Weight loss and MS

Managing your weight

Living with MS can mean that regular tasks like shopping and preparing food take longer or need more careful planning. For example, fatigue can make shopping trips tiring, or tremor could make chopping vegetables difficult.

An occupational therapist (OT) can suggest energy-saving tips and helpful equipment or adaptations to make preparing food easier. They can also advise on grants that may be available for adaptations. To arrange an OT assessment, contact your local social services (social work in Scotland) department. Your GP can also make a referral for you.

The following tips can make all stages of preparing food easier – from planning what to eat, to clearing up afterwards.

Planning

  • Planning a menu for the week can help to cut down on shopping trips, and can also make sure that food doesn’t go to waste.
  • Cooking double batches and freezing the spare ones means there’s always something for you to eat even when you’re not feeling up to cooking.
  • Even if you can’t get to the shops or prepare food, get involved in planning meals for the week ahead. That way you’ll still get to eat the food that you want.
  • A ‘likes and dislikes’ list can also help to ensure you’re getting a good mix of meals that are to your taste, even if you’re not the one making them.

Shopping

  • All the major supermarkets offer a delivery service. If you do your shopping online, you can usually save your regular order so you don’t have to remember it each time.
  • Make a master shopping list of things you regularly buy, and print off multiple copies. And if you’re having a bad day with your MS, someone else can use the same list.
  • Delegate tasks – can someone else in your household, or a friend, do the shopping for you?
  • If shopping is too difficult, you could ask for an assessment of your needs from your local social care services (social work in Scotland) department. You might be eligible for help with your shopping.

Preparing food

  • Before you start to cook, gather everything you need together to avoid moving around more than you need to.
  • Adaptations to your kitchen could make things easier. Find out more about adaptations.
  • Using a microwave means you don’t have to lift heavy pans. They can also help if heat makes your symptoms worse.
  • Can someone else help you? If you live with other people you could share tasks, or take it in turns to cook for each other.
  • There are gadgets to help with almost every daily task in the kitchen. For ideas, contact the Disabled Living Foundation, Rica or the RNIB.

Clearing up

  • Dishwashers can make washing the dishes less tiring.
  • If you live with others, share the tasks – if you cooked, ask someone else to clear up.

Losing Weight With MS

I am a 35 year old male from a small city in North Carolina called North Wilkesboro.

In 2006 my mother died from complications of Primary Progressive MS. Not very long after she died I began to have my own symptoms, blurred vision, muscle spasms, tingling, and a major loss of balance. It had gotten so bad that I could not even walk without assistance.

After hundreds of tests, and Dr. Visits, I was diagnosed with MS myself in 2007. I was also told that it was possible that I would never regain the balance to walk again, So I did the wrong thing I gave up. I went through a severe bout of depression. I began to pretty much let my life go, smoking, eating unhealthy food, not even trying to exercise. I figured what’s the point. As I lived this way my weight began to increase I gained from 190lbs to a huge 290. My life was getting out of control. But my life was about to change…

In 2008 just a few months before my daughter was born my balance began to improve. I went back to the Dr. and was told that my MS was found to be better than they had originally thought. I only had the Relapsing Remitting form. Which means that my health could improve! Even though this was great news I still continued to struggle. Mainly because I believed there was no way possible that I could lose all of that weight. But my life was about to change again.

In late 2009 my older brother committed Suicide. My world was shaken and for another 2 years I lived in my self-pity. Finally in May of 2012 I was tired of living this way and knew I had to make a change. I had two beautiful baby girls, and I was not only wasting my life, I was wasting an important part of theirs. In June of 2012 I put down the cigarettes for the last time. An after making two weeks smoke free, I thought to myself wow… Now if I can do that….. Hummmm. So I started searching for something. Anything that would help. I found a company called Beachbody. And in July 2012 I started Tai Cheng and P90X. I asked my Dr. and she really advised against it, but I was fighting back against MS, Depression, and Obesity and what she said wouldn’t stop me. So late July I started. I had to push myself so hard to keep going because not only was this program hard, But Hot and MS don’t mix. I kept going through with every ounce of energy I had I was going to fight this. There were days I had to lay on the floor for 15 min after the workout but I was doing it. After making it the first 90 days I had lost 28lbs. So I started again. Still struggling some but my strength was increasing and I could see I was going to be able to make it again. After those 90 days I had lost 30 more lbs. And so I started again and after finishing this time, I had made it down to 196 lbs. Not only was I feeling better, off BP medicine, lowered my heart rate, I had lost 100 lbs.

Today as I am sitting here I have lost 111 lbs., my quality of life is so much better. And there is so much more of this I can tell but I am trying to keep it brief I have realized that I can do anything I set my mind to. I have also realized there are a lot of people out there that need motivation and help. An there are people with disabilities that need someone to inspire them to try. I honestly feel like God may be inspiring me to be that person. He has given me the opportunity to at least share this with others and given me the strength to do it. I want to open my own Gym for them, but will never be able to afford that. So I am trying to spread my story to millions of people, and be that Inspiration.

Thank you so much for your time and for reading!!

How I’m Losing Weight Despite Being Lazy and Sedentary

It’s finally happening: I’m losing weight. High time that pendulum starts favoring the other end of the fulcrum. I was beginning to think the math was failing me. It takes 3500 calories to gain one pound of fat. So cutting 3500 calories will result in a one-pound weight loss. But it takes at least a week to cut that many calories.

Now, I’ve been losing so rapidly I know I’m losing water weight, not fat. And that’s fine. I tend to retain fluid and take a diuretic for it (enough to keep my blood pressure normal), so flushing out that excess is healthy provided I drink lots of water every day. So hey, water, fat, it’s all weight loss and I’m happy about it. I feel better.

Water retention

Water retention can be darned uncomfortable. Ask anybody who has taken steroids or menstruates or has a family history of hypertension and congestive heart failure. Fingers balloon until hands resemble baseball mitts. Ankles swell to the size of one’s calves. And don’t get me started about breasts straining painfully against bra. Night of the Living Side Boob. My boyfriend has no complaints about their generous proportions. But he doesn’t have to lug them around all day.

So what diet am I following? Ah-ha, I’m not on a diet! Diets are not healthy. Diets are so 2017. And seriously, how many times has Marie Osmond lost those 50 pounds? She never tells us when she lost it. I swear she’s been making those commercials for at least five years. Has she lost it and gained it back and then lost it again, then updates the Nutri-system commercial wearing a different dress and more cosmetic surgery? I’m totally confused. Everybody knows that the majority of dieters gain back all the weight plus more within three years. It’s called yo-yoing, a silly name if I ever heard one, but probably has mockery intentionally built in to it so you can call people who diet “a bunch of yo-yos.” Nice. I, however, do not “diet.” Then what is it I’m doing?

Learnings from living with IBS and MS

Simple. I cut my calories. I eat one small helping and do not eat more than that in one sitting. I eat whenever I feel like it. I don’t eat after 6:00 p.m. I do not count calories or protein/carb/fat grams, I count nothing. My food choices are heavily informed by a low FODMAP chart designed for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). When I was diagnosed with IBS, I spent a year working with low and high FODMAP charts to determine which foods cause intestinal distress, pain, and constipation. Now I use that information to balance my daily eating regimen with fresh veg, lean meat, fish, and a small portion of starch so I don’t totally deny myself, including whole grains since any carbs are instantly constipating. Fiber supplements are ineffective, too. The FODMAP chart helped me identify which high-fiber veggies I could tolerate and which ones made me miserable. Unfortunately I’ve had to follow a low fiber regimen because of my fiber intolerance. But I do well with Brussels sprouts, celery, carrots, bok choy, and assorted greens, so now I’m slowly incorporating them into my daily eating. Eating broccoli, however, abruptly ends my atheism and doubles me over on the toilet, bargaining with God for deliverance from the excruciating pain. I eat a lot of celery now.

It is important to point out that probiotics do nothing for me. And yes, I took a potent enough product. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a motility problem, and no substance is going to reanimate malfunctioning intestine no matter how much healthy bacteria are introduced into the gut. It can be MS-related, likely a result of nerve damage rendering portions of intestine paralyzed or dysfunctional to the point where food doesn’t get pushed through very well.

Feeling better

I feel a lot better in my clothes and that’s my focus. Even though I weigh myself right out of bed most mornings, it’s best to gauge what the right weight is for me by my comfort level. My eating regimen is permanent and I’ll tweak it as time goes on as I discover new ways to prepare healthy foods in delicious ways.

Healthy Eating and MS

A healthy and balanced diet combined with daily exercise may help improve MS symptoms — for example, they could lift fatigue, maintain regular bowel and bladder functions, improve the health of skin, bones, teeth and gums, strengthen the heart, and improve muscle strength and flexibility. A healthy diet also helps control weight gain and reduce the risk of heart diseases and osteoporosis.

There’s no evidence supporting one specific diet, but there are potential benefits in several. People with MS should consult with their personal physicians before starting a diet that best meets their individual needs and preferences.

Foods to eat with MS

A balanced diet includes the major food groups, which proteins, which help growth and tissue repair; carbohydrates for energy; fats, which provide essential fatty acids and help absorb vitamins; fiber for a healthy digestion; vitamins and minerals, which are needed for different cell processes; and plenty of fluids because water helps transport nutrients to every cell in the body.

A balanced diet for people with MS should include:

  • Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, sardines and lake trout;
  • Skinless chicken or turkey and lean meats trimmed of visible fat;
  • Beans, lentils, soy and nuts;
  • Fruit and vegetables, five a day;
  • Whole-grain products, three to four servings a day;
  • Use butter substitutes and oils from vegetables, seeds and fish.

Foods to avoid with MS

Some foods should be avoided by people with MS, including:

  • Foods high in saturated fat, such as red meat, butter, cheese, and other full-fat dairy products;
  • Caffeine and alcohol should be used in moderation.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Multiple Sclerosis

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What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is among the most baffling of all diseases. Very little is known about what causes it or what factors influence its progression and outcome.

The condition begins with localized inflammatory damage to the myelin sheaths that surround nerve fibers as a result of an attack by the immune system. Although MS is considered an autoimmune disease, it is not clear what prompts the immune system to attack the nerve sheaths.

MS is two to three times more common in women compared to men and while it affects all ethnic groups, it is most common among Caucasians (particularly those of northern European ancestry). The disorder is most commonly diagnosed between ages 20 and 40, but can be seen at any age. Risks are higher among those who have a close relative with MS.

The disease becomes more common the further from the equator you live. This suggests that vitamin D, which the body synthesizes in response to direct sunlight, may play a protective role, but definitive research has not established a link.

MS can take several different forms:

  • Relaxing, remitting MS: symptoms come and go.
  • Primary-progressive MS: symptoms worsen steadily.
  • Secondary-progressive MS: a mixture of relaxing/remitting and primary-progressive MS.
  • Progressive-relapsing: a rare form which worsens steadily (progressive-relapsing MS).

What are the symptoms?
Because the location and severity of each attack can be different, MS symptoms can vary greatly. Attacks (relapses) can last for days, weeks, or months and may alternate with remissions when symptoms ease up or disappear for varying periods of time. Muscle symptoms include loss of balance, muscle spasms, numbness in any area of the body, problems with moving the arms or legs, with walking, coordination and making small movements. Tremor in one or more of the arms or legs is another symptom. Fatigue is common and usually is worse in the afternoon.

MS can affect the bowel and bladder causing constipation and stool leakage, difficulty urinating, a frequent need or strong urge to urinate, and incontinence. When the disease affects the eyes, patients may develop double vision, eye discomfort, uncontrollable rapid eye movements and vision loss (usually in one eye at a time). MS patients also can experience numbness, tingling or pain in the face, painful muscle spasms, tingling, crawling or burning sensations in the arms and legs.

If the brain is affected, MS can lead to decreased attention span, poor judgment, memory loss, difficulty reasoning and solving problems, depression, dizziness and balance problems and hearing loss. Some patients develop speech and swallowing problems and some encounter sexual symptoms such as lack of vaginal lubrication in women and erectile dysfunction in men.

MS symptoms can be triggered or worsened by fever, hot baths, sun exposure and stress.

What are the causes of multiple sclerosis?
No one knows for sure what causes MS, why there are so many different forms of the disease or why some people have transient symptoms that never return, while others experience cycles of relapses and remission. Researchers have been investigating the possibility of a viral trigger. Potentially related to this theory is the fact that MS is more common in northern latitudes versus near the equator, therefore vitamin D levels due to solar exposure and the vitamin’s role in immune system support could be at play.

How is multiple sclerosis diagnosed?
Because there is no one confirmatory test, and symptoms can mimic those of many other nervous system disorders, the only way to diagnose MS is by ruling out other possible causes.

A neurological exam may show reduced nerve function in one area of the body, or spread over many parts of the body. It may reveal decreased ability to move a part of the body, decreased or abnormal sensation or other loss of nervous system functions.

An eye examination may show abnormal pupil responses, changes in the visual fields or eye movements, decreased visual acuity or rapid eye movements triggered when the eye moves.

Other tests that may be recommended:

  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap): This is done to test cerebrospinal fluid for elevated levels of IgG antibodies, as well as a group of inflammation-related proteins called oligoclonal bands and proteins that are the breakdown products of myelin.
  • MRI of the brain and spine: to look for inflammation related changes in the blood-brain barrier.
  • Evoked potential tests: These are nerve function studies that can reveal evidence of scarring along nerve pathways that doesn’t show up in neurological exams.
  • Visual evoke potential tests: To identify impaired transmission along optic nerve pathways; these tests are considered key to an MS diagnosis.

What is the conventional treatment for multiple sclerosis?
Drugs called beta interferons, including Avonex, Betaseron, or Rebif, glatiramer acetate (Copaxone), mitoxantrone (Novantrone), and natalizumab (Tysabri), have become the standard treatment for MS patients, especially those with the remitting variety. While these drugs can slow progression of the disease, they are expensive and can lead to unpleasant side effects. Reliably effective medical treatment is still not available for most patients.

In addition to beta interferons, the following medications may be prescribed to slow the progression of MS:

  • Fingolimod (Gilenya): A new class of medication believed to act by retaining some white blood cells in the lymph nodes, preventing them from passing into the central nervous system. Following reports of deaths among some patients taking Glineya, the FDA updated its prescribing rules to require heart-function tests and monitoring before the drug is taken.
  • Methotrexate, azathioprine (Imuran), intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) may be prescribed if other drugs are not working well.

Steroids may be used to decrease the severity of attacks and other specific drugs may be prescribed to reduce muscle spasms, urinary problems, mood or behavior symptoms, and fatigue.

In addition to drug treatment, physicians may recommend some of the following measures as necessary:

  • Physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and support groups.
  • Assistive devices (wheelchairs, bed lifts, shower chairs, walkers, and wall bars).
  • A planned exercise program early in the course of the disorder.
  • A healthy lifestyle, with good nutrition along with regular periods rest and relaxation.
  • Avoiding fatigue, stress, temperature extremes, and exposures that could lead to illness.
  • Changes in food and drink consistency for those who have problems with swallowing.
  • Safety measures at home designed to prevent falls.
  • Consultations with social workers or other counseling services plus assistance from such services as Meals-on-Wheels.

What therapies does Dr. Weil recommend for multiple sclerosis?
Dr. Weil says that he likes to work with MS patients because of the variability of the disease and its potential to go into remission, as well as its responsiveness to stress reduction, mind/body treatments and changes in lifestyle. He recommends trying the following dietary approaches to see what proves most helpful:

  • Decrease protein toward 10 percent of daily caloric intake. Replace animal protein as much as possible with plant protein.
  • Eliminate milk and milk products, substituting other calcium sources.
  • Eat organically grown fruits and vegetables as much as possible as well as organic products made from wheat and soy.
  • Eliminate polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, all partially hydrogenated oils, and all foods (such as deep-fried foods) that might contain trans-fatty acids. Use extra-virgin olive oil as your main source of dietary fat.
  • Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught fish such as salmon and halibut, walnuts, or flax and hemp seeds.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat ginger and turmeric regularly.

Dr. Weil also recommends trying the following supplements:

  • For constipation: probiotics and psyllium or use the Ayurvedic herbal bowel regulator, triphala.
  • A quality antioxidant and daily multivitamin formula and a B-50 complex vitamin, along with a multi-mineral supplement daily.
  • Soy lecithin granules: take five grams daily (store this in the refrigerator).
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): take 30 milligrams two or three times a day.

Other lifestyle measures:

  • Do some kind of light aerobic exercise on a regular basis. Choose something you enjoy but do not push yourself to the point of exhaustion.
  • Explore visualization, meditation, and hypnotherapy in order to redirect your mental energies in positive directions.
  • Experiment with traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine with qualified practitioners.

Gaining Weight With MS

Every so often, I’ll glance at myself in the mirror and think, “Wow, what happened?” After two decades of battling an incurable illness that plagues me with mobility issues and numerous courses of steroids, I realize that I am very far from the trim and fit former college athlete that once greeted me in the mirror. It took a while for these results to happen, but eventually, my body has become something that I don’t even recognize. While not true of everyone, one common problem that you don’t often hear about when it comes to having Multiple Sclerosis or other chronic illness is weight gain.

Why?

Well, if you know much about MS, you know that three of its most common symptoms are fatigue, mobility problems, and sensitivity to heat. It shouldn’t be too difficult to realize that those symptoms can make exercising extremely difficult. Yes, there are ways to combat those symptoms, but overall, it can make working out more than a little challenging. To put it in perspective, there are many people with MS who have problems with the simple act of showering (itself, a common post-exercise activity; at least, I hope it is for most people). When the very basics of daily activities can seem daunting, it’s not hard to imagine how difficult it can be to consider exercising.

Steroid use

The disease symptoms aside, one of the common treatments for those with Multiple Sclerosis is steroids. Often used to slow or stop an exacerbation, depending on your disease activity, these can be prescribed often. Heavy steroids too: a common course for a serious exacerbation is five days of intravenous steroids, followed by a slow tapering of oral steroids. That entire process can easily lead to being on them for way over a month. Of course, one of the most common side effects of steroids is weight gain.

My experience

As I said, it wasn’t always this way. I was lucky enough to still be training for marathons even a decade into the disease. At one point, I was probably even the healthiest I had ever been. That health created a false sense of security, which lead to me not always being on my disease modifying therapy. Eventually, the disease caught up. I had numerous steroid courses coupled with decreased mobility. It became harder and harder to keep active and to lose the steroid weight. As the disease began taking more and more, I was eventually forced onto disability, which has led to even less physical activity on my part. While I still work at it, it’s not easy, and results almost seem non-existent at times.

Keep fighting

You can and should keep fighting weight gain. As with most things with MS, you need to adapt. You may not be able to “go for a run” anymore because of your legs and the heat, but maybe you can work out on an exercise bike while wearing a cooling vest. Swimming is an extremely popular way for those with MS to exercise, as it can offer cooler temps and less fall risk. Talking to a physical therapist is always recommended; in my experience, they often have tips and exercises that you might not really think of. Thinking outside of the box and outside of your comfort zone is critical to living a successful life with MS and that applies to exercising with it too.

Thanks for reading!

Devin

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