The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society recently released a recent paper on wellness titled “Wellness for People with MS: What do we know about Diet, Exercise and Mood And what do we still need to learn?“
The paper focuses on how wellness can be achieved by people with MS to help them manage their disease, discussing where and how wellness approaches fit in with medication treatment. The guide is based on a meeting conducted in November of 2014, that consisted of people with MS, healthcare professionals, researchers and MS Society staff.
According to the recent paper, “Three areas of wellness consistently rise to the top for people with MS. They want to know how they can manage their MS with diet and with exercise. People with MS also identify as a priority learning how to manage the mood changes — particularly depression — that are so common with this disease, in order to achieve and/or maintain emotional wellness.”
The MS society has therefore focused on diet, exercise and emotional health as critical wellness determinants. All of these factors have been shown in numerous studies as well by the personal experience of individuals, to impact the immune system and the outcome of MS. Depression in particular was mentioned as important to manage based on its impact on health.
The paper focuses on current knowledge in the three areas and gaps in education. It also provides resources and strategies, including educational resources and support programs.
Several recommendations emerged from the meeting and paper including: increased design of research to address wellness, increased research collaboration across different groups to study wellness, and increases in funding for wellness research. The paper also includes suggestions for a healthy diet, and exercise recommendations (based, for example, on the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults with MS). Improved identification of emotional problems using screening tools and increases in doctor-patient conversations about emotional health were among the other suggestions.
The national MS society also outlined next steps in the paper, which include a June 2015 meeting focusing on depression in MS, increased outreach and education to researchers and healthcare professionals, as well as plans for a white paper focusing on wellness, to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The paper summarizes that “People living with MS identify wellness as a high priority in their lives. They want to know what they can do today — particularly related to diet, exercise and emotional wellness — to feel and function at their best.”
Overall, wellness has emerged as an important priority for MS treatment and for improving the quality of life of people living with MS.