Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition that damages the protective coating around nerve fibers called the myelin sheath in the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is made up of the brain and spinal cord. People with MS can experience severe fatigue, depression, bowel and bladder dysfunction, vision problems, muscle weakness or stiffness, tremors, and pain.
A healthy lifestyle is an important part of living with MS and can complement medical care. While no single lifestyle change can fix MS, lifestyle changes and medical interventions combined can improve symptoms and quality of life.
Below is a list of research-based lifestyle modifications to help manage MS symptoms.
Lifestyle Tips for MS
There are a number of steps you can take to make living with MS more manageable.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet can have a big impact on MS symptoms. One study found that improved diet quality was associated with less disability and less severity of symptoms. To see also : Extreme heat; how longer days and hot weather affect your mental health. To determine the quality of the diet, the researchers looked at the participants’ intake of:
Another study looked at the impact of a plant-based low-fat diet on people with MS for a year. Although the diet did not impact disability or relapse rates, people who followed the diet showed significant improvements in fatigue, body mass index (BMI), and metabolic biomarkers compared to the non-diet group.
More research is needed to determine the definitive diet for MS. For the time being, it appears that a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains has the potential to improve MS symptoms. It is advisable to speak to a dietician or nutritionist before making any significant diet changes.
Exercise Your Body
Exercise is one of the most studied lifestyle measures for MS. On the same subject : The number one city in the world to travel and work remotely is in the US – and it’s not New York or LA. According to the National MS Society, aerobic exercise for people with MS can improve:
Another review found that physical training is safe for people with MS and is not associated with relapse.
A physical therapist can help you develop a personalized exercise program for you. Meaningful activities, such as gardening, doing laundry, cooking, or walking the dog, are also forms of exercise. An occupational therapist can help you modify them to make them more accessible.
Exercise Your Brain
MS can affect cognitive thinking skills in up to 65% of people with the condition. Cognitive impairment most commonly affects memory and slows down information processing. This may interest you : Charnwood Museum looks back at the Ladybird books. Difficulties in executive functioning, attention, verbal fluency, visual perception, and more may also be affected.
It is important that your doctor has an annual cognitive screening to monitor for changes. If they or you notice cognitive decline, they can refer you to the appropriate professionals and even organized “brain training” programs.
On your own, you can keep your mind active by challenging yourself and learning new skills to promote neuroplasticity (the growth of new neurons). Some activities include:
Get Quality Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is important if you have MS, as sleep deprivation can worsen fatigue and other MS symptoms.
Unfortunately, sleep problems are common among people with MS. This can be due to factors such as daytime naps, certain MS medications or their side effects, vitamin D deficiency, pain and increased stress due to MS.
Some tips for improving sleep quality with MS include:
Consider Vitamin D
Consider checking your vitamin D levels if you have MS. Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for MS and having enough vitamin D is a protective factor for MS. Scientists believe this is because vitamin D can modulate (change) the immune system, as well as protect neurons in the central nervous system.
Vitamin D could reduce MS relapses by up to 50% -70%. Vitamin D supplementation can also reduce the severity of MS symptoms, slow progression, and generally improve quality of life.
However, high doses of vitamin D can also lead to a dangerous build-up of calcium. Therefore, it is important to consult with your doctor before starting vitamin D supplementation. Your provider can advise you on any recommended brands or dosages.
People with MS are more likely than the general population to have depression. This is due to symptoms such as fatigue, pain and cognitive changes, as well as physiological changes in the brain due to MS itself.
If you have MS and are feeling depressed, you are not alone. Depression can occur in more than half of people with MS. Talk to your doctor about treatment options, including medications, therapy, or lifestyle changes.
Smoking is both a risk factor for developing MS and can also make existing MS progress more rapidly. It can also increase the level of disability. If you’ve been diagnosed with MS, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your longevity and quality of life.
To quit smoking, talk to your doctor, who may refer you to a clinical pharmacist or cognitive behavioral therapist. There are also medications that can help you quit smoking. The Department of Health and Human Services site Smokefree.gov is a good resource to get started.
Reducing stress with MS is easier said than done.
MS can change your physical, emotional and cognitive abilities and create stress in your daily life. You may be concerned about the unpredictability of a relapse, medical appointments and bills, participation in work and hobbies, or what people might think about you. Physiological changes in MS can also produce bodily stress. There are many valid reasons why you may be stressed out if you have MS.
Managing stress can reduce MS symptoms, reduce flare-ups (timing of new or increased symptoms), improve your immunity, and help you feel better overall. Some stress reduction tactics include:
Avoid Too Much Heat
For approximately 60% -80% of people with MS, exposure to hot temperatures can cause fatigue and other MS symptoms. This is referred to as heat sensitivity. This is because when core body temperature rises, already damaged nerves have even more difficulty conducting electrical signals.
People with MS are advised to be aware that heat can trigger symptoms and to avoid exposure to too much heat. Some suggestions from the National MS Society include:
If your doctor prescribes air conditioning for you because of your MS, the cost may be tax deductible.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol consumption has not been explicitly linked to MS as a risk factor. However, the side effects of alcohol, combined with MS symptoms such as motor limitations, difficulty sleeping, lack of coordination, vision problems, and poor bladder control can put a person at risk.
Additionally, alcohol can interact with some MS medications.
MS is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue, pain, cognitive changes, muscle weakness, and more. There are many medical treatments available for MS. You can also manage MS symptoms with lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a balanced diet, avoiding heat, reducing alcohol intake, ensuring you have sufficient vitamin D levels, reducing stress, quitting smoking, improving health. sleep quality, treat depression and exercise your brain and body.
A Word From Verywell
The unpredictability of MS symptoms, relapses, and how it affects your abilities can be stressful. Adopting some, or all, of these lifestyle changes can give you some semblance of control when managing your MS symptoms. Talk to your doctor to incorporate some of these measures into your MS treatment plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
What foods should you avoid if you have MS?
There is no specific diet for MS. It is recommended that you eat a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. A study on a very low-fat plant-based diet found that this could reduce MS-related fatigue.
What types of exercises are best for people with MS?
It is safe for people with MS to exercise. Exercise was not associated with relapses of MS. The best types of exercise will differ from person to person and will depend on the symptoms present. Aerobic exercise, flexibility, strength training, and water aerobics are all good exercises. Consult a physical or occupational therapist for specific therapeutic exercises for you.
What can trigger an MS flare-up?
Some triggers for an MS flare-up include heat, stress, infections, lack of sleep, and hormonal changes such as during menopause or menstruation.
Does B12 repair myelin sheath?
These data suggested that vitamin B12 increased the level of MBP, which plays vital roles in the myelination process and in the proper formation of myelin thickness and firmness. Meanwhile, LFB staining showed that vitamin B12 restored myelin by reducing vacuolar changes in the myelin sheath after head injury.
Does B12 help with the myelin sheath? You need vitamin B12 to help maintain the myelin sheath of your nerves. If you are deficient in vitamin B12 you can have symptoms similar to some of the symptoms of MS, such as fatigue, weakness, numbness or tingling, and memory problems.
How does B12 affect myelin?
A fatty substance called myelin is essential for the formation of these sheaths. Vitamin B12 plays a significant role in the synthesis and maintenance of myelin. Neurological problems caused by vitamin B12 deficiency later in life are due to damage done to the myelin sheath.
Does B12 produce myelin?
Thus, vitamin B12 is particularly assigned a function in the DNA synthesis of myelin, producing oligodendrocytes and myelin synthesis.48, 49, 50, 51 The myelin sheath surrounds the axons of many nerves and serves as electrical insulation, thus facilitating fast conduction speed.
What B vitamins help myelin?
Biotin (vitamin B7) is essential in the production of myelin which covers nerve fibers in the spinal cord, brain and eyes. Folate (vitamin B9) is important, especially for pregnant women, as it prevents potential defects such as malformations of the neural tube, spinal cord and brain of the fetus.
What foods increase myelin?
Here are some key nutrients that can help increase myelin production and repair … Which foods help repair the myelin sheath?
- Meat such as chicken breast and beef liver.
- Seafood such as clams and crabs.
- Nutritional yeast.
- Fortified soy products such as tofu, soy milk and tempeh.
- Low-fat or non-fat dairy products such as milk and yogurt.
What Vitamins Help Myelin? In addition to its protective effects, vitamin D was recently put in the spotlight to find out whether it can help guide remyelination, the process by which specialized cells repair damage to the myelin that surrounds nerve fibers in the central nervous system – “In people living with MS.
What food is good for myelin?
The myelin sheath is made up mostly of fat, but some fats work best as building materials. Healthy fats can help put on gears. Unsaturated fats found in foods such as nuts, seeds, salmon, tuna, avocado, and vegetable oils help nerve cells communicate more quickly.
What helps regenerate myelin?
Myelin is repaired or replaced by special cells in the brain called oligodendrocytes. These cells are made up of a type of stem cell found in the brain called oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs).
What is living with MS like?
MS affects everyone differently. This could block or slow the communication between the brain and the spine with the rest of the body. You may have numbness and tingling, balance problems, dizziness, vision problems, fatigue or other things, including problems with sex or with bladder and bowel problems.
Can you live a normal life with MS? You may need to adjust your daily life if you are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), but with the right care and support, many people can lead long, active and healthy lives.
What can I expect living with MS?
MS symptoms can cause constant discomfort and disability that limit a person’s ability to perform daily activities. People with MS may have to attend medical examinations very regularly. They also live with the uncertainty of when the next bout of symptoms might occur.
How does MS affect daily living?
More than 50% reported limitations in daily activities due to fatigue, physical weakness, balance / coordination problems, sensitivity to heat / cold, memory problems, numbness / tingling, difficulty concentrating, motor difficulties / muscle stiffness and impaired sleep.
Can MS be managed with diet and exercise?
Research shows that a healthy diet, exercise, no smoking, ongoing preventive care, and the management of other medical conditions not only contribute to overall health, but can also impact the progression of MS and a person’s lifespan. Management of MS is an essential component of optimal physical well-being.
Can you fight MS with exercise? People with MS can benefit from at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least three days a week. For a person with MS, overly aggressive exercise can cause severe fatigue and injury and exacerbate symptoms.
Does MS get worse with exercise?
According to current research and clinical practice, exercise does not cause MS episodes or exacerbations. However, many report increased symptoms around 30 minutes after exercise. This change in symptoms is not permanent and does not cause any harm.
Can you help MS with diet?
While we don’t yet know that a specific diet will help your MS, any positive changes you make are likely to help your overall health and well-being. Most MS experts agree that a healthy diet is important for the long-term health of the nervous system.
Can you cure MS with diet and exercise?
Although diet cannot cure MS, some research suggests that making dietary changes can help people with MS manage their symptoms better.