Dino Answers Your Health Questions: Autoimmune Issues
By Dino Nowak
Certified Fitness Trainer
Question from a CBN.com Reader:
I was diagnosed with lupus, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome about seven years ago, and I'm not getting any better. I'm so tired of the pain, and from just being so tired every day. The least little thing that I try to do, like food shopping, will end up having me in bed the next day from the pain and exhaustion. I take a lot of vitamins and herbs and also Plaquenil for the lupus and a cream to put on my skin where the lupus lesions have broken out. My mom passed away. I've taken care of her for the past 10 years, so this has taken a toll on me. I'm also depressed and take Prozac for that. Also, I can't sleep at night, which is ironic, so I take C for that. Do you have any suggestions for me to feel better? I should also mention that I am a vegetarian, but since mom died, I have been eating a lot of junk food - "comfort foods." Please, help me if you can.
Point Pleasant, N.J.
I’m sorry to hear about your loss. You’ve certainly been through a lot. Let me see if I can help some. While we do have some challenges with the fibromyalgia, lupus, and CFS, we can make some positive changes. Understand first that with those illnesses it’s expected you’ll have some good days and some not so good days. The key is to maximize the good ones so eventually we can reduce how many not so good ones we’re having.
First, I would spend some extra time with the Lord. You need to rely on His strength and the strength of other brothers and sisters now. Do not isolate yourself or stay stuck indoors all day. I know it can be very hard, but just step out if you haven’t already. Try to find an activity you enjoy and can do on those good days. Initially, our “exercise” is going to simply be walking. Exercise is incredibly powerful and can really help with everything you’ve got from the physical to the depression. The key is to take it slow and not push it. Gradually increase your time and effort as your body gets acclimated. Whatever you do, though, do not avoid movement and exercise.
Let’s look at the sleep issue next. Are you sleeping during the day or taking naps? Many people who battle depression find themselves sleeping a lot, particularly throughout the day; that could make it difficult to sleep at night. Try to stay up during the day and get a routine going. Set up your room so it’s conducive to sleeping: make sure it’s dark, go to bed at the same time, avoid caffeine or stimulation from TV, find something that can wind you down, maybe reading, praying, or just spending quiet time with the Lord.
If you find yourself lying in bed unable to sleep, don’t lie there frustrated. Get up and make a cup of chamomile tea, read the Bible, or just sit and be still before the Lord. As you get drowsy, try again. As you get into a sleeping pattern and begin to get more rest, that will certainly help with the fibromyalgia and CFS.
The next thing is the junk food or comfort foods. Those can feel good in the short term, but they make you even more sluggish and lethargic. The high-fat content clogs your arteries over time, thus reducing blood flow throughout the body. Foods high in fat take the body longer to digest, diverting blood flow from the brain to the digestive system causing you to feel tired. Let’s minimize the snacking. Pick your favorite treat and get rid of everything else for now. There is no problem with enjoying a snack, but you don’t need all your treats in the house.
Also, if you’re a vegetarian, what first comes to mind is making sure you’re getting adequate amounts of protein, which are the building blocks for all your cells. Plus, you may be not be getting enough iron in your diet, which traditionally is found in red meats. This may be making you anemic. Check with your doctor on this and mention you’ve been eating a vegetarian diet.
Linda, take this one day at a time. You can do it.
You’ll be in my prayers,
Dino Nowak holds some of the highest levels of certifications with the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, and the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research. He has advised and trained celebrities in the television, film, and music industries, in addition to those of all ages who have struggled with health and fitness challenges. He is the former general manager of Equinox Fitness in Los Angeles and the author of The Final Makeover: Your 40 Day Guide to Personal Fitness. He has been interviewed by major media outlets. His official Web site is www.dinonowak.com.
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