5 posts tagged “HDI”

MS and Biotin: Is there a link?

Posted September 29th, 2017 by

You’ve probably heard about biotin and reports that it might improve health. Like most things on the internet, the truth isn’t always clear. To clear up some of the swirl, our Health Data Integrity team took a deep dive into the current research. So, what’s biotin and how can it impact health and MS? Take a look.

What is Biotin?

Biotin is a water soluble type of vitamin B, or more specifically vitamin B7 that can be found in a variety of plants but mostly found in liver, egg yolk, soybean products, yeast, and many other foods. While the primary function of biotin is still unclear, it helps the body produce and use certain nutrients and it can be used to improve biotin deficiency associated with pregnancy, malnutrition, rapid weight loss, and long-term tube feeding. Although there is insufficient evidence, biotin also has been used as a supplement to help treat hair loss, brittle nails, diabetes, and certain types of rash in infants.

(source: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/313.html)

Biotin and MS?

The exact role of biotin in the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) is still unclear. MS develops when myelin, a substance that protects the nerve cells, is damaged. Having the proper amount of myelin protecting the nerve cells allows these cells to communicate with each other more easily. Biotin is believed to help the body produce more myelin which could mean it may be helpful for patients with MS.

small study was done with 11 secondary progressive MS, 4 primary progressive MS, and 6 patients with relapsing-remitting MS taking 300 mg of biotin daily. After evaluating at 3 months, 1 patient showed signs of improvement in arthritic pain. Another patient noted great improvement in energy. The main result noted that none of the patients experienced any adverse outcomes with biotin.

Another study involving 14 patients with primary progressive MS and 9 patients with secondary progressive MS looked at treatment with 100-600 mg of biotin daily. After 3 months of treatment, the 4 patients in the study with chronic visual loss showed improvement in their vision. Additionally, 16 out of 18 patients with spinal cord involvement displayed clinical improvement after 2 to 8 months of treatment.

These results have also been supported by the findings of a study of 154 patients with progressive MS. In this study, it was found that treatment with a specific high-dose formulation of biotin was able to improve certain measures of disability.

It’s important to keep in mind that this data has come from a selection of relatively small studies so it will be important to see if these findings can be confirmed in larger studies. Currently, there are a handful of studies being conducted to evaluate the use of biotin to treat MS. These include three different phase III studies evaluating the use of a specific formulation of high-dose biotin in patients with:

  • spinal progressive MS (click here for more information)
  • chronic visual loss related to optic neuritis in MS (click here for more information)
  • progressive MS (click here for more information; this trial is currently in the process of recruiting participants)

(sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5098693/http://www.neurology.org/content/86/16_Supplement/P3.039http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211034815000061)

Currently, there isn’t a specific recommended dietary allowance for biotin as the appropriate dose will depend on several factors like the patient’s age and health. However, the adequate intake for biotin is 30 mcg daily for adults and many individuals are able to get this amount from eating a healthy diet.

There is no toxicity reported as being associated with excess biotin intake. However, biotin can interfere with certain laboratory tests such as thyroid function. Make sure to tell your doctor if you start taking biotin.

So, what’s the takeaway?

While preliminary research shows that biotin may improve symptoms in patients with MS, more extensive clinical trials are in progress to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a specific high-dose formulation of biotin in patients with MS.

As mentioned above, one of these studies is currently recruiting participants who are diagnosed with primary or secondary progressive MS. To find out if you qualify and the locations of the studies, you can click here for more information.

Even with the current studies, the role of biotin in the treatment of MS is not completely known. Talk to your doctor if you want to start taking biotin supplements and decide if this treatment is right for you.

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How cancer affects diet + pointers for trying to eat well

Posted September 8th, 2017 by

Many PatientsLikeMe members have talked in the forum about the dietary impact of lung cancer treatment and how it has hindered their eating. As many as 40 to 60 percent of patients with lung cancer experience unintentional weight loss.

Eating well (or as best you can) during and after cancer treatment can help you keep up your body weight, strength and ability to fight off infection. With the help of our Health Data Integrity Team, we’ve rounded up some diet and nutrition pointers for people with lung cancer.

Treatment side effects impacting diet

Everyone responds differently to treatments, and side effects vary in severity for patients, but here are some common ways treatments can affect your diet.

  • Surgery – Recovery requires extra energy and nutrients to heal wounds, fight infection and recover (physically and emotionally). If your weight is below normal, either before or after surgery, work with your care team to develop a nutrient-rich eating plan.
  • Chemotherapy – It aims to kill cancer cells, but chemo may also damage healthy cells in the mouth, stomach and intestines. This may result in mouth sores, taste changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. When more than one drug is given (as is often the case in lung cancer chemotherapy), more side effects may occur and they may be more severe.
  • Radiation therapy – The high-energy rays can harm normal, healthy cells in the treatment area (often the chest and back). This may cause difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, taste changes, sore mouth or sore throat. Increasing fatigue and decreased appetite can also make it difficult to prepare meals and eat.
  • Immunotherapy – This emerging form of cancer treatment uses your immune system to fight cancer cells by more effectively recognizing and attacking them. Some people experience loss of appetite, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, constipation and diarrhea (which can result in dehydration).

What can you do before treatment?

As you prepare for lung cancer treatment, it’s important to eat well in order to maintain a healthy weight, keep up your energy and strength and take in the foods and nutrients your body needs (such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates, healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and plenty of water). These steps can also help before your treatment begins:

  • Work with your physician, care team and/or a registered dietician to make nutrition goals that work with your current body weight, body mass index (BMI), treatment plan and any other health conditions you may have. Your doctor may advise you to eat healthy but try to avoid losing weight or dropping too much weight (if weight loss is a common side effect of your treatment regimen).
  • Stock up your pantry and freezer with healthy food and ready-to-eat meals and snacks. Include food that you can eat when you’re feeling sick (like some low-fiber foods that may not irritate your digestive system as much).
  • Ask or allow friends and family members to help you prepare meals you can freeze and eat later. Also, check out meal delivery services, such as Meals on Wheels and Savor Health.

What can you do during treatment?

It can be hard to predict which side effects you’ll experience, and how severe they’ll be. Stay in close contact with your care team about how your treatment is affecting your diet – they may prescribe something to help you. These tips and tricks can also come in handy, depending on the side effects you experience

  • Eat five or six smaller meals, every couple of hours each day. Try to take in plenty of protein and calories, as well as a few servings of colorful produce. Smaller portions may be more tolerable than three large meals a day.
  • A few times a week, try eating plant-based foods (such as beans and veggies) instead of meat-based meals.
  • Eat foods that appeal to you. Don’t force yourself to eat something that doesn’t look good or makes you feel nauseated.
  • Avoid eating your favorite foods when you feel nauseated. This may cause a negative association with that food.
  • Stay hydrated with water or low-sugar juice and sports drinks throughout the day. Some people feel more ill when they try to eat and drink too much at the same time, so try sipping a drink with your meal or having a larger drink around 30 minutes before or after you eat.
  • Stay as active as possible, which may stimulate your appetite – while also getting plenty of rest.
  • Talk with your doctor before taking any new medications, supplements or treatments for nausea, diarrhea or constipation (even over-the-counter or alternative treatments).

How about after treatment?  

Following cancer treatment, many people experience a dry or sore mouth and throat, as well as changes in smell and taste – sometimes called “metal mouth.” Here are some ideas to help you manage:

  • Eat soft, moist food that’s easier to chew and swallow. Using some extra sauce or dressing can help soften food.
  • Avoid acidic food and drinks that may cause pain, such as citrus, alcohol, caffeine, vinegar, spicy food and carbonated drinks. Also, avoid coffee, tea and soda because caffeine and carbonation may worsen dry mouth.
  • Eat food and drink at room temperature because hot or cold food may irritate your mouth.
  • If some foods no longer taste good to you or taste too bland, try new flavors and spices to “trick your taste buds,” and add some sea salt.
  • Use plastic utensils, if metal ones cause a bad taste in your mouth.
  • If water or food taste metallic, add some citrus (such as a squeeze of lemon or lime).
  • If food tastes bitter or harsh, consider adding a bit of sweetness with sugar or grade-A pasteurized honey (avoid raw honey).

Which diet-related side effects have you experienced with cancer treatment? Join our community today to talk about topics like this with patients like you.

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