The Swank Multiple Sclerosis Diet
One of the old-time strategies for making the symptoms of multiple sclerosis go into remission was to follow a low-fat diet, one that was first proposed by a medical doctor named Roy Swank.
With what we know now about fat, it may be important to put the low fat (17%) Swank diet into perspective before you start it. Dr. Swank began his studies at the end of the 1940s with 150 patients in Montreal who had multiple sclerosis. He found that of the patients who consumed 17 grams of fat, only 21% of had serious problems, in comparison to those who ate a diet of 30 grams fat and 75% of them had serious problems. In the group that ate the most fat in their diet (49 grams of fat), 81% of them had serious problems over a 20-year period of time.
Swank’s hypothesis is that saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats were the cause of the problems of those with multiple sclerosis.
Knowing what we know now about diet and nutrition, plus knowing potential causes of multiple sclerosis and how the disease progresses, the low fat Swank diet is not necessarily a good idea. The reason why is because the American diet was vastly different in the 1940s than it is now.
What Did People Eat in the 1940s?
Here’s a list of some of the differences in diet in the 1940s:
- Meats were primarily pasture-raised and ate grasses, thus their meat was higher in omega-3 fats.
- Milk was generally full fat milk, as skim milk didn’t appear on the scene until years later.
- During the war, there was plenty of margarine and vegetable oils passed out to the population. This replaced the butter and good fats.
- Because the animals were pasture-raised, meats were naturally lower in fat than they are now. Meats didn’t contain high marbling. Men still hunted for meats. Anyone who hunts for wild game meat knows that it takes a long time to cook wild meats so they will not be tough. The amount of fat in the meat makes it moist.
- People ate a lot of white flour and wheat flour was almost unheard of.
- People made a lot of casseroles back then and ate foods like tomato soup (canned).
- During the war, rations included 100 grams of margarine and 100 grams of cooking fat, 50 grams of butter, along with bacon and ham.
- Rice Krispies and other processed cereals hit the grocery store shelves.
- Housewives were told to save their fats after cooking because the soldiers needed them to make explosives. (Spent frying oils are still considered hazardous wastes).
- Sugar use was rampant.