Shortly after I was diagnosed in 1991, I bought and committed to follow The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book by Roy Swank. The book maintains that a chronic disease like MS requires a permanent “adjustment of everyday patterns of living,” which at the time of my diagnosis seemed like a no-brainer.
The Swank Diet is low-fat for the rest of your life: no cheating, no exceptions. Sadly, I only lasted about a year, and I took to retorting, “A life without cheese is no life at all!”
Since the medical community consistently pooh-poohs diet as having anything to do with MS, I wasn’t really going against prevailing theories.
But in the last couple of years, my health has started to get noticeably worse: my vision is unsteady, as is my balance. My writing is gone, and my mobility is very limited. I have started to question, would this be different if I had given up cheese for the rest of my life?
So in this mindset, I came across a new book The M.S. Recovery Diet by Sawyer and Bachrach. They praise the low fat approach of Swank, but they conclude that the real problem is the food sensitivities of each individual so there is no one diet for everybody. They define food sensitivities as the “reaction of the immune system to antigens,” that the body produces antibodies in response to a perceived antigen.
I am skeptical, but they don’t suggest I will have to give up anything permanently; just to start to identify, by watching my body’s reactions – even as soon as after the most recent meall – and eliminate foods that trigger my symptoms. Then, they maintain, as symptoms fade and disappear, the disease itself slows or halts and recovery begins. Once recovery starts taking place, the immune cells “forget” an antigen, which allows foods to be returned to your diet.
I’ll keep you posted.