribed drug for multiple sclerosis is beta interferon, which can make you feel lousy, and cost $30,000 a year, but hey—it might be worthwhile, if it actually worked. We learned last year that it doesn’t seem to prevent or delay long-term disability.

That leaves chemo drugs, like mitoxantrone, that causes irreversible heart damage in one out of every eight people who go on the drug, and treatment-related acute leukemia. It causes leukemia in nearly 1% of people who take it. But hey, MS is no walk in the park. If only there was a cheap, simple, safe, side-effect free solution that also just so happened to be the most effective treatment for MS ever described.

Dr. Roy Swank, who we lost at age 99, was a distinguished neurologist whose research culminated in over 170 scientific papers. Let’s look at a few.

As far back as 1950, we knew that there were areas in the world that had a lot of MS (North America, Europe), and other places (Africa and Asia) that hardly had any. And now, we have all these migration studies showing that if you move from a high-risk area to a low-risk area, your risk drops, and vice versa. So, it seemed less genetics, and more lifestyle.

Dr. Swank had an idea, as he recounts in an interview with Dr. John McDougall, at the ripe young age of 84: “It seems possible to me that this could be a matter of food, because the further north you go the less vegetarian a life is led, and the more people are carnivores, you might say; they spend a lot more time eating meat.”

After looking at the multiple sclerosis data from World War II in occupied countries where meat and dairy were rationed, and his famous study in ’52 finding “the frequency of MS…directly related to the amount of saturated animal fat consumed daily in different areas” of Norway, he concluded it might be the animal fat. So, he decided to put it to the test, by restricting people’s intake of saturated animal fat.

Here’s his first 47 patients, before cutting out about 90% of the saturated fat from their diet. And, here’s after, showing a decrease in both the frequency and severity of MS attacks. Normally, you’re lucky if you get people to stick to a diet for six months. And so, that’s why most dietary trials last a year, at the most. This is reporting results from the first three-and-a-half years.

Then came the five-and-a-half year follow-up; he adds another hundred patients. Then, the seven-year follow-up, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Then, the 20-year follow-up; the 34-year follow-up.

How did they do? If you can get people early in their disease, when they’re only mildly disabled, and restrict their saturated fat intake, Dr. Swank showed he could stop their disease, in 95% of cases—no further disability, 34 years later. But, if they started slacking on their diet—even years in, their disease could become reactivated. They felt so great they were like, hey, I can cheat a little bit; I got this disease under control. But, eating just eight grams of saturated fat more a day was accompanied by a striking increase in disability, and nearly tripling of the death rate.

How about a 50-year follow-up? They were able to track down 15 of the original patients that stuck to the diet, now in their 70s and 80s, with multiple sclerosis for over 50 years, and 13 out of 15 were walking around normal in all respects. They were active and, evidently, unusually youthful-looking. Conclusion: “This study indicated that, in all probability, MS is caused largely by consumption of saturated animal fat.”

He thought it was the sludging of the blood, caused by even a single meal of saturated fats, that can clog tiny capillaries that feed our nervous system. See, diets rich in saturated fat and cholesterol can thicken the blood, and make our red cells sticky. A single meal of sausage and eggs can stick our blood cells together like rolls of quarters. And, this kind of hyperaggregation can lead to a reduction in blood flow and oxygenation of our tissues.

If you put someone’s blood through a machine that sucks out about 90% of the cholesterol in their blood, you can demonstrate an immediate improvement in microcirculation in the heart muscle. But, what about the brain?

Eyes are the windows to your brain. You can visualize, in real-time, changes in blood vessel function in the retina at the back of the eye—which gives you a sense of what’s happening further back in the brain. And, if you lower the cholesterol level in the blood, you can immediately get a significant improvement in vasodilation; the little veins open wider, and let the blood flow.

So, yes, it could be the animal fat leading to clogging of our capillaries. But, now we know animal fats can have all sorts of other deleterious effects, such as inflammation. So, who knows what the actual mechanism may be by which cutting animal fat can cut MS progression. Regardless, patients with MS that follow a diet with no more than 10 or 15 grams of saturated fat can expect to survive, and thrive, to a ripe old age. Of course, cutting out saturated fat completely might be better, given that, you know, heart disease is our #1 killer.

The bottom line is that the results Dr. Swank published “remain the most effective treatment of multiple sclerosis ever reported in the peer review [medical] literature. In patients with early stage MS, 95% were without progression of their disease 34 years later after adopting his low-saturated fat dietary program. Even patients with initially advanced disease showed significant benefit. To date, no medication or invasive procedure has ever [even] come close to demonstrating such success.”

Doesn’t cost $30,000 dollars; doesn’t give you leukemia—and, works, better!

Of course, this all begs one big, obvious question. If Dr. Swank’s “results are so stunningly impressive, why haven’t other physicians, neurologists, or centers adopted this method of treatment?” Good question.

One reason may be that MRI machines weren’t invented until the 1970s. MRIs are how we track the progress of MS today. We don’t have to rely on patients’ subjective reports, or doctors’ clinical judgments. We can see the disease get better or worse, right there in black and white.

It’s like in the 1970s, when Nathan Pritikin appeared to reverse heart disease by the thousands, but no one took him seriously, until angiography was invented, and the likes of Ornish and Esselstyn could hold up images like this—proving conclusively that a plant-based diet could literally open up arteries, right there in black and white.

So, what we need is someone to repeat Swank’s experiments today, with MRI scans every step of the way. And, I’m happy to report that exact experiment was just completed, by Dr. John McDougall. Dr. Swank was one of Dr. McDougall’s medical mentors, and Dr. McDougall is one of mine. Study enrollment was completed last year, and we should have the results sometime soon.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to kenjisekine via flickr

 

Doctor's Note

I touched on this in my live 2013 year-in-review lecture, More Than an Apple a Day, but I’m excited to be able to take a deeper dive into this extraordinary story.

Those interested in supporting Dr. McDougall’s landmark study (headed by Dr. Dennis Bourdette, M.D. and under the supervision of Dr. Vijayshree Yadav) can donate to his nonprofit McDougall Research & Education Foundation. You can also donate to NutritionFacts.org to help keep us bringing you similarly underreported yet life-saving science, by clicking the Donate button above. 

Another reason Dr. Swank’s work hasn’t been embraced may be The Tomato Effect.

Other videos on the role diet may play in neurological disorders include:

What’s in sausage and eggs that can cause so much inflammation? See my video series on endotoxins, described in my blog How Does Meat Cause Inflammation?

Where is saturated fat found? See Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, & Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero.

Those unfamiliar with Pritikin can watch a short introduction in Engineering a Cure. And, Ornish and Esselstyn’s great work is profiled in videos like Our #1 Killer Can Be Stopped and China Study on Sudden Cardiac Death.

For further context, check out my blog: Top 10 Most Popular Videos of 2013 and How to Treat Multiple Sclerosis with Diet.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

134 responses to “Treating Multiple Sclerosis with the Swank MS Diet

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  1. Is there anything in Swank’s literature that draws distinctions or similarities between animal-based saturated fats vs. plant-based saturated fats, in this regard?




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      1. Have you watched this video, and read further into the research? Swank’s MS diet is actually a diet
        that has considerable merits, as far as the science and data. I doubt there is another diet out there
        that has measured up to his, regarding the results, research and such. And Swank was fine with M.S.
        people eating some meat/poultry/fish-based paleo foods. It is the fats he drastically restricted, even
        plant-based fats.

        If there is any diet I’d ever suggest to anyone with MS, it is the Swank diet, but one that focused on
        plants/fruits, no beans, no grains, no dairy, no eggs…… lots of plants and fruits. And I’d go even lower in
        fat that Swank suggested.




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      2. Both, I would assume, focus on eating whole plant foods with all their nutritional and health benefits and may be why both approaches have success, and probably help mitigate the known risk of animal consumption. Though I’d ask you to define “Paleo” since it can mean about anything depending on who is doing the interpretation. I should say “inventing”, because even if we could know what our paleo ancestors ate, NONE of that food is still around to consume. It’s just somebody’s opinion based on preference, rationalization, and conjecture, not science or fact. (with a nice profit quotient to boot). For example, the whole grain and legume thing has been proven invalid with DNA evidence from teeth of prehistoric man, even Neanderthals, showing physical evidence of actual starch granules from grains and legumes, so we’ve always consumed them. In fact, it is probably our adaptions to being able to consume starches (we have extra copies of amylase to digest them) and the use of cooking that gave us the evolutionary advances that meat gets the credit for. (If that were the case, carnivores would be far smarter than us.) Just because animal bones preserve much better than vegetable matter, does not mean it was the focus of our diet. We can eat about anything to survive, but that doesn’t mean it’s beneficial long term.

        Even my cats take a break from eating meat and they ARE carnivores. Anyone who considers themselves even an omnivore needs to do a reality check and watch a real one obtain it’s prey… it’s instinctual and effective. See that they are totally equipped to hunt and kill without tools, all they need they is built in for survival…the requisite sharp snouts, teeth and claws, uncanny reflexes, speed, stealth and agility. They possess the ability and strong desire to eat their kill raw on the spot, including the special digestive adaptations like more acid in their stomach and a shorter intestine to keep flesh from putrefying in them like it does in us. Another rational quest… take the challenge of going into the woods for a week, sans gear of any kind, and feed yourself. See how much “meat” you’ll consume. Bugs and grubs maybe, but good luck “hunting” anything that isn’t already dead. Seriously, common sense is supposed to be one of our attributes, but I think wishful thinking dominates.




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        1. There’s a nice book called Paleofantasy that looks at the science behind a “paleo” diet, and well, finds it all a fantasy. Bad science, bad archeology, and victorian men’s fantastical conjectures.




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          1. Mark: Thanks for that tip. FYI: Dr. Greger wrote a book called Carbophobia that I imagine covers much of the same ground. Carbophobia is available for free on-line somewhere.




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  2. This is fantastic news! THANK YOU Dr. G. Let’s get the word out. Any ideas on how we can get the annual MS150 ride from Houston to Austin to offer an I BEAT MS lunch break and rest stop snacks???? They are big on BBQ here, it is ‘ethnic food’.




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      1. McDougall is my hero, he saved my…you know. Forks Over Knives was my intro to reality, before that I was so confused and disgusted with the conflicting info… literally sick and tired, and hopeless. If it wasn’t for the likes of a handful of conscientious, REAL doctors like him, Dr Greger, Ornish, Esselstyn, and so on, and the internet, we would all still be getting spoon fed the BS that keeps the profitable system in place. Thanks guys, I owe you my life, literally!




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    1. This is the same Dr. Mcdougall that claims vitamin D pills are harmful and should not be taken. I believe him. He also believes that mental illness, in some cases, are caused by gluten grains. Both of these statements he has put in writing on his website. He is very clear about this feelings on both these issues.




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        1. That’s not right. Dr. McDougall says only gluten is a problem for celiac patients and there is also wheat allergy for other people. The celiac is rare (1%) and a lot of people avoiding gluten (the protein of wheat grain) free now are drawn into it by industry promotion. Rice, quinoa and many others are gluten free.




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          1. Not sure what you were saying, but what I was saying was that I find it hard to believe that gluten causes mental illness. Are you agreeing with me?




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    1. Toxins: I agree! This video is simply awesome and so compelling.

      Thanks for reminding us of the Rheumatoid arthritis video too. Anyone who hasn’t seen that one will want to take a look.




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      1. I agree about the arthritis video. Prior to watching it I was gluten, dairy, sugar and junk-free. That video convinced me that eating less animal protein wasn’t good enough to decrease inflammation–I had to stop it completely! And that I did.




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        1. Yes I have personal experience with it as does my wife, arthritis is better without meat. We or rather she recognized it is an inflammatory process and became low fat vegan after seeing Sanjay Gupta’s report on Bill Clinton. A few relapses early on brought instant pain.




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          1. DanielFaster: Another great comment. Particularly telling was this part: ” A few relapses early on brought instant pain.” That’s some serious bio-feedback. Enough to convince anyone that they are on the right track (when abstaining from animal products and high fat).




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        2. Veganrunner: Thanks for this update! I know that while some people go cold turkey, the rest of us follow a path to health, going step by step. I find it so interesting what event or information causes people to take the next step in eating healthier.

          That Nutrition Facts played a part in helping you take the next step is just so cool. It makes me proud to be part of the Nutrition Facts community.




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      2. Thank you, I’ve been looking for something on R.A. which is something they want to give me medications for that I won’t take..my best friend is taking them and she is going down hill fast. It’s sad to see. But their family loves to eat as does mine. Breaking bread together is something wonderful and comforting. I really pray I can get her to watch these videos with me.
        So it seems, I can stop both the M.S. and R.A. without meds. I told my husband I don’t know why I’m going through all of these MRI’S and so forth, (on my 3rd one in 2 months) because I will not take the meds. they are trying to give me.
        For the first time in a long while, I have hope!!!
        I have to get serious…no more going back to old habits.




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        1. Deborah: I meant to reply to you long before this. I really appreciated your post, because I can so relate to it. re: “Breaking bread together is something wonderful and comforting.” and “I have to get serious…no more going back to old habits.” Also, I felt uplifted reading the line that you have hope now. That’s so awesome. I wish you all the best of luck in fixing your problems.

          As for dealing with family, that’s a tough one! It seems like every day someone is talking about how much they want to save a loved one (including best friends!) from nutrition induced pain/disease and are struggling to make it happen. The general consensus seems to be that we can’t force others to change and sometimes the more pressure we put on others, the more resistance they put up. The gentle approach seems to work best. Being a good role model, sharing these videos in a gentle way, etc may be all that you can do.

          Maybe if you and your friend can get on board together, you can teach your families how to “break bread” in a way that everyone loves AND which promotes health. If not, it is your health and I hope you will find a way to look after yourself without compromise. You can find ways to eat with family even when the family does not eat healthy themselves. I’m rooting for you!




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  3. I’d also like to hear if there would be a difference between animal-based fats and plant-based in this regard? Namely, I eat an enormous amount of nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts) which all have high levels of saturated fat. Is that still bad when it comes to some of these chronic illnesses?




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    1. You’ve probably already gotten the answer to this but yes, go easy on the nuts and seeds. Too much fat, even if it is healthy, causes problems. See Dr. Esselstyn’s yell out to audience, “No Oil!”, this also implicates excessive intake of nuts and seeds and avocados.




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        1. I’d like to add that Dr. Jelinek advocates an even lower-saturated fat diet than did Swank, and those fewer grams of saturated fat make a difference for me.




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          1. Vickey: I wanted to thank you for taking the time to share your personal experiences. While anecdotal evidence is not science, it sure is helpful in making the science real for people. I’m sure that your comments will be helpful to people in similar circumstances. Thanks.




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    1. If Dr. Swank’s leaky gut theory of why saturated fats cause MS is true, then coconut oil is problematic. A study this year, demonstrated that n-3 fatty acids (like those in flax) reduce endotoxin transport from the gut by 50%, olive and most vegetable oils had no effect, but coconut oil increased transport by 60%.

      So, are endotoxins in particular (the lipopolysaccharide cell walls of gram-negative bacteria, found both in food and in gut microbiomes), responsible for MS? Well, as far as I can tell MS is a multifactorial disease, but one can find plenty of articles demonstrating that LPS receptors and inflammatory cytokine cascades, like those brought about by LPS, play a role, at least in animal models.




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  4. Any research on chondrocalcinosis and diet? Is this also autoimmune?

    When I had a knee X-ray due to an injury I was diagnosed with this. I’ve been low-fat vegan, (Esselstyn) for the last 4 years, but ate SAD before that.
    Sally




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  5. Very interesting.
    Lets turn it around. Are there any studies suggesting that saturated fat and animal product consumption improves any inflammatory condition (MS, bowel, rheumatoid arthritis) or any type of cancer?




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    1. The only things I’ve seen are the coconut oil for Alzheimer’s which only appears to be a mild transient delay of progression (addressed by an NF video already) and didn’t make it for long term studies; and the conjugated linoleic (linolenic?) acid from beef fat (CLA are the trans fats from beef) which appear in some studies as a supplement to have a very mild positive effect on cardiovascular health in some people (NF video says transfats from animal sources must be bad but does not address the CLA claims). It may also not be that bad if you are treating starvation and there’s nothing else to eat (you can always devise a study to show something has a benefit under special circumstances or is harmful under special circumstances). But you are right you can’t find any breakthroughs to treat and reverse heart disease or cancer or anything else with unhealthy food as a medicine.




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  6. Great review! I read Dr. Swank’s diet book many years ago and have loosely followed it since I had my first MS symptoms back in 1985. I must say that while most relapsing/remitting MSers average a relapse a year, I’ve averag0de 4 or 5 years between attacks. I would like to think my healthier diet is partly the answer here, although I am not a complete vegetarian. Of course, it could also be the Copaxone I’ve been on since 2000, although my case seemed mild from the start.

    Most doctors I’ve met seem totally oblivious to dietary or nutritional issues. It’s simply not top of mind for them and I doubt medical schools really focus on the topic, which does us all a great disservice.

    BTW, in your initial review of treatments for MS, you left out Copaxone, which is not a beta interferon drug and doesn’t cause the flu-like side effects Avonex and Betaseron do cause. That being said, it’s just as expensive as the other drugs.

    I greatly look forward to your next report on dr mcdougall’s findings.




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  7. MS is a horrible, horrible disease. Much of my first three decades were spent aiding my mother in caring for my grandmother (who had primary progressive MS). In my earliest memories, my grandmother was on crutches, but for her last decade, we learned to interpret whether she wanted water, a trip to the bathroom, analgesic, or anxiolytic by the way her eyes rolled. My mother tried some ineffective complementary interventions (I recall accupuncture), but at no point do I recall a neurologist mentioning a low fat diet. Cream cheese and kielbasa sausage were normal fare.

    Dr. McDougall has gives a presentation on diet and MS to his study weekend participants, and there notes he won’t appear in the author list of the forthcoming paper. I suspect Dr. Bourdette, who wrote Dr. Swanks obituary in Neurology, now holds Dr. Swank’s chair, and has continued his work, will have that honor.




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    1. Darryl: I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother.

      While I did not have such a prolonged or close experience, I did have a friend who came down with MS when we were both in our early thirties come. It hit her pretty hard, pretty fast and she died about a year later. I saw how awful it was for her near the end when she couldn’t even scratch her own head. I would bet she wasn’t told about diet changes.

      I saw Dr. McDougall this last weekend at a nutrition conference near where I live. He mentioned his MS research and that it would be published soon, but he didn’t give any details. I’m excited to hear what happened in this latest study.




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  8. wow how one doctor can fix soo many things is just mind bogaling .proof after proof of how our own goverment has put all of ask risk when the real cure for most disease is cured or controled thru diet ..and the food chains feed us poison and nobody does anything about it…..if it wasnt for the internet or library’s .our own goverment could keep killing us and we wouldnt be the wiser …i am ashamed at what this country has become …




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  9. I just looked at the details of the Swank diet (on this page: http://www.swankmsdiet.org/About%20The%20Diet) and it’s not a vegan or even vegetarian diet. Whether you consider it “plant-based” is debatable.

    It recommends two servings of (nonfat or 1%) dairy and a teaspoon of cod liver oil every day, and allows unlimited white fish and shellfish, 1-3 ounces of fatty fish, and 4 ounces of skinned poultry daily, as well as 3 eggs a week. After the first year it also allows 2-3 ounces of red meat each week as long as the meat is not too high fat.

    Nor does it seem that low-fat. It allows up to 65g of fat a day. On a 1750 calorie a day diet (typical for a sedentary woman) that’s 33% of calories from fat a day. Not super higher fat but not what I think of when I think of “low fat” diet either.

    Surprisingly, the diet only recommends two servings of fruit and two cups of vegetables a day!

    It also restricts all processed foods containing fat, saying “No processed foods containing saturated fat.” and “Commercially-prepared pastry usually contains shortening, butter, margarine and/or processed oil. Therefore, you should avoid these foods.” It explicitly forbids hydrogenated oils and margarines. It encourages whole grains over refined grains. So it’s clearly changing a number of aspects of people’s diets, and probably has the result that people end up eating at home and doing more from-scratch cooking. All good things, but there’s much more going on here than a “low-fat plant-based diet.”




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    1. Are you sure that’s the original “Swank diet” or is it a modern super watered down version? I remember Dr. Mcdougall saying how the Pritikin diet was slowly watered down over the years and is now a much more moderate version of what Nathan Pritikin taught.




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      1. Yeah, from what I can tell it is Swank’s original diet. The criticism on Mcdougall’s webpage of the “Swank diet” seems to correspond to the diet on the website I looked at. Scroll down to the part titled “The Swank vs. The McDougall Diet” on this page: http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2009nl/jan/ms.htm

        It says “The Swank Diet focuses on drastically reducing saturated fats, which are abundant in red meats and high-fat dairy products. Included in his diet are low-fat dairy foods (skim milk, fat-free cheese, fat-free ice cream, etc.), egg whites, skinned white-meat chicken, white fish and shellfish. Meats with significant amounts of saturated fats are allowed only in very small amounts. Dr. Swank also included additional vegetable and fish oils in his diet.”




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    2. Alma, this is very interesting. Thank you for posting the link. I wonder if the current Swank Protocol is the protocol Swank used in the studies Dr. Greger sourced. If so (and why wouldn’t it be) Swank was not suggesting a vegan diet to cure/help MS. Low fat, and absence of certain types of fats, yes.




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    1. Dr. McDougall offers, in my opinion, the best program. It is based on science and is extremely satiating and practical. Not to mention there is an incredible forum section with Jeff Novick to answer any question you may have.




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      1. This is awesome… if i remember correctly one of my friend when i was studying physics suffer from this pathology and she was really young, so i will try to find her email in my old contacts… i think this information could really help…

        Thanks Toxins for the reply!!




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    1. You are absolutely correct. I’ve had MS since ’99. The only doctor,
      out of the millions I have ever seen or known, who has EVER talked to me
      about MS and diet, is my own step-father.
      He is a psychiatrist. I started the Swank diet in 2001, except I
      decided to go totally vegetarian right away. I have not had a relapse since
      2002! I began the McDougall diet a few
      years ago and went totally vegan from there.
      Dairy is a hard thing for a WI girl to give up! When I presented
      the results from this most recent study to my neurologist last week, she still
      looked at me like I was a rare bird or something. It is hard to find doctors who take more into
      consideration than drug therapy, especially where I live. I make an
      annual long trip to see a “more” open neurologist who is located
      six hours from me once a year. I hope to
      be able to attend a McDougall ten day program some day. For now, I will have to continue to rely on
      the live video feeds he has available for his advanced study weekends. The state of “modern” medicine and medical
      training infuriates me. I absolutely
      believe the stable status of my disease is due to Drs. Swank and McDougall!




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  10. Why are the most recent comments at the bottom? Recent comments should be at the top like Youtube. But, hey, why do it the popular and familiar way? :)




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  11. Okay, I have a serious question. We know that if a person consumes too many carbohydrates, the human body has an ability to convert some of those excess carbs into fat. But not just any old fat. It converts them into SATURATED fat.

    So our bodies thrive on glucose…but saturated fat is problematic and detrimental. Scientists also try to explain that this ability to generate and store SATURATED fat evolved to get us through times of famine. Huh? We evolved a means of generating and storing copious amounts of the most harmful fat to help us survive in the long term? This is the absurd paradox science seems to be telling us.

    Dr. Greger, will you please resolve this?




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    1. We store the fat from excess carbohydrates as triglycerides although saturated fat serves certain structural needs. The point being we make enough saturated fat so we have no dietary need to consume any more.

      From the National Academy of Science:

      “Saturated fatty acids are synthesized by the body to provide an adequate level needed for their physiological and structural functions; they have no known role in preventing chronic diseases. Therefore, neither an AI nor RDA is set for saturated fatty acids. There is a positive linear trend between total saturated fatty acid intake and total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration and increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). A UL is not set for saturated fatty acids because any incremental increase in saturated fatty acid intake increases CHD risk”

      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=422

      Also, I know of no information suggesting our body struggles to conserve excess macronutrients as fat. This is not a problem regardless when you are eating whole, minimally processed plant foods when your hungry till your full.




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      1. Thanks Toxins,

        You said: “I know of no information suggesting our body struggles to conserve excess macronutrients as fat.”

        I was inquiring about converting carbohydrates, not conserving macronutrients.

        The message I’m getting from science is this: Saturated fats are bad for us and we evolved the ability to generate and store them to help us survive.

        That is a logical absurdity. I honestly can’t blame low-carbers and paleo dieters when science presents this kind of mixed message. It is the saturated fat paradox.




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        1. Let me clarify what a macronutrient is. A macronutrient is Protein, Fat, or carbohydrates. Too much of either, and it will be stored in the form of triglycerides. Rarely, unless there is a medical condition, will we ever urinate out glucose. Our kidneys are very good at conserving glucose.

          The message from the nutritional community is that EXCESS saturated fat does not promote health. There is a difference between consuming saturated fat and our body creating all that it needs.




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          1. How could someone possibly downvote this? They are offended by recitation of biochemical and physiological facts? Would they downvote an anatomy phys textbook if they could? People these days are reading blogs and drawing their own conclusions that contradict what the experts with decades in the field have to say, all the while not even having a handle on the basic vocabulary. Sad in more ways than one.




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            1. How could someone possibly downvote this? Because it did not answer the question. Would they downvote a textbook? If the textbook is wrong I would hope so. Are you suggesting textbooks are always correct? Are you suggesting blogs are always wrong and scientists are always right? How about we stick to the question at hand and set aside the tangential (and irrelevant) cheering and jeering?




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        2. A paradox? Your body requires something, so your body produces it. Because your body produces it, you don’t need to consume it. Because you don’t need to consume it, eating what are relatively huge excess quantities of it causes problems. Where is the paradox again?




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          1. Your body requires something, so your body produces it…therefore it is not bad for you. Is vitamin C bad for animals that produce their own? What about amino acids? Please give one other example in nature where an animal produces their own nutritional factor that is bad for them if they consume it?




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            1. Your intuition makes sense. But nutritionally almost anything in excess has been shown to not be beneficial to long term health. Multivitamins and nutritional supplements are a good example. No long term benefits.




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  12. As someone whose life was indeed SAVED by Dr. Swank twenty four years ago, I was thrilled, to find that Dr. Greger had posted this. I saw him as his patient for ten years. Learn, his protocol … I DID. ( more than “just diet”, there is alot of old fashioned , tried and TRUE-wisdom- in what he taught us) Long story short, i was told I had “in the top third of the worst cases they’d ever seen” as well as “a few good years left”. It was the most fortunate day of my LIFE to learn of him, to be able to work my way (daily badgering on the phone for an appointment when his wait list was -two years long). When HE saw my mri with “uncountable lesions” all he said was “if you do as I say, you can live a normal life”. That statement, his soft voice, spoken as a long standing scientist with more research background in ms than anyone in the WORLD…i was awed-amazed, excited to have a life back, beyond belief. AND…everything he said, was completely accurate.
    He published over three hundred journal articles in his career…his work has been scrutinized by ALL…it stands alone in it’s effectiveness in stopping the progress of the disease. PERIOD. Please…take this, the lifesaving information, as a starter. Check it out for yourself…his site, http://www.swankmsdiet.org, the foundation, which is desperately trying to continue to put out his work…the mentors like myself who will help folks to understand the diet protocol. We do this, globally. I’ve taught people from many corners of the earth, how to make this work for them. The toughest part…not the food, the MUST do’s as far as restricting too much activity. REST…stress reduction, a major part of what we must do.

    Any questions, you can also find me at the swank ms diet facebook page, where a small but growing coregroup of us are found. I’ve long been OUTRAGED, that doctors, the famous society that is supposedly working ON OUR BEHALF, work only for themSELVES. For profit, of course….while the beautiful Swank foundation, whose only job is to put this lifesaving work out there for everyone, squeaks by on an absolute pittance, whatever it can gather from people who recogize it’s tremendous VALUE. No, i don’t work for them…my only calling in life, is to make sure no one suffers, as I did upon getting such a horrible diagnoses. 5 exacerbations in six months before Swank. One, in twenty four years, since. I’d say, that’s a wonderful result. :)




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  13. I shared this video with my parents who said there are also studies showing the drugs mentioned do work. Can someone address these please:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23652214
    The effects of long-term interferon- beta-1b treatment on cognitive functioning in multiple sclerosis: a 16-year longitudinal study.

    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/743759 « Return to Article
    Medscape Medical News > Neurology
    Interferon Beta-1b Prolongs Survival in MS Patients




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  14. Hi Duke
    It does seem confusing at first, doesn’t it?!…However, in looking closely at the articles you mention, it becomes a little a clearer…The first study you mention included just 16 people total and did not include a non-treated (control group) for the duration of the study, so difficult to assess if any conclusion would be statistically meaningful (or useful). Additionally, MS can produce many symptoms: muscle weakness/spasm, fatigue, memory problems, bowel and bladder incontinence, and more. This study (which may or may not be useful given the above-mentioned limitations) only speculates that beta-interferon helps with the memory issues…it is not felt to help with symptoms of weakness, fatigue, incontinence, etc.

    The second study states that it was funded by pharmaceutical companies and that the physician-authors are also funded by pharmaceutical companies. The last line reads “The study was funded by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Ebers reports that he has financial relationships with Roche, UCB, and Bayer-Schering. Dr. Gooding discloses that he has financial relationships with Novartis, Bayer-Schering, Teva, and EMD Serono. Dr. Weinstock-Guttman discloses that she has financial associations with Biogen Idec, Teva Neuroscience, EMD Serono, Pfizer, Accorda, Novartis, Aspreva, and Cognition.” For more about research design and conflicts of interest, please check out Dr. Greger’s piece on study funding:

    http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/arent-studies-funded-by-corporations-bias/




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    1. Thank you,

      Here is the response:

      I agree with a lot of stuff in the article you sent, especially the de-stressing obviously…and the healthy diet and exercise.

      Their credibility got hurt when they did not mention that the geographical relationship is mostly based on how far you grew up from the equator during your adolescent before 15 years old years. The research points to a strong relationship with Vitamin D from the sun.

      And the fact that they are biased toward the Swank Diet, just like they accuse the doctors of bias toward the drugs. Everyone has biases. There are many other studies supporting the beta interferon links, especially the ones that has to be done to get Avonex approved. There is no sense them cutting it down, it has been proved to work…. That does not say that plant based diets from birth might be preventative also.

      They would be more creditable if they did not try to prevent their case so one-sidedly….that really hurts their credibility.

      Geographic Distribution

      There is a very specific geographic distribution of this disease around the world. A significantly higher incidence of the disease is found in the northernmost latitudes of the northern and the southern hemispheres compared to southernmost latitudes. This observation is based on the incidence of the disease in Scandinavia, northern United States and Canada, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The data from migration studies shows that if the exposure to a higher risk environment occurs during adolescence (before 15 years of age,) the migrant assumes the higher risk of the environment. This concept is nicely illustrated in studies of native-born South African white population with low incidence of the disease versus high incidence of MS among white immigrants from Great Britain, where the disease is much more prevalent (Saud A. Sadiq,James R. Miller et al.) “Epidemics” of MS have been reported and these provide further evidence of importance of environmental factors in MS. The most notable “epidemic” was described on the Faroe Islands after they were occupied by British troops in W.W.II. Similar increases in incidence of the disease were seen on Shetland and Orkney Islands, in Iceland, and in Sardinia. A specific “point agent” for these “epidemics” never was identified.

      Many experts, on the basis of epidemiological data showing less MS where there is more sun, animal work on improving experimental auto-immune encephalomyelitis with light therapy, reduced risk of MS with adequate sunlight or vitamin D supplementation and limited human studies, believe that sunlight improves MS. The evidence is convincing. People with MS can feel comfortable that sunlight is likely to improve their outcome from the disease, and protect them from many others in addition. Provided the amount of UV radiation is not excessive, this is a very safe therapy. In winter, in most places in the world, a vitamin D supplement is necessary to keep vitamin D levels optimal at above150nmol/L (60ng/mL for those in the US). Regarding vitamin D and multiple sclerosis, research suggests strongly that high-normal levels are required, so some people with MS aim even higher, perhaps at 200nmol/L. In my view, this will soon become accepted medical practice in the treatment of MS. The medical community is rapidly coming to an acceptance of the importance of adequate vitamin D levels for good health.

      And even Avonex’s site, Active Source, http://www.msactivesource.com/ms-diet-and-exercise.xml?utm_campaign=Health%2520and%2520Wellness&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=Diet%2520%2526%2520Nutrition&utm_term=ms%2520and%2520diet says medication is only part of the answer, diet and exercise are important. So the folks pushing the Swank diet are trying too hard in my opinion.




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      1. Sunlight improves MS? Since I’ve had MS, sunlight is toxic to me. I have to wear a face mask and gloves in addition to long sleeves and a hat when outdoors. It takes only a few minutes exposure to the sun to make me unable to function at all. Fully protected from sunlight is the only way I can climb mountains and live outdoors, or ride in a car, either. We have transparent 100% UV-blocking film on our car windows. Before we found it, I was unable to ride in the car while the sun was up without full protective clothing.




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  15. I started reading and studying the Swank Diet when I was first diagnosed with Secondary Progressive MS in 2006. At that point, I was grossly overweight and got to the point of using a cane/walker to get around. I have been following the Swank Diet all these years. Not only have I lost over 120 lbs but I am now running. I just finished running my first 1/2 marathon! Does nutrition make a difference – YES!!!!




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  16. I’m so proud of Dr McDougall for creating the new MS study, it is doctors like him that do the work that the snob nosed ‘reject anything the boys at the club’ would not approve, and in doing so safe lives. He did it and will go down in history as a leader.

    There is no excuse anymore for people to get these diseases, if they have a computer and can type ‘google’ then they have no excuse, and I have no pity for them. Thank you Dr Greger for putting this information up with the scientific proof to back it up!




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  17. Update from a McDougall admin: “soon” has now turned into an April 2014 release date for the Oregon study. They keep pushing back the release date so I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see results until late 2014.




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    1. Dr. Yadav, who is one of the co-investigators for the Oregon Study, presented some of the results of the one year study at the McDougall Advanced Study Weekend in September. The results in compliance and non MS parameters were very impressive. She did not present the MS results. Dr. Bourdette had spoken previously at another McDougall Advanced Study Weekend at the beginning of the study. He mentioned that given the number of participants, the length of the study and the nature of MS it would be unlikely to show significance. He was hoping that this study will lead to larger studies. Dr. Yadav mentioned that Dr. Bourdette will be presenting results in April at a national convention. The jury may still be out but two things are clear… one there is no downside to the prescribed diet and two if you have MS you certainly don’t want to add another chronic disease such as diabetes, arterial disease or obesity to the MS diagnosis. Given the nature of the disease and the efficacy of the drug therapy I believe it is prudent to recommend the McDougall diet for patients with MS.




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  18. Dr. John A. McDougall was once my neighbor who lived about 2 blocks away from where I lived in Maunawili, which is on the windward side (southeastern area) of the island of Oahu.

    Dr. McDougall advocates plenty of solar exposure, which I feel is very unwise because of the permanent damage to our skin and eyes. The healthiest way to get the vitamin D that we need is from supplements, mushrooms, fish, and/or only a very limited amount of solar exposure.

    In the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. McDougall was severely criticized by many nutritionists for advocating zero calcium supplementation. At the other extreme, the National Osteoporosis Foundation encourages everyone to become obsessed with calcium supplementation and memorize the calcium content of various foods. Both extremes are wrong. The optimal dosage of calcium supplementation is 300mg to 600mg per day of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is superior to all other forms of calcium supplementation because it strongly lowers our risk of developing colorectal cancer by binding with up to 70% of the total heme iron in our intestines. Like copper, manganese, and aluminum, iron is a pro-oxidant which, if consumed in excess, will damage every cell in our bodies and increase our risk of developing numerous killer diseases. All other forms of calcium supplementation can bind with only 10% to 20% of the total heme iron in our intestines.

    At a dosage of 300mg of calcium carbonate daily, we would derive about 90% of the maximum benefit to our bone health and suffer 0% of the maximum damage to our arteries. At a dosage of 600mg of calcium carbonate daily, we would derive 100% of the maximum benefit to our bone health and suffer about 10% of the maximum damage to our arteries.

    If blood calcium levels are low and need to be increased, the smart way to accomplish this is by eating shiitake mushrooms and not by swallowing forms of calcium supplementation that are different from calcium carbonate. Shiitake mushrooms contain vitamins D1, D2, and D4. Vitamin D4 has health benefits that vitamin D1, D2, and D3 lack. Some medical doctors prescribe vitamin D4 pills to increase blood calcium levels in patients with low blood calcium levels.

    About half of all people who suffer from heart disease have calcified arteries when examined by chest X-ray. The statin drugs that medical doctors prescribe will greatly improve our cholesterol numbers but will also make our calcified arteries much worse. The delicious, fermented, whole soybean food from Japan called, natto, will remove the calcium from our arteries and put that calcium in our bones where it will prevent future bone fractures. No other food and no prescription medicine can reverse arterial calcification:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._McDougall




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    1. Ronald, you wrote “Like copper, manganese, and aluminum, iron is a pro-oxidant which, if consumed in excess, will damage every cell in our bodies and increase our risk of developing numerous killer diseases.”

      What about vegan foods that contain a lot of manganese and copper? Rye bread and some beans and certain nuts and seeds, multiple times per day, can send these metal levels well above the 100%RDA. I find manganese is easy to surpass 200-300%, depending on the foods and quantity. And iron as well in beans. Are these plant-based metals you have mentioned what you are referring to, or are you speaking specifically about meat-based forms?

      Also, thanks for the natto information. I had no idea.




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  19. Update from Dr. Yadav:
    The abstract has been submitted. They should know by the end of Jan 2014 if it will be accepted. They think they may be able to release results by April 2014.




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  20. Has the study about low fat diet and MS with patients that could received MRI by Dr McDougall and yourself been completed? If so, are the results published and available for consultation?




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  21. The huge question is why the MS Society doesn’t promote the Swank diet. If a drug could freeze ms in its tracks in 95% of cases, some company would make billions. I assume that they don’t believe the data that Dr. Swank published.




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  22. So where is the published study? The “randomized control trialed” results that Dr. McDougal mentions will be out “in the next year”? If the study report was completed in 2012… Any word if the results were as predicted?




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    1. Just published a week ago (as a poster abstract). It was disappointing:
      Yadav, V., Marracci, G., Kim, E., Spain, R., Cameron, M., Overs, S., … & Bourdette, D. (2014). Effects of a low fat plant based diet in multiple sclerosis (MS): results of a 1-year long randomized controlled (RC) study (P6. 152). Neurology, 82(10 Supplement), P6-152.

      After baseline difference adjustment, the groups showed no significant changes in the number of active lesions (0.4, 95% CI -1.2 to1.9, p=0.6) or other MR parameters, relapse rate, disability expanded disability status score, timed 25-foot walk and fatigue severity score.




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      1. I was waiting for this study to come out ! So “no significant changes in the number of active lesions” do not mean that there desease are undercontrol and no longer progress ?




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        1. No significant changes between the experimental and control groups. Basically, the variation of disease progression was big in both groups before the study, and any benefit was small and overwhelmed between the groups, statistically, by this individual variation.

          If saturated free fatty acids are directly mediating inflammation in MS, perhaps its more difficult to achieve Swank’s results in the short term in modern, more overweight populations (those fats get released upon weight loss). Swank’s studies were also done in the pre-MRI era, so perhaps were more prone to selective recall by patients. Most importantly, perhaps, was the limited 1 year duration of the experiment;some forms of MS progress by fits and spurts, and Swank’s results may have required inhibiting several of these before a measurable benefit was seen.




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          1. I see, thanks for precising things. So we can’t see any difference at least for one years on overweight people. I hope they will do a follow up..

            I send you a message on FB by the way, if you might look at it. Thanks again.




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  23. Just found out about Dr.Swank. I have Multiple Sclerosis and can barely walk with a walker anymore.I’m at a terrible point with this disease. Could you please tell me what the name of the book is by Dr.Swank that focuses on Multiple Sclerosis? Thank you.




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    1. LDN(low dose naltrexone) has been found to stop the progression of MS in about 85% of patients. http://www.ldninfo.org
      It is FDA approved at 50mg, but used in a low dose of 1.5 – 4.5 mg/day. It is inexpensive, no side effects except some sleeplessness the first week or so in some people, and is used by thousands with success. Join the Yahoo LDN group mentioned on the LDN link above and ask any of the over 11,000 people there who use LDN any questions you may have.
      Another supplement that can have astoundingly positive results for MS is Lion’s Mane Mushroon. Best wishes.




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  24. The Swank Diet appears to include meat, eggs and dairy. It is not a vegan diet. To really benefit one needs to go Vegan Plus and eat a diet of whole organic plants while avoiding salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates.




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  25. This have a lot of merits. My take. In the USA a lot of folks with MS have Indian descent whether known or not. The Indian couldn’t eat the SAD. Interesting enough, the Indian diet, exercise and magnesium therapy, can have people living MS symptom free. My wife has had it since 1995 and the liaisons have been basically in the same place for the past 14 years




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  26. Hi, if we limit the intake of saturated fats to 15g max, how much good fats are we allowed to consume on top of the 15g?
    Thanks, we recently had a family member diagnosed and would like to know more about this diet.




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  27. After not seeing a follow up video, I read the results of the Diet & Multiple Sclerosis Study (https://www.drmcdougall.com/2014/07/31/results-of-the-diet-multiple-sclerosis-study/) and the results were not promising. Sure, patients lost weight and experienced improved lipid profiles—but the extent of their improvement was that they felt “better”. MRI images showed no differences between the diet and control groups, and there was no difference in disability or relapses between the groups as well.

    Do you have any commentary or insight to these results, Dr. Greger?




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    1. Dr. Mcdougall himself stated why the results were not unexpected. The study was too small and there was an inherent bias based on the health and severity of the disease in the two groups.




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      1. Yes, this is (or was) on his website. he wrote that the subjects were randomly assigned to the two groups. After they were assigned, it turned out the group to take the diet was unhealtier, to begin with, than the control group. Hopefully another study will be done with a larger population starting from the same average baseline.




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    2. Hi Mark. That link doesn’t appear available can you repost it? I think even if what you state is true, even if they felt better isn’t that reason enough to try a healthier diet? The fact we have so much research on diet and MS is promising for patients who are trying to deal with the symptoms of the disease. Sometimes anything is better than nothing, especially if one could reduce the progression of MS. The idea of the video and research is to build awareness about the connections between diet and MS. If you find more research please share with us, and I’ll do the same. Hope that’s alright :-)




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  28. I have been investigating protocols which help MS, for a friend.
    Nutrition is obviously ver beneficial, (Swanks, Jelinek, yourself).
    So are large doses Vitamin D3 (Dr Cicero Coimbra, Brazil). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOfO29rL-gI) in case you are interested. (Has English subtitles).
    I wondered why both seem to benefit MS sufferers, (and others).

    I read somewhere that certain foods prevent the processing of Vitamin
    D.They mentioned the usual suspects, sat fat, animal protein, not enough
    fibre etc, and suggested that it was because all these things raised
    cortisol levels which then prevents Vit D working, (perhaps in people
    who have a genetic problem with Vitamin D ). Have you come across
    evidence to suggest this? The diseases linked to low Vit D seem to also
    be linked to poor (as in not whole food,plant based) diet, so presumaby
    there is a connection. I would be really interested in any research on
    this.
    Thanks again,
    Anne Jamieson




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    1. Hi Anne, Thanks for reposting your question. There are studies that focus on The role of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis
      and this review may explain more. Vitamin D acts like an immune modulator. It serves so many important roles in the body. The vitamin is more like a hormone. Some research suggests MS patients cannot properly maintain vitamin D levels, and may experience certain changes in their DNA that negativity affect vitamin D receptors.

      Drinking too much milk (or having a high calcium intake) seems to increase prostate cancer risk. One theory behind this is because high loads of calcium can down-regulate the parathyroid hormone, which is responsible for producing active vitamin D in the kidneys, therefore increasing prostate cancer risk. We know Vitamin D is very important for immunity and health so it’s important to assure we get outside and soak up the sun! Here are Dr. Greger’s Optimal Nutrition Recommendations, if interested.

      Thanks for your questions! Let me know is this helps.
      Joseph




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  29. Hello everyone. I never post anything online, but I noticed this on the site and felt compelled. I have had this monster disease since i was nineteen and now am sixty-three. When I was first cripple, I was determined to overcome it. So, I started researching, without computers. I sent my teacher friends to the medical library and elsewhere to get books for me so that I could try to figure this out. My hands were both waving around like sea anemones so I had to turn pages with a gadget. Ha Well, as it turns out, I designed a diet very similar to Dr. Terry Wahls and Dr. George Jelinek sp? I looked at my behaviour at the time and decided that vitamin D played an integral role. That is why I added wild caught salmon oil, cod liver oil and the most nutrient dense vegetables that I could get. Also, I rotated between calves liver and wild caught salmon and tuna. I have not had ANY changes on MRI since 2003 which could be some proof. I also insure that I have gut bacteria replenished every single time that I take an antibiotic using kefir and those expensive probiotics that are refrigerated. I was allergic to milk as a child. I also had the worse case of measles known to mankind. I seldom eat any other kind of meat because liver is the most nutrient dense substance that I could find when I was designing the diet. I do not like it. It gets bigger in my mouth as I chew it, but it seems to give me instant energy. That is the ONLY reason that I put it in the diet. I try to get 20 minutes of sun at noon because of where I live. If I can’t get out or I get MSy, I take a supplement 5000-10,000 daily. You must have several other vitamins for it to work because it is synergistic with them. (magnesium, K2) This wonderful doctor on this site could tell you, of course. I think that one day they will identify a type of gut bacteria that the body reacts to combined with low vitamin D levels. My first cousin has MS also so there must be a genetic component. I hope that this helps someone! My mom’s prayers are very effective. Cheers!! I am still walking…and playing guitar.




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    1. In a small percentage of MS cases (maybe as high as 7 %) there is a vitamin B12 deficiency present. Your positive experience with liver, a rich source of B12, suggest B12 might be worth a try. I would look into methylcobalamin shots (1000-15000 mcg) or at least high oral doses (5000-30000 mcg). After the first 30 micrograms the rest is passively absorbed at about 1-2 percent of oral intake. See the book: <> by S. Pacholok




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  30. This low fat diet works for MS according to Dr. Stephen Fry because the protomyxzoa (parasite) that feeds on the myelin needs fat to grow. When we cut the fat out, these parasites die back. It’s very interesting research! http://protomyxzoa.org/




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  31. I wanted to thank NutritionFacts.org for all of your helpful information!
    I’ve been seeing a Neurologist and having all kinds of MRI’S because he thinks I have M.S.
    My G.P. is very much into nutrition and has recommended this site.
    I have to make some serious changes in my life ( diet). I eat healthy most of the time but went back to meat recently. I have low blood sugar and if I don’t get enough protein I start shaking and get dizzy…no fun. I hope to find how to rectify this without needing sugar or meat..when I have an attack I could eat a cow or a box of cookies when it happens.
    I would appreciate any help on the subject of vegan diet with healthy protein.
    I deal with a lot of pain on a daily basis, would be nice to get my life back.
    Thanks and many blessings, Deborah




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  32. Dark green leafy vegetables and other veggies were always #1 at our meals, always eaten first, with no fatty foods or pork, only lean chicken and no dairy except nonfat milk when I was growing up (50 years ago). I refused to eat hamburgers or mayonnaise, couldn’t stand pizza, and so on and on. We also exercised daily as a family starting about 8yo. I got MS at 22 anyway, but except for a few years when I couldn’t swing a leg forward, I was mostly able to stay very active, although I continue to have many significant problems. It’s hard for me to see how I ever got very much saturated fat in my diet, because I really do not like the foods it’s in. I also got breast cancer, even though my diet had been high in veggies and beans for so long. However I was eating some sugar, which I’ve now stopped. My lipids have always been great. Don’t jump to conclusions about someone else’s lifestyle.
    I also have a friend who was a HS and college track star, and she had always refused the same foods that I had, wouldn’t go into McD’s, like me. It didn’t keep either of us from getting MS.




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  33. I was Dx’d w/ MS in 2009, at age 47, I have been on Rebif since January 2010. So, YOU are saying to ignore my Neurologist, stop taking my shots (Rebif), and go on a “no saturated fat diet?” I eat mostly ground turkey, chicken breasts, eggs, and fish fillets, so I would have to stop eating them, correct? Note: I ran out of funding for my shots (Rebif), last Wednesday, so I missed a shot on Friday, and had a “flaree-up” on Sunday, and I missed a shot on Monday, but I’m still in the middle of a “flaree-up”




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  34. I thought this site was about “evidence” based medicine. This is directly from from the McDougal study, i.e., out of McDougal’s own mouth: “No real difference was seen between the “Diet” and “Control” groups; nor was a difference in disability or relapses seen between the diet intervention and control groups.” Furthermore, the McDougal writes, “MRI results did not show changes.” So what are we talking about folks? This is no better than panacea cancer cures offered to desperately sick people. To continue to insist that something works – despite evidence to the contrary – because you are personally invested in the result being a certain way, IS NOT SCIENCE. Scientists are objective and are not invested in outcomes in a way that distorts their ability to see what is ACTUALLY happening. This is science 101. Anecdotal research is beyond problematic. Dr. Greger, you are not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination. Not even close. Cherry picking research to fit your own values and ideology IS NOT SCIENCE. It’s unbelievable how many people just eat this information up with virtually no critical assessment of the value-laded context within which it is presented. If it makes YOU feel better, then that’s great, but never mistake yourself feeling better for a scientific law.




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  35. Dear Dr. Greger,
    thanks for the great video! Im very excited about the outcome of Dr. McDougall’s study.
    As you tell us at the end of the video, Dr. McDougall has already had his study in progress 2 years ago when you published this video. Are there today any news concerning this study? I wasnt yet able to find any related video.
    I am so excited, because to finally consider the plant-based treatment as proven, it would need a repitition such as Dr. McDougall’s study. People still seem to be very critical about this doctor back in the 1950s and his experiments, and Dr. McDougall’s study would be needed to finally prove them wrong and promote a plant-based diet as a treatment for MS.
    I would be happy to receive an answer of you!




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  36. I agree with most of your findings on this website, but it is not justified to jump to conclusions about a person’s lifestyle without facts. “If you have MS, you ate a the SAD, diet high in saturated fat”. 100% wrong in my case. I was raised by someone who was very interested in nutrition. We ate a low-fat diet, not excessive in protein, almost no red meat, dark green leafy veggies every day, and we exercised starting when I was in grade-school at the local high-school track. I started backpacking at age 9. I have never eaten the SAD. I was diagnosed with MS at 22.




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  37. Hi,

    I have been diagnosed with myastenia gravis. Are there any plans for a video or article on this autoimmune condition? I started a vegan diet and my symptoms all but disappeared over a four month period. There seems to be more people with this disorder and there is little info about how diet can help this condition.




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    1. jkamjohn: I don’t know anything about the condition you mentioned, but the results you got with diet are pretty amazing. Thanks for sharing. As for future videos: Questions/requests like these get passed on to Dr. Greger and he addresses them as he can. I’m not privy to his plans, though, so can’t comment on that.




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      1. Thea,

        MG is an autoimmune disorder that affects the muscle nerve receptors by blocking the nerve impulses from the brain. First symptoms are drooping eyelids, double vision, difficulty chewing and swallowing. Then larger muscles become affected. After I started WFPB diet my symptoms abated over a four month period. I have been on YouTube and no one seems to know about diet and it’s affect on the immune system. Spread the word how this can help MG victims.




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  38. The swank diet works! I was in a wheelchair most of the time and I was getting depressed. I asked God to either make me better or take me out of this world. I started looking up alternatives to medicines on the computer and found the SWANK DIET. I tried it and within 2 weeks I was already getting strong enough to get out of my wheelchair. Not only did it make me stronger but it also gave my wife and I 3 BEAUTIFUL babies. We were married 18 years and didn’t think we could have children. I worked on the riverboats until I started having physical problems. I went downhill quick! I was out of commission for a few years until the SWANK DIET saved our life. What I thought was a curse(MS) turned out to be a blessing. Thank you DR. Swank.




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  39. I was a bit upset seeing this video. There are a bunch of things that are inexact, like the two alternative treatments. Yes, interferons are popular. But the other treatment causing leucemia is not listed on any of the websites of the MS societies of any country. There’s unfortunately a bunch of other things that seem to jump to conclusions. There’s a question of causality: the study starts with 47 people following the diet. After 50 years, the 15 they found were still following the diet, almost all of them are relapse free. What I wonder is about the 32 others: did they quit because they found the diet was not working?

    One more thing, Swank’s hypothesis is that people in some regions of the world get more MS than in others because of the diet they follow: higher in fats, meat. Just last year, it was shown that this is due to low vitamin D levels. A counter example are some countries where the diet is high in saturated fats and meat and have low rates of MS: e.g. Argentina which consumes as much beef as the US has a very very low rate of MS (17 cases per 100 000 people).

    Finally, personal testimony: I’ve been diagnosed with MS three years ago, but I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years. Although I do eat eggs and dairy, I only do it in very very little amounts and eat almost no processed foods. Isn’t that the Swank diet? I wished it worked for me!




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    1. I hear what you’re saying. I’ve had MS, in retrospect now, probably for 25 years but officially since 1998..I’ve never taken any drugs and attempt to take care of myself the best I can nutritionally but am tired of trying to analyze which diet with so much contradictory info.
      It’s all a bit stressful which is the worst thing for us.
      There is so much more than we know…most likely our gut bacteria was insufficient in childhood and perhaps having the measles set off a chain reaction or maybe the vaccines we received, for our particular systems, triggered something. diet might have very little if anything to do with actual cause but certainly could help or harm as it advanced..therein lies the problem, our bodies created this condition and now what?




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  40. Has anyone heard of the Overcoming MS diet developed by Prof. George Jelinek? I’ve been following this diet for 18 months now, still early days but I feel great. And I’ve had no progression of my MS. George Jelinek has continued on from where Swank finished, that is looking at other lifestyle factors other than diet that may help people with MS. He’s refined the diet and included exercise, mediation, and medication into the mix (among other things). I’d love to hear what Dr. Greger could put together on this.




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  41. I’d be interested in what the results were, too! I went to the research website and it looks liked from what I read in the study, that perhaps they didn’t get the results they expected? Even if not, I’d want to know. Thanks!




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