If you’ve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, you have more control over how long you live than you may think.

There ARE ways to maximize your life expectancy even though you have MS.

“MS does slightly shorten the lifespan, but most patients live a full life,” says Mitzi J. Williams, MD, clinical neurologist with Morehouse School of Medicine and clinical advisor for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.

“It just may involve progressive disability,” continues Dr. Williams.

It’s this disability that may contribute to fewer years, since immobility is a major risk factor for various ailments that can impact life span – such as a blood clot and reduced cardiovascular health.

“If we discuss how to live better with MS, tips include following up regularly with your healthcare team to have clinical and MRI evaluations,” says Dr. Williams.

“Also, a healthy well-balanced diet can help overall health.”

Multiple sclerosis isn’t a green light to have a junk food diet. This is not an issue of, “Well heck, I have MS, might as well not care what I eat.”

What about your heart? You’ll probably live several years longer with multiple sclerosis if you have a strong, sturdy heart vs. a weak heart with clogged arteries.

Enjoy your pizza, cake and other goodies – in controlled portions and on an occasional basis.

It’s crucial to make an effort to eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, more nuts and seeds, and replace white flour foods with whole grain foods.

Try to avoid processed meats and sugary cereals, and watch your sodium intake.

If you absolutely can’t enjoy life without alcohol, limit it to four ounces a day, whether you’re male or female.

And avoid tobacco at all costs.

“Obesity is becoming more known as a risk factor for MS and for disease progression,” continues Dr. Williams.

So if you’re overweight, it will be well-worth it to lose the excess pounds. This can be done with improving your diet and adding both strength training and cardio to your lifestyle.

“Exercise helps with multiple MS symptoms including fatigue, spasticity and depression,” says Dr. Williams.

Don’t wait until you’re in remission to start strength training. You can lift weights while seated. Below are examples of strength training exercises that can be done from a chair.

“Other tips include managing stress and developing a network of social support,” says Dr. Williams.

Mitzi Williams, MD

Dr. Williams is author of “MS Made Simple: The Essential Guide to Understanding Your Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis,” available on Amazon. She is a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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Top image: Shutterstock, Andrey_Popov