Be proactive about brain health in MS
There are things you can do today, and every day, to help maintain the health of your brain—and both your mind and your body play a role. Even if you’re not currently experiencing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), talk to your healthcare team about ways you can be proactive about brain health.
Ways to keep your brain healthy
Take a look at some of the ways you can maximize neurological reserve, slow down decreases in brain matter (also known as brain volume loss), reduce lesion damage, and relieve MS symptoms.
Ask your doctor which of these are right for you. Sleep can improve the health of your brain
Lack of sleep can lead to trouble with balance as well as cognitive issues (such as worsening of memory, difficulty concentrating, or trouble thinking of the right word). Getting at least 7 hours of restful sleep a night is good for your brain.
Exercise can help with processing information
Higher levels of aerobic fitness are associated with faster information processing as well as having more deep grey matter. Exercise is also helpful for managing MS symptoms. So, stay as active as you can.
Being social stimulates your brain
Being socially active by spending time with others is good for your brain. If you’re looking for ideas, try volunteering, becoming part of an MS support group, or joining a book club.
The right diet can reduce inflammation
You may benefit from a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol, which can help reduce inflammation.
Vitamin D may improve cognitive performance
Since vitamin D may impact cognitive function in people with MS, ask your doctor if you’re getting the right amount.
Smoking can make MS symptoms worse
It is also associated with cognitive issues and a decrease in brain matter. If you smoke, ask your doctor about ways you can quit.
Keeping your brain active may help with neurological reserve
Activities such as reading, writing, and playing board games may help enhance your neurological reserve.
Mindfulness can help with MS symptoms—and stress
Mindfulness is a state of active and open attention to the present. When you’re being “mindful,” you are observing your thoughts and feelings without judging them in any way.
Meditation can help provide relief from stress—and MS symptoms Yoga can help strengthen joints and muscles—and relieve anxiety. Yoga can even be done while sitting in a bed or wheelchair Breathing exercises (or focusing on breathing) can help you feel calmer and relax your body
Talk to your healthcare professional before participating in any new activity. Hear about the impact healthy choices can make
Melissa shares how she learned the benefits of taking a proactive approach to brain health.
Managing other conditions you have can help
Leaving other chronic health conditions unmanaged can lead to more MS relapses and a quicker progression of physical disability. It’s important to talk to a healthcare professional about treating conditions you may have—not just MS.
Common chronic health issues for people with MS: Heart disease High blood pressure High cholesterol Diabetes Depression Chronic lung disease