Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Because you were powerless to prevent MS from happening, it’s easy to feel that there’s little you can do about the situation as it plays out. But this isn’t the case in MS. Once you’ve been diagnosed, it’s important to do something positive for yourself to help you re-gain control over your life. And there are many things you can do to maintain your health and well-being.
Although a number of special diets for MS receive attention from time to time, the MS Society does not endorse any particular diet for MS. But it makes sense that a healthy approach to eating can keep your body in the best shape possible. In practical terms, many dieticians recommend an overall diet that is high in vegetables and fruit, whole wheat grain products, low fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry and fish.
In addition, people with MS sometimes wonder whether they should take extra vitamins or supplements. There is no scientific evidence that they will make a difference—with one exception. Researchers are now looking carefully at vitamin D as a way to possibly reduce the risk of MS developing in the first place. Many physicians now suggest that people with MS themselves might benefit from taking a daily intake of 1,000-2,000 IU of vitamin D—especially in Canada—because some people may be vitamin D deficient.
In terms of immune boosting supplements, people with MS should consult their doctor prior to using. Each natural product has a specific action mode in the body. It is important to know that these products can have undesirable effects or reactions with prescription drugs.
Avoid fad diets and quack ‘cures’ for MS. If you do change your diet radically or increase your intake of vitamins, it is a good idea to consult your doctor or a nutrition specialist.
Fatigue is a common symptom of MS and will only be made worse by poor sleeping habits. (You can read more about this in the Managing Fatigue section.)
Exercise can help your muscles compensate for some of the changes that occur in MS, such as muscle weakness, tremor, instability, and impaired gait. Try to exercise at least three times a week for twenty minutes or so. Go for a walk after dinner, bike to school—things you enjoy and which fit into your life.
Be careful not to overdo it, and make sure to drink plenty of water—getting overheated can make your MS symptoms worse. On warm days, go for a swim or work out in an air-conditioned gym.
Having MS doesn’t exempt you from other health risks, so keeping up with your annual physical is important. Your doctor can also help you manage any MS-related symptoms you may be experiencing.
Do you need to give up alcohol?
You should consult your doctor, but unless forbidden, an occasional social drink will do no harm. If you do experience fatigue, balance or bladder problems, you may find that alcohol intensifies them, so it may be wise to limit consumption.
If you are taking any medications, be sure to check with your doctor to find out whether it is safe to drink in moderation. Alcohol in large quantity is unsafe for anybody.