#ThinkSpeak & #BrainHealth: just do it

How brain healthy is your lifestyle? #ClinicSpeak #ThinkSpeak #BrainHealth

Someone asked yesterday about why did I give George Jelinek’s book ‘Overcoming MS’ a positive review and yet we don’t promote it on the blog? Very simple our policy is not to advertise commercial products on this blog and if we promoted OMS then what about the other MS-related lifestyle and wellness programmes?

Why did I give OMS a positive review?

The principles that underpin OMS are scientifically sound, but a lot of them are not evidenced-based, i.e. they are not supported by randomised controlled trials. Some of the lifestyle recommendations in OMS are also quite extreme and hence are very difficult to follow. I view George Jelinek as the lifestyle-wellness equivalent of the ‘ultra-distance marathon runner’. You don’t need to run ultra-distance marathons to derive the benefits from running, some people do just fine on subscribing to and running regular 5km Park Runs. It is horses for courses. I think the important messages in OMS and other lifestyle-wellness programmes are:

  1. Lifestyle-wellness interventions are not alternative medicine, but complementary; i.e. you need to do them in addition to taking for example DMTs.
  2. Lifestyle-wellness interventions need to be personalised. In particular they need to be affordable, compatible with your culture, your worldview and your belief systems.
  3. Lifestyle-wellness interventions fall on a continuum they are not all or nothing phenomenon. You can engage with some aspect of a programme and not others. In other words doing something is better than doing nothing.
  4. You need to be self-motivated to stick to a healthy lifestyle and wellness programme. I think herein lies the secret of the success of the programmes. Setting goals and sticking to them is self-rewarding. The rewards centres in the brain make you feel good about yourself and motivate you further. The downside is that when you slip you have a sense of self-loathing and guilt. These emotions are part of the package; they are the regulatory or negative emotional feedback loop. My personal opinion is that slipping occasionally is fine, but you need to earn the off-days.
  5. Lifestyle-wellness programmes take a holistic view of the management of disease. Saying this is easy; but it is very difficult to set-up a lifestyle-wellness service in the NHS. What is the evidence and how do we show that the programme will be cost-saving to justify the investment? In addition, adherence rates to lifestyle-wellness interventions is very poor. Why? Any ideas on how to improve adherence rates?
  6. Lifestyle-wellness interventions are for everyone regardless of whether, or not, you have MS. This is why we set-up the Barts-MS Brain Health challenge. Getting HCPs to personally engage with their own Brain Health would make them think about their patients’ health. In addition, patients’ are more likely to take advice seriously from a Brain Healthy HCP than from a HCP who is unhealthy. If you smoke, are unfit, overweight and eat badly can you really tell your patients to stop smoking, to start exercising, change their diet and to lose weight?
  7. Most lifestyle-wellness interventions are common sense with an evidence-base from outside the field of MS. However, like any other field the lifestyle-wellness space is full of quacks and charlatans so be careful to accept anything at face value. Do your research and ask questions. For example, what is the evidence that you need to follow a gluten-free diet? Unless you have documented gluten sensitivity there is no evidence. Similarly, the war on fats, and saturated fats, is built on a very poor evidence base. It is clear that fats, and saturated fats, are not bad for you if eaten in moderation. I am sure more evidence will emerge around this issue in the next few years. It is clear that at present ‘processed carbohydrates’ are in the dog house and justifiably so. However, this does not mean you have to go on the Banting Diet and exclude all carbohydrates from your diet. It is all about moderation and balance.
  8. Please let common sense rule the day and if you find you like, and enjoy, running 1 km or 5 kms, who knows you may gradually extend your runs to 10km, half-marathons, marathons and possibly ultra-marathons. The intensity and distance are not that important it is getting started and staying committed that is important.

Today is the beginning of the rest of your life. Just Do It! 

Please remember that ‘Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow’.

50 thoughts on “#ThinkSpeak & #BrainHealth: just do it”

  1. Never smoked, never drank much and now t-total, healthy diet, love being outdoors, always been very slim, blah blah blah.But running 1km? I lost the ability to run the year my PPMS started and it never came back. So I'll go elsewhere for my exercise ideas! :)Might gardening not be a better thing to suggest to people with MS? A bit more achievable, more enjoyable and productive? https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/science-blogs/science/november-2014/should-gardening-be-available-on-the-nhs

    1. Same here did all the healthy lifestyle. Used to do 10 minutes gardening every evening after work sitting on the lawn. Started falling over so I had to stop. Swam for years. I went to lessons to do it properly even though I could already swim. Following major surgery (not MS related) I went to the disabled swimming class and the trainers had me swimming 1km a session. I could be in extreme pain, but once I was in the water the pain disappears. I've heard of people with stroke pain have the same experience. The only downside is the fatigue afterwards, but the benefits of the glow felt is priceless.

    2. Yes, I agree that gardening is a very good suggestion. My reference to 1km and running is simply playing on the analogy of the ultradistance runner. It is exercise and being active that is important. And yes activities need to be tailored to the needs of the pwMS.

    3. "I could be in extreme pain, but once I was in the water the pain disappears. I've heard of people with stroke pain have the same experience."Have heard of people useing cold and hot water exposure as a way of dealing with nerve pain/numbness. It is like an attempt to confuse/alter the body sensation.

  2. I follow the OMS programme as it seems to me the best bet for brain health pending the results of randomised trials on diet that no one will ever do. Interestingly, Elderly Scottish people halved their rate of brain shrinkage by sticking to a Mediterranean diet: http://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.j49?sso= A pretty phenomenal finding and this might be relevant too.Also included on the OMS programme are the benefits of exercise, vitamin D, mediation, how to reduce the risk in family members, how to feel in control of MS, and of course, medication. The book describing this is available free to people recently diagnosed, from OMS.

    1. I am a "modified OMSer", the diet was too strict for me, but I adopted large parts of it and I believe it is definitely of benefit.

  3. I was the person who asked the original question and agree with other port OMS seems to produce exceptional results. Is it placebo effect ? Don't know. But there is a mind and body connection. As ex strength trainer. I always lifted the best when I thought I could and other days same weight I found easy became hard when I had a negative option. Will definently try to follow OMS. Only weakness fine cognacs and in large quantities.

  4. Buzzkill here. OMS – "Overcoming MS" is misleading. The lovely living habits communicated by OMS, Terry Wahls and so many others, for so long, are helpful to us who live with MS, but "Overcoming" is a false claim. Most, or many of us, which is it ? , become progressively crippled no matter what DMTs we take, and no matter what great diet and exercise we do with rigor, calm spirit and great hope. I am 60. Now with EDSS of 5 +, losing mobility in my feet and lower legs every day, along with great pain, after 36 years since first symptoms at 23… And years of doing everything I possibly can, to "overcome" MS…"Overcoming" is "Ending" or "Curing" MS. We are not yet there. False claims do not get us there despite good intentions.

    1. Re: "Overcoming MS" is misleading. Yes, it is misleading and implies from a literal interpretation that you can cure yourself of MS. Please note I am not responsible for OMS I have no input into the book and have not met GJ personally. I suggest you ask him to comment on the title of his programme and book.

    2. OMS is like a more extreme version of the Brain Health Challenge: Mind your diet, mind your vitamin D, don't smoke, exercise regularly, pay attention to your overall health and your psychosocial wellbeing, take your medicines. Sound advice.

  5. Agree OMS generally contains some sensible common sense recommendations. However I did find myself wanting to throw it across the room a few times. As about 1 in 10 of us will die of old age before MS worsens significantly 'benign MS' it is perhaps a little hurtful to make unsubstantiated lifestyle claims suggesting people who have not been so lucky have themselves to blame. For the record I've (by coincidence) done a fair bit of the OMS stuff (excluding avoiding milk protein, looked up the papers referenced for that, utter rubbish) for most of my life yet have rapidly worsening MS with EDSS 6.0 at age 46. GJ has been very lucky.

    1. Judy, I beg to disagree on milk… but then again it is a personal choice, the only thing I miss is English mature Cheddar, the rest of cow proteins can go to hell today! :-)There is something in milk, I don't know if it is overdose of lactose, the fat or the bovine proteins.

  6. May be we should ask George Jelinek to change OMS (overcoming MS) to living with MS (LMS). At least this would get away from false promises and hype. Yes, I agree he has been lucky with his MS and to assume it is due to the OMS programme does not help others who have more severe MS and get worse despite OMS and DMTs.

    1. Our comments crossed in the ether. Living with MS would be a very good compromise. But as OMS has brand-value and a massive following I doubt you will be able to get GJ to change the name.

  7. I've followed OMS for 7 years. I view this lifestyle approach as helping me "overcome" my MS. My body is predisposed to attack itself. So I'm helping my body to "overcome" this. I don't view it as a cure. But it's been fantastic for me. I won't go back to my processed food, low fruit/veg, high stress lifestyle. I think everyone could benefit from this lifestyle. Whether or not they have MS. The health benefits are wide reaching.Dr Jelinek's approach is about doing whatever it takes. Including taking the disease modifying drugs if appropriate. It's not evangelical or about making money. It's sensible advice that seems to be working for a significant number of us. The impact of hope and a feeling of control and "doing something" should also not be underestimated when dealing with a lifelong chronic (and scary disease). It is working for me.

  8. I find this article so damn frustrating. It's articles like this that do the MS community such a disservice.OMS is effective and does work. I can't stress that enough.My father had a very serious case of MS and because of this, I spent most of my teens surrounded by people with MS. It put me in a unique position because I could observe these MS sufferers and have first hand experience with how the disease effected them mentally and physically. I found it very odd that their mindset was closely correlated to the progression of the disease. There were sufferers that refused to give up and their MS levels were far better than their counterparts. I didn't know why, but I found that inspiring.My father's MS case was one of the severest his doctors had come across and he tried pretty much every drug and therapy and nothing worked. In fact, they just made him worse.A few years after he passed away I was then diagnosed with MS. From my initial MRI's and symptoms the doctors told me that I was following the same path and should prepare for the worst. They then recommended a number of drugs, the exact same drugs that failed my father.By pure chance (and my wife's ingenuity) we came across OMS and as soon as we read the book we knew it would work for a few reasons: – 1. drugs were not required but recommended if needed. – 2. Diet and lifestyle was something that my father never tried. – 3. I had never seen or met so many people that had overcome (yes, OVERCOME) their MS So immediately I started the OMS programme. However, I knew I had to abide by it 100%, that means daily intake of Vitamin D, meditation, exercise, and a massive overhaul of my diet.The programme takes around 2-3 years until you can see some improvement and this was a very difficult period for me, but I knew it would work for me because I was more experienced than my doctors. During this period my doctors would refute everything about the program and even tell me I needed to take the drugs for my daughter's benefit so that I can prolong my life and provide for her. This was nothing short of infuriating.So my father had the disease for just over 5 years and within 2 years he was a quadriplegic. To date, I was diagnosed 6 years ago and here is a list of my symptoms in my first year of diagnosis: – Severe optic neuritis – Numbness from the chest down – Extreme bouts of fatigue – Foot drop and I was struggling to walk within the first year (I was 27 at the time) – A good number of lesions on my brain and spinal chordSo I have followed OMS now for almost 6 years and I follow the diet with absolute strictness. And here are my results: – Last year I climbed the highest mountain in Poland in -20 degrees celsius wearing only my shorts and a pair of shoes – I exercise on a daily basis and take part in martial arts competitions – My symptoms no longer exist and only pop up if I am stressed or eat the wrong food – My most recent MRI showed that I have no new lesions and none are active. My older lesions have even shrunkPeople think I am a success story, but in truth, this is the norm for people following OMS with absolute strictness. I have met countless people with far better results than myself.And please do me a favour, show some respect to Dr. George Jelinek. I have reached out to him a number of times for help and guidance and he responded every time and offered advice when I needed to hear it. If it weren't for him I would be in a wheelchair and am forever in his debt. This man devoted his life to helping others beat MS and he never asked for anything in return. All the money from book sales and events go back into the charity. He is selfless and I wish their were more people like him in the world.

  9. Continued from above:Most importantly, I understood the severity of the disease when I was diagnosed. And I understood what would be required to beat the disease. At least 2-3 years until I would see any results. Most people that attempt the programme give up after a couple of weeks or months, if I had done that then I would be in a very different place right now. Also, I am not a unique case or 'lucky', I was just informed and prepared for the uphill battle If you do not agree with what I say then I challenge you to prove me wrong. My doctors have tried for years. In fact my doctor is one of the most experienced MS neurologists in the UK and he refuses to acknowledge my improvement.

    1. Paul Harvey, I too have followed OMS strictly and for 6 years and had a continuation of my disease. GJ is by no means selling a lie I agree and he advises to use modern treatment if required. I too have met him and he has in many ways been a mentor, giving hope when none exists. He has a calmness and understanding that puts perspective on a chronic disease. The fact of the matter is that there will be a lot of people who are being done a disservice by not having treatment early. Especially considering the treatment options now available. OMS has changed my life in so many ways, it has actually completely revolutionised my life. Now effectively vegan (and no longer begrudgingly so), much much fitter (30kg lighter), meditating regularly etc, I used to sing the praises of OMS blindly, believing it would work, but not knowing if it would work, and in many ways still do. But it is a supplement not a cure. There is no disrespect to GJ, it is a difference in opinion, having discussion is a good thing, taking offence is just self-indulgence. This view that modern medicine is out to cause a disservice to patients is bizarre.

  10. I was diagnosed CIS in Feb 2016 and I was devastated. My mum had MS for 10 years before she passed away at the age of 44, she had zero quality of life. My initial thoughts were about how I was going to manage my death, I was then 36 with two children. I happened to come across OMS by accident on Amazon – I'm glad I did as it quite possibly saved my life. It didn't give me false hope it gave me real and proper hope, it gave me something to do to fight this. It probably took about 12 months to get to a point where I don't think about my diet choices too much now, I have to be organised when we eat out as a family. Do I feel my choices are extreme? No. Do I feel I'm missing out? No. Do I feel we'll? Yes. I'm I ruling out medication? No, if I need it in the future. Might I have been well without OMS? Maybe but I'm not taking the chance to find out. I did a 10k last Sunday and I smashed it. We say "whatever it takes" and I will always stick to that. Wishing you all affected by MS in whatever way all the very best.

  11. For me its a bit of a chicken and egg situation. As a child lots of holidays in the Med getting a good subtan. I have always had a fairly healthy life style. Happily married, 3 children, cook all own food, engage with the community, fresh air, exercise, low stress levels. I stopped somking in 2003. I went for a dog walk every day of my life until it was impossible because of MS. I try very hard to do what I enjoy. I have taken 10,000 IU of Vit D every day for the last 10 years BUT I've had MS since 1972 and now my EDSS is about 6.5 and very slowly increasing. Thats after 45 years of MS.The question is this – would my MS have progressed any quicker if I had lived an 'unhealthy' life. Would MS progress have been slower if I had live the OMS life? Can severity of MS and rate of progression be linked to lifestyle?. Is there any evidence of this?I understand the OMS principles but everything is a compromise. I'm pretty happy with my life, wish I did not have MS but without MS there are lots of things I have discovered that I enjoy doing.

  12. Has the dictionary definition changed? 'Overcoming' means 'succeed in dealing with'. I have followed OMS for three years, and have succeeded in dealing with MS. I am drug-free, and while not all my symptoms have disappeared, I am better than I was three years ago. Yes, the diet was difficult in the early days – but now it's fantastic, delicious, and I wouldn't go back. The range of meals is enormous – there are not enough hours in the day to enjoy it all. If someone is 'overcoming' the death of a close family member, it doesn't mean that family member comes back from the dead. If someone is 'overcoming' severe war injuries, it doesn't mean their legs grow back. They are overcoming because they have learned to live with it. And you can live with it well. Life is different, but it can be positive. I have MS, but my life is positive, I have hope, I have a future. If you choose the OMS lifestyle, you will benefit SO much. Please don't put it down.

  13. Why is a healthy lifestyle encouraged for nearly every other chronic condition, but not MS? Pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars on their MS drugs, which often have toxic side effects. OMS is free and gives you control and hope. When I was diagnosed with RRMS I was having a relapse every couple of months. I never started on a DMT, as I was lucky enough to have found Dr. Jelinek's thoroughly researched and evidence-based OMS program. I have not had a relapse since and truly have never felt better or been healthier in all of my life. My symptoms are nearly all resolved now. There isn't anything I cannot do. I am not limited in any way anymore. Following OMS is not the least bit difficult, especially when I think of the alternative and look into the faces of my young children. There is no 'sacrifice' following OMS. I'm worth it.

    1. Re: "Why is a healthy lifestyle encouraged for nearly every other chronic condition, but not MS?"A health lifestyle is encouraged, I am not sure why you say it is not.

  14. Jane-Marie HarrisonI discovered the OMS programme in 2012. I had got to the stage of needing a crutch and my health was rapidly deteriorating. Since adhering to the lifestyle designed by George Jelinek, not only has my MS stabilised but many of the more troublesome symptoms have gone. I feel that I have got my life back. If you do the scheme as and when you feel like it or give yourself weeks off, I doubt you will find much of an improvement. However, it is not a difficult path to follow. one you have the basics in your head, the programme quickly becomes a habit. I enjoy everything I eat and don't miss anything I used to enjoy. Nowhere in the programme does it say you should be running marathons! You should do something active that raises your heart rate a bit 20 – 30 minutes at a time, 3 – 5 days a week. Gardening, walking, static cycling, swimming or whatever suits your own lifestyle and preference. OMS is a charity, not a profit making organisation. Give it a go. You will be helping your body to avoid/overcome type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, strokes, cancer etc as a side benefit!

  15. I have probably had MS since the age of 17 following a severe bout of glandular fever. But it was not until the age of 49 when I discovered Dr George Jelinek's book that I received any hope that my MS didn't have to follow a continuous downward track, that I had some control, some choice and I chose to follow his programme.Now at 54 I no longer suffer from MS fatigue or debilitating headaches both of which could keep me in bed for days; I am no longer handicapped by such severe tingling in my hands and lower arms that my family had to hold them to stop me trying to pull them off. My bladder and bowel are a lot happier and I don't have MS hug. My Lhermitte's is intermittent and not continuous. I'm a lot healthier; at a recent checkup with the GP he was so delighted with my blood work numbers he wished that more of his patients were as healthy as me, except for the MS!I still have MS and will have for the rest of my life. OMS doesn't claim to be a cure but hopefully a reversal of symptoms. And the sooner after diagnosis one can start the programme the better. Oh how I wish I'd had the information that Dr George Jelinek provides in his books when I was 17.I will never run a marathon or probably even a kilometre, my mobility is limited to ½ a kilometre slow walk but I've just enrolled on a 4 year training programme. Hope is powerful and the OMS programme is full of hope. It doesn't wait for something that might or might not be discovered in the future. It is based on the science that's available now.

  16. OMS is at pains to stress that the program is not a 'cure'. It is an ethos – 'do whatever it takes', be healthier in mind, body and spirit but take medication if required. This is a pragmatic, balanced stance. If only the allopathic community would open their eyes to all the possibilities and not tread their narrow-minded road. OMS is practical, optimistic and life-affirming. It appears the medical community would prefer to label MSers as victims with no control over their own lives, quality of life or prognosis. The research is there if you would only be a bit more flexible in how you view it. Don't deny less confident MSers the chance to live a healthy life and stop patronising. Changing a habit take 3 weeks and can be sustained for a lifetime, especially if the medical community with their need to demonstrate their authority can get behind it and be supportive rather than threatened.

  17. You criticise Prof Jelinek's work for the lack of double blind trials. I would be intrigued to know how one conducts such a trial of a therapy that involves diet and attitude.I am an engineer. We use analysis, modelling, experiment, learning from observation and old-fashioned professional judgement. And our bridges stay up, our cars run for 200,000 km and our radar detects every plane. Those planes have less than one failure every 10 million flights – does any medical procedure come close? The one technique that we don't use is the double blind trial. Maybe the gold standard is a little tarnished?Even if one could design a robust double blind trial of Jelinek's therapy, who would fund a trial which, if successful, would sell no drugs and create no work for senior doctors?Dr Chris Elliott FREng

    1. Excellent points! I don't know why we have allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into thinking that double-blind trials are scientific and are the only scientific method. I question whether any of them are really blinded, since the patient can tell from the side effects whether or not he is on the active drug, and the doctor can ask about these side effects. 35 years ago I helped with a double blind trial of Hexabrix; the main research assistant told me that he could tell whether or not Hexabrix was being infused by observing the quality of the X-ray pictures. The placebo being used is rarely disclosed, and placebos that cause worsening symptoms have been used in the past, as in the study of ribavirin for RSV bronchiolitis. I would like to recruit all these neurologists who demand a double blind trial into a double blind trial of parachutes.

    2. OK, but what do you suggest as an alternative to a double-blind study? ( forget placebo-controlled, in the era of many effective treatments nobody is interested in placebo-controlled trials)

    3. Alternative – observational studies, analogous to my argument that engineers use analysis, modelling, experiment, learning from observation and old-fashioned professional judgement. Chris Elliott

    4. There is a more simple term than observational studies, taken from the economists. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, it's a duck.Chris Elliott

    5. I adore epidemiology (observational studies), and we can learn a lot fromthem, but I really cannot see how one could use this approach to test effectiveness of a new substance that is supposed to be used as a treatment for a disease, say MS.How would you persuade lots of people to take it for many years without any indication that it works and does no harm? I would not like to take it.modelling in biological systems has serious limitations – there is a lot about mouse model of MS on this blog. Blind alley.Old fashioned professional judgement has its place in medicine, but generally medicine has been moving away from "medicine as an art"(personal opinions) towards "medicine as a science"(evidence-based) approach, which is more like engineering.

  18. I believe fully in the OMS programme and the name! Dr Jelinek has overcome MS (he is not claiming it is a cure) and so have many people like me who follow his approach. I have not found the changes difficult or extreme – they are just new healthy habits and would be good for everyone! Reading his book was the first time I felt hope that it was possible to live a healthy life with ms and it is extensively researched. He explains in the book why it is so difficult to do rcts on lifestyle approaches but Swanks research went on for over 30 years and there are some of his patients that I know of who are still doing really well on his diet. I would urge anyone reading this to give OMS a try – the only side effect I've experienced is needing to buy a smaller dress size! And I still enjoy lots of delicious food

  19. I have been treating my MS with a low fat diet for 22 years, and I have had no relapses since starting it. I keep my total daily fat intake down to 20 grams a day. I find that exercise, vitamin D, and flax oil make me feel better. I still work full time as a Pediatrician. I have never used any of the MS drugs. My neurologist told me to "Stay away from doctors; they will kill you", and he told me not to come back to him unless I had a significant relapse.How much money does Dr. Giovannoni get from the drug companies? MS neurologists in the US commonly get hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in apparent kickbacks for drug sales, and they do not want their patients to use any treatment other than drugs. http://www.cafepharma.com/boards/threads/bg12-im-getting-worried.509905/ has some interesting insights from pharmaceutical drug representatives about MS neurologists. "Seriously hurting TRUST? How long have you worked for this outfit? Just fire up the honorarium machine. Neurologists don't care about data and trust. They want cash and Biogen is king of that game. Just look at Avonex . The fact that this marginally effective, comparatively speaking, MS therapy is used at all says every thing you need to know about Biogen marketing and greedy neurologists. BG 12 is just fine no matter what." "These Ms ologists so called physicians are the biggest unethical clueless sluts I have seen on the physician side by a long shot. Thanks for grounding me..BG12 will be fine cause these jokers don't give a shit bout their patients….just their pockets."

  20. I also follow OMS – I ALSO currently take Tysabri. I'm allowed to do that you see on the OMS diet. The mantra really is 'whatever it takes' including drugs if you feel they help. If anything the NHS should be behind it because if it works while people are taking drugs, they can say it's the drugs that are doing it anyway. At my last meeting with my Neuro consultant I was told I had no new or enhanced lesions, no evidence of disease activity. OMS for 4 years, Tysabri for 1 year. You decide. I'll leave you with this thought though. I happened to find myself talking to a chap from Biogen one day unrelated to my MS or a hospital visit. We did of course end up discussing MS and treatments. His parting words were "remember, the food you eat is equally IF NOT MORESO important than any drugs you take"From the horses mouth – so to speak! Paul Smart. overcomeverbsucceed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty

  21. Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” These wise words highlight how important it is to consider perception. Your blog posting “sees” the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis lifestyle approach as something that it is not! Professor Jelinek never claims he has found a cure for MS or promises unbelievable success to anyone who follows the program’s steps. The OMS lifestyle approach does offer hope to those of us afflicted with the disease – a much-needed hope that lifestyle and modern medicine can work together to alter the course of the disease. In some cases, the result can even include reversal of the disease. These assertions are based on sound scientific evidence – the same evidence often cited in dealing with other medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc. Additionally, Professor Jelinek’s bias is based on managing his own health as someone who is affected directly by MS and sharing his considerable knowledge with others with the hope of spreading an important message: lifestyle choices do matter when it comes to managing the MS disease path. As Head of the Neuroepidemiology Unit within the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, professor Jelinek and his team is chartered to investigate the modifiable lifestyle risk factors that predict the progression of MS. These studies are NOT funded by outside companies or organizations with a financial interest in the outcome of the studies.On the other hand, I am looking at your qualifications and interest in MS and I was certainly struck by your page on conflict of interests. I do not doubt your intent to work toward the same goal as Professor Jelinek and hope for a better understanding of how to treat MS in the future. However, I do question what you are seeing because I believe you are only looking at what your financial stakeholders want you to consider and eventually see.Finally, I take issue you with your assertion that OMS recommendations are quite extreme and difficult to follow. I was confronted with an MS diagnosis at the age of 49. My neurologist painted an honest, yet dire picture as a male getting a late diagnosis. Indeed, I experienced a rapid progression of the disease during my first couple of months. Fortunately, I embraced a lifestyle choice quickly after reading about Dr. Swank and his study, then discovering Professor Jelinek. I also began treatment with Rebif. My quality of life suffered enormously during my first four months, which was primarily a result of the drug side effects. I gave up the drugs and decided to embrace a treatment plan based solely on lifestyle because I felt the side effects from the drugs were extreme and difficult to follow. Changing my eating habits (and I’m a professional chef), exercise patterns, etc. was simple. Fast forward eight years on, and I can clearly state I have overcome multiple sclerosis. I still have the disease, but I never claim I have been cured. However, I have changed the disease progression and reversed course! Perhaps these are the types of stories you and your team should look at in order to see a different world.

  22. How unfortunate that such a negative message be spun, whose purpose seems to be to prevent PwMS from having a chance to take some control of their health. Yes some might find the thought of changing their lifestyle for the better as impossible. But others might like the opportunity of at least trying. I have been living the OMS lifestyle (in essence simply looking after myself and doing everything possible to keep super healthy). The science, research, evidence behind and available through OMS is indispensable for any involved with MS. The culture of positivity, encouragement, involvement, and can-do spirit among OMS people is open to all, and a huge help. It costs nothing. There are no negative side effects. No one who actually has MS and has read the book (free to those in the UK and Aus) would try to negate it. It is based on science, reality and common sense, not any celebs, authoritarianism, nor brands (this blog’s author is married to brands!). But it is easy to blow raspberries at the defenceless, and in so doing harm the opportunities for PwMS, try to keep them in the dark. I am in my late 60s, with MS of several decades, I found adopting the wisdom of OMS easy, it make transparent sense and is a life-saver (not immediately, but long term) and does everything to improve the quality of life. Maybe just because it is right for me, that doesn’t make it right for everyone. Many, without realising the consequence might feel they prefer not to try to look after themselves and their own welfare, preferring to lean on physicians and their drug based therapies. Hunker down and suffer. But shouldn’t they at least be given every opportunity, even be encouraged, to help themselves. Why second guess on other people’s behalf that they might be unable to try to help themselves. PwMS, explore the OMS web site for yourself, get the book … you too may be able to take at least some control of that bucking bronco of your own health. You don’t need anyone’s permission, no matter what any pundit says. It can't hurt just to look, it is your life after all.

    1. I'm just reading OMS and will be starting the program soon. Although not a doctor I have two degrees in chemical engineering and must admit I am really impressed how simple facts about food such as fats are explained. Quick question are all Milks bad? For instance can u substitute goats milk and cheese instead of cows milk? Just love cheddar cheese.

  23. I'm a scientist in genomic medicine. I did a PhD as a mature student aged 30, and halfway through I was diagnosed with severe rapidly-evolving MS. I was having relapse after relapse with no remissions in between, my ability deteriorating noticeably by the week. I had access to all of the biomedical literature and I used it and started reading. I picked up a couple of books to get me started and one of them was GJ's first book "Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis". I had found another scientist, and a talented physician, who had already carried out the literature review that I was about to start.I did my own research too, but I'm convinced that GJ's advice on lifestyle, vitamin D and diet represents an effective way to give yourself the best possible chance of a healthy, active life with MS. I also chose Tysabri. OMS is not opposed to drugs. It's an additional option that is of benefit whether you use medication or not.I can understand a physician viewing it is difficult. The obesity epidemic and soaring rates of disorders like type II diabetes clearly show that many people really do find it very hard to eat healthily and exercise in our current society. It may not be something that works for everyone. However, I'm certain that it will work for some people. To any patient with MS, I would say; try it and see. Jump in all at once or build up slowly one step at a time, but try it.

  24. I am not sure why you are taking your frustrations out on Prof G? On the cover of the book he says: ‘I would have no hesitation in recommending Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis to my patients, but also to my friends and colleagues.’

    1. They are attacking Prof G because OMS has become a religion. You either a believer, or you are not. You can't cherry pick and accept some of the scripture, and not all of it. The OMS zealots have arrived in force.

    2. Yes, I do support OMS and feel everyone should be adopting a healthy lifestyle (me included). But as I said in the post it is horse for courses and not an all-or-none phenomenon. And yes, if possible it should be evidence-based and at present not all components of the OMS are evidence-based, but they are all backed by a scientific rationale. OMS doesn't have to be a religion; I am sure GJ would not be promoting it as a religion. A religion is based on faith, and a belief system. In comparison, science is based on hypotheses, that are tested then rejected or accepted. OMS is definitely more of science than a religion.

  25. The Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis Recovery Program in Summary:https://overcomingms.org/recovery-program/ Diet and supplements• A plant-based wholefood diet plus seafood, with no saturated fat, as far as is practical• Omega-3 fatty acid supplements: Take 20-40mls of flaxseed oil daily; fish oil can be used instead if desired• Optional B group vitamins or B12 supplement if neededVitamin D• Sunlight 15 minutes daily 3-5 times a week as close to all over as practical• Vitamin D3 supplement of at least 5000IU daily, adjusted to blood level• Aim to keep blood level of vitamin D high, that is between 150-225nmol/L (may require up to 10,000IU daily)Meditation• 30 minutes dailyExercise• 20-30 minutes around five times a week, preferably outdoorsMedication• In consultation with your doctor, if a wait and see approach is not appropriate, take one of the disease-modifying drugs (many may not need a drug, and drug selection should be carefully weighed against side effects)• Steroids for any acute relapse that is distressing• One of the more potent drugs if the disease is rapidly progressive

  26. You wrote this in 2017. It is now more than 2 years later. In that time more positive research has been published on diet and MS. See the recent paper on how fatigue is reduced on the Wahls Protocol.

    Even though these two doctors with MS wrote books, it can hardly be considered commercial for a patient to spend a few £ on a book.

    I don’t agree at all with your marathon analogy. The diet (I follow OMS) is a way of life, a habit. It is not expensive as it has so many veg. It is no more expensive than what most people commonly eat. The crux of it is: No saturated fat, no dairy, no meat, no sugar, nothing refined or processed. It is very healthy.

    I and many others with MS on the diet find it: decreases fatigue, increases energy, gets rid of cog fog. For many, the whole panoply of MS symptoms is lessened.

    Of course this is anecdotal. Surely the answer to that is to do studies. Compare one group on this diet with another group not on this diet, looking at the effects, if any, on their MS symptoms over, say, 3 or 6 months.

    The people I know on this diet are all highly motivated to stay on it for life. Perhaps some of them can be recruited for such a study.

    Also, when there are virtually zero drug options for people with Secondary Progressive MS, diet ( with exercise) is one of the few options open to them.

    I am now nearly 73, and have had MS for more than 50 years. I will carry on chivying away on this til my last breath as I am so convinced of its benefits.

    Judy Graham

      1. I sympathize with the challenging position you are put in regarding diet recommendations. Available science vs financial feasibility vs individual adherence vs cultural issues, etc etc. Your input on the murky subject is helpful, despite the impossibility of providing the “right” answer, which is unique to the individual. I, just as much as the next person, want someone to tell me “the answer”, but I am growing more comfortable with the impossibility of that. We simply need to do our best with the knowledge and resources we have available to us and leave judgement and dogmatism out of the picture. Thank you Gavin.

      2. I thought Gavin wrote recently that Keto is the best diet for brain health. Am I mistaken?

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