MS and the Immune System

By Dr. Ron Milo.

The immune system is the body’s primary defense against viruses, bacteria, and parasites. In MS, like in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system targets and attacks the body’s healthy tissues – the protective myelin coating surrounding the nerves of the central nervous system.

For some reason, the immune system recognizes the myelin as foreign and potentially dangerous cells. Thus, the white blood cells fight off the so-called unwelcome visitors. If the immune system damages myelin, it affects the nerve’s ability to function correctly.

Currently, most available MS treatments, or disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), change the immune system behavior. There are a few groups of these drugs, and each works in a different mechanism. Immunosuppressive therapies, for example, weaken the immune system, leaving the recipients vulnerable.

There are certain lifestyle behaviors to adopt that can support overall well-being and good health. An example is eating healthy to provide the body with the necessary nutrients to heal and recuperate. Reducing stress, exercising regularly, and improving sleep, can improve overall well-being and quality of life. When the immune system is suppressed, you might want to take precautions to avoid germs, including practicing good personal hygiene, avoiding crowded places and sick people, and more.

A weakened immune system makes it harder for the body to protect itself from food poisoning. Therefore, it is important to prevent foodborne illness, meaning taking extra care while treating and consuming food. Some practices include meticulously washing hands, and cleaning and sanitizing kitchen surfaces, dishes, and cooking utensils. Other methods involve separating cutting boards, safely thawing meat, chicken, turkey, or fish, and cooking them thoroughly.

There are a few more instructions for avoiding foodborne illnesses. These include avoiding eating raw, undercooked fish or shellfish and avoiding consumption of any food that shows signs of mold.

Dr. Ron Milo, Chairman of the Department of Neurology and director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the Barzilai Medical Center.

This content is provided for your general education and information only. It does not necessarily reflect Belong’s views and opinions. Belong does not endorse or support any specific product, service, or treatment.

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