When Bob told me that the Swank diet was nonsense, I had already come to the same conclusion myself after reading the publication. The Swank diet basically believes that people with MS should not intake fat; the Wiki says “low in saturated fat,” but the people who I knew who were on it back in the mid to late 90s said they avoided all fat. The mere idea of someone who is having the myelin stripped from their central nervous system avoid fat is bizarre. Myelin is by definition 70-80% lipids (fat) . How would one ever hope to repair the myelin if the weren’t consuming the building blocks necessary to do so? Oh, that’s right. Back then, the common belief was that you simply DIDN’T remyelinate. I never heard Bob say that, however.
He did tell me a story of one of his patients who was on the Swank diet. She had suffered a relapse, gone to Dr. Swank for help, and he told her she must have done SOMETHING to cause the relapse. Please think about what you may have consumed that is not allowable on my diet. She admitted that she had taken a swipe of frosting off of her son’s birthday cake, to which Swank replied, “A-ha!” Bob was unimpressed to say the very least.
Years later I did some peer counseling for the MS Society. I know, Bob advised me to avoid them, which I did. This entailed occasionally speaking to other people with MS via phone. I was someone who reached out to “touch bases” with people with MS who said a little conversation with someone who understood and walked in their shoes would be helpful in dealing with things—just a friendly voice. If I heard anything in the conversation that led me to believe this individual might need a professional counselor, I would call the leader of the group to pass on that info.
Among the group of peer counselors were a handful of people who followed the Swank diet. Some of us were on Betaseron; some on nothing at all. You could argue the merits of the different MS therapies ad nauseum if you wanted. I kept my mouth shut, obtained my list of phone numbers, and left remembering Bob’s warning to steer clear of the bigger entity. It is not surprising to think that everyone there believed THEY were on the correct protocol. When you are the afflicted party, it is absolutely imperative that you believe in what you are doing to help yourself and change the course of the disease. Remember how much power the mind has over physical health.
I did not stay in touch with any of them, but we were all at about the same level of disability at that point. I did not follow statistics on the Swank diet as I found it so irrational. The Wiki says there is no medical evidence to support the claims. I don’t know how any of them are doing as far as progression of MS.
After I went paleo, however, I had to stop and wonder if it wasn’t the lack of fat at all that may have been helping the followers of the Swank diet—if indeed people were experiencing stability and remission while on the protocol. What typically goes along with fat but sugar? What if people were experiencing relief from symptoms or remission NOT because they weren’t consuming (much) fat but because they were avoiding candy, ice cream, cake etc…?
I guess we’ll never know, but it’s something to ponder.
PS Bob you were absolutely correct in your assessment of the MS Society. When I moved out-of-state the peer counseling network wanted me to continue to volunteer for the group where I now reside, spoke to the leader of the volunteer project here, and even sent ahead a personal reference. Once I was settled, I spoke to the woman here on the phone several times; she, obviously knew of my disability—when I moved here I could barely get around by myself. She insisted that I had to drive to their office several times (2+ hours round-trip in traffic) to be interviewed, attend conferences etc. before I could volunteer for them. I told her it would be physically difficult for me and declined.