Is Hormone Therapy Right For You?

hormone therapyThere comes a point in our lifespan where the hormones biologically begin to slow down production and we begin to consider hormone therapy. When our body senses the slowing of stressors in our crazy lives, it has no need to keep up with the high demands of life. While this is a good thing, the decrease in quantity of the hormones results in a potpourri of symptoms. While more intricate endocrine pathways are being discovered, the global hormonal function remains constant. We feel fantastic when all hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, adrenals, insulin) are in a synchronized balance.

We all know the body WILL change. We may long to feel like we did in our 20’s. I am here to tell you, we can feel even better. There truly is no great mystery to understanding aging. Mid–life and menopause doesn’t have to be the “dreaded” era. In fact, if approached correctly with love and patience, it can be some of the best times of life.

Another thing to keep in mind is that hormonal changes don’t occur just in women. Men can experience the same degree of symptoms. We’ve all heard and some have experienced these symptoms. The symptoms of hormonal changes are extensive and exhaustive. Most of which we are all well aware.

The only thing that needs to be understood is SYMPTOMS OCCUR BECAUSE OF HORMONAL IMBALANCES. Each hormone plays a role in contributing to various symptoms. So how do you know if hormones are right for you? Before answering, ask yourself, “Are your symptoms debilitating enough that it is affecting quality of life?”

If the answer is yes, then hormones maybe what you need.

Hormone supplements are not a forever thing. You may only need them for a certain duration when life feels off balance. The goal should be to use the lowest dose possible for the shortest time possible. Do not depend on only hormones to help you. Stay committed to healthy nutrition, regular exercise and optimal sleep.

If you do choose to begin hormone therapy, continue to work towards creating a healthy lifestyle so that you may begin the process of weaning off of the hormones as soon as the body is able to hold its own.

What are the pros and cons to beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Pros:

  1. Alleviates hot flashes and night sweats
  2. Helps with vaginal dryness
  3. Helps maintain or restore bone strength
  4. Improves sleep
  5. May aid in weight loss
  6. Possible cardiovascular benefit but evidence is still unclear
  7. Possible decrease risk of colon cancer
  8. Helps in restoration of skin, hair, and nails
  9. Improves mental clarity and mood

Cons:

  1. Small increase risk in breast and uterine cancer
  2. Increased risk of DVTs
  3. Slight increase in cardiovascular disease and strokes (The WHI study found a 29 per cent increased risk of coronary heart disease in those taking combined HRT)
  4. Small increase in gall bladder disease

The decision to start HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) should be well thought out. Having an extensive discussion with your physician can alleviate any anxiety about the uncertainty of hormone therapy. Each case is unique with varying factors. Listening and honoring your body will lead you to the right decision.

Remember, the minute you decide to start HRT, do everything you can to get off of them as quickly as possible. Use hormones as a crutch, not a permanent companion.

These truly can be the best years of your life! Aging is inevitable. Aging gracefully is optional. That is why I never tire of this topic. Embrace this passing cloud of inconvenience because the rainbow is waiting on the other side.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health,  CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest.

How To Keep Your Liver Healthy

How To Keep Your Liver HealthyThe liver, also known as the ultimate multitasking organ, is underestimated in its importance and significance. That is why it is it should be a top priority to keep your liver healthy.

The liver, weighing in about 3 pounds, sits on the right side of the abdominal cavity. Situated below the liver sits the gallbladder and portions of the pancreas and intestines.

The liver serves in multiple roles:

  • It helps to filter the blood from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body.
  • It aids in detoxifying chemicals and metabolizing drugs.
  • It helps secrete bile to assist in food breakdown.
  • It makes proteins so blood clotting is possible.
  • It helps break down damaged blood cells so that the body may remove them.

So what issues can arise if the liver is not operating at optimal standards?

There are many medical conditions associated with the liver, such as hepatitis, alcoholic cirrhosis, gall bladder disease, primary biliary cirrhosis, and hemochromatosis only to name a few.

According to ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, the liver is the primary organ responsible for removing toxins and purifying byproducts so that they may be delivered to the necessary organs in a purified condition.

When the liver is healthy and happy, the body will experience:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Clearer skin
  • Regular menstrual cycle with reduced PMS
  • Improved allergy symptoms
  • Stronger immunity
  • Fewer GI issues
  • Improved oral health
  • Improved mood and mental clarity

“A healthy liver results in better blood flow upward and outward, throughout our vessels, veins and capillaries, which transport oxygen and nutrients to our cells. The liver also interacts with other organs like the gallbladder, stomach and spleen, since it receives digested particles or toxins and decides what to do with them: circulate them around through the blood or eliminate them before they can cause damage.”  Dr. Axe

While the jury is still out on the efficacy of “liver detox”, the American Liver Foundation outlines ways you can keep your liver out of trouble.

  1. Foods that have been shows to have protective effects include:
  • Coffee (in moderation): Increases antioxidant levels while decreasing inflammation
  • Tea: Black and green tea have been shown to improve fat and enzyme levels. Avoid green tea extract as it can cause damage to the liver.
  • Grapefruit: The two main antioxidants found in grapefruit are naringenin and naringin that reduces inflammation.
  • Blueberries/Cranberries/Grapes
  • Beetroot juice: Protects the liver from oxidative reactions and increases detoxifying enzymes.
  • Cruciferous vegetables: Be cautious with concurrent thyroid conditions.  These vegetables have been found to increase detoxifying enzymes.
  • Nuts: One six-month observational study in 106 people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease found eating nuts was associated with improved levels of liver enzymes.
  • Fatty fish. Studies have shown that fish help prevent fat from building up, keep enzyme levels normal, fight inflammation and improve insulin resistance.
  • Olive oil. Helps prevent fat accumulation in liver and improved blood flow.
  1. Limit alcohol.
  2. Manage medications.
  3. Avoid prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals. Use natural hair and skin products as well as natural household supplies.
  4. Avoid excess supplements. Iron, Niacin, Vitamin A have been shown to be harmful to the liver in excess doses.
  5. Avoid a plethora of unnecessary herbal products. A recent study in the journal Hepatology claims that liver injury due to supplements and herbs is on the rise.
  6. Get the heart rate up and just move.

While discussions of liver health often end up taking a back seat to more exciting health news, it is a vital component to achieving greater balance. So drink your coffee, limit your supplements and get your body moving!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health,  CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest.

Colon Cancer Screening – Don’t Put It Off

Colon Cancer ScreeningIn the world of camera crazy selfies, the one picture that could be life saving is that selfie of the colon. Colon cancer screening is never something you should put off.

Ahhh yes, mentioning anything about that 5 foot luminous tube that weaves itself around the core of our essence makes us want to run in the opposite direction. Don’t!

The colon is VITAL to maintaining homeostasis and overall balance.

The colon absorbs essential vitamins, salts, nutrients, and water that gives us our good health. However any disruption is this function causes toxins to be absorbed back into the blood stream rather than expelling them. The reversal of this pathway leads to not only GI complaints, but also systemic symptoms. Examples include, fatigue, skin changes, hormonal imbalances, sleep issues, depression, hair loss, weight gain, weight loss, and headaches.

Over one hundred trillion microorganisms (bacteria) reside in the colon. There are more microorganisms in the colon than are contained within the skin, heart, bone, brain, and the rest of the body’s cells combined. A proper balance of healthy bacteria must be maintained inside the colon to avoid being constantly plagued with digestive ailments.

Since we live in a world where processed food is a staple, it is no surprise we are being plagued with continuous health ailments. The impurity of our diet has led to an epidemic of persistent illnesses. Also, the overuse of antibiotics has resulted in a paradigm shift of our normal gut flora. The overwhelming force of trauma of both of these habits has made it difficult for the colon to withstand any level of normalcy.

The sharp rise in obesity, ADHD, adult and children’s cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions, must leave us wondering, why? What are we doing wrong?

Once again, the answers lie in the lumen of our GI tract. This is exactly why you SHOULD NOT avoid your colon cancer screening.

Taking care of our gut health is not optional, it is vital. 

How can we do that when we constantly feel like we are swimming against the current?

Here are a few simple ideas:

  1. Eliminate sugar. “On the high sugar diet mouth-to-anus transit time was significantly prolonged, despite a shortened mouth-to-cecum transit time. The fecal concentration of total bile acids and the fecal concentration of secondary bile acids increased significantly. Diet affected neither the serum bile acid pattern nor the concentration. Breath hydrogen tests showed significantly enhanced H2 production on the high sugar diet. We conclude that the quantity of refined sugar in the diet can significantly influence gut function and the composition of bowel contents”. (Gut. 1991 Apr; 32(4): 367–371.)
  2. Increase water intake. Water helps break down food and improves waste transit and elimination. It also enhances vitamin and nutrient absorption and helps maintain a balanced pH in the gut.
  3. Listen to your “Gut”.  Whether the symptoms are of GI origin or systemic, it is important to have the gut evaluated in its entirety. A GI work up may include:
    a). Evaluation for food allergies,
    b.) Hydrogen breath test for bacterial overgrowth,
    c.) Celiac disease,
    d.) Stool sample for fungal or bacterial infection.
    e.) Upper Endoscopy for reflux, hernias, erosions etc.
    f.) Colonoscopy for polyps, cancer, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, generalized colitis etc.
    This is by no means a complete list. It only outlines different ways of getting into the GI tract. It is imperative not to ignore the body’s communication with us.
  4. Probiotics. These are the “good” guys that have come to save the day. Packaged and labeled under many different disguises, it is hard to know which one is the right one. Before starting down the road of pill-popping, first find the cause of the symptoms. Once identified, then reach for these microbes.

Many of us ignore the warning signs because we may feel it is “gross” or “embarrassing.” Physicians and specialists are highly skilled and trained in the area of Gastroenterology. There is nothing there we have not seen or experienced before.

Health is #1 priority. By allowing toxins to continue to reside in the seat of our solar plexus, we continue to live in a toxic environment.

Would we let toxic individuals stay in our home? Then why are we doing it to our OWN self?

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health,  CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest.

Preventing Osteoporosis In 4 Easy Steps

Preventing OsteoporosisAs we all age, our bones become thinner. This isn’t just a sign of aging, but is a disease known as osteoporosis. Preventing osteoporosis is something you hear about, but did you know there’s another disease similar to osteoporosis that’s just as dangerous called osteopenia?

Very few people understand how widespread osteopenia and osteoporosis are. In the United States, about 8 million women and 2 million men have thin bones, or a condition called osteoporosis, and another 34 million Americans have low bone mass, also known as osteopenia.

Osteopenia is a reduction in bone mass that is lower than a normal bone mass. This is a precursor to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition marked by low bone mass, a thinning of the bone, which can lead to a weakening of the bone architecture and increased susceptibility to fracture – typically of the hip, wrist or spine.

But how do we recognize these diseases? What are their risks? How do we slow down their symptoms? How do we recognize their warning signs? More importantly, how do we treat it?

Stop Smoking

Smoking impacts a person at risk for developing osteoporosis. Cigarette smoke generates huge amounts of free radicals — molecules that attack and overwhelm the body’s natural defenses. The result is a chain-reaction of damage throughout the body, including cells, organs and hormones involved in keeping bones healthy. Smoking triggers other bone-damaging changes, such as increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which leads to bone breakdown. Because those who smoke have weakened bones, they are likely to experience exercise-related injuries such as fractures, breaks or sprains. Also, a person who smokes is more likely to have a longer recovery period and greater risk of complications following any sustained injuries than someone who doesn’t smoke.

Quit Excessive Alcohol Use

Alcohol interferes most with bone formation by inhibiting adequate calcium absorption. Alcohol interferes with the pancreas and its absorption of calcium and vitamin D. Alcohol also affects the liver thereby inhibiting activation of, vitamin D, Vitamin D is needed to aid in Calcium absorption. As with smoking, excessive alcohol use has a wide range of damaging health effects for any person, but is particularly damaging for persons at risk for osteoporosis. The good news: when someone quits drinking, bones may recover fairly rapidly. Some studies have found that lost bone can be partially restored when alcohol abuse ends.

Improve Diet and Exercise

The importance of exercise in the fight against osteoporosis cannot be underestimated. Changing to a healthier diet can have little effect on bone mass when not combined with regular exercise. Starting the right kind of exercise in combination with other preventive measures like appropriate diet can help build bone mass especially in high risk fracture sites like the wrist, hip and spine.

Increase Calcium Intake

Sufficient amounts of calcium are required for bone strength. The body uses calcium for the heart, blood, muscles and nerves. Without the proper amount of calcium intake, the body will strip calcium from the bones where it is stored, causing the bones to get weaker. It is estimated that 55% of men and 78% of women over age 20 in the U.S. do not get enough calcium in their diet. It is important to note that since the human body cannot produce its own calcium, adequate calcium intake is critical in the battle against osteoporosis. To learn which type and how much is best for you, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Navigating the aging process does not need to be cumbersome or cause you unnecessary worry. That is why it is best to create a relationship with your doctor where you can be free to ask questions and discuss your concerns openly.

Dr. Raman is focused on holistic care, a pleasant office experience and good health maintenance. Dr.Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each patient’s individual needs with comprehensive, individualized treatment options and health programs.   Our office is committed to your health, and helping you find the best solutions for you and your particular needs.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please CONTACT our office today! You can also learn more by connecting with Dr. Raman on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Pinterest.

What No One Tells You About Menopause

menopauseMenopause, a women’s worst nightmare or is it? By simply understanding the basic science, we can clear the myths of this dreaded change and make it the most empowering years of a women’s life.

The two predominant hormones are Estrogen and Progesterone. Menopause is nothing more than a mirror image of menarche, or the start of menses.

In the pubertal years, the E2 (Estrogen) and P4 (Progesterone) begin to increase in quantity in preparation of future pregnancies. During this time, there is an imbalance of E2 and P4 which occurs that results in PMS, development of female habitus, acne, mood changes and so on.

During the 20’s and 30’s, E2 and P4 are in prime balance which allows the opportunity for the woman to conceive. When in equilibrium, a woman feels her best.

Around 35 years of age, the body begins to prepare to slow down. This is the time, the change STARTS.

E2 and P4 levels begin to biologically drop. Progesterone declines twice as fast as Estrogen. It is this imbalance between the lower Progesterone in relation to the higher Estrogen that causes menopausal symptoms.

Walking around with higher than needed Estrogen leads to higher risk of breast, uterine, or ovarian cancers, blood clots,  and heart disease. Progesterone is there to keep Estrogen from over stimulating the cells. Progesterone also helps with sleep, balances your mood, acts as a diuretic, and gives an overall sense of calm.

When Progesterone declines in respect to Estrogen, it creates a phenomena known as Progesterone Deficiency or Estrogen Dominance.

This is when women experience acne, mood changes, sleep issues, cravings, slowed metabolism, weight gain around mid-section and hips. In essence, menopause is a mirror reflection of menarche.

The solution? That is the million dollar question. Pre-menopause, Peri-Menopause, Menopause, Post-Menopause-whatever phrase you choose to describe this phase is irrelevant because the concept is the same.

Crossing the turbulent rivers of menopause is much easier and simpler than we think because we now understand why the body is changing the way it is.

So how do we get through these years? Here are few things to remember:

  • Breathe. This is not a permanent! The hormones are trying to find their balance and they eventually will. No one can predict how long this will take. And nothing can be done to speed up the process. The body is only trying to protect you. Allow it to do so. Don’t condemn the changes you are experiencing. The body is your armor, your voice and your friend. Understand what it is trying to tell you when it speaks to you in the form of symptoms.
  • Stop worrying about the weight. The weight is a symptom like anything else. Weight gain occurs due to Estrogen Dominance/Progesterone Deficiency. There are alpha and beta receptors throughout our muscle and adipose layers in the body. Depending on how those receptors are activated in each person, is where the weight change will occur.
  • Watch your diet and move your body. Our foods are coated with Estrogen and other chemicals which worsens Estrogen Dominance. It is imperative to cut out gluten, sugar, dairy. Eat clean and as unprocessed as possible. Additionally, without exercise don’t expect the body to change. Your body will not respond how it did was few years prior. And that’s ok. But it doesn’t mean that it won’t change. This will just become the new norm. One of the places Estrogen is converted is in adipose tissues. So the more fat you carry, the more estrogen it will convert, thereby again, worsening Estrogen Dominance. Striving towards optimal body fat will help keep Estrogen Dominance controlled. Focus on feeling balanced, not skinny.
  • Make sleep a priority. Without sleep the adrenal glands cannot function at their best. The disruption to the cortisol results in further Progesterone depletion. Turn off the devices and sink yourself into restful slumber.
  • Meditate. When the mind is silenced amongst the chaos of life, we are able to center and align to the root of our existence. Take 5-10 minutes a day, close your eyes and go to the places that feel off balance and listen for the guidance given.
  • Use hormones. I am all for using hormones, IF AND WHEN IT IS NEEDED. Treating with hormones during menopause is certainly not mandatory. The fundamental question to ask is, “are my symptoms debilitating enough that it is affecting my quality of life?” If the answer is yes, use the smallest amount needed for optimal results. Hormones are like the waves of the ocean. Anything can affect them – sleep, weight, seasonal changes, stress levels, nutritional habits, exercise commitment. You may need hormones for a while and decide later they are not needed. And depending on what’s going on in life, may need them again. There is no one answer. The correct answer always is what your body tells you it needs. Hormones are not the magic solution to these symptoms. They are only a crutch to lean on while working on lifestyle modifications.
  • Stop comparing. Don’t compare yourself to your past self. Menopause is a beautiful opportunity for growth and experience. Just keep remembering the symptoms we experience is the body protecting us. This cloud WILL pass! Learn to dance in the rain and embrace the glory of being a woman. This is a period of transformation, revitalization and rejuvenation.

Menopause is the process of shedding the layers of struggle. But just be patient my friends because the wings of healing are opening to reveal the vastness of all that is authentically you.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health,  CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest.

Your Guide to a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Gluten-Free LifestyleDoes maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle measure up to the promised hype of feeling better? That’s the million dollar question. Let’s take a look at this more closely and recap what we already know about gluten.

Gluten is a composite of storage proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and oat. It gives elasticity to dough, helps it rise, keeps its shape and gives food a chewy texture. But here are a few reasons why gluten has earned a bad rap:

Gut Inflammation. The proteins in wheat are gut irritants which dig into the lining of the gut wall, causing amylase trypsin inhibitors to provoke an inflammatory immune response.

Increased Intestinal Permeability. The gut is a patrol system that regulates which nutrients may enter and which may not. Inflammation in the gut caused by gluten halts that process of control. It loosens the junctions between cells in the gut wall so too much stuff can pass through. Hence the name of “leaky gut.” This leak is thought to be the number one contributing factor to developing autoimmune disease.

Vulnerability to Gut Autoimmunity. Gliadin is a component of gluten and once it enters the system, the problems begin. The exposure to gliadin causes one’s body to form antibodies against its own tissue, thereby creating an avalanche of toxins. Gluten-related inflammation may also be a factor in the development of Crohn’s Disease.

Autoimmune Reactions. Studies have found wheat exposure might be causing autoimmune issues even without evidence of celiac disease. With the abundance of GMO’s, there have been an exponential surge of autoimmune disorders thought in part due to the toxic effects of gluten.

Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can vary. Some common ones include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • GI issues
  • Poor sleep
  • Rash (Dermatitis Herpatiformis is specific to gluten)
  • Hormone dysregulation
  • Hair loss
  • Weight changes
  • Joint/muscle pain/swelling

If these are reasons enough to make you want to consider cutting back on gluten, here are steps you can take to make the process a little easier.

  1. Get educated. There is nothing more empowering than understanding exactly why you are choosing this path. When I first began my gluten free journey it was not by choice, but out of necessity. I was one of the few that experienced all 10 of the above symptoms. It was daunting and overwhelming. I simplified the process by reading. A great way to start is with the book “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. Dr. Davis takes you through the history of how gluten has become toxic to our system. Sit with the information and absorb the rationale of why maintaining a gluten-free diet can be life-saving.
  2. Make a list of the foods your currently eat. Rather than trying to figure out which foods do or do not have gluten, start by streamlining and looking at your own diet. Make a list of all the foods and ingredients you eat on a regular basis. Then begin researching that specific food. Remember –  gluten is not listed as an ingredient. It is a protein! You won’t find it on the label. You will learn over time how gluten is disguised in various forms.
  3. Start slowly. Don’t expect yourself to change overnight. It is not safe for the body, nor is it healthy. Start by decreasing a certain percentage of what you are currently eating. For example, eat only one slice of bread with your sandwich rather than two. This small change can make a significant impact. Remember, gluten is inflammatory. As you decrease your intake of gluten, body inflammation also diminishes. This will result in decreased cravings and an overall decrease in inflammation.
  4. Limit the gluten-free foods. While reaching for gluten-free cookies is nice when you need that sugar fix, gluten-free products are filled with other ingredients and chemicals that are not good for us. In August 2013, the FDA issued a final rule, effective August 2014, that defined the term “gluten-free” for voluntary use in the labeling of foods as meaning that the amount of gluten contained in the food is below 20 parts per million. This means only a small portion of the food needs to be gluten-free to earn that label. It very well could be that the other portion in the food is not. If you wouldn’t eat a regular cookie, then you shouldn’t be eating a gluten-free one. Indulgences are ok as long as they remain on that special occasion.
  5. Clear out expectations. Lose the idea that going gluten-free will be the “IT” weight loss miracle. Because it is not! If you lose weight from removing gluten, it is because you are caliberating your metabolism. While weight loss may be an added benefit, the real reward is overall health. When the body is balanced and brought to its natural homeostasis, everything will be in perfect working order, including the weight. Don’t chase the weight loss. Allow it to present itself to you along with all of the other great benefits!

Gluten-free eating is truly not the next fad. There are many, and more to come, unfolding studies and evidence of benefits to living gluten free. It is not a quick fix. We didn’t get here overnight. So stay the path. Stay focused. Stay determined and above all STAY COMMITTED!

CHANGE IS COMING!

The Many Benefits of Yoga & How It Changed My Life

Benefits of YogaTwo years ago if you would have told me yoga was one of the best kept secrets around, I would have laughed at that notion. Fast forward two years later, and I am here to tell you yoga is in fact ONE of the greatest hidden treasures of our time. Not only has it taken my fitness to an all-time high, it has taken my mental calm to an existence of peace.

During my research while writing this article, I came across an eye opening and awe inspiring story of Dr. Dilip Sarkar, a healthy 51 year old Vascular Surgeon from Virgina. In 2001, Dr. Sarkar found himself undergoing emergency cardiac bypass surgery. After recovering from this near-fatal event, Dr. Sarkar turned to Ayurvedic medicine and yoga therapy as a way to improve his health. Retired from his private medical practice, Dr. Sarkar is now a yoga teacher and clinical researcher focusing on yoga’s many life-saving benefits.

“What I’ve found through studying yoga therapy is that people who have a daily practice have effortlessly and automatically changed their lifestyle. They eat better, sleep better, their lifestyle is more regulated,” says Dr. Sarkar, who also serves as chairman of the School of Integrative Medicine at Taksha University in Hampton, Virginia.

I know it is very overwhelming to know where to even begin understanding all the various yoga forms. Figuring out which form of yoga you jive with comes from experiencing the various types. But the health benefits and mental reprieve of any of the asanas is unmistakable. This article will help answer some of those questions and explain the incredible health benefits of establishing a regular yoga practice.

Benefits of Yoga:

Improves cardiovascular health.  “Hypertension is due to a constriction of blood vessels, and heart disease is due to blockage in the coronary arteries. When relaxation sets in, yoga therapy relaxes blood vessels and reduces blood pressure while increasing the blood flow to the heart muscle.” A study published in the journal Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome showed researchers followed 182 middle-aged Chinese adults who suffered from metabolic syndrome who practiced yoga for a year. The conclusion was lower blood pressure and increased weight loss.

Improves muscular pain. Postures are the backbone of yoga. “Herniated discs and spinal stenosis don’t cause pain. They cause an irritation of a nerve which cause a contraction of the muscle. The muscle tightness or spasm then causes the pain. In yoga therapy, when you hold a pose, your muscles contract and then slowly relax as you breath in and out. When relaxation sets in, back pain starts to go away,” says Dr. Sarkar.

Improves cognitive function.  “Focused breath equals maximizing oxygenation and movement increases blood flow to brain and body,” says registered nurse Graham McDougall Jr., Ph.D., the lead researcher of the report published in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing. Participants of the study saw significant gains memory performance and fewer depressive symptoms.

Regulates blood sugar. “The practice of yoga increases your digestive fire called agni,” Sarkar says. “So the yogic way of looking at diabetes is that the body cannot digest sugar, which is why blood-sugar levels are high. If you can improve your digestion, you can improve your blood sugar, which is great for both diabetes prevention and control,” he says. A new study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research showed 30 males with Type 2 diabetes who practiced yoga for six months saw a significant decrease in their blood glucose levels.

Controls stress and anxiety. There is nothing like visiting a yoga studio filled with low dim lighting, fragrant aroma of lavender and mood music to calm even the most stressed out nerves.  A report presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) Conference 2015 linked yoga to lowering levels of cortisol, especially in women at risk for mental health problems. In the study of 52 women, ages 25 to 45, who had mildly elevated anxiety, moderate depression or high stress, those who performed Bikram twice a week felt better, looked better and had better control over their anxiety.

Decreases depression. In the Indian Journal of Palliative Care, breast cancer patients who practiced 60 minutes of yoga daily over a 24-week period, which included surgery and radiotherapy or chemotherapy reported a significant improvement in depressive symptoms compared to the non-yoga group.

Decreases risk of cancer.  “If cancer runs in your family, you may want to pick up a regular yoga practice, which has shown to prevent the genetic mutation from expressing,” states Dr. Sarkar. A study published last January in Journal of Clinical Oncology found that performing yoga twice a week for as little as three months could lower inflammation, boost energy, and lift the mood of female cancer patients.

Improves self-esteem. In a study from Brazil published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, university students reported improvement in self-control, self-perception, well-being, body awareness, balance, mind-body and reflexivity. “The word yoga itself means union. It unites your mind, body and spirit. During yoga practice, we inhale positive emotions and exhale negative emotions,” explains Sarkar.

Promotes a healthy and long life. A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine analyzed the effects that 90 days of yoga had on an obese 31-year-old man. The results showed dramatic reduction in oxidative stress hormones and inflammation, which goes a long way in preventing life -long diseases.

Helps control hormones. Who wouldn’t feel relaxed in Savasana? Conscious breathing helps regulate cortisol balance which helps maintain estrogen-progesterone-thyroid homeostasis.

The benefits continue to span miles long. I will be the first to admit that it took me a couple of months complaining and whining through class to realize what I had been missing all of these years.

Go outside of your comfort zone! Experience the wonder of conscious breathing. Experience the steadiness of mind-body alignment. Above all, experience the truly miraculous gifts yoga can bring into your life!

Namaste

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health,  CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest.

Common Ingredients You Should Avoid

Common Ingredients You Should AvoidYou know those big long words on the bottom of the food label that we can barely pronounce? Well therein those words lies the root of our suffering.

Previously, I have written extensively on the effects of gluten on the body. Now I want to dive into how some of the most frequently used chemicals in our food supply are directly responsible for our declining health.

I am frequently asked by patients to design a diet plan they can follow that will help them attain their weight loss goal. We have to remember weight is only ONE symptom among the list of many others that we experience while we unknowing ingest these palatable toxic delicacies.

I agree counting calories is still important. But if you stop and think about it, there was the low carb diet, the low fat diet, the no carb diet, the fasting diet and a whole list of other crazy diets that told you exactly what you wanted to hear. But have any of them worked long term?

NO!!

The US continues to be the most obese nation!! What if the solution to longevity is simpler than we think? What if we look to other countries who invest government dollars to keeping their agriculture system pure so the people of that nation can live healthy, happy, long lives? What if we look within our own selves for the solution? What if utilizing the plethora of resources we have, WE find the answers?

In order for the body to heal, we must take things out of …..not overload it with more supplements and chemicals. This is going to take time. We need to have patience and persistence to preserve our sacred bodies.

Let’s take it down to the basics……the ingredients. Here are five of the most commonly used chemicals in our foods.

1. Artificial Sweeteners. Known under the brand name Equal/Nutrasweet. 

In 1965, James Schlatter, a chemist for G.D. Searle, was developing an anti-ulcer drug when he accidentally stumbled upon aspartame. Made up of aspartic acid (40%), phenylalanine (50%) and methanol (10%), aspartame is 200 times sweeter than natural sugar.

Causes:

a. “Holes” in the brains of mice by causing release of carcinogens, oxidants and free radicals,

b. Decreases serotonin levels leading to depression, schizophrenia, and seizures.

c. Increases formaldehyde concentrations which causes retinal detachment, birth defects and mutated DNA replication.

Found in: diet or sugar-free sodas, jello (and other gelatins), desserts, sugar-free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, table top sweeteners, cereal, breath mints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste.

 

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup

HFCS is a highly-refined artificial sweetener and the #1 source of unwanted calories and obesity in the US. An in depth article written by  Dr. Mark Hyman refers to  research done by Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the dangers of sugar-sweetened drinks. An explanation by Dr. Hyman and Dr. Popkin are as follows, “In a review of HFCS in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, he (Dr.Popkin) explains the mechanism by which the free fructose may contribute to obesity. Dr. Popkin states that: ‘The digestion, absorption, and metabolism of fructose differ from those of glucose. Hepatic metabolism of fructose favors de novo lipogenesis (production of fat in the liver). In addition, unlike glucose, fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion or enhance leptin production. Because insulin and leptin act as key afferent signals in the regulation of food intake and body weight (to control appetite), this suggests that dietary fructose may contribute to increased energy intake and weight gain. Furthermore, calorically sweetened beverages may enhance caloric over-consumption.’ “

Causes:

a. Increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels

b. Development of diabetes and tissue damage

Found in: processed foods, bread, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, cereals

 

3. Monosodium Glutamate.

MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees. It is known as an excitotoxin, a substance which overexcites cells to the point of damage or death.

Causes:

a.     Depression disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity.

b.     Affects neurological pathways of the brain

c.     Disengages the “I’m full” function which explains the effects of weight gain.

Found in: Chinese food (Chinese Restaurant Syndrome),snacks, chips, cookies, seasonings, most Campbell Soup products, frozen dinners and lunch meats.

 

 

4. Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite

Sodium nitrate (or sodium nitrite) is used as a preservative, coloring, and flavoring in bacon, ham, hot dogs, lunch meats, corned beef, smoked fish and other processed meats. This ingredient is highly carcinogenic once it enters the human digestive system. It forms a variety of nitrosamine compounds and affects mainly the liver and pancreas. The USDA tried to ban this additive in the 1970’s but was vetoed by food manufacturers. This chemical turns meats bright red and acts as a color fixer so old, dead meats appear fresh and vibrant.

Causes:

a.     Constricts and hardens arteries leading to heart disease

b.     Disrupts insulin regulation leading to diabetes

Found in: hotdogs, bacon, ham, lunch meat, cured meats, corned beef, smoked fish or any other type of processed meat.

 

5.  Common Food Dyes
Present as artificial colorings in processed food. Shown to contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ.

Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)
Banned in Norway, Finland, and France. Causes chromosomal damage.
Found in: candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods.

Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)
Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate. On the market until supplies run out. Causes thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals and interferes with brain-nerve transmission.
Found in: fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products.

Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)
Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals. Causes chromosomal damage.
Found in: American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade.

During my research for this article, I was admittedly shocked and dumbfounded at the DEGREE of damage these few chemicals appear to cause. There are many more I came across that caused similar reactions. Appalling!  My intention for this article was not to instill fear, but rather to increase awareness of an issue I think most of us unknowingly deny. These manufacturers have done a great job in luring us into the sultry art of eating by altering everything in our human body that was once our purest essence.

Our job, TOGETHER, is to find our way back to that awesomeness which we innately hold. Together we become educated. Together we fight against toxins that have polluted our blood stream. Together we find the way out of this maze of confusion. Together we simplify what we put into our bodies. And together we heal the essence of that which is us…..the glorious human body that only wants to protect , nurture and heal us so that we may live the best life possible.

The best place to start is by being educated!!  Read those labels!

(Source: Dr. Joseph Mercola; Dr. Mark Hyman)

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Gluten Free – The Latest Fad or The Next Real Thing?

gluten freeTo be or not to be……gluten-free? Ahhhhh…….that’s the million dollar question. Does being gluten free really offer the extended health benefits that science claims to offer or is it just another peg on the board of healthy eating?

I have written previously about peeling back the layers of understanding leaky gut syndrome. While this concept is still in its infancy, the research appears to have solid validity. Let’s go one step further and isolate specific microscopic causes that contribute to forming the hole in the ozone of our gut.

First, we must understand what gluten is. Many of the references here are from the research of Dr. William Davis, one of my favorite writers and author of Wheat Belly.

What is gluten?

“Gluten is a complex two-part protein found in wheat with virtually identical structures and amino acid sequences of the protein also found in rye and barley. Each gluten molecule comes in two parts: a larger, polymeric glutenin molecule that confers the stretchiness, or viscoelasticity, of wheat dough, and gliadin, a smaller protein. Both glutenin and gliadin share overlapping sequences also, but it’s the gliadin that is the source of most of the health issues associated with wheat, and thereby rye and barley. Note that the gliadin protein of wheat also resembles the zein protein of corn and, to a lesser degree, the avenin protein of oats, which therefore share some of the same effects, including activation of the immune system. While there is no gluten or gliadin in corn and oats, they have related proteins that have similar effects.” –Dr.William Davis

Although gluten is primarily in wheat, similar chemical properties are seen in oat, barley, rye and most recently discovered in corn. Remember the days of our grandmother’s homemade biscuits, pies, cookies? We devoured them without even giving it a second thought.

Why is gluten now being linked to a host of symptoms and diseases?

Remember, gluten is a PROTEIN, not an actual ingredient. It serves as a binder that prolongs shelf life and helps maintain the product’s shape. With the genetic modification of gluten, the human system is unable to process and breakdown the products as nature intended. This results in an explosion of inflammation within the cell walls. These inflammatory markers then leak into other areas causing cellular and hormonal disruption. It is this disruption that causes our symptoms.

What are symptoms of gluten sensitivity?

  1. Rash/Itching
  2. Weight gain
  3. Fatigue
  4. Worsening PMS
  5. Acne
  6. GI issues
  7. Muscle/Joint pain
  8. Hair loss
  9. Difficulty sleeping
  10. Mental confusion/Depression/Decreased concentration

This is only a partial list of potential symptoms. Inflammation is not discretionary. It hits in all corners of the human body.

What can gluten consumption cause?

  1. Leaky gut. The gap between the intestinal cell junctions allows foreign proteins to spill into the bloodstream. The body looks at this debris as foreign and begins to attack. This is how autoimmune conditions begin. This is why wheat, rye, barley and corn are associated with Type 1 Diabetes, Hashimoto’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  2. Mood changes. The unique amino acid sequences of these peptides act asopiates on the human brain. Opioids activate hunger, increase calorie intake, cause mental fogginess, anxiety, anger, food obsessions, mania and decreases attention span.
  3. Allergies. Just as pollen, grass, mold triggers a histamine response, the allergen component of gluten and its by-products triggers the same histamine release leading to itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, congestion, rash.
  4. Increased risk for Celiac Disease. “There is a 33-amino acid long sequence within gliadin that is most powerfully associated with triggering celiac disease. One gene, in particular, coding for this amino acid sequence, Glia-alpha9, was uncommon in the wheat of 1950, but is common in modern semidwarf strains of wheat, explaining why there has been a 400% increase in celiac disease over the last 50 years.” –Dr.William Davis

The science is unarguable! The manipulation and modification of our crops since the 1950’s correlates directly to the increasing symptoms and health ailments entering our lives. It is imperative to understand gluten is only ONE such contributor. Researchers continue to isolate others causes.

Until then, what do we do? Do we go completely gluten free? Is gluten free better than not? Will I lose weight if I am gluten free?

Ideally, is it better to be fully gluten free? Yes. Is it practical? No. So where to start? Begin by cutting down the most obvious sources of gluten, (ie. bread, pastas, baked goods etc.) Gluten is hidden under many different titles. Labels will not list gluten as an ingredient because it is not an ingredient, it is a protein. It is important to learn what ingredients do contain gluten. (I highly recommend reading Wheat Belly.)

Be sure to keep a detailed food journal and make note of any subtle changes you may be feeling. Your body takes a minimum of two months to begin responding to any changes made. Don’t expect to lose weight right away or burst through the doors with untapped energy. Or for that matter, you may not see any difference at all. Don’t lose hope and don’t under estimate what is happening on a cellular level.

Eating “gluten free” products is NOT any better than the real stuff. A gluten free cookie is STILL a cookie. If you wouldn’t eat it before, then you shouldn’t eat it just because it is gluten free.

Keep expectations out of the equation. No matter what you see or don’t see on the surface, below ground, you are doing your body good! Above all, be gentle with yourself. It has taken us six decades to create this mess. We have to begin to dig ourselves out with the shovel of knowledge and a bucket of patience.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health,  CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest.

Why Great Hair, Skin & Nails Comes From A Balanced Endocrine System First

Hair, Skin & NailsThe quest for great hair, skin and nails seems a lot more difficult to achieve in the winter months. Dry itchy skin, brittle fly-away whispys, chipped nails – sound familiar? The tell tale signs of winter are in the air! Understanding why colder temps affect our skin can go a long way to help remedy the problem areas, but it is important to understand the role a balanced endocrine system plays as well.

Inflammation is the single most important contributor that affects our skin, hair and nails due to the stimulation of free radicals, which accelerates aging by attaching to and damaging cells. In addition, studies have shown that there is a connection between sugar and inflammation in the body.

The main hormones that play a direct role in contributing to the decline from inflammation include:

  1. Estrogen
  2. Progesterone
  3. Testosterone
  4. Thyroid
  5. Cortisol

I have written in the past about how these hormones become imbalanced, which leads to external changes we see. But for this month, I would like to focus specifically on how colder temperatures become a factor.

As we have understood, the fundamental rudimentary cause for the external changes we see is due to hormonal imbalances. The same carries true during winter months.

The longer, darker days lowers our Vitamin D levels. The waxing and waning of the temperatures directly impacts our thyroid levels. Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone levels ebb and flow to try and keep the body in balance. This endless cycle causes a rise in cortisol, therefore triggering an inflammatory response which leads to cellular inflammation, disruption and malfunction.

Other contributing factors include:

  1. Drier air from vents
  2. Poor hydration
  3. Increase in consumption of comfort foods (mainly sugar)
  4. Lack of exercise
  5. Prolonged hot showers/baths
  6. Irregular sleep patterns

Until Spring can shine upon us, here are some simple tips to help :

  1. Increase hydration. It is vital to keep the body hydrated with at least 90 oz/water/day. Without the essence of water, cellular healing cannot begin.
  2. Humidifier. Worth the investment. Having one by the bedside and in rooms that are frequently occupied helps prevent skin dry out.
  3. Limit hot showers/baths. Skin that is immersed for prolonged periods of time in hot water strips the natural oils causing hair and skin to become dry. It does feel great to stay for extended time in that warmth, but that causes more harm that good. Limit showers to 7 minutes at most.
  4. Coconut oil/butter. Nothing like solid saturated fats to hydrate the skin. Apply to hair and skin and allow it to soak for 45 minutes to an hour and shower afterwards. Or leave it on overnight for better absorption.
  5. Limit sugar intake. This is not specific to winter only! Refined sugar causes insulin levels to spike thereby leading to inflammation. Be mindful of this hidden culprit.

These are very simple, yet effective means to help control and possibly prevent winter skin ailments.

As the saying goes, we can’t stop the clock. Spring will be here before we know it as soon as we get through the craziness of St. Louis winter swings!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health,  CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest.