Receiving a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis is scary, but it doesn’t mean your life is over. Using a four-prong strategy of diet, exercise, mental health and medical treatment, your life can still be everything you want it to be. Here are some of the tactics we recommend.
How to Eat with Multiple Sclerosis
First things first, take steps to make your diet healthy. Drink your 8 cups of water (at least), get 30 grams of fiber daily, stick with lean proteins, and eat your fruits and veggies.
Some research suggests that adopting a diet low in saturated fat can go a long way toward helping slow down or even avoid disease progression. The Swank Diet in particular, developed by Dr. Roy Swank, bans gluten, legumes (like beans and peas) and almost all saturated fats while emphasizing consumption of fish and supplementation with fish oils.
While there is little concrete proof that the Swank Diet works, most doctors do advise limiting saturated fat, sticking to lean proteins like skinless turkey or chicken, and eating a diet high in fruits and veggies. There is no evidence that gluten affects MS patients who are not also gluten-sensitive (though MS patients may have a higher chance of being gluten-intolerant). If you’ve been tested for gluten intolerance and have been given the all-clear, stick to whole grains to get your dose of fiber. Fish and fish oil supplements are typically good advice anyway, so feel free to make them a regular part of your diet.
How to Exercise with Multiple Sclerosis
With symptoms ranging from fatigue and weakness to pain and lack of coordination, exercise may seem like something to avoid, but that’s actually not the case at all. On the contrary, regular aerobic exercise has been shown to greatly improve the quality of life for people with MS.
Studies have shown that the benefits range from increased strength and endurance and improved mental health (less depression and anxiety) to improvements in bladder and bowel control, balance and decreased spasticity.
What types of exercise are best for people with MS? Anything you like! If you’re a runner or have always wanted to start running, don’t let MS stop you. If there’s a sport you enjoy playing, keep playing. If there’s a type of exercise you want to pick up, like swimming or yoga, give it a shot. The key is to remember to be kind to yourself and listen to your body. If you’re experiencing a flare-up of symptoms, take it easy on yourself, but don’t be afraid to get back to it when your symptoms subside.
Lastly, work with your doctor to create a plan that lets you participate in the activities you can enjoy. He or she can give you guidelines to follow as well as help time your medication to help manage symptoms in relation to your activities.
Mental Strategies for Coping with Multiple Sclerosis
It’s extremely important to know that MS does affect parts of the brain that control mood. While it is normal and natural to experience sadness or grief in reaction to your diagnosis or frustrations as you manage the disease, you should know that depression, anxiety and extreme irritability are not just who you are now. They are symptoms of MS, and they can be treated.
Here are some strategies for coping with MS-related mood changes:
- Ask trusted friends or family members for a reality check. Your friends and family know you best, and they can help you discern an understandable reaction (sadness or frustration at symptoms) from what may be a symptom (loss of enjoyment of activities, lashing out at people for no reason, persistent anxiety, etc.).
- Talk to your doctor. If you’re concerned about a mood-related symptom, tell your doctor. Keep track of incidents (with the help of friends and family), and discuss your options. Counseling, medication and exercise have been proven effective at helping people with MS cope with mood-related symptoms.
- Find a support group. It’s so important to know you’re not alone in your struggles. There are lots of people out there who are going through the same things you are — and plenty more who have overcome those struggles. Finding a support group allows you to connect with your peers, share stories, and find strategies. The National MS Society is a great resource for both MS management strategies as well as finding an MS support group in your area or online.
IV Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis at IVX Health
Thanks to modern medical research, medical treatments can go a long way to helping you manage your symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and IVX Health is proud to be a part of your strategy.
Multiple Sclerosis is one of the many chronic conditions we treat at IVX Health, where we do IV treatment differently by offering infusions in a spa-like environment at a time that works for you — including evenings and weekends. We believe feeling better should start when you walk in the door for your treatment, and we would love to show you how you can make IV therapy a convenient and enjoyable part of your life.