Nutrition and body care.

Nutrition and body care?

Nutrition and body care is complex.


There is no one size fits all.
Your best diet is unique to you.

Fatigue can get in the way of self care. Self care can get in the way of fatigue.

Care for ourselves has to be prioritised or it doesn’t happen. Loving ourselves is an action, feeling good is the outcome.

How we do things is as important as what we do. Good relationships require mutual and self respect.

Nutrition and body care

Getting good nutrition is important for everyone, helping all your cells get the energy they need and keeping your organs functioning as they should. Eating a nutritious, high-protein diet is especially important if you’re a polio survivor with weakened or paralyzed muscles. Along with careful management of your activity level, the right diet can help conserve your energy and keep you strong and your body in good condition.

Body care involves all the things we need to do to keep our whole body healthy, our skin, internal organs and their functional connections, muscles, ligaments and bones. Our ability to look after  ourselves depends on the resources we access to, being it friends, service providers, money and/or creativity.  Everything from cutting toenails, getting a massage, a haircut, getting the best skin cream, having access to a spa and any other health service requires getting other people to do things for you.

For many polio survivors, feeling entitled to getting what we needed, because we had polio, was not something that was encouraged in our childhood. We were to be treated just the same as everybody else and taught not to “Use our disability to get favours”. This can make it harder in later life to prioritize our needs over the needs of others.

Nutrition and body care includes.

A healthy diet with sufficient protein, optimal fat and calories and generous vitamins and minerals is critical for optimal muscle functioning. Energy sources should be long burning to counter fatigue.

A healthy diet must satisfy the human needs for taste and comfort to be sustainable

There is no such thing as a healthy diet that works for everyone – we have to find our own best diet and lifestyle combination

Calcium and vitamin D are important for strong bones and most people don’t take in enough of either on a daily basis

Gaining weight is fundamentally a physics problem: we gain weight because we eat too much- See report on latest research on the science of  metabolism

Losing weight is a complex and emotional problem: It starts with understanding the need to lose weight, continues with the desire to lose weight, requires knowledge to plan a programme, then doing it, and most importantly putting in place positive rewarding habits

Clothes should not restrict your movements, keep you the right temperature, look good, be comfortable to wear, easy to put on and take off

Massage, for many polio survivors, is a wonderful thing, though costs can be prohibitive. Self massage can be very useful, as are  massage chairs, cushion seats and aids

Foot care from a podiatrist can make a real difference to standing, walking or just feeling good with your feet

When we need to ask for something personal, asking can be the hardest part. That is perfectly natural and we can dismantle self imposed barriers.

Changes in Nutrition and Body Care

When we want to make changes in our nutrition and body care it is good to know the myths about diet, exercise and our metabolism that can lead us in the wrong direction.

1. Exercise burns through calories and boosts metabolism. MYTH-BUSTED

It seems our bodies work to keep the daily number of calories burned within a narrow range, regardless of our lifestyle.

Daily expenditures measured for participants in exercise studies routinely increase at the beginning of a new workout regimen, but those gains diminish over time. Their bodies adapt, so that within a few months, the daily energy they burn is only marginally higher, and sometimes exactly the same, as before they started working out. The boost is a bust.

2. Exercise will make you lose weightMYTH-BUSTED

Weight loss often starts off well at the beginning of a new exercise regime, but it fades over time, so that a year or so later, the weight lost is a vanishing fraction of what we would expect from all the calories burned through working out. When you burn more calories, you eat more calories.

3. Calories don’t matter MYTH-BUSTED

Gaining weight is fundamentally a physics problem: when we eat more calories than we burn, those extra calories pile up as fat. Since it is futile trying to boost the energy we burn each day with exercise (or superfoods, or ice water, or the latest gimmick), the primary cause of being overweight or obese is clearly diet. We gain weight because we eat too much.

If you are attempting to lose weight, the trick is to find a diet that you can maintain without feeling miserable. Foods high in protein and fibre tend to make us feel full. It also helps to avoid crash diets that can cause our clever, evolved metabolisms to hit the brakes and reduce daily energy expenditure.

4. A slow metabolism dooms you to obesity MYTH-BUSTED

Like most other biological traits, the amount of energy burned in a day varies from person to person. Daily energy expenditure in two people who are the same age and sex, and have the same lifestyle, can easily differ by 500 calories or more. Surprisingly, that variation in energy use doesn’t predict someone’s weight. People with obesity have the same daily energy expenditure, on average, as those who are slim. That’s after accounting for body size, since a larger body tends to burn more calories per day simply by virtue of having more cells at work. If we don’t correct for size, people with obesity burn more energy. Weight gain and obesity aren’t products of a slow metabolism.

So why do some people find it easy to stay trim while others struggle? Although there is probably no single answer, a major factor seems to be the way our brains are wired. For most, weight gain comes on slowly over months and years, reflecting tiny errors in the regulation of energy intake. The vast array of processed and engineered foods available to us overwhelms neural reward systems evolved to handle unprocessed wild foods. Our brains err on the side of over consumption.

Support for this view has come from recent work on the physiology of hunger and satiety, as well as advances in the genetics of obesity. Of the hundreds of genes associated with obesity in humans, the vast majority are most active in the brain. The variants you carry are likely to affect your ability to control your weight.

5. Obesity and weight gain are a sign of personal failure. MYTH-BUSTED

As powerful as our genes are, DNA isn’t destiny. Today’s gene pool is essentially unchanged from that of our great grandparents’ generation because genetic change is slow. They didn’t face a global obesity crisis. What’s different in much of the world is our environment, specifically our food environment – the access we have to specific foods.

Recent work at the US National Institutes of Health has shown that eating ultra-processed foods leads to weight gain, although we don’t yet know precisely why.

Recent breakthroughs in metabolic science are a call to action. Obesity isn’t a choice, but that doesn’t mean our choices don’t matter. We can start by getting ultra-processed foods out of homes. We don’t need to wait for societal changes in our food environment to take action in our daily lives.

Our bodies were shaped by evolution to be clever, adaptable and dynamic. We will need to tap into that same flexible creativity to manage our own nutrition and body care.

Late effects of polio tips:


Choose lean meat (low fat) and try to have protein at each meal to provide a constant supply to the muscles. The aim each day is 1g protein per kg of weight (no greater than 1.2g/kg).

Have frequent meals e.g. 3 main meals, with morning and afternoon tea.

Minimise cakes, sweets, biscuits, alcohol and takeaways.

Have 5+ a day of fruit or vegetables and as many as possible different plant foods in a week.

What can I do to improve my Nutrition and body care?

Here are some key principles:

Be kind to yourself.
Your stomach and biome prefer regular eating and familiar foods.
Food is one of life’s most consistent pleasures. Enjoy your food.
Take control of how much you eat, make sure serving sizes are not decided by others, who may be motivated by generosity and hospitality and may not know understand  your situation. This takes some practice, but is a skill that can be mastered.

Find out more

Resources, Links and Research Downloads


Q:  Dr. Richard L. Bruno, Chairperson International Post-Polio Task Force
and Director International Centre for Polio Education talks about Diet.
W: We measured blood sugar and attention and found that the lower the blood sugar, the worse polio survivors’ did on attention tests.
A:   There are receptors on the surface of the neurons that latch onto sugar molecules to pull them inside. These receptors are vital because blood sugar is
neurons’ only fuel. And here’s where the problem likely lies. Sugar receptors are made of protein. Recent studies have found that protein factories inside neurons are breaking apart in polio survivors who have new muscle weakness. So polio survivors may not make enough protein to manufacture all the blood sugar receptors they need to take in the amounts of sugar required for neurons to function properly.

Post-Polio Protein Power: Eat Well, Be Well

Q: Why is breakfast important to Polio Survivors
W: Polio survivors who had protein for breakfast reported a reduction in PPS symptoms because their fuel tank stayed full longer.
A: Look at the list protein-rich foods ( in PDF) and select different breakfasts so you can have a variety throughout the week. Remember, you want foods that have more grams of protein than they do fat.