Posts by: the MS MindShift

Today there is evidence that some healthy lifestyle choices may actually reduce multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms for people living with the disease. What’s the connection? It turns out that things like a healthy diet and exercise can enhance what is known as “neurological reserve”—your brain’s ability to adapt to damage caused by MS lesions. A healthy neurological reserve can help delay the onset of MS symptoms and slow the progression of MS-related disability early on in the disease.

8 healthy ways to help your brain

There are a number of things you can do every day to maximize neurological reserve. The 8 below can be a good place to start. Remember, before making any changes to your diet or trying a new activity, be sure to ask your doctor about what is right for you.

1. Improve the health of your brain with sleep 

Lack of sleep can lead to trouble with balance as well as cognitive issues (such as worsening of memory, difficulty concentrating, or trouble thinking of the right word). Getting at least 7 hours of restful sleep each night is good for your brain.

2. Process information faster with aerobic exercise

Higher levels of aerobic fitness can be associated with faster information processing as well as having more deep grey matter in the brain. Exercise is also helpful for managing MS symptoms. So, stay as active as you can. Something as simple as taking a walk, gardening, or a water aerobics class can be helpful.

3. Stimulate your brain by spending time with others 

Being socially active can be good for your brain. If you’re looking for ideas: try volunteering, becoming part of an MS support group, or joining a book club.

4. Reduce inflammation with the right diet

You may benefit from a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol, which can help reduce inflammation. A December 2017 study in Neurology confirms that people with MS who eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes (such as peas, lentils, or beans), and whole grains may experience fewer symptoms than people whose diet is not as healthy.

5. Cognitive performance may get a boost from vitamin D

Since vitamin D may impact cognitive function in people with MS, ask your doctor if you’re getting the right amount.

6. Smoking can make MS symptoms worse

The decision to stop smoking can have a big impact on MS symptoms, including improved physical strength, better cognition, and fewer relapses and lesions. If you smoke, ask your doctor about ways you can quit.

7. Keep your brain active and engaged

Activities such as reading, writing, and playing board games may help enhance your neurological reserve.

8. Help relieve symptoms and stress by practicing mindfulness 

Mindfulness is a state of active and open attention to the present. When you’re being “mindful,” you are observing your thoughts and feelings without judging them in any way.

  • Meditation can help provide relief from stress—and MS symptoms
  • Yoga can help strengthen joints and muscles—and relieve anxiety. Yoga can even be done while sitting in a bed or wheelchair
  • Breathing exercises (or focusing on breathing) can help you feel calmer and relax your body

Talk to your healthcare professional before participating in any new activity.

Learn more about what you can do today, and every day, to help preserve your brain and its function by visiting MSMindShift.com

© 2019 Celgene Corporation 05/19 US-CLG-19-0645

The preceding article is content provided by our sponsor Celgene. The views and opinions expressed in the content above are not the views and opinions of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, LLC.
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The brain is made up of two types of tissue: grey matter and white matter. For many years, research in multiple sclerosis (MS) focused primarily on white matter, which is where the majority of brain lesions occur. But research has evolved, and experts now understand that grey matter also plays a critical role in MS. 

Advancements in MRI technology reveal new information

Thanks to advancements in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), MS healthcare experts are able to identify changes happening in grey matter—as they relate to MS—in more detail. For example, we now know that grey matter lesions, as well as a decrease in grey matter (also known as brain volume loss), are closely associated with physical and cognitive changes caused by MS. Cognitive changes can include worsening memory, difficulty concentrating, or trouble thinking of the right word.

Evolving research ties grey matter lesions to MS progression 

According to recent studies, MS lesions in grey matter may be more closely associated with physical disability and cognitive changes than lesions in white matter. “Grey matter loss is one of the best predictors of disease progression in people with MS,” says Dr. John DeLuca, a senior vice president for research and training at the Kessler Foundation. “Finally, we’re seeing data that may help us better understand the mechanisms that drive this disease.” 

Discuss the latest research in the MS News Today forums!

By studying grey matter, we’ve become smarter about cognitive impairment in MS 

Dr. DeLuca also believes there is value in further study of the relationship between grey matter and cognitive issues in MS. Currently, the majority of research focuses on physical disability. However, up to 65% of people with MS will experience some degree of cognitive damage due to disease progression. According to a recent survey from the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA), which was sponsored by Celgene, 78% of people with MS are concerned that cognitive impairment will happen to them. 

A focus on grey matter can help doctors monitor MS more closely

Dr. DeLuca says the time has come for doctors to consider using grey matter loss as a predictor of disability and cognitive impairment. “Grey matter loss could be a trigger for clinicians to watch their patients over time to monitor for potentially related problems. …The more specific we can be regarding the role of grey matter loss, the better we can care for patients with MS.” 

If you’re living with MS, talk to your MS healthcare team about the importance of changes in grey matter. You can find a list of questions to ask at your next appointment by visiting MSMindShift.com
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A focus on the role of lesions in grey matter, and the impact of losing grey matter volume, is part of a new initiative called the MS MindShift. This initiative is designed to offer a new perspective on the role the brain plays in MS and help how people with MS live with their disease going forward. Learn more at MSMindShift.com

© 2019 Celgene Corporation 05/19 US-CLG-19-0645

The preceding article is content provided by our sponsor Celgene. The views and opinions expressed in the content above are not the views and opinions of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, LLC.

Create your own user feedback survey
Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.