A diagnosis of MS can be a devastating blow. However, it does not mean that you have to abandon your former lifestyle and live in fear of leading a painful existence. Living comfortably with MS is possible and it’s not as hard as one may think. There are simple steps you can take to ensure that you are living pain-free and that you are feeling fulfilled on a daily basis.
Two main components to living comfortably with MS are diet and exercise!! You hear it everyday…on the news, in that daily health and wellness blog that you read. Diet and exercise are vital to living comfortably in general and especially for those living with MS.
Research has shown that doing just 2 to 3 regular exercise sessions per week can reduce symptoms such as fatigue, loss of bladder control, osteoporosis – a common side effect of MS due to low levels of vitamin D and calcium – weight gain and heart problems. Remember, any decrease of mobility needs to be taken into account when creating an exercise plan that is right for you. The goal is to increase comfort, alleviate symptoms and prevent future flare-ups, not to cause injury, so make sure to speak with your doctor first about which exercise regimen will be right for you. You may be referred to a physical therapist to create a workout routine that best suits your needs.
A common, low impact but highly effective exercise to consider is yoga. Yoga has been shown to increase flexibility and strength. Start slow if you are new to yoga by finding a beginner’s class and slowly increase your intensity level as you learn the practice and increase your strength. Try this video as a jumping off point and remember to modify your poses to make them comfortable for you.
For people living with MS, inflammation is a word that probably makes its way into your vocabulary everyday. It is an autoimmune disease but also a disease of inflammation. Luckily, there are lots of delicious food options that have anti-inflammatory properties so following a healthy diet, full of foods that decrease inflammation does not have to be difficult. In fact, following a diet high in fiber-rich foods, fruits and vegetables is something we all should be doing. It just so happens that eating this way can also help manage MS flare-ups. By maintaining a healthy body weight, symptoms such as fatigue and cardiovascular issues are minimized.
You don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to add these foods into your diet. Focus on leafy green veggies and bright fruits, both of which have antioxidants shown to decrease inflammation. Try blending up those fruits and veggies into a smoothie as these are a super quick and easy way to get a big dose of inflammatory-busting goodness! You also want to look for foods rich in omega-3s and monounsaturated fats such as salmon and avocados. Here are some recipes to get you started:
Hopefully, in reading this you begin to feel that living comfortably with MS is not out of your reach. By following a few simple steps, a reduction in flare-ups is possible. And don’t forget, it never hurts to reach out to your local chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for more info, tips and support groups.
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