Importance of movement big or small: How activity keeps people healthy

Importance of movement

Importance of movement

Movement is essential no matter how big or small it is. We keep hearing this line from people, but most of us do not know WHY this is important.

 

Let’s have a closer look at this WHY.

 

Though our bodies are very much different from cars, let’s assume for some time that they are like cars. What happens to a vehicle if you do not drive it for a while? What happens if it remains in a place and does not move for a certain period? You know the answer. The same thing happens to our body if we do not move regularly like:

 

  • Our body tends to stiffen.
  • We start feeling pain and aches in different parts of our bodies.
  • We get prone to many diseases.
  • We might feel weak. 

 

And the list goes on.

Movement affects our body as a whole. It generates signals in our muscles and bones. These signals are then transferred to our brain. Movement helps in building strength and keeping our body fit. It keeps our body flexible, and at ease.

 

Besides improving strength and flexibility, moving our body has several other beneficial effects.  These effects are unknown to most people.

Movement and Joints’ Health

Did you know that the large joints in our body have a covering around it known as the capsule? This capsule contains a fluid called synovial fluid. Synovial fluid acts as a nourishing agent for our joints.

Our movement enhances the function of this fluid. It helps in reducing friction on articular cartilage.

The movement also increases blood circulation. Thus, exposing this synovial fluid to a constant blood supply and nourishment. A healthy synovial membrane protects our bones from friction which in turn protects our joints.

Movement and Blood Circulation

We all know that blood circulates in our bodies. Our heart pumps blood to all parts of our body via arteries which then goes to the heart via veins. These veins in our legs are present between muscles. When the muscles contract, it has a squeezing effect on the veins that push the blood towards the heart. Owing to this effect, some people experience swelling in their legs if they sit for a long time.

Movement and Blood Pressure & Cholesterol

High blood pressure and cholesterol levels can increase the risk of heart stroke. Movement, however, can help in lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.  Carrying out small exercises helps us to keep these diseases under control.

Movement and Blood Glucose

Here’s another reason for which you might want to exercise: your blood sugar level. Most of us are unaware of the fact that high sugar levels can have harmful effects on our eyes, kidneys, nerves, etc.

Importance of movement

Movement helps us to lower elevated levels of blood glucose and keeps you healthy.

There are several other benefits of movement so you can’t list them all here. All we need to do is to focus on the significant outcomes of moving to keep ourselves motivated. If you have not been moving or exercising for the past few days, months, or years, it’s time to do it now because

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO START

Multiple Sclerosis – What to Eat & What to Avoid

Multiple Sclerosis

We all know that managing multiple sclerosis is not an easy task. Everything from medications, performing exercises, and maintaining positive mental health becomes essential. However, while balancing physical activities, we often overlook the most important thing—our diet. 

Diet has a vital role in treating multiple sclerosis, which is why you must know what you should eat and what needs to be avoided. To understand the importance of diet in multiple sclerosis, you should first understand what happens in your body if you have multiple sclerosis.

What happens in Multiple Sclerosis?

Our body’s immune system is designed to fight the harmful organisms that attack our bodies, such as viruses, bacteria, etc. However, in Multiple Sclerosis, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own body, especially the widely distributed nerves in your body.

This attack by your body’s immune system damages the covering of the nerves, i.e., Myelin, and the function of these nerves is disrupted.

These nerves are responsible for many functions such as movement, vision, balance, etc., and when the nerve gets damaged, its function is affected. As the name (Multiple Sclerosis) indicates, this damage occurs at multiple sites in your body; hence different symptoms are seen, such as muscle weakness, loss of balance, visual problems, etc.

 

The connection between Diet and Multiple Sclerosis

As mentioned above, multiple sclerosis occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the outer covering of your nerves, i.eMyelin, a diet that affects your immune system, also affects the progression of this disease.

  • Some diets support and protect your nerves (or nervous system), and they can help minimize the relapsing episodes.
  • Some vitamin deficiencies can weaken your nervous system, and they can indirectly worsen your symptoms.
  • A healthy diet improves the overall well-being, and hence the ability to fight several diseases together with multiple sclerosis is increased.
  • Some bacteria are naturally present in your gut, and they play a beneficial role in your body in several ways. Both healthy and unhealthy diets have effects on these bacteria.

As diet is closely linked with multiple sclerosis episodes and symptoms, one must be very careful in choosing his/her diet if one has multiple sclerosis.

Foods you should eat.

Now, when you understand the importance of diet in multiple sclerosis, let’s have a look at the foods you should eat.

white and green labeled cans

 

Probiotics and Prebiotics

As mentioned earlier, there are some beneficial bacteria present in your gut. These bacteria are responsible for breaking up food and nutrients, and they also help in the digestion process.

Probiotics are foods that contain these beneficial bacteria. Eating these foods increases the number of these beneficial bacteria in your body. These foods include

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fermented tea

A diet that promotes the growth of such beneficial bacteria in your gut is known as the probiotic diet. This type of diet mainly contains fiber. These foods include:

  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes

Fiber

The fiber in your diet helps nourish your gut bacteria, manages your blood cholesterol levels, and reduces the risks of obesity. Recommended foods for fiber are as follows.

  • Vegetables
  • Legumes (e.g. Lentils)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole grains

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for improving bone health in multiple sclerosis patients. Vitamin D can be achieved by appropriate exposure to sunlight, but certain foods can also help gain it.

  • Fortified Dairy Products
  • Yogurt
  • Orange Juice
  • Egg Yolks

Vitamin B

Vitamin B or biotin has a vital role in minimizing the episodes of relapsing multiple sclerosis, and one can gain it by following foods.

  • Eggs
  • Yeast
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Whole-wheat bread

Others

Other important components of a beneficial diet for multiple sclerosis patients include fruits, vegetables, herbs, polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, etc.

Foods you should avoid

Just like some foods protect and support your nervous system, some foods have a terrible effect on your already compromised nervous system in multiple sclerosis patients.

Besides this, some foods are not suitable for your muscles and bone health, and as they are already weakened in multiple sclerosis, you should avoid these foods.

Let’s have a look at the foods you need to avoid if you have multiple sclerosis.

Saturated Fats

Multiple Sclerosis

Unlike polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s), foods containing saturated fats are not suitable for health, especially for those already fighting neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Foods with a high amount of saturated fats are as follows.

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Palm and coconut oil
  • Red meat, etc.

Sodium

A high amount of sodium in the body can result in elevated blood pressure (hypertension), and hypertension can increase heart disease and stroke risks.

A study done in 2015 showed that people with multiple sclerosis who have high sodium levels in their bodies are more prone to experience relapsing symptoms of this disease. [1]

Foods containing high levels of sodium are as follows.

  • Salted or canned meat
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Sausages
  • Canned entrees
  • Beets

Sugary Foods     

Multiple Sclerosis

Just like a high amount of salt is not suitable for your body, foods containing a high amount of sugar also negatively affect your well-being.

A high amount of sugar or glucose in your body can affect the nerves in your body (neuropathy) and decrease their function. As nerves are already damaged in multiple sclerosis, a high amount of sugar in the body can be damaging to your health.

Foods containing a high amount of sugar are as follows.

  • Ketchup
  • Yogurt
  • Chocolate
  • Cola
  • Fruit Juice
  • BBQ sauce

Fried Foods

Foods fried in a high amount of oil can also be damaging to the health of multiple sclerosis patients. In addition, when a person has a neurological disease and their body is busy fighting that condition, chances of getting affected by other diseases are also increased.

Multiple Sclerosis

Oily and fried foods increase the amount of bad cholesterol in the body. This increased cholesterol can result in several heart diseases. It can also result in stroke if the blood supply of your brain is interrupted or blocked.

Most commonly used fried foods include fish, fries, chicken strips, and cheese sticks, but a person can deep fry any food.

Final Words

If you have multiple sclerosis, you should eat foods beneficial for your nervous and musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) system and avoid foods that can increase the risks of other diseases.

REFERENCES

1. Riccio, P. and R. Rossano, Nutrition facts in multiple sclerosis. ASN neuro, 2015. 7(1): p. 1759091414568185.

 

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What Is Footdrop And How You Can Treat It.

Foot drop is a common word used in healthcare settings. But do you know what foot drop is?

Foot drop is a condition in which the foot is hanging downwards, and the person is unable to bring their foot up. It is not a disease itself but a consequence of an abnormality in the brain, spinal cord, nerves, or muscles.

The picture is of a person suffering with dropfoot.

Two major movements that occur at your ankle joint are Dorsiflexion (when you bring your dorsum (uppar facing part of foot) of the foot towards your shin) and Plantarflexion (when you move your plantar surface (sole)  towards the ground).

In foot drop, the foot is constantly in plantarflexion and the person is unable to perform dorsiflexion movement

What Causes Foot Drop?

To understand the cause of foot drop, you must understand how movement occurs in your body. Muscles are responsible for moving our bodies. A network of wires (known as nerves) supplies messages to these muscles. These nerves originate from the spinal cord (in your spine). The major control center is your brain (in your skull).

So if you want to move the dorsum of your foot towards the shin, your brain generates a message that travels down to the nerve (common peroneal nerve) which is then supplied to the dorsiflexor muscles via the spinal cord.

When this nerve stimulates the dorsiflexor muscles present in your leg, your foot moves towards your shin (Dorsiflexion).

If you know how you are able to move your foot normally, you’ll also understand that any condition that affects your brain, spinal cord, nerve (common peroneal nerve), muscles (dorsiflexor) can cause foot drop.

Following are the major causes of foot drop.

  • Trauma to the common peroneal nerve (fracture of fibula, knee or hip replacement surgeries)
  • Conditions affecting brain and nerves (Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Conditions affecting muscles (dystrophies)

Foot Drop and Gait

Foot drop can result in alteration of gait pattern of individuals. A person may lift his foot high in the air by bending their hip and strike their foot on the ground with a high force (Stepagge gait pattern).

Another commonly seen strategy is that the person swings their leg from the side to avoid dragging the foot while walking. This gait is known as the circumduction gait pattern.

Treatment Options

Treatment of drop foot depends upon the cause. If the major cause of foot drop is compression on the common peroneal nerve, it can resolve on its own when the compression is relieved. On the other hand, if this condition results from a complete tear of the common peroneal nerve or irreversible damage to the brain or spinal cord, foot drop persists and makes walking difficult.

Minor cases of foot drop (with the capability to resolve) can get better with physiotherapy, focusing on dorsiflexor muscles’ training and electrical muscle stimulation.

Surgical options include repair of the common peroneal nerve and tendon transfer of Tibialis posterior to substitute the action of Tibialis anterior.

 

The most commonly used option for managing foot drop is Orthosis or Bracing.

 

The orthosis or brace holds the foot in a neutral position. During walking, when a person’s foot touches the ground, the brace allows the foot to go down (in plantar flexion) and pulls it back into a neutral position when the person lifts his leg and swings it to take a step.

 

The suitable treatment option for each case of foot drop varies from person to person

Watch the foot drop recovery story of our patient MaryEllen Grage. Multiple Sclerosis has nearly immobilized MaryEllen with foot drop and balance/stability difficulties. She believes that with The NewGait, she can walk normally again.

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