Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Starvation Chronicles: That's A Wrap!

Yippee, I’ve reached the end of the road of my Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD). I’ve successfully made it through five days of dramatically reduced caloric intake, and I’m no worse for the wear. In fact, I feel pretty darn good! Of course, it’s still way too early to judge whether the FMD will be successful in positively bending the arc of my Creeping Paralysis. I can at least report that I’ve lost 5 pounds since I started the diet last Friday.

I’d say the FMD regimen was much easier to get through than I anticipated. Day one, during which I consumed 1100 calories, was no problem at all. My caloric intake was reduced to 800 calories on day two, a level that was maintained throughout the duration of the diet. I faced the most difficulty on day three, but even that wasn’t all that terrible, just some pangs of hunger. At no point did I experienced excessive weakness or dizziness, but then again, it’s not as if I’m a whirling dervish of physical activity. I’m sure the diet would be harder on somebody who was more mobile and engaged in a physically active life.

That said, kudos to the company that markets the diet, Prolon. Although the prepackaged foods aren’t cheap (I paid $220 for my five-day kit), and I’m sure the company makes a nifty profit on the deal, the supplied meals did a good job of keeping me from being famished despite the severely reduced daily calorie load. The soups, nutritional bars, crackers, and olives provided in the kit have certainly done a good job of keeping me well-nourished even as they slashed my caloric intake dramatically.

I’m scheduled to have a phone consult with my naturopath tomorrow, and I expect that I will repeat this exercise in dining austerity again next month, and probably the month after that. As I’ve mentioned before in these Chronicles, my naturopath – who works in my MS clinic and specializes in treating MS with natural remedies – has reported very good results in one of the first few patients who tried this diet. Of course, MS is a tricky beast and it’s nearly impossible to pin down just why any individual patient experiences upswings are downswings in their disease state, but sound scientific research does suggest that a starvation diet can trigger beneficial changes in body chemistry and kickstart cell regeneration.

At the very least, committing to the diet and seeing it through has provided me with a perceived mechanism to strike back at the disease, and that alone has given me an emotional lift. I find my mood darkens when I’m stuck in the doldrums between treatment options, and especially when it seems that those options may be running out. By hook or by crook, and with the help of a neurologist who is open-minded and not afraid to experiment, I’ve managed to occupy most of the 14 years I’ve spent dealing with this crap with active efforts to fight back. Unfortunately, none of these attempts to thwart the disease have proven to be of any lasting value, but maybe, just maybe, one of these days my efforts will strike paydirt.

A huge thanks to all the good folks who’ve left comments and sent notes of encouragement and advice these past five days. Despite my propensity for verbosity, I really don’t have the words to express my appreciation to each and every one of the readers who have been my virtual copilots during this flight of fancy starvation.

Finally, since I’m supposed to ease back into a regular diet starting tomorrow by sticking with fruits, vegetables, breads, and pasta, I’m thinking that a simple omelette, some fruit salad, and a bialy with a touch of cream cheese will make for a nice digestible lunch. Later, perhaps some linguine with white clam sauce for dinner. Yum!

Okay, signing off – 5 pounds lighter, with an empty stomach and a heart full of hope…

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for making this sacrifice for MS research!

    Looks like the diet gave you a positive emotional boost and that by itself is worthwhile.

    But I can't help but wonder if you've fallen victim to the olive industrial complex. Did they make you an offer you couldn't refuse?

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    1. Egads! I've been found out!

      I confess, the olive oligarchs have been lining my pockets with extra virgin olive oil. Makes it difficult to remove my keys…

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    2. I really love olives, Marc, so your no-olives post gave me a craving for them. I purchased a jar yesterday.

      As many people know, writers sometimes receive pay by the word. As many people don't know, the olive kings are paying you per olive sold (in addition to the olive oil).

      But olives aside, congratulations on your successful completion of the first fasting cycle!

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  2. Marc,
    Can you elaborate on the person who had "good results" on the diet as well as what type of MS they had?
    Kudos for the plug for Greek Kalamata olives. Those Greeks tend to live a very long time and can be ornery as Hell (me!) and I think the olives have something to do with it. Love you,
    Hilda

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    1. Hi Hilda,

      From what I understand, I'm the fourth person my naturopath has had on this fasting diet. Patient number one has SPMS, and before the diet had very limited use of her legs, making transfers from her scooter very difficult. After two months on the diet she is able to stand much more easily, and transferring has become much less difficult. The second patient reports much improved bladder function. Don't think we have any info on the third patient yet, and it's too early to tell my ultimate outcome.

      I can say that I'm feeling pretty good after the fast, with noticeably more energy – which is exactly the opposite of what I was expecting. I honestly feel like I could have fasted for another five days if necessary.

      I guess only time will tell, but I'm already planning on doing another five day fast in four weeks, and I'm thinking I'll probably do another cycle four weeks after that.

      As for Kalamata olives and old, cantankerous Greeks, I think you're onto something. Olive oil has proven health benefits, and my naturopath has urged me to try to stick to a Mediterranean diet. Now, if only I could decamp to a wheelchair friendly Greek island, I think I'd be set…

      Love you too…

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  3. This is just amazing - thank you for sharing all of this! Many of us are in the same boat of 'what the heck do I do now???!'
    I would also love to know what type of MS the "good results" patient was dealing with.
    AND- so you aren't doing the much touted GLUTEN FREE routine out there?? Your naturopath has not said anything about it?
    (I do still eat pasta too...)

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    1. Hi, please see my note to Hilda, above, for more details on the other patients who have tried the diet.

      I did try a gluten-free diet a few years ago, but didn't see any benefit. This fasting diet isn't gluten-free, but doesn't have much gluten in it. It does contain a lot of vegetable-based fats. In some ways this is an "elimination" diet", the kind used to see if someone has food sensitivities, but that's not its primary purpose.

      Spoke to my naturopath today, and we did discuss the possibility of my feeling better during the fast being due to eliminating some sort of offending food. Not sure if we are going to pursue that, guess we'll see how I feel over the next few weeks.

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  4. I want to try a bialy! Well done Marc - all kinds of body parts are crossed.

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    1. Thanks for the well wishes, David. Here's to hoping that the bialy fairy deems it wise to pay you a visit…

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  5. Hi Marc. Thanks for sharing your "journey" with us. I'll be anxious to hear what comes next.

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    1. I'll certainly keep everybody in the loop if anything significant developed, one way or the other. Thanks for stopping by, and for everything you do for the MS community…

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  6. Thank you for sharing. With your commitment and will power, you can do anything. I love it when you say "By hook or by crook,...with active efforts to fight back".

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    1. Hi Erica, thanks so much for the encouragement. Hoping that my commitment and willpower will eventually tip the scales in my favor, but even if they don't, at least I have fought the good fight. I do find the very act of fighting to be therapeutic in itself, as I mentioned in my essay. I certainly respect those who make the decision to let things be, especially after trying and failing several different therapies, but I suppose I'm just too naturally defiant to take that route. I guess in this case I'm a rebel with a cause…

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I'm at the point where I'll try anything that is safe, inexpensive and has some logical reason for why it might work. This fits the bill and I'll be watching for any updates good or bad.

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  9. Kudos to you Marc, so good do see you energized and upbeat. I'm going to do some reading and thinking. I am still very mobile but (slowly transferring to SPMS) less than I used to and am still eating the same, with obvious results. So doing this on a regular basis might have some additional benefits!

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  10. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You are inspiring.
    I did a seven day water-only fast in January, sort of by accident. After the first two days of not eating due to a very large steak dinner, I came across the True North institute in Santa Rosa, CA. I spent the next five days resting and devouring all their information about the curative effects of fasting. Since then I've kept off the 12lbs I lost and had several full day fasts. I lost my physical addiction to sugar, and I feel like I have a small bit of control back against this heinous disease. It just makes logical sense to me to give my body a rest from the strain of digestion so it can focus on healing.
    Anyway, thanks again for your excellent blogs!

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  11. Thanks for the inspiration Marc.
    I am on my third day of FMD. So far so good. Let us hope for some "mouse effect".
    Take Care
    Johan

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