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
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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.