Is ozempic right for you?
“My doctor prescribed Ozempic for my diabetes because she wants me to lose weight and I have stage 3 kidney disease. She said somebody did a study showing that the drug in Ozempic helps with kidney disease. You don’t seem to think well of Ozempic but shouldn’t I follow my doctor’s advice?”
First and foremost, I am not a doctor. I can’t remember a time that I suggested anybody ignore their doctor’s advice. Ignoring or following a doctor’s advice should be a thoughtful choice, not necessarily something you should do just because I or the doctor said.
What I often do, however, is outline information for consideration. What are the pros and cons here? So that is what I will say in response your question.
“—she wants me to lose weight —.” The vast majority, about 80%, of diabetics are significantly overweight. Their blood sugar is too high, and they frequently have issues with blood pressure, high triglycerides (in the blood), heart trouble, kidney disease, and eyes.
I suspect that your doctor’s interest in your weight is not new. Steady weight gain over time leads to all of those chronic health conditions you have or will eventually have. She is particularly worried about the kidney disease which makes perfect sense.
“Kidney failure is usually triggered by other health problems that progressively harm the organs over time, with diabetes posing the greatest risk”, according to the American Kidney Fund.
The kidney experts say that kidney damage is not reversable but progression can be slowed. Once “disease” progresses to “failure” the options are not pretty – dialysis and kidney transplant. The typical guidance suggests controlling weight and blood sugar with lifestyle and diet changes. That same guidance applied earlier would likely have avoided the condition in the first place.
The study referenced by your doctor was actually a safety study. The study results said that the drug does not harm the kidneys while it helps you lose weight. Losing the weight along with the inevitable improvements in blood sugar, triglycerides, blood pressure, etc. slows the progression of the kidney disease.
Depending on the progression of your kidney disease, there certainly could be some urgency in the Ozempic prescription. Apparently your doctor thinks that getting control of your weight and blood sugar is the highest priority. And you will lose weight because you are going to cut calories big time.
According to the Ozempic website. the most common side effects of Ozempic® may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach (abdominal) pain, and constipation, all of which would certainly discourage eating.
Not eating is the very best way to cut calories. It is also a very good way to create nutritional deficiencies, somewhat like gastric bypass does. So the longer you are on the drug, the greater the potential for nutritional deficiencies.
On the con side, studies show that a significant portion of the weight you lose will be muscle. Losing muscle is never a good thing, particularly for the elderly who are more prone to a sedentary life style and are susceptible to falls.
Another con pops up when the side effects or the drug costs are intolerable and you stop taking the drug. All the chemical controls provided by the drug that surpress hunger, slow digestion, keep the liver from making sugar, etc. disappear. Let the eating begin.
Ozempic will certainly control how much you eat but it does not force you to eat the proper food or exercise. And if. after stopping the drug, the diet consists of the kind and amount of food that caused you to gain weight and become diabetic in the first place, all the lost weight along with some extra is likely to return quickly.
The regain will be fat, not muscle. The health conditions will only be worse.
Up against these cons is the big pro, halting or slowing the progression of your kidney disease. Admittedly the highest priority.
So consider Ozempic a kickstarter, be prepared for the potential side effects along with the potential stopping of the drug. Fix your diet now to be as nutritious as possible, designed to also manage blood sugar. Make exercise a part of your daily routine. These changes minimize the amount of fat gain, maximize muscle gain, control blood sugar, and thus minimize progression of kidney disease.
Perhaps the experience of others taking Ozempic would be helpful. This article says it nicely.
I pray for the best for you.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Proceeds from her book benefit the Montgomery County Food Pantry. Her book is available on Amazon and at Bob’s Food City, Mount Ida Pharmacy, and Turtle Cove Spa. Her website is http://www.allaboutthefood.org/ She can be contacted at email@example.com, 501-605-3902. Her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/patsmithbooks.