Did you know the month of March is designated Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month and National Nutrition Month? Both annual awareness campaigns address important public health issues and millions of Americans stand to gain from the increased public attention.

Multiple Sclerosis affects more than 400,000 people in the United States, not including their caregivers and loved ones. There is currently no known cure and most people living with the disease had no prior recognizable risk factors. MS is a central nervous system disorder that damages the protective covering surrounding the nerves of the central nervous system and causes reduced communication between the brain and nerve pathways. A variety of symptoms result, which can include, but are not limited to, fatigue, visual problems, and various levels of impaired mobility.

You might notice orange ribbons with butterfly symbols this March. Orange is the official color of MS awareness, and the butterfly represents the shape commonly seen on MRI brain scans of MS patients. If you want to show your support, consider sending a donation to help advance MS research, or participate in an exercise fundraiser, networking conference, or volunteer opportunity near you. You can also share about MS awareness online.

When it comes to National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics invites everyone, not just those in need, to focus on the importance of making more informed food choices. Campaign organizers assert that healthy food nutrition does not have to be restrictive or overwhelming, but involves good information, sound eating habits and exercise. 

This year’s theme is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.” The idea is that small, consistent changes can create a cumulative health effect where every little bit of nutrition adds up to a healthier diet and overall lifestyle. Each week of the month has a different focus: eating a variety of nutritious foods, meal planning, cooking and kitchen safety skills, and consulting a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to identify and plan for your individual needs. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also offers a detailed tip sheet for additional guidance. 

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