If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you can find yourself struggling just to do the normal day to day things. Many people think their life is over and worry about relapses or harsher bouts in the years to come.
While you cannot avoid MS completely, there are some steps you can follow to combat it. These steps involve your diet and exercise, and will not just help to deal with the symptoms but will help to avoid some relapses.
You can take control of your life. Here’s a look at the things you need to do. We will also look at the various claims about diet and exercise and how they affect MS. Not all diets are worth the marketing budgets they have gained.
Studies Are Still Taking Place in Both Diet and Exercise
It is worth noting that there are no concrete tips to combat MS. Research continues in both diet and exercise, especially since there have been some positive results. The results have been mixed, especially when it comes to a mixture of diets considered good for MS patients.
Many other factors go into the autoimmune condition. One of those is stress! It is important to look after your overall health. The benefit of diet and exercise is they contribute to good health and a good immune system. This can help to limit the number of negative hormones and chemicals in the body that are linked to MS symptoms.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the immune system, which is why it is known as an autoimmune system. The immune system starts attacking healthy components in the body, wrongly identifying them as bad for you. In the case of MS, the immune system affects the nerve cells, by attacking their myelin coating. The process is known as demyelination.
You are likely to suffer from muscle spasms, walking problems, tingling/numbness in parts of the body, and fatigue. Your nerve cells are responsible for sending messages throughout the body and help with the control of the muscles, so the symptoms are not surprising. What you want to gain from any treatment is to support the health of the nerve cells. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
Now that we have got the negative out of the way, it is time to look at diet and exercise. Let’s look at the positives of how they help so you can make the best choice for your health.
You do not Need to Join a Gym If You do not Want!
Let me make one thing clear when it comes to exercise. You do not have to join a gym. There’s no need to push yourself until you are ready to drop. Exercise gets a bad name because of the view that you are in a gym where everyone is watching you. In a good gym, that is not the case anyway. You will find plenty of people supporting you and helping you become a better and healthier version of yourself.
However, if you are entirely against the idea of joining a gym right now, don’t worry about it. You can do plenty of activities in and around the house. Some of these can be done while you suffer from symptoms to help keep the muscles as strong as possible. Some exercises and activities can help to ease painful muscle spasms and boost your energy levels.
Why not try starting with some walking? Initially park your car further away from the shops when you are not suffering from bad MS symptoms. You will get more steps in to get into the shops, helping to increase the amount of activity you do slightly. Parking further away from work and even the home can help too.
Then you can move onto taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Not sure you can get right to the top? Look at taking the stairs halfway and then call for the elevator. Before you know it, you will be at the top of the stairs and feel amazing for it.
These types of movements will get easier. You can then move onto slightly more extensive forms of activities. Cleaning the house really will count, just like gardening. Think of the movement you have to do for both. You can also go for walks with your friends or walk the dog to get more activity in.
Get an Exercise Program Made for You
If you are ready to move onto more exercises and activity, look at getting a program made especially for you. You will want something created that can be done when you are feeling fit and healthy and other exercises to do when you are suffering from symptoms. This way, you keep your mind focused and positive. Just because you have some muscle weakness, or some spasms does not mean you need to avoid all exercise.
Personal trainers may not be able to help, as it will depend on their qualifications. You may need to talk to a physiotherapist to make sure your exercise program is created with your specific needs and symptoms in mind.
Yoga is considered a good option because it does more than build strength. With yoga, you can improve your flexibility and focus on reducing stress. Stress is linked to MS symptoms, due to the hormonal change and inflammation within the body. If you can keep stress to a minimum, you may make handling the symptoms easier or decrease the number of flare-ups you suffer from.
Look Out for Strength Training
There’s no need to force yourself to run a marathon. You are not training to be the fastest and greatest. You want to improve your muscle strength. This will help to reduce bouts of symptoms, as the nerves will also gain strength.
This means you want to focus more on strength training than cardio. You can still do some cardio, like walking, but make sure most of your training is based on improving your tone and density of your muscles.
No, we are not talking about bodybuilding! You do not need to start deadlifting 100lbs. Just some bodyweight exercises in your own home or some yoga will help to build your strength and flexibility.
Strength training is something you can build up. Start low, especially if you have not exercised in a long time or are worried about making your problems worse. You can then build up slowly over time. As exercises start to get more comfortable, hold them for longer or increase the number of weights you use.
Listening to your body and your mind is essential. If there’s pain, slow down and stop exercising for now. While you should feel some tiredness, you should not feel pain during the exercises.
Warning Signs of Exercise
While some exercise can be good for your MS and combating symptoms, it can also cause some problems. This comes from over training.
You will naturally feel some fatigue after exercise. Healthy people feel the same. However, the fatigue is temporary. You can often feel like you have a burst of energy and a positive mood because of the exercise you have done. Your muscles just feel tired of how you have pushed them.
This fatigue should not continue for longer than two hours. If it does, you may have pushed your muscles too much. It isimportant to listen to your body and make changes to your exercise routine where necessary. Reduce the frequency, intensity, or duration of your exercise to help avoid long bouts of fatigue afterward.
Watch Out for Dangerous Diets
When it comes to diets, you need to look out for the dangers of some. Many diets will omit vital nutrients. These are touted as being good for MS, but are detrimental to your health and can make your MS worse. While you will want to lessen your symptoms, you need to think carefully and consciously when it comes to trying diets.
Not all diets that are healthy have shown positive outcomes for MS either. While the diets will help to encourage an overall healthy lifestyle, they haveshown no abilities to curb symptoms or lessen the frequency of flare-ups of the condition. However, studies have shown some diets positive.
It is not really about the exact type of diet you follow. You can combat MS and symptoms by focusing on specific foods.
Multiple sclerosis is linked to the amount of inflammation within the body. Since MS is an autoimmune disease, you need to prevent the inflammatory response within the system from occurring. This means eating foods that offer some anti-inflammatory benefits.
One of the best options is oily fish. It is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to keep the levels of omega-6 in the body down. You do not just need to eat oily fish, but the likes of salmon, mackerel, and tuna have shown positive outcomes. Some bread and cereals are also fortified with the fatty acid.
You can also use other healthy fats to help reduce inflammation and support the health. Olive oil, coconut oil, and almond oil are all considered healthy options. Stocking up on more nuts can also help to keep inflammation down.
There have also been some studies that show vitamin D can help to reduce MS symptoms. In fact, studies have shown that low levels of this nutrient can lead to autoimmune diseases to become more prevalent and severe. Vitamin D can limit relapses and affect lesions in the brain. Studies are still ongoing, but so far looking good.
Besides, you want vitamin D in your diet, and it is something that most people are deficient in. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, so supports the bones. This is essential if you want to support the muscular system. You can get vitamin D from the sun, as well as from egg yolks and some fortified milk. Your doctor will help you decide whether vitamin D supplements are worthwhile.
There are also studies that show antioxidants can help. They can help to support the immune system, reduce the amount of inflammation in the body, and also support the development of new cells. If the nerves are being damaged, new cells will help to repair them. This can help to lessen symptoms and reduce the number of relapses of the condition.
Do You Need to Cut Out Gluten?
You may have heard that you need to get rid of gluten from your diet. Cutting down on gluten could be helpful, but it is not necessarily going to solve your issue. While some people are sensitive to gluten, it could be something else your body is reacting to.
Your doctor may recommend an elimination diet. This can help to determine if a specific food is causing the inflammation in your body. However, a specific food is unlikely to cause the immune system to attack the lining around your nerve cells.
So far, research is conflicting about gluten and other foods. You will want to take anything you hear with a pinch of salt until you discuss your options with your doctor.
There is much support for the paleo diet. This does advocate the removal of gluten from the diet, along with anything processed, grains, and other foods that weren’t available when our Palaeolithic ancestors were around. The paleo diet has been linked to some health benefits, but studies are still inconclusive about managing and combating MS symptoms.
Two things to cut down on and even eliminate from your diet are bad cholesterol and refined sugars. Both offer no goodanyway and have been linked to making autoimmune disorders worse. Sugars raise the blood sugar level and cause the insulin response, which can lead to inflammation and the immune system reacting at the wrong time. Bad cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and high blood pressure, which can lead to other health problems.
There’s Still No Treatment for MS
Unfortunately, there is still more research needed into MS and ways to treat it. So far, there is no conclusive evidence that anything will work. The studies just show that diet and a healthy diet can help to combat symptoms and minimize relapses.