3 posts tagged “healthy eating”

It’s Self-Care Day! 7 “pillars” for taking care of you

Posted 4 weeks ago by

Today is International Self-Care Day. There’s even a Senate resolution designating July 24 as a day to recognize the importance of self-care in the U.S. (it’s on 7/24 because, ideally, it should be a focus 24/7 for everyone). Has your self-care — from diet and hydration to hygiene and hobbies — been slipping because of competing priorities? Bring it back into focus with these “seven pillars” recommended by health care experts – plus some easy TLC ideas from your fellow member, Laura.

What are the “7 pillars”?

The International Self-Care Foundation has developed what it considers The Seven Pillars of Self-Care:

Pillar 1 – Knowledge and health literacy: Finding health information and ways to understand it so you can make appropriate health decisions

Pillar 2 – Mental well-being, self-awareness and agency: Getting health care screenings; “knowing your numbers” for important stats like body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood pressure; and keeping tabs on your mental health

Pillar 3 – Physical activity: Staying as fit as possible (talk with your doctor about a healthy exercise plan that works with your condition)

Pillar 4 – Health eating: Keeping a nutritious, balanced diet

Pillar 5 – Risk avoidance or mitigation: Quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol use, getting vaccinated, practicing safe sex and using sunscreen

Pillar 6 – Good hygiene: Bathing, washing your hands, brushing your teeth, cleaning your produce and taking other food-safety steps

Pillar 7 – Rational and responsible use of care products and services: Knowing the guidelines and possible side effects or dangers of medications and services (prescriptions, over-the-counter meds, alternative or natural health products), and working with a health care professional to plan how to use these things safely

Many of these fit well with the mission and resources of PatientsLikeMe, so remember to keep tracking your conditions, symptoms, treatments and more in your profile.

Laura’s tips for TLC

PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors member Laura — who’s living with bipolar disorder and PTSD — wrote a piece to share her 5 tips for self-care with the mental health community. She says self-care is “paramount” in living with multiple chronic conditions.

For Laura, “self-care is really about utilizing the five senses in an attempt to make you feel better, or at least to bring you to a more manageable spot until you can talk with a doctor or therapist.” So her self-care practice includes cool things like adult coloring pages, massage, singing/listening to music and more activities that deliver some “zen.”

What questions or advice do you have about self-care? Add a comment below or, better yet, join PatientsLikeMe to swap ideas with the community here in the forum!

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.


Lupus and vitamin D deficiency – get the lowdown

Posted 5 months ago by

Vitamin D is nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin” because catching some rays on bare skin triggers your body to produce it naturally.

But what if lupus-related sun sensitivity (not to mention the winter weather) restricts your sun exposure? Take a peek at some key info on vitamin D deficiency, plus learn some dietary sources of this important nutrient.

What are the effects of limited sunlight?

Vitamin D deficiency is a common health issue in general, and reduced exposure to sunlight is one of the main factors. Researchers estimate that almost 50% of the world’s population – across all ethnicities and age groups – have a vitamin D deficiency. When the sun’s rays hit bare skin, it signals the body to produce its own vitamin D.

Getting vitamin D via sunshine can be especially tricky for some people with lupus who are taking steps to limit sun exposure or protect the skin with sunscreen and clothing. Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or artificial light sources can make lupus worse in 40 to 70% of people with the condition, according to Lupus.org. Sunlight may exacerbate skin disease or skin-related symptoms in people with lupus, such as the “butterfly” rash, discoid lesions and photosensitivity.

Not everyone with lupus is affected by skin problems or sun sensitivity, so completely avoiding sunlight may not always be necessary. Talk with your doctor about sun safety and healthy levels of sunlight, in your case, as well as other factors in vitamin D deficiency (such as darker skin, kidney problems and obesity) and other good sources of vitamin D (read on!).

Why is vitamin D important?

Vitamin D plays an important role for all people. Here are just a few of the health benefits for the general population:

  • Helps the intestine absorb calcium
  • Supports bone health and helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Helps with muscle movement and nerve function
  • Supports immune function and reduction of inflammation

For those with lupus, vitamin D is also vital because:

  • Low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of kidney complications or kidney failure
  • Some initial research shows that vitamin D may play a role in controlling lupus symptoms and bolstering kidney function (but more research is needed on the role of vitamin D in lupus treatment)

What are some other sources of vitamin D?

Talk with your doctor about testing your blood level of vitamin D and the best sources of this nutrient for you. For the general population, good sources of vitamin D beyond sun exposure include:

  • Foods that contain it naturally, such as the flesh of fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna (small amounts are also found in beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms)
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, yogurt and cereal (fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the American diet)
  • Oral vitamin D2 or D3 supplements, taken as directed by a doctor, usually in the case of vitamin D deficiency. Talk with your provider before taking a new supplement.

The most common test for vitamin D deficiency is called 25-Hydroxyvitamin D (or ’25-OH Vit D’).

How do you get your vitamin D? Add a comment or join PatientsLikeMe today to talk about this topic with 10,000+ members living with lupus.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.