How should a polio victim maintain his body weight?
Q: I am 17 years old and a Polio victim. My left leg is affected and is very weak. What should I do to maintain my body weight so that it does not put extra pressure on my leg?
A:You have raised a pertinent point, important for polio patients - that they should not gain weight. However, control of body weight is easier said than done. Every human being comes with his own genetic constitution for body weight. There are several mechanisms that control this - the fat deposits, metabolic rate, hormone levels. However, all that we can do is to control the two factors that are important in controlling our body weight. They are: diet and physical activity. Physical activity require physical exercises to burn calories and keep our body weight down. There is a small catch. People some time overdo exercises or in their enthusiasm start exercises but stop after few years. This makes them vulnerable to gain weight rapidly. Giving up exercises suddenly also has other implications on bone muscles and joints. If you think you cannot sustain a physical activity or exercise long enough it is better not to start it. In polio patients paralysis reduces the physical activity. Therefore, they are vulnerable to gain weight. Particularly if they do not control eating. Food is the most important, as you grow older you are able to burn extra calories that you consume variably well only up to a certain age and child or adolescent, if physically active can burn reasonable amount extra calories well. Beyond 26 - 27 years of age the metabolic rate changes and your daily requirement of calories go down. Most people tend to maintain their caloric intake. The some as they did when they were younger. This extra calories that we consume adds up as fat combined with the decreasing physical activity of middle age needs to a typical middle age middle spread. So you need to reduce your caloric intake as you reach middle age. If you are very concerned, it is safe to have 3 basic meals that without fat and avoid snacks, cool drinks, sweets, tea/coffee between meals. If at all you wish to have coffee or tea avoid sugar. It is not good to miss meals as you tend to over compensate by eating extra at the next meal.