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Originally published May 13 2011

ALS and Muscular Dystrophy associations recommend sugar to Lou Gehrig's disease patients

by Dr Craig Oster

(NaturalNews) Consuming processed sugar is not ordinarily thought of as health promoting. Among other health problems, research has shown sugar consumption associated with weakened immune system functioning, inflammation, fatigue and depression. So, you may be surprised that The ALS Association (ALSA) and The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) recommend processed sugar in the diets of people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as "Lou Gehrig's disease."

ALS is considered a progressive and fatal disease that leads to deterioration, and eventual death, of neurons required for voluntary muscle movement, including respiration. Consequently, muscles weaken and wither, resulting in paralysis. People usually die within five years of their diagnosis, although approximately ten percent of individuals survive over ten years.

Research has shown that people with ALS who maintain weight have greater longevity than individuals who lose weight during the course of their disease. ALSA and MDA recommend that ALS patients consume sugar in addition to choices from the four food groups, as part of a strategy for weight maintenance.

ALSA has recommended that ALS patients twice daily blend a shake that includes ice cream, chocolate syrup and cookies. Likewise, in the Eat, Drink, and be Healthy is the Motto of ALS issue of the MDA's MDA/ALS Newsmagazine, a recipe for a peanut butter, ice cream and chocolate syrup milkshake is given. In their Maintaining Good Nutrition with ALS: A Guide for Patients, Families and Friends, ALSA suggestions include sugar along with margarine, mayonnaise, heavy cream and gravy as part of a healthy diet for ALS patients to maintain weight.

Although sugar may be one strategy for ALS patients to gain and maintain weight rather than to lose it, sugar has been shown to be associated with compromised immune system functioning, inflammation, fatigue and depression, all of which are clinically relevant to the wellness of ALS patients. According to MDA, depression symptoms are common in ALS. Failure to manage fatigue may result in rapid physical decline, according to a Greater Los Angeles ALS Association document.

Regarding immunity, people with ALS often die from infections. Respective to inflammation, ALSA states, "There is increasing evidence that inflammation accompanies the death of motor neurons in ALS." ALSA has said that the issue of inflammation is so important that researchers have examined the use of COX2 inhibitors to reduce inflammation in ALS.

MDA and ALSA have also recommended a meal replacement beverage that contains sugar as well as sodium and calcium caseinates which, according to, always contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG). According to ALSA, "Abundant evidence points to glutamate as a destructive factor in ALS and investigators are working to find out how this can be changed. The first and so far only approved specific treatment for ALS is Riluzole, a drug that modulates glutamate."

When asked about the basis of ALSA's recommending foods with ingredients considered unhealthy and health-compromising, ALSA stated, "If you have an alternative high nutrient density program with foods that are able to be swallowed by individuals with tremendous swallowing difficulties, please bring it to our attention." Natural News readers can count on that happening.

Despite multiple opportunities over a three week period, the MDA's Director of Basic Research, Dr Paul Muhlrad, chose to offer "no comment" to any questions. These included questions about the MDA's clinical trial utilizing nutritional products (containing sugar and MSG) made by the same manufacturer of products (containing sugar and MSG) recommended by MDA, and about whether MDA has received funding from that manufacturer. Nor to the question, "Upon what basis does MDA choose to recommend sugar-based calories for weight gain and weight maintenance instead of nutrient-dense calories?"


About the author

Craig Oster, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) nearly 17 years ago. Discharged from hospice in May 2009, he is demonstrating improvements in wellness utilizing holistic health principles, including a raw/living foods diet. Dr Craig, utilizing these principles and his psychoanalytic understanding, is committed to helping individuals in their quest for greater wellness. Dr Craig is the founder of the "Healthier People (with ALS) Project."
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