The symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) are anything but predictable. They may be mild or severe and vary from one day to the next. You may go into remission for months or never go into remission at all. And when one MS problem arises, it can trigger an unexpected series of health challenges.
Amidst the uncertainty of life with MS, one of the most positive steps you can take is to diligently follow a healthy lifestyle. The foods you eat and other aspects of your daily habits can slow down the progression of MS, improve your symptoms, and help prevent flare-ups.
Our team at Shankle Clinic works closely with you, helping to identify the lifestyle changes you may need to make and creating a plan that works for you. These are a few of the best lifestyle tips for managing MS.
1. Modify your diet
In addition to promoting your overall health and maintaining your energy, your food choices can support your immune system, reduce inflammation, and boost the healthy bacteria in your gut — steps that improve MS symptoms.
Additionally, people with MS are susceptible to bladder and bowel dysfunction. You can prevent or limit these problems with your dietary choices.
Though there isn’t an approved MS diet to follow, these are a few guidelines:
Drink plenty of water
Drinking enough water to keep your urine light yellow helps prevent bladder infections and keeps you hydrated.
Limit caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol irritate your bladder, making you more likely to have urinary problems.
Add fish rich in omega-3 fats to your meal plan
Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are some of the top sources of omega-3s, which fight inflammation and may prolong MS remission.
Eat oats, beans, and fruits
The soluble fiber in these foods promotes healthy gut bacteria, plus they’re packed with nutrients.
Eat bran cereal, whole grains, and vegetables
These foods are high in insoluble fiber, which prevents constipation. They also form the foundation of a healthy diet.
Include biotin-rich foods in your diet
Eggs, fish, seeds, nuts, and sweet potatoes are all good sources of biotin, a vitamin that protects the health of nerves in your brain.
Watch your vitamin D levels
The association between vitamin D and MS is still being studied. However, the current information shows that low blood levels of vitamin D may increase your risk of a symptom relapse, while higher levels help protect your nerves. Trout, salmon, egg yolks, vitamin D-fortified milk, and fortified cereals are the best food sources of vitamin D.
2. Follow an exercise regimen
We help you plan an exercise program that doesn’t exacerbate your MS. We also make sure your exercise routine is safe, despite common MS symptoms such as vertigo, balance and coordination problems, and muscle weakness or stiffness.
These are a few tips to keep in mind when exercising with MS:
- Exercise in a cool room to prevent overheating
- Choose gentle activities that don’t cause fatigue
- Start at a low activity level and limit your exercise time
- Try water exercises because they’re safe and help you stay cool
Also remember that you don’t have to go to a gym or participate in a cardio workout to gain the benefits of exercise. Everyday activities such as gardening, walking the dog, and even household chores contribute to your physical movement and health.
3. Follow other healthy lifestyle tips
Beyond diet and exercise, you should take other steps that improve overall health and help control your MS.
Get restorative sleep
Many patients with MS have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep, yet adequate sleep is vital for staying healthy. If you struggle with sleep problems, talk with us so we can determine the underlying cause and offer solutions.
When your body temperature increases, it affects the ability of MS-damaged nerves to work. Avoid activities such as sunbathing, very hot showers or baths, and intense exercise.
If you smoke, it’s time to stop. MS progresses at a faster rate in people who smoke. On top of that, some MS medications may not work as well in smokers.
To improve your MS symptoms with lifestyle changes, call our office in Newport Beach, California, or email Shankle Clinic to schedule an appointment.