Study finds Wahls and Swank diets both reduce fatigue

August 06, 2021
In a recent study, researchers set out to compare the effect of the modified paleolithic elimination, or Wahls, and low-saturated fat, or Swank, diets in relapsing-remitting MS. Both diets were found to produce reductions in fatigue and improvements in quality of life.

Both the low-saturated fat and modified paleolithic diets are popular among individuals with MS. However, because of a lack of data from high-quality randomized controlled trials, it is not possible for either of these diets to be recommended in clinical practice. Researchers from the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa set out to assess and compare the effect of the Swank and Wahls diets on perceived fatigue and quality of life in individuals with RRMS.

The study’s authors randomized 87 individuals with RRMS to the Swank or Wahls diets in a parallel group clinical trial consisting of four timepoints: 1) run-in, 2) baseline, 3) 12-weeks, and 4) 24-weeks.

Seventy-seven participants completed 12 weeks and 72 completed 24 weeks. The 12-week change from baseline in fatigue was -0.94 and -9.87 for Swank, and -0.71 and -14.41 for Wahls. Physical MS quality of life scores improved by 6.04 for Swank and by 14.5 for Wahls. Mental MS quality of life scores improved by 11.3 for Wahls while the Swank did not change (3.85). Neither group showed significant changes in six-minute walking distance at 12 weeks. All outcomes were maintained or further improved at 24 weeks.

The researchers found that both diets were linked to meaningful within-group reductions in fatigue and improvements in quality of life. They noted that both dietary approaches in this study allow for patient preference for either diet and suggests the benefits of the dietary approaches are due to underlying mechanisms rather than unique characteristics of specific diets.

The results were published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis Journal – Experimental, Translational and Clinical.

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