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The purpose of this web site is to provide concise factual information on how a diet of no more than 10 grams of saturated fat a day has stopped the excruciating pain of trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Saturated fat is typically a solid at room temperature, examples are: lard, butter, Crisco, etc. Exactly how a diet low in saturated fat relieves the symptoms of TN is unknown, but mounting evidence suggest a low fat diet optimizes the ability of the body to repair itself. It is not the intention of this web site to infer this diet will produce the same dramatic results for every patient; however, there is sufficient evidence to show a significant number of patients have been helped.
Saturated Fat Labeling
Saturated fat is one of the natural occurring fats in the food we eat. All of the fats are essential to our health, and if they are not included in our diet the body will manufacture them. However, mounting evidence points to the excessive saturated fat in the typical American diet adversely affecting our health. Because TN patients have stopped pain by reducing their intake of saturated fat, it appears the excessive saturated fat has prevented the body from repairing damage done to the trigeminal nerve. The importance of not exceeding 10 grams a day cannot be over emphasized. The accuracy of 10 grams must be viewed in the same light as medication prescribed in grams-per-day. The most common mistake made by patients is to assume they have an innate knowledge of which foods are low in saturated fat. Another pitfall is to assume that products advertised as "low fat" are low in saturated fat. It is critically important to read the nutrition labels on packaged food. This label list the exact amount of saturated fat in a product, and it's important to note that it is for a specific serving size.
A Trial Diet If the diet works the pain should stop, or there should be substantial improvement in about a week and a half--but give it three weeks. Since three weeks is a relatively short period of time, I suggest eating only frozen dinners during this trial period since the amount of saturated fat is given for each dinner. Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice have many meals at about 3 grams or less, and even "large portion" meals at 3 grams. If the diet is successful, your TN will tell you exactly how much saturated fat you can tolerate. One patient stopped their pain by eating 10 grams a day, but chose to continue their medication because that allowed them to increase the saturated fat up to about 20 grams a day. It was observed if they ate less than 10 grams, they could add the grams not eaten to the following day's allowance. This proved to be a helpful strategy before the holidays.
General Dietary Rules
With experience the diet can be easily followed by using the following guide lines: What can be eaten is pretty well restricted to poultry, seafood, beans, rice, pasta, bread, vegetables, fruit and very small amounts of lean meat. What must be avoided are red meat, whole milk, cheese, butter, cream, pies, cakes, cookies, chocolate, candy, snacks, nuts, ice cream, etc. Fortunately, many foods high in saturated fat are now available with zero to very low fat. It is also necessary to be careful how food is prepared. A very healthy fish fillet sautéed in butter is a problem since a level tablespoon of butter contains 7 grams of saturated fat--the allowance for two meals. Eating in a restaurant is a challenge, but salads can be eaten with a low fat dressing and food prepared by broiling, grilling, or sautéing. An excellent book of low fat recipes is The New American Heart Association Cookbook available in most book stores. It has 600 recipes, developed over a period of 30 years, with the amount of saturated fat given for every recipe.
Nationally Sold Food Products With Excellent Flavor and Very Low Saturated Fat
There are "food triggers" that may cause an immediate attack and falsely signal the diet is not working. These foods contain substances unrelated to saturated fat that can trigger an attack. Some examples to be aware of are:
1.Foods with arginine like chocolate and nuts.
2.Acidic foods such as tomatoes, pickles, vinegar.
3.The caffeine in coffee, chocolate, tea, and some soft drinks.
4.The aspartame in Equal and Nutra Sweet.
5.Spices like cinnamon, hot sauce, salt, and pepper.
LINKS TO REFERENCE MATERIAL
FOOD LIST This is a list of the saturated fat in 145 common foods.
PRESENTATION A paper I presented
at the 2004 National Trigeminal Neuralgia Association Conference co-sponsored by
the University of
Florida's College of Medicine, Department of Neurosurgery. Primarily an in-depth case study of an 82 year old TN patient
who after 25 years of medications and five operations could no longer stop her pain, but succeeded in becoming pain-free
by following this diet.
TN AND MS The advantage of following a low fat diet for patients with multiple sclerosis and trigeminal neuralgia.
I do not have TN, but about six years ago at the age of 70 I was
experiencing pain I thought could
be heart related and
decide to try this diet, since it is similar to the diet recommended by the American Heart Association. This is an account
of the many ways my overall health dramatically improved.
If you have any questions, or feel I can help in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me. If you are successful with this diet, please let me know so others can profit from your experience.
1037 N. Old Woodward Ave. (Unit 1)
Birmingham, MI 48009
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Please put "TN Diet" in the "Subject" box.
Trigeminal Neuralgia Association
Because the excess saturated fat in the typical American diet has been linked to many of the "life style" diseases that are shortening the lives of Americans, there can be little argument that if the diet is successful, it is the best solution for stopping TN pain. However, if that not the case, there are other avenues of proven relief. These fall into the categories of medication, surgery, and alternative methods. Unfortunately, none of these treatments will be effective for every patient and relief is frequently temporary. For these reasons, if you are new to TN, it's important to become conversant with the many treatments for this disease. The best way to do this is to contact the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association (TNA).
TNA is a non-profit group of patients, volunteers, and doctors, organized solely for the purpose of collecting and disseminating information on trigeminal neuralgia. It is headquartered at the University of Florida's Medical College. With the exception of the book Striking Back and the national conferences, the following services are free; however, the organization is principally funded by donations.
The most complete book
of TN (500 pages). Can be ordered from the Association for
National Conferences: Held every two years. An opportunity to hear and talk to patients, doctors, and other professionals involved
in the treatment of TN.
Regional Conferences: Held throughout the United States.
Newsletter: Published three times a year.
Between eighty and ninety support groups
meet throughout the country where patients can learn about TN
and the available options to stop pain.
Telephone Support: Between eighty and ninety volunteers with TN who can be contacted for information and counseling in the US,
Canada, Australia, London, Israel, Hong-Kong, Netherlands, India, Italy, Singapore, and New Zealand.
Information Packets: Available by contacting the association.
TNA National Office
925 Northwest 56th Terrace
Gainesville, FL 32605-6402
Web Site: tna-support.org