A friend asked me if I follow a special diet or exercise regimen for MS. Which makes me do a little side-eye..
“Are you asking so as to know what NOT to do?”
Well. Since I’m CLEARLY beating the odds and am a picture of near-perfect health… 😂
Whatever. This is the best explanation of where I’m currently at, physically. And, regardless of how I’m on a fantastic medication (scroll to the very end of this link to read more about it), there are other considerations that possibly/probably help. So, since you ask, I shall now expound upon my diet and exercise strategies.
Diet: Not much in terms of special diet. Technically. I kind of avoid milk for the most part because there’s a history of milk allergy and lactose intolerance on both sides of my family (when I first quit milk I lost 5 pounds almost immediately).
Other than that I follow a balanced diet. Four food groups etc, heavier on veggies and fruit because a common but not often talked-about symptom of MS is that it also likes to mess with one’s GI tract. This can lead to constipation which then leads to one’s youngest child asking if one has a baby in one’s tummy.
“What’s that, you delightful creature? You’re sleepy and want to go to bed early? Way you go, then! Goodnight! Of course it’s still light out, it’s Canada. You can have your supper in the morning.”
Exercise: I do something exercise-y every morning: alternating (because this) stationary bike and treadmill and stretching, to get myself going and limbered up. No health professional says it in so many words, but I assume my body is on the same functioning level as the average person 20 to 30 years my senior. I like cardio, it gets my brain going, but I keep it to only a few minutes; any more than that and I would be a useless fatigued blob for the next couple hours.
With MS it’s a lot about being aware and maintaining correct form and posture. My muscles and ligaments and whatever all that stuff is is trying to get shorter, tighter (not in a good way) and less bendy. Doing an exercise with an incorrect form only reinforces crappy posture which is probably worse than no exercise at all; this is what I learned from my first physiotherapist who specializes in neuro, e.g. stroke and MS patients.
I had a questionable attitude (shocking, I know) right up until I saw a lady walking out of the MS clinic and she had the EXACT POSTURE that the physiotherapist exaggeratedly demonstrated the first day I saw her. It’s essentially like a T-Rex with your butt out behind and centre of gravity in front. I thought the physiotherapist was exaggerating until I saw this other lady who was just walking.. suddenly all the pieces dropped into place.Contrary to women in ads, butt-out posture is NOT how humans want to be walking and it sure as heck does not make picking your feet up easier, especially when you don’t have awesome muscle tone to begin with.
Now I take my physio more seriously. Ish.
Oh honestly, physio kind of sucks, although that time the two guy physiotherapists tried to get me to play hacky sack with them was comedy at its finest (newsflash: I couldn’t do it when I was 100% functional). Ah well, some exercises work better than others? It probably works great for literally all of their other patients and I’m the useless (albeit funny) one?
Every time I go to physio I’m like “Oh, look. There’s another area in which I’ve lost function, which is then messing up my functioning in these other not-so-obviously related areas, but since the body is all attached to itself then it makes sense that one screwed-up thing will cause something on the other side to overcompensate and lead to even more dysfunction and injury. Yippee.”
The moral of the physiotherapy story is that however messed up I *think* I am, I am actually INFINITELY more messed up than I had ever imagined.
So yeah, I follow boring, doctor-approved strategies and I am still walking on my own more than a decade after diagnosis, which can’t be bad..
If you’ve followed me for any length of time I’m sure you would have already guessed that I’m going to be following science and legit trained medical professional strategies and suggestions. Realistically, MS is an unpredictable bitch that pretty much follows whatever path she wants and takes out whoever she feels like. With that kind of variable right from the get-go there is no way to then draw some sort of blanket conclusion of what every MS patient should do to keep the MS in remission and prolong their function. Aside, of course, from the basic ‘eat healthy, get lots of rest, keep moving and active’ (which is pretty much the standard recipe for health for everybody) the treatment course each MS patient takes is up to them and the health professionals they choose to consult and trust.
Honestly. If it makes you feel more hopeful and more in control to restrict your diet to a leaf of lettuce a day, dance around a fig tree and marinate yourself in essential oils every night, who am I to tell you to do differently? That the scientific way is CLEARLY so much better?
You do you, Boo. Light it up. 😘
An occupational therapist mentioned that working and having a routine outside the house and interacting with others were all contributing to keeping me mentally sharp, functional and healthy. Oh yeah, mental health! It’s not all just about physical health! Well heck, I’m still good in the communicating/interacting department. This was a bit of perspective that I hadn’t considered before.
So in the end I’m really, technically, not as badly off as I could be.. as I tend to think I am.
Diet and exercise are important, yes, but it turns out there are other areas I had overlooked and in which (I think) I have only gotten sharper. Talking, communicating.. oh heck, I’ve never stopped working the hell out of those ‘muscles’ and frankly (my physiotherapist would roll his eyes and say OBVIOUSLY), I care more about that, anyway. 😉