Practising yoga can help multiple sclerosis patients deal better with their condition.
With March Multiple Sclerosis Month, we round up some recent research which suggests how the condition could possibly be prevented and managed at home.
Try to keep moving
A 2014 study published in the journal Radiology found that the Nintendo Wii Balance Board could be beneficial for MS sufferers, by causing changes in brain connections associated with balance and coordination.
Balance impairment is one of the defining symptoms of MS, with the study suggesting that the Nintendo Wii could be a more practical tool for rehabilitation than physical therapy, allowing patients more independence and reducing the risk of accidental falls.
Previous research has also suggested that yoga can be beneficial for those with MS, helping to decrease fatigue and improve balance, walking, spasticity, coordination, and overall quality of life. Yoga has also been shown to be beneficial in helping people deal with stress, improve depression and boost mood, which could be important for those dealing with a long-term condition such as MS.
The findings of a 2015 US and Swedish study found that drinking 4 to 6 cups of coffee a day may lower the risk of multiple sclerosis.
With the study including more than 1,000 MS patients in each component, Swedish researchers found that compared to people who drank at least six cups of coffee per day the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about a one and a half times increased risk of developing MS.
The US research found that four or more cups of coffee per day had the same effect.
With caffeine intake also previously associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, the researchers believe their results also support the theory that caffeine may have a protective effect on the brain.
Boost levels of vitamin D
Many recent studies have focused on the possible link between vitamin D and multiple sclerosis, with a link confirmed by a major 2015 genetic study.
After analysing 14,498 people with MS and 24,091 healthy controls, researchers found that people with genetically lower vitamin D levels are twice as likely to develop the condition.
A 2016 study published in JAMA Neurology also suggested that vitamin D deficiency while pregnant could increase the chance of children developing multiple sclerosis (MS) in later life.
Vitamin D is obtained from the skin’s exposure to sunlight and food sources such as oily fish, including sardines and mackerel, liver, eggs and cod liver oil.
Maintain a healthy weight
Research published last year in the journal PLOS Medicine suggests that obesity in early adulthood could increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) later in life.
The study, which included data from 336,603 participants and 24,091 controls, showed that an increase in body mass index (BMI) from overweight to obese (equivalent to an average size adult woman increasing in weight from 150 to 180 pounds) was associated with an increase of about 40% in the risk of MS.
The research, which built on previous observational studies, suggests that a healthy lifestyle could be a key factor in helping prevent the condition.