This past weekend I participated in the MS 150. It is one of my favorite events of the year. Participants ride their bikes 150 miles to get sponsors to donate money to support the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society. Cyclists usually take 2 days to complete this ride; usually riding between 4 and 8 hours each day. I usually ride it with a friend or two. It is easier to take on challenges with friends. Each year a new friend decides to challenge himself or herself by riding their bikes for 2 days to raise money for a good cause. I am always inspired by those who take on, and accomplish, this monumental task.
Cycling is a great exercise. It is low impact and extremely cardio-vascular. It can be done by just about anyone. In fact, one of the things I love most about the MS 150 is that you get to see all types of people, all shapes and sizes, participating, pushing their physical limitations to raise money for a cause that is near and dear to them. It is a lot harder for someone who weighs 250 pounds to ride 150 miles than it is for me. It is hard for the 65 year old woman who weighs 160 pounds and just started riding her bike last year to finish. Everyone is riding for a good cause. I find it all very inspiring.
The main focus of the National MS Society is to find a cure for this devastating disease. MS is progressive neurological disease. Meaning that it attacks and destroys the lining of nerves, causing the sufferer mild to severe to even debilitating pain and muscle spasms. It can cause loss of use of hands, feet, legs, arms, and other areas of the body and any muscle. Right now there is no known cure for MS, but if you suffer from it, you can decrease the effects and progression of it. Exercising and eating right can drastically decrease the effects of this horrible disease.
If you do have MS, my exercise and nutrition regimen is a great way to get yourself moving and watching what you eat. The more consistently you can do the program, the better you will feel.
The more you exercise, the stronger your muscles will be. The stronger your muscles are, the better you will be able to balance and walk and do all of the other daily activities that you want to do. The more you stretch, the loser your muscles will be. The loser your muscles are, the less likely you will be to pull them or sprain or strain them. Stronger and loser muscles will be more reactive and will be less prone to spasm.
The better you eat, the less inflammation in your body there will be. The more chronic, low level inflammation that is present in your body, the more inflamed the already irritated nerves and muscles will become. The less chronic, low level inflammation you have in your body, the less pain you will be in.
There are many different types of pro-inflammatory foods, foods that promote chronic, low level inflammation that is so prevalent in our society. These foods will exacerbate/ irritate Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, along with many other types of pain and disease processes such as osteo-arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, generalized and non specific joint pain, Fibromyalgia, and the list goes on. These foods are as follows but certainly not limited to the following: anything with aspartame, red meat, alcohol, foods with trains-fatty acids, foods with partially hydrogenated oils, simple or processed carbohydrates, processed foods, fast foods, hot dogs, foods with nitrates and nitrites, and the list goes on.
In general, no matter what disease process you suffer from, or what type of joint or muscle pain you have, you will benefit from doing the right exercises and eating right. It is difficult to know what exercises to do, which is why I put together my exercise program. It is easy to follow. The exercises, if done correctly, will be beneficial to 80 to 95% of you out there; no matter what type of pain you suffer from. And eating right will only increase the benefits and help you feel even better.
If you are looking for more information on how to treat Multiple Sclerosis without medical or pharmaceutical intervention, check out The Swank MS Diet. Some of the Swank’s main points are:
- Saturated fat should not exceed 15 grams per day.
- Unsaturated fat (oils) should be kept to 20-50 grams per day.
- No red meat for the first year.
- After the first year, 3 oz. of red meat is allowed once per week.
- Dairy products must contain 1% or less butterfat unless otherwise noted.
- No processed foods containing saturated fat.
- Cod liver oil (1 tsp. or equivalent capsules) and a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement are recommended daily.
There is lots of information out there on how just altering your diet with the above mentioned points, will drastically decrease the pain and symptoms one gets from Multiple Sclerosis. Coupling this with the benefits of exercise will drastically increase the progress and reduce the pain and discomfort you feel on a daily basis.