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The MS Recovery Diet

 

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In the summer of 2010, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. There was finally a name to the symptoms I have been suffering from for at least five years. The mystery was finally solved, but new questions surfaced. How was I going to get treated? What was going to happen to me? What can I do? Is this the end for me? Is my life over?

I am a very spiritual person, so I turned to prayer first. I spent many hours of silence asking these questions and waited patiently for answers. What came next was a thirst for information.

I became drawn to the Internet for answers. For the first time in my life, I became addicted to the Internet, a tool that I didn’t care too much for before. I googled questions such as “what is the worst that can happen to me with MS?” “What are the treatments for MS?” But what I found only scared me. The web sites I was finding only focused on MS as a debilitating disease that makes people deteriorate slowly and painfully. With searches like that, I was close to being suicidal. I was ready to give up and spend the rest of my days in by bed waiting for the end.

In spite of how much I longed to do that, I saw how much pain this was causing my family. It was not the shock of the diagnosis itself, but my behavior and the mourning I was experiencing.  I could see their hearts breaking, the helplessness they were feeling when they watched me lying down in silence much too weak to speak, and their disappointment that they could not get me to smile.

It was my nephew, who was ten at the time, who showed the most anguish. He may not have known exactly what was going on with me, but I could tell he sensed something as I saw my sorrow reflected in his eyes. It was the most disappointed I ever saw him and I look back on those days with a heavy heart for being the cause of it.

I didn’t want to continue doing this to my family. I may have accepted that my life could possibly be a downward spiral, but I could not accept causing any more pain for my family.

I decided to conduct a different kind of google search. New key words that I started to use were “stop progression?” “Can diet help MS?” “What kind of exercises will help MS?” “Can I live a normal life with MS?” The results were astounding. I found a plethora of diet tips that not only claimed to slow the progression of MS, but also reverse the progression.

Of course, the practical side of me was skeptical, but it was a time of desperation. I was willing to do anything. I was tired of being tired. Tired of the vertigo, the weakness, and the fatigue. Most of all, I was tired of being dependant on my family and feeling like a burden. I had to give it a try.

I came across a book titled “The MS Recovery Diet” by Ann Sawyer and Judith Bachrach. The title itself was very appealing. It was the first time I saw the words MS and Recovery put together. It was not Living With MS, Treating MS, Dealing with MS. It was about MS and recovering from it. How could I ignore a book with a title like that?

The MS Recovery Diet was the first book I purchased related to Multiple Sclerosis and though I didn't know it at the time, it was the beginning of my book collection on my healing journey. I read the book within two days. For the first time since the results of my MRI were shared with me, I had hope.

Although I was hopeful, I was dreadful as well about the recommendations that the book made. The book did not waste any time in telling you what you needed to do to recover. No ifs, ands or buts, this is what you have to give up: sugar, dairy, gluten, eggs, and legumes. If I had not been feeling terrified about my future with MS, if I had not been feeling weak, if I had no brain fog or vertigo, I would have shut the book gently and placed it in my night stand where I keep my cough medicine. Nevertheless, I needed to swallow all the information in that book immediately and I was desperate to continue reading.

I called my mother after I had skimmed the first three chapters.  “Mom!" I squirmed,   "there is some hope! I don’t know if it’s going to work, but I’m going to give it a try!  I have to give up all the food that I love and I honestly don’t know what I’m going to eat after I cut all this stuff out, but I think it will be worth it if the dizziness is going to stop!" I sensed the relief in my mother’s voice. She was the first member of my support group and our cut the food crap journey started right then and there.

The MS Recovery Diet tells the true story of two women who have been living with Multiple Sclerosis for several years. Just as I did, they turned to doing their own research and discovered one of the pioneers of the MS diet: Dr. Roy Swank.

Dr. Swank began his research on the connection between MS and diet about sixty years ago. He believed that if the intake of saturated fats stayed below 10-15 grams daily, symptoms of MS could be alleviated and possibly be reversed. Dr. Swank’s research and findings have helped thousands of people, but there were several skeptics and doctors that didn’t’ support him.  There was just not enough scientific research to back him up.

Over the years, however, several people have not only found Dr. Swanks research revolutionary, they found it inspiring to take what he started and kick it up a notch. Ann Sawyer and Judith Bachrach were two of them.   They present a somewhat modified version of the original Swank diet and share their knowledge as well as their personal stories.

Through their experience and devotion to the Swank diet, they determined that the following foods are the culprit to their well-being:

Dairy, grains containing glutens, legumes, eggs,  and yeast. In addition, they have cut out high glycemic sugars and advise the reduction in daily saturated fat intake.

Ann Sawyer and Judith Bachrach were highly symptomatic, were placed on disability and were bedridden. They claim that within a few weeks after beginning this diet, they were experiencing miraculous recovery levels. The numbness in their hands and feet went away, they started to feel more energy and regained some of their strength back.

The book starts off with a description of MS, they explore possible causes and they take you on a historical journey starting from the time the disease first started making it’s appearance in the late 1800’s. They then go to a deep analysis of the foods they have given up and why they feel they are hazardous to your health. They then tell stories of true testimonials from people that have given the diet a try and how it has changed their life. Finally, the book ends with recipes to try and exercises.

As I mentioned above, The MS Recovery Diet was the first book that I bought after my diagnosis and I delved into it's diet plan immediately. The morning after I ordered the book, I cleaned out my refrigerator and discarded everything on their “do not eat” list.

Up until my diagnosis, I was experiencing bouts of fatigue, weakness and severe vertigo. I had to skip out on many social events, birthday parties, and Christenings because I was too sick to get out of bed. Once I gave up all of those foods, I saw improvement within a few weeks. This was almost five years ago. Although over time, my diet has been slightly modified as I paid more attention to my body and continued with my own research, I never went back to eating like the way I did before:  a diet high in sugar, starch and processed foods.

The MS Recovery diet was written primarily for people who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but it could benefit everybody and not just those who are suffering any kind of an ailment. Everybody is different and reacts to different foods in a variety of ways, so I encourage everyone to pay attention to how they feel after they give up any of these foods or add them back in. The only objection that I received from a western medicine doctor after informing them of this lifestyle change was that I was denying myself of eating very delicious food and that life is too short. However, I never listened because giving up most of these foods has made me more enthusiastic about life and for the first time in a very long time, I actually felt “healthy”.

Right before I was diagnosed, I was 5'7 and weigned 156 pounds.  I had tried for eight years to try to lose the weight but nothing worked.  I thought that I was doing all the right things by drinking diet soda and putting skim milk in my cereal.  I ate a lot of yogurt, pasta and sandwiches that came from panini grilles saturated in Pam.  I just couldn't fit into my skinny jeans and I had given up.

When I started the MS Recovery Diet, I lost forty pounds within two months.  It was a very drastic weight loss that I would not advise to anyone.  The only explanation I have for it was that between the shock of my diagnosis that curtailed my appetite and not knowing exactly what to eat made the pounds melt away so fast, i didn't have time to buy a new belt for my pants that kept dropping off me while I was walking.

My friends and co-workers were shocked.  Working out Zoe?  Are you starving yourself?  My explanation was truthful and simple; I explained that I had not been feeling well for a while and decided to cut out stuff that I realized was making me sick.

The discovery of The MS Recovery Diet book was the beginning of a new life for me.  I was feeling so much better, I had shed the pounds and I became, generally, a happy person.  For the first time in many years, I not only felt healthy, but alluring,

 

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Ann Sawyer

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Judith Bachrach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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