18/365 – Rethinking my diet

As I mentioned before, when I was first diagnosed with MG it took me a while to get my head around the consequences for my lifestyle (Thankfully I had some wonderful people around who helped me with that process)

What we found out online in those early, pre-consultant, days was highly scientific and therefore quite confusing for a person without a degree in medicine. We all know the danger of researching medical conditions online and MG is no different. Search for myasthenia gravis on google and you’re bombarded with doctor speak and rather disturbing images. I wanted to know about lifestyle factors – as far as I was concerned the doctors would take care of the medical side of business.

Most importantly, I was keen to learn how changes in my diet could positively affect the condition. I was looking for scientific studies about just that – unfortunately I found no such thing.

Online there is advice from dieticians, which focuses on eating foods that are easy for your body to process as it would already be working hard to deal with the medication and the symptoms. There was also a lot of advice about reducing fatigue when eating. This is an example – an article with tips about reducing risk when eating- as is this which talks a little too much about diarrhoea for my liking. You can imagine these both made terrifying reading for someone who only had issues with their eyes.

When digging a bit deeper, my research did reveal that quinine, found in tonic water, and low potassium levels can aggravate MG symptoms. I also found that to combat long term steroid use, you should ensure lots of calcium and vitamin d in your diet or via supplements.

Then I came across this advice from physician and author Dr. Andrew Weil’s website:

Reduce protein intake to 10% of total calories, no more milk and milk products, eat more fruits and vegetables, cut polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening etc, use extra-virgin olive oil instead, eat foods high in potassium and increase your omega-3, intake.

This advice is based on ridding your diet of foods that cause inflammation (animal protein, fats, milk products) and replacing them with foods that ease inflammation (omega 3 and fresh fruit and vegetables).

I also read in a website recommended by a kind reader that Dr Weil also suggests cutting down on gluten and wheat.

When I was first diagnosed, I decided to adapt my diet to make it gluten and wheat free. Sadly, I didn’t give this adaption a fair chance to work as other factors in my life, including drinking too much, smoking and not getting enough sleep, prevented it from doing the good that it may have.

Between then and now, my diet has been occasionally good and often atrocious. Since January, I’ve eaten healthier than ever before – cutting out the sugary snacks and eating a balanced diet focused on a 50% carb, 30% fat and 20% protein split. I’ve already dropped 0.7kg in 10 days and, most importantly, I’m feeling really strong.

As I’m only allowing myself to have very limited alcohol at present, I’ve long given up the cigarettes and my sleeping patterns are much healthier, I’ve decided the time is right to give Dr Weil’s diet a chance. It’s recommended to try the above approach for a month to see if there are any improvements in symptoms so I’ll keep the blog updated.

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6 thoughts on “18/365 – Rethinking my diet”

  1. Hi Laurna. Further to my reply yesterday, thank you for placing a link to the myasthenia eating website. Hopefully others may discover it too. I am very interested to read that you shall try to go gluten and dairy free. I have stuck to the smoothies for almost two months now and can honestly say that the energy I have is far greater than I had prior to seeking medical advice. My left eyelid hardly droops through the day and only when I am very tired does it begin to slip. This may also be because I am in the early stages of MG but before commencing the smoothie and gluten free/paleo diet my left eye was drooping almost from the moment I woke and just got worse through the day. My distance cycling was becoming a chore. Now, I am feeling energised and my cycling strength has returned.

    As you rightly point out, it is important to stick to this for at least a month as these things don’t happen overnight.

    I blend quite a mix of ingredients which Dr Weil gives the thumbs up to. If you would like to try, the recipe is quite easy and not time consuming.

    Two bananas, one apple (cored but keep the skin on as it is a great source of pectin which can help regulate blood sugars and cholesterol), half a punnet of blueberries, one tomato, a third of a cucumber, three or four large spoonfulls of sliced beetroot (beetroot is excellent in getting more oxygen to the muscles; check out the information about Beet-It sports shots from http://www.beet-it.com/ ), a good handful of kale (great for eyesight), a good shake of cinnamon powder and then top up the blender with water. I prefer to use Rubicon coconut water easily bought at Tesco, by far the cheapest I have found.

    As all the contents are being blended I have already boiled a small pan of water. Place a good handful of spinach and blanche for a minimum of thirty seconds, max of one minute. the blanching helps to get rid of an acid contained in spinach which isn’t good for humans in the long term. Oxalic acid can crystallise in the body and cause gall and liver stones. Once you have blanched the spinach, add it to the blended mix and re-blend for about a minute. Pour the mix into a large glass or mug. If it seems too thick just add some more water/coconut water. I drink two of these for breakfast. I also take a one a day Vit C tablet at the same time. This is because my in-house medic (my fiancee, the ex nurse) reminded me that although spinach is great for us, we do not possess the right enzymes to break it down to obtain the necessary nutrients. However, by ensuring your Vit C intake is boosted then that helps to break down the spinach to release the iron, etc into our body’s.

    For lunch I may have a quinoa and chicken or tuna meal with another smoothie. By evening meal you may have enough of the original smoothie leftover to drink again. It certainly helps as probably like me, you may not feel like cooking something large or intricate. My main meal is now at lunchtime. I should add that as well as the benefits, you may find, like I did, that not wishing to appear too indelicate, that you may experience a greater need to visit the toilet. This is because you are drinking more fluid and also all that fruit and veg is being processed. However all settles down rather quickly as your body adapts to this new dietary intake. You may find the expense of this new regime seems expensive but I found that I was simply changing my shopping for the things I now need compared to what I previously bought.

    The rest of my intake is made up of mostly gluten free foods. The photograph of you holding the small ciabatta rolls was fun to see as they are the same brand I buy. Six minutes in the oven and they are delicious especially with some tuna.

    The old adage of “If you feel it is doing you good, then keep doing it” seems to work. I appreciate that you are further along the MG road than myself and you have the medications to take into account. The medication side of things is causing me some worry and it will be ‘interesting’ if that is the right word to see what meds are prescribed for me and how this interacts with this new diet.

    Keep strong and stay positive. If you go for the smoothie regime it would be great to read how you get on. Incidentally I still enjoy a good bowl of porridge, my previous breakfast staple though it is now made with gluten free oats and water.

    My kindest regards
    Ian
    (South Lincolnshire)

  2. I have had mg for about 10 yrs. now and I am so glad to see people finally beginning to discuss it. For the longest time there was very little info out there. I am really interested in the nutritionial phase, as I have always believed the answer , in great part was through nutrition. I am excited about the smoothie recipe. So thanks , and I will be checking back with you!!!

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