It’s World Multiple Sclerosis Day today so we’d like to bring awareness to what the Multiple Sclerosis definition (frequently referred to as ‘MS’) is and how it can be managed through natural lifestyle shifts such as exercise and diet. While a multiple sclerosis diagnosis is not curable, natural measures taken can increase recovery time from attacks and effectively manage symptoms.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the brain that affects the spinal cord and central nervous system. Identifying multiple sclerosis symptoms early is important for diagnosis and the following treatment. Symptoms may differ from person to person and over time.
Since MS affects the central nervous system, multiple sclerosis symptoms can affect movement, such as:
- Tremors, poor coordination, or an unsteady walk
- Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that usually occurs on one side of the body at a time
- Electric-shock like sensations that happen with neck movements, particularly when bending the neck forward
Other symptoms include:
- Blurry or prolonged double vision
- Partial or complete loss of vision, often starting in one eye and with pain during movement
- Tingling or pain in parts of the body
- Slurred speech
- Problems with sexual, bowel, and bladder function
Relieve Symptoms of MS
While your doctor can provide the best multiple sclerosis treatment plans for you, making lifestyle changes such as nutrition and exercise can be largely beneficial to your health and help relieve MS symptoms. Previously, we also wrote about how exercise can also lower hypertension in a series of posts on how exercise can combat the symptoms of many medical conditions.
1. Eat Your Veggies!
Especially of the green variety. Vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, kale, and spinach offer tons of phytonutrients that can benefit the health of MS patients.
2. Incorporate a Massage Routine
This one has to be the most exciting suggestion of all! Regular massage will help stimulate lymphatic flow and circulation, increase the flexibility of joints, and might even help with muscle spasticity. Enlist a professional or ask your boo sweetly!
3. Serve Up Salmon
Delicious organic, wild sockeye salmon is chock full of proteins and omega-3 fats. Just one serving a week is enough to improve health in MS by providing healthy fats that decrease inflammation.
4. Start Taking Vitamin D
It’s possible that MS is caused by lack of vitamin D. Studies show that clusters of MS sufferers around the world lack consistent sunlight, therefore lack consistent amounts of vitamin D. You can alleviate this by getting a vitamin D test, taking a vitamin D3 supplement that also includes a vitamin K2, and getting in 20 minutes of sunshine a day on as much skin as possible.
5. Get Tested for Food Sensitivities
Some food allergies and sensitivities are known to make MS symptoms worse so this is extremely important. Continuing to ingest foods that your body does not want can make MS symptoms worse by causing widespread inflammation throughout your body.
6. Get Some Exercise in!
Protect your muscles from atrophy by keeping your muscles and core strong! There are a number of ways to do this such as swimming, walking, yoga, biking, running on an elliptical machine. Lifting weights provide the most benefit to keep your muscles and core strength.
Exercise Benefits Multiple Sclerosis
You might wonder if working out makes multiple sclerosis worse, or if exercise is good or bad for multiple sclerosis. Studies show however that the benefits of exercise outweigh the challenges! In moderation, exercise can help manage the symptoms of MS so what’s there to lose?
Moderate exercise can improve strength, bowel and bladder function, and mobility. It also helps with maintaining a healthy weight for MS. Exercise can also help with MS symptoms such as fatigue and pain.
What types of exercises can people with MS do? Plenty! The main part to remember is to not overheat, which is important for people with MS.
Aerobic training can be very beneficial for those with MS. Try High-Intensity Interval Training which exercising as hard as possible for 4 or 5 minutes, then taking a short break. Repeat and do a different exercise for each interval. The exercising in short bursts can be helpful to prevent overheating for those with MS.
Strength training can help with building and strengthening muscles, in addition to combatting fatigue. It can also increase the connectivity between brain regions for people with MS, further protecting against fatigue and future cognitive decline. Join a gym or seek out a personal trainer to develop a weight lighting program tailored to your needs! Strength training also looks like doing sit ups, push ups, pulling against an elastic band, and more.
Endurance training is building your cardiovascular resilient and making muscles more efficient. Things such as jogging, cycling, or swimming all count as endurance training. You generally start with shorter distances and gradually build up longer periods of exercises. Doing endurance training helps to improve your ability to recover for exertion, just remember to not over-exert yourself and take it slow. Endurance training for people with MS helps improve their ability to walk, their mobility, coordination, and balance. Feel like you don’t have enough hours in a day to exercise? You can get in some activity by using a sit stand desk at work. A height adjustable desk will allow you to remain active throughout your workday.
All these forms of exercise are highly beneficial to all but especially for folks with MS. Start slow, get help when you can, and always consult your doctor with any questions or concerns.
Stress Triggers Multiple Sclerosis
In making lifestyle changes in nutrition and exercise, often people forget about stress as a contributing factor to worsening MS. Can stress cause MS or make its symptoms worse? The answer is yes!
As with anything, more stress is never healthy in anybody’s life. Studies show that an increase in stress can trigger MS flare-ups. While you can’t always control the factors for stress in your life, such as a busy week at the office, you can control your responses to stress.
Take breaks at work, get some vitamin D as suggested, and for incorporating exercise and stress relief, even while you’re at the office, consider getting a standing desk. All these small lifestyle adjustments combined can make a huge impact on your life and health when it comes to living with MS.
Take control of your MS symptoms by making easy and natural shifts in your life! Be sure to stay active as much as possible (get that standing desk ordered!), soak in the sunlight and take your vitamins, and eat green and healthy. Many people have MS and many of them manage it through healthy choices and lifestyle changes. See Zen Space Desks’ range of height adjustable desks here and incorporate more activity into your lifestyle.