September 15, 2016
In August 2016, the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the University of Iowa launched a clinical trial to test the use of Swank and Wahls dietary approaches to treating the fatigue common to multiple sclerosis (sufferers/victims/warriors/patients).
This post looks at the facts of the study and asks questions that those of us considering dietary ways of treating our MS should be asking.
The trial will be led by Dr Terry Wahls The trial is recruiting 100 participants with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis within the Iowa vicinity The focus is on “examining how food and nutrients can impact the lives of people with multiple sclerosis”, Dr Wahls Specific focus is the impact on fatigue. Results are expected to be published in 2020 More information from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The different approaches
The Wahls diet is described by the study as “modified Paleolithic diet that doesnt include grains, eggs, dairy products, legumes and night shade vegetables but places a heavy emphasis on vegetables, fruit, meat and fish”.
The Wahls diet will be compared with the low saturated fat diet created by Roy Swank, MD, PhD in 1950. Patients limit their daily intake of saturated fat to 15 grams, excluding red meat for the first year. Grains, legumes and fish are all permitted; eggs are limited to one per day or three yolks per week and fat free daily is permitted.
Let the study begin …
Trial participants will be randomly assigned to follow either Wahls or Swank and be required to keep careful food diaries with their health and activities monitored.
The trial will take 36 weeks - with participants following their normal eating patterns for 12 weeks and then 24 weeks of their allocated diet.
As well as fatigue, the study will also track activity, nutritional status, mobility, cognition, mood and side effects.
Before I list my questions, let me start by saying there is nothing unhealthy about either diet. And I am so thrilled that ‘science’ is looking at ways of treating this disease that are affordable and within all of our ability to follow. Q1. Dr Wahls is heavily involved in the study. Does this introduce bias? What involvement will the Swank Foundation have? Q2. Swank suggests good oils as daily supplements and prescribes rest for the first ‘fragile’ year. Will these important parts of the Swank protocol be included or will the study be limited to food? Q3. Assume that red meat will not be permitted for the Swank participants in accordance with the first ‘fragile’ year Q4. Would the study benefit from a ‘control group’ that continues to follow a normal western diet Q5. Assume that participants will reach out to online support groups. Both Wahls and Swank have great Facebook support groups. But will they be able to say they are part of the study?
Bouquet or Basting?
Definitely Bouquet. It is about time that ‘science’ takes a look in the pantry as well as the medicine cabinet. Do you know more? More questions? Answers? Let me know.