Do you remember the first time you or your loved one was diagnosed with MS? In that initial shock, many people with MS believe that their life is effectively over. That, very soon, it will become extremely difficult to do any of the day-to-day activities they used to enjoy.
However, those fears aren’t real. While managing MS can take some effort, with patience and the right approach you can live a normal, full life. Some adjustments might be necessary, but it will all be worth it. These MS health tips will get you started.
Why It’s All Worth It
Making changes to your diet and exercise habits is hard enough when you’re fully healthy, let alone when you’re suffering from MS, but the payoff for following healthier lifestyle habits and behaviors is enormous.
Diet and exercise for MS may not be a cure, but, in many cases, it should reduce symptoms to a much more manageable level. Debilitating attacks or relapses will be lessened in frequency and intensity, and the disease will hopefully progress more slowly. In short, you’ll feel healthier and more capable for longer.
The Right Diet
Many different and radical diets have been hailed as MS beaters over the years, but the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of any of them is still lacking. Instead, the main recommendation for those with MS is to stick with a normal, balanced diet that’s low in sodium and high in vitamin D.
This means avoiding foods with a high sodium content, such as:
- Cured or processed meats like bacon, sausage, and cold cuts
- Canned meals, soups, and vegetables with added salt
- Frozen ready meals like lasagna, pizza, and burritos
- Bottled sauces, dressings, and marinades
… and seeking out foods with high vitamin D content, such as:
- Fish with high oil content, including tuna, salmon, and mackerel
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods like certain dairy products and cereals
Of course, it can be challenging to stick to a certain diet when you’re unable to cook or shop for yourself. If you’re reliant on the kindness of others for your meals, don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know what you need for a balanced diet. They should be more than happy to help.
Physical activity is beneficial to everyone’s health, but the benefits for those living with MS are even more pronounced. Exercise is a great way not just to lift the mood and get fit, but to also help avoid many of the common risk factors of MS, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Poor functioning bowels and bladder
- Heart disease
- Inefficient breathing
- Low bone density
Low-impact exercises such as yoga and Pilates are usually an excellent starting point. Many people with MS also experience difficulties with the regulation of their body temperature and may find water-based activities like aqua aerobics and swimming especially rewarding.
Even if you can’t exercise fully, it’s important to keep moving and keep active. Try walking in the neighborhood, gardening, or simply sweeping the house as a way to get your body going.
Choosing Healthy Behaviors
Having MS might not be a choice, but you can decide to engage in certain healthy behaviors that will help. Of course, giving up some unhealthy coping mechanisms might seem frustratingly unfair, when the rest of the world can do them without consequence. Adjusting to a healthier mindset is always difficult but making that choice will always pay off.
Some positive choices you’ll have to make are:
- Giving up smoking to help your heart and lungs
- Reducing alcohol intake to avoid medicine interactions
- Keeping a strict, more restful sleeping schedule
- Seeking help from a trained professional for mental support
- Getting used to adaptive aids for independence around the home
Limited Mobility? Need More Support? The atHand® Overbed Table System Can Help
Adapting your life to cope with MS is hard, and there’s nothing shameful about asking for help. Strain and overexertion can easily take their toll, and it’s important to make your life easier through your friends, family, and specially designed assistive devices.
For those who need to spend a large amount of time in bed, the atHand® Overbed Table System is a perfect solution for your home. Everything you need is at your fingertips, allowing you to read, eat, and connect with others with ease.