Hyper-Mobility Syndrome and Nutrition

by Lin

HMS may have an impact on the workings of the digestive system and so it is not a huge leap of faith to assume that what, when and even how you eat can influence how well that system functions.  BUT nutrition may have an even more profound effect, particularly on inflammation!  Just think – just by making some small alterations to what you eat, you may reduce your pain!

It is thought that this is how problems occur – firstly ‘floppy’ connective tissue can potentially lead to very slow motility in the gut, from the stomach onwards, and food that continues to break down can lead to inflammation, dysbiosis (gut flora imbalances), increased gut permeability and bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and other lovelies that most medics round up together and call IBS.  There are various protocols that can be used including those below, to alleviate matters.

This increased gut permeability allows ‘unusual’ molecules to pass to the blood stream where they will be identified by the immune system as ‘invaders’.  The immune system springs into action to defeat these perceived pathogens, hence a greater prevalence of atopic disorders – allergies, intolerances, auto immune diseases and so on.  Healing this situation is key to improvement anywhere else in the body.

Individuals with connective tissues ‘syndromes’ have the added disadvantage that many of them appear to be prone to disrupted autonomic nervous system function, those things that happen automatically in the body, including digestion!  Not insignificantly, their stress response can be easily ‘triggered’ and we know that this is a factor in IBS too.

First let us look at how we can get the digestive system functioning efficiently.

The digestive system is an integrated, cascading one, with the efficiency of one part impacting on the next, and so on.  This means that is important at the beginning of the process, the mouth, to chew food thoroughly, to eat slowly, in a calm and relaxed atmosphere.
• Have only a small amount of liquid as too much can dilute digestive juices.
• Do not have large meals which may be challenging to a stomach with ‘floppy’ valves and can lead to symptoms of reflux.  Incidentally, many are prescribed medication to suppress the production of stomach acid if they suffer reflux, but this can be counter productive.  Acid in the stomach, as well as being a barrier for harmful bacteria and/or viruses, helps to break down more ‘challenging’ foods such as proteins and fats.  If food is not broken down fully in the stomach because of a lack of digestive chemistry, it continues into the small and large intestines.  If their efficiency has been impaired due to the use of drugs such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatories, or stresses such as surgery and disease, then nutrients may not be absorbed fully, and the balance of bacteria becomes unbalanced in favour of the ‘unfriendly’ sort, and toxins are free to circulate around the body.  Conditions such as fatigue, migraines, diarrhoea/constipation, skin problems and headaches can result.  DO take advice from your doctor before changing ANY medication.
• Do not have fruits with proteins as they quickly ferment in the stomach and pass into the intestines taking undigested proteins with them.  Have fruit away from meals, or at the start.
•  B Vitamins, found in nuts, seeds, green vegetables and brown rice, and the mineral Magnesium are nutrients needed for the production of digestive enzymes.  It may however be advisable to supplement with stomach hydrochloric acid and/or digestive enzymes – please consult a nutritional therapist before you do this.
• Have less meat, in particular beef and pork, as these can be difficult to break down and digest. 
• It may be necessary to supplement with more ‘friendly’ bacteria, commonly known as ‘probiotics’ to help restore a good balance of gut flora.  Again, a nutritional therapist can advise on best sources.
•  The gut wall may become inflamed and allow food and other molecules to pass into the bloodstream where they can trigger an immune response as they will not be recognised by the body.  Conditions such as fatigue, migraines, diarrhoea/constipation, skin problems and headaches can result from these intolerances. The body will look for any nutrition it may be lacking and it is this that can lead to hunger pangs and food cravings for those nutrients that it needs.

POO!!!! – or the lack of it!!!          
Now let’s come to the thorny issue of bowel health.  So important to how we feel but often not discussed in polite company.  Poorly constructed collagen does not lend itself to strong peristaltic action (the muscle action of the intestines) and commonly leads to a constipated state of affairs. Periods of constipation interspersed with bouts of diarrhoea is often still constipation, as newly formed waste tries to force its way through ‘older stuff’.  YUK!!  Soooo…. we need to help it as much as we can.

1. Restrict wheat to once a day. 
      Modern species of wheat can be a difficult food to digest due to its tough     gluten content and can also become gluey in the digestive tract and is quite often implicated in constipation. Also, the modern diet can contain large amounts –breakfast   cereal, toast, sandwiches, cakes, cakes, pastries, pasta etc., so it may be possible to tolerate a little, but often not so much.
2. Reduce or eliminate dairy – it contributes to the formation of thickened mucus, and can cause all sort of problems, including ‘clogging up’ the digestive system.  Try soya, rice, oat or almond milk. 
3. More fruit veg and salad – around 8-10 portions of vegetables and 2 of fruit – daily if you can. They contain lots of soluble fibre and concentrated nutrition.  Eat fruit BEFORE a meal, not after, as it digests more quickly than most foods, and if eaten at the same time as other foods may speed them through the intestine before they are completely broken down.
4. More fish, especially fatty ones – salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout.  They contain essential fats that your body cannot make, and which are important to digestive health.
5. More beans, seed and nuts as a more fibre filled protein alternative to meat
6. CHEW thoroughly and eat slowly in a calm environment. See how often this comes up!!!
7. More water – about 1 ½ – 2 litres of hydration fluids daily. Try to avoid tea, coffee, caffeine, fizzy drinks and alcohol.
8. Discuss with a qualified nutritional therapist the options regarding herbs, Psyllium fibre, probiotics, prebiotics, or digestive enzymes that may be appropriate to you if doing all of the above fails to make a difference.

Inflammation

What is it and why does it happen??

Your body is constantly trying to look after you and protect you from foreign invaders and injury.  Inflammation is the immune system sending in an army of antibodies to repel those raiders.  Unfortunately this pain, redness, swelling, and sometimes loss of function, can become chronic, that is to say – it goes on a bit!!

So how then can the diet help or hinder this process?

Things that can make it worse:-
• Saturated fats in foods such as cheese and red meats
• Processed and refined foods
• Poor digestion – that’s why good digestion HAS to be the top priority
• Poor detoxification – that’s why bowel health is so important
• Lack of restorative sleep – a big issue and one which become a vicious circle!

• HIGH LEVELS OF INSULIN – in capital letters because it is probably the most common trigger for inflammation of the modern age due to our sugar/carbohydrate rich diets.
• This may surprise you- most vegetable oils such as sunflower, found in spreads and processed foods.
• This may not! – alcohol and smoking
• Or this! – stress.
• Histamines – eg in well ripened cheese, continental sausages and some red wines
• Dehydration

What YOU can do:-

• Include more essential fatty acids – ‘good’ fats often referred to as Omega 3 and found in fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, or sardines, and flax seeds, soya beans, rapeseed and walnuts and to a lesser degree in dark green leafy vegetables.  Supplements can be really useful here, in fact are thought by most therapists to be essential to help reduce inflammation – again a nutritional therapist can advise.
• Reduce consumption of meat and animal products
• Avoid or reduce refined and processed foods, trans and hydrogenated fats, sugars and salt
• Eat smaller meals more often
• Ensure efficient digestion and avoid constipation
• Reduce or avoid alcohol and smoking
• Increase antioxidants – vitamins A, C and E principally, plus the minerals zinc and selenium.  This is how you do it:-
Vitamin A- Yellow, orange and red fruits and vegetables eg peppers, tomatoes, and apricots.
Vitamin C – Dark skinned berries, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit
Vitamin E – Green leafy vegetables and avocado
Selenium – Seafood and nuts
Zinc – nuts and seeds
Grapeseed (generally from supplements) has been found to be useful in inflammatory conditions.
• Antihistamines – that is the ones you get from foods – sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, lentils, avocado, wheatgerm.
• Drink plenty of water, about 2 litres a day, and have less caffeine as it can be pro-inflammatory.
• Turmeric – this spice provides numerous anti-inflammatory actions and can be included in food, or taken as a supplement for a more therapeutic dose.  Ginger also exerts an anti-inflammatory effect.
• Proteases – digestive enzymes that help break down protein have been found to help reduce inflammation due to their action on the immune system.  To have this effect, they need to be taken away from food.
• Vitamin D – It seems that insufficient Vitamin D may lead to mobility problems. We know that Vitamin D is important for bone health, but it is also needed for muscle function so it’s possible that low levels can lead to lesser muscle strength and physical ability.
• Ensure adequate sleep

Natural Pain Killers

Supplement combo of MSM/Glucosamine/chondroitin which work well together.
MSM helps to stabilise connective tissue matrix(!)
Glucosamine helps to encourage cartilage rebuilding
Chondroitin helps prevent cartilage breaking down

Devils Claw
Is gentle and works cumulatively on inflamed joints and muscles, and has no side effects. 
Has several actions and works in various areas of the inflammatory pathway, without blocking them, which is what can lead to side effects of conventional anti-inflammatories.

Arnica cream or gel on smaller painful areas.

Turmeric – as above and becoming increasingly popular as a natural anti inflammatory.

A new one – Alpha acids derived from hops – no beer doesn’t count!  Hops have been used for generations to aid relaxation and sleep but it has now been found that certain nutrients in hops exert an anti-inflammatory and pain-killing effect, without any side-effects. 

Serrapeptase is one of the protein digestive enzymes and is becoming increasingly popular for its anti-inflammatory effects.

Please do not embark on any supplementation without speaking to a qualified Nutritional Therapist or Herbalist, and definitely do not stop taking any medication without consulting your doctor.

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