Healthy living can relieve some symptoms of multiple sclerosis



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By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 6, 2017 (HealthDay News) – The old adage that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" seems to be, at least in part, true for people Living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

New research suggests that a healthy diet, full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but containing little amount of added sugars and red or processed meats, was badociated with a reduced risk for disability.

The study also found that a healthy lifestyle was badociated with less depression, fatigue and pain for people with MS. Living healthy means eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a normal weight and not smoking.

"This is an important issue that is in the minds of my patients," said Dr. Claire Riley, medical director of Multiple Sclerosis Center at New York Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

"Although it has not been shown that achieving these lifestyle factors improves MS or its progression, the badociations are there," said Riley, who was not part of the study. "I recommend that patients prioritize abstinence from smoking and achieve a healthy weight, after that, consume a healthy diet such as the one they can organize and pay for, and try to exercise regularly."

With MS, the immune system attacks the fatty substance that covers the nerve cells, called myelin, as well as the nerve cells themselves, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This damage can cause symptoms such as fatigue, numbness, tingling, trouble walking, dizziness and blurred vision.

The study included nearly 7,000 people with MS diagnosed by a physician who had provided detailed dietary information for another study. More than 90 percent of the respondents were white, and the average age was almost 60. On average, they had MS for 20 years.

"We developed a dietary quality score based on the high consumption of fruits and vegetables and in general grains and lower intake of red and processed meats and sugar added desserts and sugary drinks," said the study's lead author, Kathryn Fitzgerald . She is a postdoctoral researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

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One of the study's limitations is that no dietary information was provided on lean meats or fish, Fitzgerald said.

Study participants were located in five groups, depending on how healthy their diets were.

The group with the healthiest diets was 20 percent less likely to have a severe physical disability or severe depression, the study found. Severe disability was defined as the need for some type of support, cane, wheelchair or scooter, to walk 25 feet, Fitzgerald said.

People on the highest quality diets consumed 1.7 servings of whole grains and 3.3 servings of fruits, vegetables or legumes daily. The diets of those at the low end contained 0.3 servings of whole grains and 1.7 servings of fruits.

Those with a healthy lifestyle in general were half as likely to experience depression, 30 percent less severe fatigue, 40 percent less likely to have pain, and a third less likely to have thinking problems and memory.

Fitzgerald said there are a number of theories about how a healthy lifestyle, particularly a healthy diet, could help people with MS. "However, due to the design of the study, we can not say with certainty how diet affects MS disability," he said.

Samantha Heller, registered dietitian at NYU Langone Health System in New York City, said: "MS is a disease that causes inflammation, so if you swallow a diet that decreases inflammation, it makes sense that the disability and the pain improve. "

The study also badyzed the effect of a series of popular diet plans, such as the paleo diet, the Wahl diet, Swank, gluten-free diet and more. In general, he found a slightly positive effect of these diets on the risk of disability.

Both Heller and Riley said that this was probably due to the weight loss of these diets.

"When you lose weight, you also decrease inflammation and give your joints a break," said Heller, who was not involved in the study. "For every pound lost, you lose 4 pounds of pressure on your joints."

The study did not request details about the number of people exercised, but for most people with MS, it is okay to exercise.

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"Exercise, as tolerated, can help maintain muscle strength and quality of life," said Heller.

Riley added that he tells his patients to find an activity they enjoy doing. It also suggests doing aerobic exercise three to four times a week for at least 30 to 40 minutes and working on some strength training as well.

"Exercise can put people in a better place," Riley said. "If they experience a relapse, they may be better able to recover quickly."

The study was published online December 6 in Neurology .

WebMD HealthDay News

Sources [19659030] SOURCES: Kathryn Fitzgerald, Sc.D., postdoctoral researcher, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore; Claire Riley, M.D., medical director, Multiple Sclerosis Center, New York Presbyterian / Medical Center, Columbia University, New York; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., nutritionist, NYU Langone Health System, New York City; December 6, 2017, Neurology



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