How to keep your brain working at its best

 

Cognitive impairment is one of the most common hidden symptoms of MS. Lots of us have experienced the dreaded “brain fog” and we convince ourselves that memory loss and confusion are inevitable consequences of having an MS diagnosis.

 

That said, it’s not all doom and gloom, there are quite a few things that can help to keep your brain working at it’s best and mitigate the symptoms.

 

1. Diet

Diet is one of the most important things to be aware of. There are a number of different diets that claim to help the symptoms of MS from the Terry Wahls Diet for MS, the OMS Diet, the direct MS diet and several others. They all vary a little in what they recommend and what they “allow” but one of the most important things they emphasise is eating a variety of fresh, non-processed and natural food.

 

2. Mental stimulation

Mental stimulation means keeping the brain as active as possible, this can be anything from reading the newspapers regularly, taking part in quizzes to learning a new language. Studies have shown that for each additional language someone learns it helps to stave off the risk of dementia by up to 5 years! Learning quite literally rewires the brain which can be crucial for those of us who have experienced cognitive issues. Even something as simple as tackling the crossword will help to stimulate your brain.

 

3. Meditation

There are literally thousands of studies on the benefits of meditation, a study from UCLA showed that meditation helps to protect the brain from decline and another study from John Hopkins showed that the benefits of meditation actually rival antidepressants in helping to prevent and alleviate anxiety and depression.

 

4. Physical exercise

Exercising for just 20 minutes will help to facilitate information processing and memory functions. more research from UCLA demonstrated that exercise made it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections by increasing growth factors. Increasing your heart rate will also pump more oxygen to the brain and will help to increase cell growth in the hippocampus, an area responsible for learning and memory.

 

5. Friendship

Strong social ties are associated with a lower risk of dementia and cognitive decline. For people who are restricted in mobility, the internet with it’s social networks has been a godsend. Try to ensure that you don’t lose touch with friends and make an effort to keep in touch with people. Making the effort to volunteer and help other people is a great way to expand your network

 

6. Sleep

We all underestimate how important this is and research suggests that one person in three is chronically sleep deprived. Sleep improves brain function, memory and the ability to learn and to retain new information. Speak to your MS Nurse to see what is available to help if you’re experiencing sleep loss. Working out a better balance should positively affect your overall energy levels.

 

What do you think? Have you been using meditation or diet? Has It helped? Do you have any more tips?

 

Hello to everyone!
I’ve started with the Wahls diet 3 years ago, it has become my way of eating, although I sometimes go for a glass of red or half a pint of beer! … and yes, I indulge in one or two cigarettes a day! That doesn’t do any serious harm, or so I was told. The others look at me and all say that the improvement ever since I’ve started the diet is enormous. It has been slow of course and for this reason I cannot see it as clearly, but when I read the notes I took about my daily life at the beginning, then I can see the amazing difference. Even writing in itself was an almost impossible task to carry out. Time was elapsing and I was just sitting there, without really knowing whether I was coming or going…The diet was the first step towards being active again. Then, thanks to Shift (@stumbler in particular) I’ve discovered ‘Headspace’, which is meditation…Certainly difficult to get into it, but once again slowly does it!
Meditation is something I do everyday and it helps a lot in dealing with “my role in life”, and in facing all the challenges that are there looking at me at all times.
Physical exercises are my next step, another difficult one to take but I’m on my way there (@stumbler helped again – “who else can do it if not you?” -) To be in a group makes it much easier to follow and keep up with it. In my case the use of internet allowed me to get into ‘The MSGym’ which I follow because the concept at the base of it is simply teaching our nerves an alternative way to move. Easy, right? Well, I have no proof yet, but I’m trying it out.
As for mental stimulation, I have been giving private lessons of English (even though I’m Italian – surely you could do that better than me!) and other subjects/languages but before I started the diet I couldn’t do more than one hour a day and certainly not to kids, because in that case one needs a great amount of energy!
All this has changed: my brain is finding solutions and ways out which I thought impossible to ever happen – ever – again. I can manage three hours, and with kids too.
Well, what matters is here and now, that is what I did believe and still do. And right now dinner is waiting!
I’ve almost forgotten: I’ve also been taking LDN, Biotine, vit. D, and some other supplements.
I’m sure that is a mix of all of these that does it. For sure I cannot say which one is the best.
Maybe one thing: be active and BE ACTIVE. Our brain needs that.
Take good care.🧡

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