Marcus Muscles at Bodysmith Aug 2012 #1 OK, Americans are fat. Everyone knows this, right? And the worst part about it is, we know better. We’re not just fat, we’re fat on purpose. We all know fast-food is bad, but the lines of cars still roll through. We know processed food will kill us, but summer grills are covered with hot dogs. And don’t get me started on portion sizes. OK, well just this one…

I went to a movie the other day and for the first time in years I saw a bag of popcorn that wasn’t a bucket. It was called the “smaller.”

Brilliant! American’s (apparently) won’t buy a “small popcorn,” but they may buy a smaller (than-the-bucket) popcorn. It’s simultaneously hilarious, sad, and true.

Given all of this, a person with a lower BMR doesn’t have a chance.

Wait, what is BMR? Basal metabolic rate, basically the rate at which a person burns calories for fuel.  A person with Down syndrome, generally, has a lower BMR than their peers.

Also, there is a slight increase over the general population that a person with Down syndrome may have some level of thyroid dysfunction. This can also lead to unhealthy and/or difficult to control weight gain.

In the upcoming blogs, I’m going to address these issues, in random order just to keep you on your toes, and talk about what we’re learning and doing to keep Marcus, a healthy adult with Down syndrome.

So, starting with the thyroid. We have a doctor that we love and trust, Dr. Backer. One reason we love and trust her is because she listens to us. About a year ago she said, “We need to stay on testing Marcus’ thyroid.” Because “The older the patient with Down syndrome is, the more likely the development of thyroid dysfunction.[2]” But, before we began medicating we tried a few other tricks first. We began, more aggressively, changing our diet and Marcus began a scheduled exercise plan (more on these later), Marcus took natural supplements and we ate more shrimp.

On the supplements note, Marcus took selenium, fish oil, vitamin C and D every day. I didn’t have this article then, but it details some natural ways to improve thyroid functioning[3].  My husband and I are kind of half-hearted hippies and we try to avoid pharmaceuticals when possible.

That said, it’s not always possible.  Marcus went three months on the new plan without any improvement in his thyroid levels. So, we moved on to plan B, a small dose of levothyroxine. (For all the scary hairy details check here.[4]) Marcus has not demonstrated any negative side effects. I believe the medicine, combined with his other lifestyle changes, have helped him to be more energetic and lucid.

However, in my opinion, taking a pill is not a complete answer to staying healthy. (I’m sure Dr. Backer would be glad to hear me say this.)

The other components, and this will probably surprise you, are exercise and healthy eating habits. We’ll go into the changes we have gradually (and are still working on) as I continue this blog series about creating habits of a healthy adult with Down syndrome.