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Is diet a risk factor for MS?

Blog Summary

Many of us with multiple sclerosis follow specific diets in hopes that eating in a specific way will slow disease progression or at least keep our symptoms at bay. I’ll fess up about what I do, which is basically follow a regimen that is dairy-free, legume-free and gluten-free, with almost no sugar or processed foods. However, I will admit that I eat plenty of fat, including massive amounts of olive oil, coconut oil and some red meat. I am caffeine-free, but drink some alcohol. I guess it’s pretty similar to the Paleo Diet (if cavemen drank wine). It seems to be working for me and I keep honing it as I notice things that make me feel worse (or better) when I eat them. Of course, there are several different diets that people with MS follow, including the Swank Diet, the Best Bet Diet and the Wahls Protocol. Many neurologists will point out that no diet has been proven through rigorous scientific study to make any difference in disease progression or disability. But what about diet impacting your risk for developing MS? ...  

Finding Solutions at the World’s Largest MS Meeting

Blog Summary

I’m pleased to be reporting from the 2014 Joint ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS Meeting in Boston. This is the largest gathering of MS professionals – more than 7,000 attendees from 90 countries. What a fantastic place to learn about how researchers around the globe are finding solutions to help everyone with MS live their best lives. Take Dr. Laura De Giglio and her team from Rome, Italy, who are studying how “brain training” may help people with MS to restore cognitive function. At last year’s meeting, this team showed that Nintendo’s Dr. Kawashima Brain Training™ improved attention, processing speed and working memory in people with MS. What they report this year is even better news. The team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows researchers to take active images of the brain while a person is performing certain tasks. The idea is that it helps researchers to see how a particular treatment is affecting the way specific parts of the brain are functioning...

Weight a Minute!

Blog Summary

As I was closing up the studio after teaching a yoga class yesterday, the man whose accounting office is across the hall and with whom I am friendly popped in to chat a minute. He commented that it looked as though I had lost some weight. I hadn’t been making any special effort to slim down. I explained that I always seem to drop a few pounds in the summertime because I’m so active when the weather is warm. I swim and bike and walk the dog a lot, soaking up the sunshine (wearing sunscreen, of course!). I also substitute for other yoga teachers while they’re on vacation, so I even do more yoga than usual...

Letting the Light In – A Note on Travel

Blog Summary

"Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in." – Alan Alda I love this quote. So simple, yet powerful. And, for me, it touches poignantly on a rather irksome tendency of the human mind: to take most anything for granted. To suppose that our circumstances and the world at large simply are a certain way, thereby dirtying our windows and blocking the light of possibility, so to speak...

Eating and Your Emotions

Blog Summary

Even the most subtle changes in mood can impact other aspects of daily living. Decreased motivation and energy, as well as changes in sleeping patterns and eating habits are common consequences. But each of these changes can, in turn, affect your nutritional well-being. Some people turn to food for solace when they are depressed. Certain foods create a sense of comfort. If it sometimes seems like food is the only thing that will make you feel better, pay special attention to the choices you make. The “comfort foods” you turn to may be high in fat and can add unnecessary calories to your diet...  

Diet & Nutrition with Dr. Ellen Mowry & Denise Nowack, RD

Blog Summary

This month, we’re launching an exciting new and interactive feature on the MSconnection.org community. We know many of you are interested in how to live your best lives right now. That’s why we’re bringing together people with MS, those who care about them and experts on a variety of important topics to talk about issues that matter most to you. Each month, you will have an opportunity to submit your thoughts, tips and questions related to that month’s theme. We’re kicking things off with a conversation about diet and nutrition. Maintaining good health is very important for people with MS. A well-balanced and planned diet can help achieve this goal, but with so many to choose from, and differing opinions on which are most effective, it can be a challenge to know where to start, let alone how to stick with one long enough to know if it’s helping...

Surrendering Control?

Blog Summary

As I have repeatedly noted, yoga has helped me enormously in managing my multiple sclerosis and staying in tune with my body’s abilities. But sometimes it helps me recognize and come to terms with my body’s occasional LACK of ability...

What CAM Can – and Can’t – Do

Blog Summary

A few years after I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis I went to a doctor’s appointment for reasons unrelated to my MS. The nurse who took my medical history confided in me, behind closed doors, that she, too, had MS – and that she was treating it not with one of the handful of FDA-approved disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) that were then available but with bee-sting therapy. Why the whispers? She didn’t want her colleagues – and especially not the doctors she worked with -- to know she had chosen this complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) method over one that was more widely accepted in the medical community...

Choose Wisely

Blog Summary

When it comes to doctors, I always follow instructions. When I’m sick, I take the medicine they give me. If I have a pain, I rely on them to tell me how to get rid of it. When I was pregnant, I didn’t even bother with those pre-natal classes. My entire plan was just to do whatever the doctors told me to do. When it comes to MS, my usual modus operandi is letting me down. I’ve been very surprised about how much has been left up to me. Particularly since the “me” in question is a fairly uninformed rookie when it comes to serious medical issues. What drugs do I want to take? Do I want to modify my diet? Is physical therapy the right choice for me? Do I want to take vitamins or supplements?

Alcohol & MS Risk

Blog Summary

Recent research has found an inverse association between alcohol consumption and multiple sclerosis risk. In this particular study, heavier drinkers were less likely to have MS than nondrinkers.   The research, conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and published in the journal JAMA Neurology, looked at existing data from two population studies in Sweden. Other research into the relationship between alcohol intake and the risk of developing MS have yielded inconsistent results, leaving physicians without grounds to advise for or against drinking in terms of its impact on MS risk.

Why are parties hard for some people with MS?

Blog Summary

Parties, holiday or otherwise, take many different forms, such as: children’s parties (think 20 six-year-olds, wild with excitement about opening presents and fueled by sugar, sugar, sugar)an office party on a Friday evening (think 30 adults, happy to be done with the workweek, getting a little loud and maybe tipsy as they discuss interoffice gossip)a family celebration (think about all of the emotional baggage that comes with this particular mix of people, not to mention your role in preparing the meal and other tasks) Any of these scenarios can be draining for anyone. However, people with MS have specific symptoms related to the disease that can make parties like this particularly demanding — emotionally, mentally and physically.