Friday, May 19, 2017

The Starvation Chronicles: Prologue

Starting Friday, May 19, I’ll be subjecting myself to a five day starvation diet, in an attempt to beat back the disease that is slowly but surely consuming me. In effect, I’ll be reducing my consumption of food to near starvation levels in order to stop my illness’s consumption of my bodily functions. Yes, I’ll be crossing the junction of function consumption.

As I’ve talked about before on these pages, I work closely with a naturopathic doctor who is employed at my MS clinic. She's is one of the sharpest people I’ve ever met, and is a heckuva nice person to boot.

She recently approached me with a rather radical idea, but one based on sound scientific research and her own clinical experiences – asking if I would be willing to try a Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD), in which caloric intake is dramatically reduced for five days. I was already acquainted with research which demonstrated that such a diet had increased the lifespans of laboratory animals as much as 25%, and that it had the potential to positively impact chronic illnesses and even cancers as well. When my naturopath told me that she had seen some rather startling results in one of the first few MS patients she had convinced to try this diet, I was all in.

The diet is designed and marketed by a company called Prolon (click here), which supplies five days’ worth of plant-based foods that provide nourishment while tricking the body into thinking that no food is being consumed. Thus, the name Fasting Mimicking Diet. During the diet, food consumption is limited to specially formulated vegetable broths, nutritional bars, herbal teas, and snacks (such as a few olives). Each day’s “meals” come in their own individual box, filled with packets of that day's allotted foodstuffs.

The first day of the diet caloric intake is reduced to 1100 calories, and during the remaining four days this is further reduced to 800 calories per day. On day six regular foods are gradually reintroduced, starting with fruits, rice, pasta and other easy to digest items. For the rest of the month a regular diet can be resumed. Dr. Bates (my naturopath) would prefer me to try to stick as much as possible to a Mediterranean diet (low-fat, with lots of fish and veggies).

In scientific studies, the FMD diet has been shown to promote and maintain healthy levels of a variety of inflammatory and regenerative markers. In an animal model of MS, FMD reduced inflammation, suppressed autoimmunity, and promoted the regeneration of damaged nervous system tissues (click here). The diet appears to stimulate the body’s own stem cells. While all this sounds terrific, what really sold me was Dr. Bates telling me that she had seen verifiable improvements in the mobility of one of the first patients who had agreed to give the diet a go.

I figure that if worst comes to worst and I don’t get any disease benefit from this experiment, I'll lose a few pounds (I’m developing the physique of an elephant seal) and the diet will allow my body to detox. In addition, it’ll be kind of fun to take on the challenge (he says with a full belly). Besides, this will give me the perfect excuse to lay around and binge watch some cheesy 60s and 70s horror flicks (queue up “Gore Gore Girls”). For the sake of my wife, I think I’ll steer clear of any films having to do with cannibalism. I'd hate to have Karen wake up to find that she's missing a finger or two. I wonder how many calories there are in a finger? Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "finger food".

So, I expect that over the next five days I just might experience a few pangs of hunger here and there. I might even get Jewish VD (Veak and Dizzy, said with a Yiddish accent). I’ll report back at the end of every day to tell you guys how it’s going, as long as I have the strength to guide my wheelchair to the computer and put on my voice recognition headset. Of course, if I do experience any benefit, it won’t be for several months, but I’ll keep y’all apprised of all such developments (hey, I managed to affect Yiddish and southern accents all in the space of four sentences!). I plan on doing the diet for at least two or three consecutive months.

Wish me luck…

29 comments:

  1. Hi Marc,
    go for it!
    I am doing the 3 day no food only water version of this and have done 2 cycles so far. I do feel different but have to say that I am a PP so changes are very difficult to interpret, imo, and because there is a healing and a rebuilding process as such therefore I 'assume' the cells we change over time will be different?
    Don't know.
    The other detail is that the diet before the fast needs to be thought about, is it good or bad and is it causing issues, or a trigger in a cascade leading to issues?
    People like George Jelinek and Terry Wahls refuse to answer my repeated questions over the years wanting to know what they used to eat and is there something 'we' all need to hear instead of saying eat this, we need to know what not to eat from 'their' experiences.
    I also see that confronting the Food Industry and also Pharma has 'risks'!
    :) Nigel
    be regular!!

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    1. Nigel, should be interesting to see how your version of the fasting diet works for you. Hoping whatever we are doing will be a field benefit.

      Someone on Facebook mentioned that Terry Wahls had been on Novantrone prior to her starting her diet revolution. That's a pretty significant fact that is left out of her story. That is, of course, if it's true… Novantrone is a very powerful anti-MS drug, which has some really serious potential side effects. However, if she did indeed use the drug, it could account for some of what she's experienced…

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  2. Mark, I've been intermittent fasting for a couple of years now. I drop to 600 cals every other day, taking Sunday off. I did this for my slow acting digestive system and it really helps, also helps keep my weight from going up. I've heard good things about longer fasting and MS, so will be very interested to see how it affects you. Good luck.

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    1. Thanks, Lindsay. When you say you take Sunday off, do you mean that you don't eat it all on Sunday, or you allow yourself to eat whatever you want?

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  3. Best of luck, Marc! It sounds fascinating, not the fits of rage that might come from seeing a McDonald's commercial but the potential benefits.

    Thanks for being a guinea pig and sharing your experience!

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  4. I was trying to find the cost, just out of curiosity. Do you have that info?

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    1. I paid $220 for a one-month kit. I got the kit through my naturopath, who I believe gets a bit of a discount…

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  5. I already do this, pretty much, with no visible signs of stability or improvement to my MS. I am gluten- and lactose-free. I'm a vegan. I reduced my calorie intake (and kept track with MyFitnessPal) to about 1000/day. I did this for months with no discernible difference. I am SPMS, wheelchair confined, still able to transfer (but for how long?), dx'd 15 years ago (first 10 years were R/R).
    Good luck! I hope it makes a difference for you!

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    1. Sue, sorry to hear that your diet hasn't helped. I've tried quite a few different diets, all to no benefit. Trying this one because it's a different approach, I think the fasting aspect might kickstart the body into doing some healing. That's my hope, anyway…

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  6. Marc, all the best of luck and please keep us posted! Fasting Forward!!

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  7. I've heard of this. Await your posts and thanks also to the others who are commenting

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  8. Hi Marc. I've followed your blog for a while now. I live in Sweden and I have PPMS, diagnosed in 2012. I have tried just about everything except any regular medications. I have tried the FMD too, but I became so weak I had to stop after a couple of days. I'm looking forward to follow your project. Have you heard about The Coimbra Protocol? That's what I'm trying now and you might want to look into that, it's spreading fast all over the world. There are several Facebook Groups with very dedicated administrator,. here is a link to the North American Group. And Youtube is full of encouraging videos. Good Luck!
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/vitamindprotocolnorthamerica/?ref=bookmarks

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    1. Hi, hadn't heard of the Coimbra protocol before, but just did some research on it and it does look interesting.

      Of course, seems like one would have to be very diligent about looking for signs of hypercalcemia, which can be deadly.

      That said I do know that there's been some research done with extremely high doses of forms of vitamin D, done on a limited basis, which have shown signs of altering the autoimmune cycle.

      Good luck with what you're doing, it's certainly worth a shot. Just be careful about that hypercalcemia…

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  9. GOOD LUCK, Marc! Can't wait to hear your updates. I hope it is all good!

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  10. Good Luck Marc. Hopefully it's only a temporary vegetative state. :)

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  11. Great. Now I can vicariously take part in the fasting. I did the Swank diet the first five years after diagnosis. Not conclusive it did/didnt help. Now I just eat whatever doesn't bother my bladder. Really hope it helps you and looking forward to reading your updates.

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  12. How many cycles of this are you doing and how long is the break between fasts? I've been doing intermittent fasting for two days a week for the past year. Unforch, I'm still progressing. Fasting can eff with your bowel, which is a drag if you've got a good routine going and I'm a teeny bit worried I might have given myself gallstones. Other than that, I actually enjoy the fast days and food tastes amazing when you stop fasting. Can't wait to hear how you make out.

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    1. This program involves a five day fast, eating only the foods included in the kit, and then a "normal" diet for the rest of the month.

      I plan on doing at least two or three cycles of this. Maybe more, depending on the results…

      Sure hope it doesn't screw with my bowel function, which is already "slow" from the MS…

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  13. Marc, sounds promising. I wish you all the best. How soon have people seen improvements? Keep us posted, please.

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    1. Don't have too much info on how fast people have seen results, as my naturopath is only try this on a few people. I do know that one person saw very significant results, and I believe it was after three months…

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  14. I hope it makes you feel better! I have SPMS and I tried the Wahls diet years ago. My steady decline continued, but the kicker was meeting a fellow SPMSer who has been a lifelong vegetarian and was an organic farmer for 30 years -- and she was in worse shape than I was! So I reverted back to eating what tasted good.
    Aaaand... now I'm fat. Time to diet!

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    1. I tried a bunch of different diets too, and none of them made any difference whatsoever. And, as the person you met illustrates, I honestly don't believe that diet alone can significantly alter the disease, except for a few patients that may be suffering from some undiagnosed comorbidities, like celiac disease.

      That said, who am I to doubt the testimonies of people who say that diet has helped them dramatically? This disease is a mystery layered upon other mysteries.

      After trying all of the different diets, like you I just figured I might as well eat whatever the hell I wanted, since eating is one of the few pleasures left to me. The nice thing about this fasting diet is that after the five days are over, you can pretty much eat whatever you want the rest of the month. I'm going to try to take it easy on the cheeseburgers, though. Lots of fish and veggies…

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  15. Wow! I'll happily join the line of folk waiting on your news Marc. (EDSS 8.5 SPMS)

    BTW thanks for getting the post topic into the email blog alert subject line.

    It will make our email folders much easier to manage.

    Thank you again.

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    1. Hey David, thanks for alerting me to the email subject line fix. Glad I finally got it working.

      Hoping that this fasting diet brings about some measurable improvement. At the very least, it gives me the feeling that I am at least actively fighting back. The idea of doing nothing is something I find intolerable…

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  16. . Marc, thank you for being guinea pig and sharing with us :-). I believe in the importance of diet, and I felt good while trying Dr. Wahls' protocol. It did not reveerse my disability but it was so easy to live, I was much more energetic and able to participate in activities.
    Unfortunately the food I eat now is not the one I would choose, so the energy and joy in life activities is gone. Hoping to be able to go back to Wahls' diet and even try this MFD.

    But I can hardly wait to read how you are doing.

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    1. Hi Dragana, yes, sticking to a healthy diet is definitely a good thing. Unfortunately, it can also be a hard thing. Especially when so many of the other pleasures in life have been taken from us.

      I have to admit that I've allowed my diet to really become quite crappy. Guess I was drowning my sorrows in cheeseburgers and other indulgences. Hoping I can make up for that nine with this fasting diet.

      After the fast is over, I will make a concerted effort to improve what I eat. Of course, the occasional treat has got to be okay…

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  17. Good luck to you, Marc, and thanks for sharing with us. I am also a patient at IMSMP. I plan to call Dr. Bates tomorrow to see if I can try this diet also.

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    1. I have a feeling Dr. Bates is going to be getting a lot of phone calls this week…

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