WHY medications MATTER
Think your meds may be behind your expanding waistline? You could be right – take a look at some of the common culprits behind weight gain, and find expert solutions for managing your medications and your middle
Thanks – or rather, no thanks! – to the impact they have on your hormones, both insulin and sulphonylureas used to treat type 2 can lead to weight gain, says nurse practitioner Giuliana Murfet. In addition, people with insulin-managed diabetes can experience weight gain if they frequently overcorrect hypoglycaemia.
The best way to combat this type of weight gain is to go back to basics by adjusting your diet and moving more. “Minimise your intake of salt, sugar and saturated fat, as well as takeaway and processed foods,” advises dietitian Aloysa Hourigan. Keep yourself feeling fuller for longer with low-GI foods – think lean proteins, wholegrains, fresh vegies and fruit, and low-fat dairy. Look for opportunities to move beyond structured exercise. Gardening, doing housework, getting off the bus one stop earlier – every bit counts! And aim to stick to 15g of fast-acting carbohydrates when treating lows.
Beta-blockers, which are taken to manage high blood pressure, can reduce your body’s ability to burn kilojoules. In addition, they can slow your heart rate, which depletes energy levels.
Reducing your salt intake is a great way to reduce your need for beta-blockers. Why? Because “high-salt diets increase blood pressure, forcing your heart to work harder”, explains GP Dr Brian Morton. Also, try slowing your breathing to 10 breaths per minute. According to research, doing this for 15 minutes every day can lower your blood pressure, which may in turn reduce your need for medication.
“Oral steroids – which are used to treat conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis – can cause weight gain by increasing appetite,” explains pharmacist Dr John Bell. In addition to an expanding waistline, telltale signs of steroid-related weight gain
include fat deposits around your face and the back of your neck.
• For asthma To ward off asthma-inducing dust mites, regularly wash your sheets, sweep your floors, and vacuum carpets. Tackle any mould infestations you find around the house, as mould spores can intensify asthma symptoms, warns Dr Morton. Additionally, certain chemicals – such as sulphites and tartrazine – that are found in some foods can trigger asthma attacks.
Try eliminating them for several months before reintroducing them one at a time to see if they are behind the asthma attacks.
• For arthritis: Studies suggest that eating ginger and curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) can help to ease the pain and inflammation of arthritis, so try adding these delish winners to your next meal.
Many people who take
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants report weight gain. According to US research, this weight increase, along with an adverse effect on glucose metabolism, explains why people taking SSRIs have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“Ensuring that your BGLs don’t drop can help to stabilise your mood, and promote feelings of calm,” explains Dr Morton. Exercise also has mood-boosting properties, so aim to move for at least 30 minutes a day – to find inspiration on achieving this, turn to page 80.
Certain medications used to treat headaches – including ibuprofen, which is a common ingredient in over-the-counter headache tablets – can cause weight gain in some people. This is because these medications can stimulate the hunger hormones that increase your appetite.
Identifying what it is that triggers your headache – such as eating certain foods – can help you get ahead of the need to take tablets, says Dr Morton. Drinking chamomile tea can also relieve the muscle spasms that characterise migraines.