(HealthyResearch.com) – Weight gain involves so much more than a number on the scale. We may struggle to figure out why we put on the pounds, debate about how to take them off, and hunt through our closets for clothes that fit.
In addition, gaining weight may increase our risk of other health concerns. Added pounds might result in lower back pain, muscle aches, heartburn, sleep issues, depression, and anxiety.
Although there are many potential causes of weight gain, autoimmune diseases can be to blame. For those of us who are already struggling with autoimmune diseases, gaining weight may feel like an “oh no, not this, too” stressor. Learn more about the link between autoimmune disorders and weight gain below.
How Autoimmune Diseases May Affect Your Weight
Health experts have found more than 80 autoimmune disorders. If left untreated, some of these diseases might result in weight loss — such as Addison’s disease, hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease), type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease.
Other autoimmune disorders, however, are linked to weight gain. For example, weight gain is a symptom of hypothyroidism.
Here’s how autoimmune diseases may result in weight gain:
- Lack of Exercise: Learning we have an autoimmune disease may make us hesitant to exercise. We might feel concerned about stressing our bodies or worried about adding to the fatigue that accompanies many autoimmune disorders.
- Thyroid Gland: The autoimmune disorder Hashimoto’s Disease causes our immune system to produce antibodies affecting the thyroid gland. Symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, and joint pain.
- Steroids: Steroids are often prescribed for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (R.A.) and ankylosing spondylitis. Although helpful in easing inflammation, these medications may result in excess pounds.
How to Lose Weight With An Autoimmune Disease
When we’re overweight, we may feel uncomfortable about our bodies. Add in the pain and fatigue linked to many autoimmune diseases, and we may hesitate to show up at a gym in those teeny, tiny, form-fitting workout clothes.
Forget the fancy fitness attire. Instead, try these tips to lose weight with an autoimmune disease:
- Diet: Although there’s no “one size fits all” weight loss plan for autoimmune diseases, a balanced diet containing vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy may help. Other options include a plant-based diet and a Mediterranean diet. Work with your healthcare team to determine the best food plan for managing your symptoms while shedding pounds.
- Exercise: Research has found that yoga may ease symptoms and improve mobility for those with R.A. Other studies have discovered that yoga helps boost weight loss. Whatever form of fitness you choose, begin slowly and talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
- Medication: Various prescription drugs cause weight gain, including medications frequently used to treat autoimmune diseases, such as steroids. Some of these prescriptions have alternatives that may not impact weight. Switching to a different dosage may also help with taking off pounds. Work closely with your healthcare team before making any medication changes.
Most of us don’t view weight gain as an event to celebrate. Add in the challenges typically accompanying autoimmune diseases, and added pounds may feel even more frustrating.
Many options are available, though, for managing our conditions and our weight. For example, we might decide to experiment with yoga, try a plant-based diet, or talk to a specialist about medication alternatives. By working closely with a healthcare team, it’s possible to emerge from weight-based challenges feeling and looking healthier and happier.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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