Diet as a Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

A Web MD Feature Article written by R. Morgan Griffen entitled “MS and Your Diet: Is There a link?” discusses three dietary approaches that people have promoted to treat MS.

The italicized information is taken directly from the article

Gluten-free diet. Cutting out gluten is popular. But there’s no evidence it helps people with MS, says Allen C. Bowling, MD, PhD, medical director of the Multiple Sclerosis Service at the Colorado Neurological Institute and author of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis.

Swank diet. This diet, developed over 60 years ago, has very low levels of saturated fats. Though some studies have shown promise, none has shown a convincing benefit, Bowling says. “I don’t think the Swank diet is harmful, but it’s hard to stick to,” he says.

Wahls diet. This diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables — 9 cups a day – but no studies have shown a clear result.  Bowling believes its emphasis on certain nutrients leads some followers to “use high doses of many supplements.” He cautions that the safety of such high doses has not been proven. Discuss any supplements you’re taking with your doctor, even if the products are natural.

The only diet that that has shown any promise is the diet that was developed by Dr. Roy Swank from the University of Oregon.  Dr. Swank’s patients who did well for decades, may take issue with Dr. Bowling’s assertion that the diet was hard to stick to.

Dr. John McDougall’s Research Foundation is working with the University of Oregon on research that builds on the work of Dr. Swank’s. 

The Swank diet is low in saturated fat and, although it is a plant strong diet, it does allow small amounts of non-fat dairy and lean meats.  During an interview years ago, Dr. Swank told Dr. McDougall  that he allowed for small amounts of low-fat animal products to make it easier for patients to comply with the diet. He did not believe the health benefit of the diet came from these foods. 

The McDougall research, which is being led by Vijayshree Yadav MD, will study the McDougall diet’s impact on MS. The McDougall diet is a low fat, whole food plant based diet.  It excludes all animal products including dairy and it also excludes added oils.

To learn more about this research, click on the following links below:

Health Central article

McDougall article

Dr. Greger video

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