Welcome to Living Well with MS, the Overcoming MS podcast where we explore all topics relating to living well with multiple sclerosis (MS). In this episode, we are taking you back to the launch of the ‘Overcoming MS Handbook: Roadmap to Good Health’ with Professor George Jelinek, Dr Jonathan White and Dr Phil Startin. Together they discussed how the new book was created, the highlights from the book and answered questions from the community. We were excited by the arrival of the new book, as it provides an engaging overview of the Overcoming MS Program combined with stories from the community.
Keep reading for the key episode takeaways and George, Jonathan and Phil’s bios.
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Professor George Jelinek’s Bio:
Professor George Jelinek developed the Overcoming MS Program and founded the Neuroepidemiology Unit at the University of Melbourne's School of Population and Global Health which continues to research its benefits.
When George was diagnosed with MS in 1999, he was determined to do something. His mother had died as a consequence of her MS, which spurred him on to sort through and assess the medical literature on MS. His career as a Professor in Emergency Medicine and his background as Editor-in-Chief of a major medical journal gave him the tools to do this.
It became clear to George that remaining well after a diagnosis of MS is more than just a possibility. He found that with commitment to the right lifestyle changes, there is the real probability that many people with MS can live long, healthy lives, relatively free of the usual problems associated with the illness. These lifestyle recommendations are now referred to as the Overcoming MS Program, which he detailed in his book Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis. The new book in this podcast episode is a newly launched accessible overview of his findings.
George has remained free of further relapses, as have many people who follow the Overcoming MS Program.
Dr. Jonathan White’s Bio
Jonathan went to University of Glasgow Medical School, graduating in 2008 (MBChB). He completed a further five years of training in Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (MRCOG). He works at the Causeway Hospital, Coleraine and has a special interest in early pregnancy and recurrent pregnancy loss.
In April 2022, Jonathan was awarded “Doctor of the Year” at the inaugural Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Awards. He contributed to the new book in this podcast episode.
Overcoming MS and personal life:
Jonathan was diagnosed with RRMS in October 2015 and has been following the Overcoming MS Program ever since. Dr. White assists Overcoming MS as a medical advisor and event facilitator.
He lives on the North Coast of Northern Ireland, is married to Jenny and father to Angus and Struan. His interests include the great outdoors, cycling and running (reluctantly), reading, rugby, film and spending time with his family.
Dr Phil Startin’s Bio
Career and Overcoming MS:
After a DPhil in Quantum Physics, Phil left his academic roots for a more peripatetic career in management consulting, initially with Price Waterhouse. After years of travelling around the world for both work and pleasure, including a two-year assignment in Geneva, he was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) in 2007.
Phil discovered Overcoming MS in 2011, and coupled with his earlier discovery of mindfulness meditation, it awakened a whole new area in his life. With training and supervision from Bangor University, he now teaches an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course to people with MS and to the general community on a pro-bono basis. He is also a trustee for MS-UK.
Phil lives in Arrochar, Scotland with his American wife, Cristina, whom he met over a weekend at the Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Phil’s completely convinced that the Overcoming MS program and mindfulness have positively affected the trajectory of his condition.
Selected Key Takeaways
The new book gives different perspectives from the Overcoming MS community
Professor George Jelinek said: “After what seems like quite a long time of bringing this message to people, I’m hearing the message come back to me through the filter of all of these different people's lives and experiences, joys and sorrows. It's just a wonderful read for me to sit down and say that all this has been happening in our community and that people have worked out ways of adopting and maintaining this program, many of which I've really never considered given that I've got only my own particular view of the world.”
Overcoming MS supports the use of medications alongside lifestyle changes
Dr Jonathan White said: “I think sometimes the medical community thinks it’s “us or them” [with] lifestyle or medication and that could never be further from the truth. I personally have always chosen to use medication as part of my way of managing MS and I wouldn't change that. But nor would I change using lifestyle to manage my MS. Undoubtedly for many people medication has many benefits and is a huge part of your armor and protection against this disease. But why ignore the underlying things that caused the problem in the first place, you know, stress, lack of exercise, low vitamin D levels, poor diet and processed and altered fats and animal fats in your diet?”
The Overcoming MS program is relevant for both relapsing and progressive forms of MS
Dr Phil Startin said: “By following the Overcoming MS program, you absolutely can make a difference [to your MS], you can change the trajectory of that condition, and you can improve your quality of life. Through neuroplasticity, you can even recover some functions. The Overcoming MS program is just as relevant for us with a progressive form of the condition as it is for those with those newly diagnosed and with a relapsing form, possibly even more.”
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