Multiple Sclerosis, How To Live With The Diagnosis

Recently, actress Selma Blair opened up about her diagnosis of MS, what occurs during her flare-ups, and how she fights through it. This has brought a lot of attention, and awareness of the disease. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease  in which the body’s immune system attacks its own central nervous system (CNS). The fatty substance around the nerve fibers, known as the myelin, is damaged, causing messages within the CNS to be altered or stopped. About 400,000 Americans have MS, which is more common among women than men. While this autoimmune disease can affect anyone, it is mostly diagnosed in people aged between 20-50. People are being diagnosed with MS more than ever, which may be a result of increased awareness. While the causes are unknown, scientists believe MS may arise from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Although it cannot be prevented, some studies suggest that the risk of developing MS may be affected by diet.

MS is an autoimmune disease which attacks the central nervous sytem. It can cause vision loss, memory loss, and even paralysis.
MS is an autoimmune disease which attacks the central nervous sytem. It can cause vision loss, memory loss, and even paralysis over time.

Obesity and smoking can increase your chances of developing MS. Evidence suggests that vitamin D helps reduce the risk of MS. The body synthesises vitamin D from sunlight, which is a good reason to go the beach and soak up some sun!

MS can be debilitating over time as the central nervous system slowly stops working, which can cause vision loss, diminished brain function, and even paralysis. This, however, does not mean that you cannot live your life. You can slow the progression of MS through proper diet and exercise. On a personal level, I have witnessed a friend’s decade-long struggle with MS.  She has not let it stop her or slow her down, opting for a vegan diet, and pursuing bodybuilding. This goes to show that proper education, diet, and a positive attitude, can help improve your health.

Look for  the early signs of MS, listed below, so you can get ahold of it at the beginning, before it worsens:

Symptoms May Include:

  • Weakness
  • Pain and spasms
  • Balance problems- dizziness, vertigo, and feeling lightheaded .
  • Bladder issues or infection- Trouble starting urination, having to urinate or feeling like you have to all the time
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Sexual dysfunction- decreased sex drive and fewer orgasms
  • Tingling/numbness- this is common and can occur across the body or in specific areas
  • Vision issues- blurred vision, double vision, pain when moving your eyes, and involuntary eye movements
  • Cognitive problems- memory loss, poor judgement, depression,  slurred speech, and decreased attention span
  • Women can experience worse MS symptoms during menstruation, and MS worsens after menopause due to the drop in estrogen levels

    A diet filled with legumes, nuts, vegetables, and fish can help battle MS, by strengthening the immune system.
    A diet filled with legumes, nuts, vegetables, and fish can help battle MS, by strengthening the immune system.

Diet Tips

Exercise and diet play a large role in your wellness. Maintain a diet that supports a healthy immune system, including probiotics, prebiotics, vitamin D, and fiber enriched foods. All of these help maintain a healthy bacterial gut, which strengthens the immune system.

Probiotics- such as yogurt, fermented tea, and kim-chi

Prebiotics– such as artichoke, garlic, asparagus, onions, and leeks

Fiber– mainly found in plant-based foods such as vegetables, seeds, nuts, and legumes.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids– control inflammation in the body with foods such as salmon, oily fish, and plant-based oils

Is It Hereditary?

MS is not hereditary, but if you have a close relative, such as parent or sibling, with MS,  you have a higher chance of developing it. A doctor can conduct several tests to diagnose MS, with procedures such as a neurological exam, eye exam, MRI, or spinal tap. These tests will show if there is damage to the central nervous system.

Finding out you have MS is tragic, and can be overwhelming, but  it does not mean your quality of life will diminish right away. Although there is no cure,exercise and  a good diet can significantly slow down the process, and help you to manage the disease. With a lot of attention currently on the debilitating disease, it brings hope towards more research, and studies to find a way to significantly slow down, or stop MS in its tracks.

About The Author:
Cassandra Love

With over a decade of helpful content experience Cassandra has dedicated her career to making sure people have access to relevant, easy to understand, and valuable information. After realizing a huge knowledge gap Cassandra spent years researching and working with health insurance companies to create accessible guides and articles to walk anyone through every aspect of the insurance process.

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