Posts Tagged ‘aging’

Artificial Sweeteners – Not the Lesser Of Two Evils

artificial sweetenersThere is no way around it. We love our sugar fix. Americans on average consume 20 tsp of sugar a day. A 12 ounce can of regular soda holds 39 gm of sugar, that’s 10-12 tsp of pure toxins. So do artificial sweeteners offer another healthier option?

Artificial sweeteners are often times called “intense sweeteners” because they are often sweeter than natural sugar.

The FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners:

  • Acesulfame potassium (Sunett)
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • D-Tagatose (Sugaree)
  • Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low)

These chemicals are found not only in carbonated beverages, but also in baked goods, canned products, candy, powdered mixes, sports drinks, jams and jellies.

Another sweetener, stevia, an herbal sweetening ingredient used in food and beverages by South American natives for many centuries and in Japan since the mid-1970s. According to Ray Sahelian, MD, author of The Stevia Cookbook, “There are no indications at this point from any source that stevia has shown toxicity in humans. Although further research is warranted.”

Because stevia is not FDA-approved, it can only be sold as a dietary supplement and not an artificial sweetener.

Although sweeteners have zero calories compared to their counterpart sugar, they are not the easy go to answer for reducing calories.

According to Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity and weight-loss specialist at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, “non-nutritive sweeteners are far more potent than table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. A miniscule amount produces a sweet taste comparable to that of sugar, without comparable calories. Overstimulation of sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners may limit tolerance for more complex tastes.”

A San Antonio Heart Study showed those who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese as people who didn’t drink diet soda.

To further that point, animal studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be addictive. In studies of rats who were exposed to cocaine, then given a choice between intravenous cocaine or oral saccharine, most chose saccharin.

According to an article from health.harvard.edu, the results from a Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis proved daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

“Sugar-containing foods in their natural form, whole fruit, for example, tend to be highly nutritious—nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and low in glycemic load. On the other hand, refined, concentrated sugar consumed in large amounts rapidly increases blood glucose and insulin levels, increases triglycerides, inflammatory mediators and oxygen radicals, and with them, the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses,” Dr. Ludwig explains.

There doesn’t need to be compelling evidence or research to convince us that by putting unnatural chemicals any good can come of it. With the urge to satisfy our palate, toxins are leeching into the foundation of our ecosystem destroying the very purpose of healthy existence.

Stop the sugar cravings by stopping what is causing them in the first place: sugar and sugar substitutes!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.

 

Have You Seen My Metabolism Anywhere?

metabolismWe all know it is coming. We fight it tooth and nail. We don’t give into the relentless annoyance of it. But yet, somehow it always seems to have the upper hand. And by “it”,  I mean your metabolism or lack thereof.

How is it that three little numbers makes us lose so much sleep?

Before starting yet another dieting spree, let’s take a step back and understand what metabolism is and how it changes through the aging process. If we don’t understand it, we can’t change it.

Metabolism is a “series of chemical reactions that sustain the living state of organisms and cells.” Metabolism can slow one to two percent each year after the age of 30.

Nutrition is the KEY to metabolism! Carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals and vitamins comprise the majority of fuel needed to keep metabolism operational.

Let’s take a brief look at how each one plays a role.

  1. Carbohydrates: This includes starch, sugar and fiber. When eaten in moderation, carbohydrates are broken down to fuel metabolism.
  2. Protein: Proteins are the main tissue builders in the body. They are part of every cell in the body. Proteins help in cell structure and function. They are also vital in supplying nitrogen for DNA and RNA genetic material and energy production.
  3. Fats: Fats produce twice as much energy as either carbohydrates or protein. They help form the cellular structure, help absorb fat soluble vitamins and provide a reserve storage for energy.
  4. Minerals and vitamins: Minerals do not play a direct role in energy needs but play an important role in metabolism. Vitamins are essential compounds that the body doesn’t produce and therefore relies up nutritional intake.

What are some other potential causes of a slowed metabolism?

  • Hypothyroidism and other endocrine issues
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Chronic stress
  • Exogenous hormone intake
  • Hormonal imbalance (low estrogen and testosterone)
  • Medication side effects
  • Excess supplement intake
  • Excess fat intake
  • Calorie deprivation
  • Low muscle mass

The good news is that there are ways to naturally increase our metabolism. But first understand something. Chasing after a “goal” weight or “ideal” size is unrealistic and can lead to frustration and disappointment. The scale doesn’t take in to account skeletal density, muscle mass or fat reserves. It only tells you an absolute number, a number which is false and misleading.

Don’t panic yet. We are not doomed forever. Here are some simple ways (many of which we have seen before) to raise your metabolism.

  1. Assessing the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). The Resting Metabolic Rate test (RMR) determines the amount of calories your body is using at rest. The results of a Resting Metabolic Rate test can tell if you have an increased or decreased metabolism, and if your body primarily uses fats or carbohydrates for energy. This information can be used to determine the amount of calories you need to eat each day to maintain or lose weight. The testing is done by breathing into a mask that measures your Oxygen –Carbon Dioxide exchange.
  2. Increase muscle mass. Strength training three to four times a week is mandatory when trying to increase metabolism. Developing and maintaining muscle mass allows the RPR to increase. Every pound of muscle uses approximately six calories a day to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only two calories daily.
  3. Eat. Calorie deprivation causes the body to go into crisis mode. As a preservation mechanism, the body slows down its metabolic response by storing fat and calories. Adding protein to every meal allows a constant release of glucose and maintains insulin regulation.
  4. Drink up. Dehydration is the killer when it comes to a slow metabolism. Calories need water to process. Even small levels of dehydration can cause  a slowing of the RPR.  Try for a goal of 90oz/day. If you struggle to get down your daily water quota, consuming fresh fruits that contain natural water is a great alternative.
  5. Sleep. Think of sleep like pulling into the gas station. We have to bring the car to a complete stop before we can fuel up. Just the same, sleep forces us to stop so that the body may refuel. If we compromise on sleep, we wake up on an empty tank of gas and expected to go the same distance as if the tank was full. Not possible. To sustain life, the body saves energy by decreasing metabolism.
  6. Question your medications and supplements. Just because it doesn’t say it on the package insert doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Assume everything going into your mouth is the cause until you proven otherwise. See what lifestyle changes you can make that could help you get off of prescription drugs.
  7. Maintain zero expectations. Our body will never be how it was in our 20’s and 30’s. So how can we expect it to respond in the same manner? Don’t be disappointed because you lost “only three pounds”. Be happy you didn’t gain three pounds. Body fat percentage, changes in clothing fit, how you feel is the REAL goal.

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by looking for a solution under every advertisement. In the US, the weight loss market is a billion dollar industry! If these companies claim to have the answer, then how come we are still the most overweight nation? These are empty promises. The diet pills, the latest calorie restricted programs that leave you emaciated and crabby, the guaranteed “to lose 20# in 20 days” nonsense.  THEY DON’T WORK.  Don’t waste your money. Our parents and grandparents didn’t seem to struggle as we are now. So how come it is the topic of almost every conversation? What was once a simple seamless process of aging has now become a race against who can promise the fastest results.

If we stop for a second and reflect, in every moment of life our bodies are in constant conversation with us. The symptoms we experience are the body’s attempt to get our attention. A slowed metabolism isn’t something to become consumed by.  It is an opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle. Rather than trying to “fix” it, listen to what it has to say.

There is no fast way to lose weight. Let me repeat….there is no fast way to lose weight. Dropping weight faster than the body can handle is a sure fire way to crash the metabolism to an all-time low.

Be gentle and patient with yourself. No matter what the scale says, you will always be worth more than those three little numbers.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.

 

Why Am I So Tired? The Truth Behind an Improperly Functioning Thyroid

There are so many articles out there about an improperly functioning thyroid, it is hard to know where to begin! Let’s start at the top. How many of these symptoms describe you?Improperly Functioning Thyroid

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Depression
  • Rapid hair graying
  • Decreased libido
  • And too many other “little issues attributed to aging”

These little issues could be caused by a small gland with some big responsibilities. That gland is your thyroid.

The thyroid gland produces and stores hormones through an integral and complex pathway that is directly linked to your hormones and adrenals. The thyroid plays a part in EVERYTHING AND EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY. It is butterfly-shaped and is found in the lower part of the neck, wrapped around the trachea.

Hypothyroidism: A Common Condition, But Frequently Misdiagnosed

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the body, for various reasons, doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone or is unable to utilize the thyroid at a cellular level. No matter what the cause, this diagnosis has debilitating and frustrating consequences.

Being diagnosed with hypothyroid myself in 2002, I have spent the last 13 years researching, studying,
and understanding the complexity of this “little gland.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 4.6 percent of the U.S. population (approximately 18 million people) age 12 and older has hypothyroidism. As prevalent as hypothyroidism is, most people are not correctly diagnosed when they first present symptoms to their doctors because there is not a standard interpretation criteria for screening tests—meaning that one doctor may think a slight dip below the normal range is acceptable while others would argue otherwise.

Your thyroid can be affected if your adrenals are not balanced or if your hormones are constantly fluctuating. Due to the minute-to-minute variability of ALL the hormones in your body, patients are often under-diagnosed.

A single thyroid level test is insufficient to make the determination of hypothyroidism.

Many other thyroid levels also need to be checked. These could include TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody, Thyroglobulin Antibody, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin D, Hormones and Cortisol.

A patient who self-educates and self-advocates is in the best position to work collaboratively with his or her doctor to determine the best course of treatment for the symptoms and diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Self-advocacy is much easier when you choose a doctor who has experience in recognizing the symptoms of hypothyroidism as well as other hormonal conditions such as diabetes and adrenal gland issues.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

Once hypothyroidism is diagnosed, there are many treatment options that need to be considered. Synthetic thyroid (Synthroid or Levoxyl) medication is not the only option. There are T3-only medications such as Cytomel or combination of T4 and T3 medications such as Armour Thyroid or Nature Thyroid. Patients even have the option of having their thyroid medication compounded with an accredited compounding pharmacy.

Hypothyroidism is not a cookie-cutter diagnosis and neither should be the treatment.

It is extremely important to work closely with your physician to monitor symptoms and continue to regularly check your thyroid levels.

The discussion of thyroid disease is more extensive than I can capture in a single blog post. In my 15 years of practicing primary care, I have diagnosed and corrected misdiagnoses of many patients with hypothyroidism. I understand and have experienced every symptom you may be having. I know the frustrations, I understand the suffering and I continue to live with this diagnosis everyday.

If you are suffering from any symptoms that are interfering with your life, Please contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.

6 Tips For Healthy Zen Living

healthy zen livingYou know the saying “prevention is better than cure”? Well, in this month’s blog, we will be discussing prevention from a whole new perspective: it’s called healthy zen living. It will take us to a level that is so deep, that healing can only be understood by experiencing the change.

As I took advantage of these beautiful spring days, I planted myself under the majesty of the beautiful “Great Oak”. When I gazed upwards, I noticed the ease with which the branches flowed to protect me against the fury of the sun’s rays. The leaves were so content in their simplicity that they happily danced to the occasional breeze that would sweep in. I wondered just how content and healthy they must be feeling. With a little love, light and hydration, they live a life free from disease and suffering. It was then I began to question, since we are all made up of the same divine cells, shouldn’t we be able to live a healthy disease free life also?

Yes!! While we can’t prevent 100% of ailments, we can do everything in our understanding to TRY and prevent 100% of the diseases that quite possibly could come our way. I took a step back and began to reflect on my own journey. A journey that has taken me from illness to healing.  From confusion to clarity. From desperation to resolution. Could I have done something more to prevent my conditions? Should I have given up processed foods sooner? Or lifted heavier weights more often ? Or limited myself to one episode of ‘Friends’ instead of three before bedtime? Or surrendered what I couldn’t control?

The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter. All the choices I have made have taught me more than the decades spent in education. I have come to believe with a 100% certainty that the years I spent worrying about things that ultimately wouldn’t have mattered left the door open for cellular mutations to occur, not realizing my body was going through hormonal disruption, chemical depletion, and ultimate cellular catastrophe. As I was working so hard on following all the nationally accredited health guidelines, little did I know all the sleepless nights I spent worrying about the future were counteracting all the “good” I was doing during the day.

In 2016, I began my journey into the world of energy healing. I devoured books on quantum physics, chakra balance, the healing properties of crystals, nutritional science, reiki practice, vibrational music therapy. The more I read, the more I craved.  Now keep in mind, I am a person of science. I needed proof, facts, case studies and data to convince me this stuff could really help in physical healing. Much to my surprise, most all of the books I read were backed by documented research studies, many of which were written by highly acclaimed and respected practicing physicians. With some reservations, I decided to trust the process and begin using these practices in my own healing.  A few months after I began, I was humbled to see how much my body began to respond to energy balance. My thyroid stabilized after 16 years.  The severity of my food sensitivities decreased after four years. The exhaustion, I attributed to everything and anything, started to lift. I am by no means an expert (but hope to be one day)  in this field, but what little I have learned excites me to pay it forward.

Here are a few energy healing tips: (Please consult your physician before trying these)

  1. Himalayan salt lamp. True Himalayan salt lamps are made from salt harvested from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. Although there is no conclusive studies on the benefits of the Himalayan salt lamp, it’s suggested that they may produce ions by attracting water particles that evaporate off as a salt solution when heated by the lamp, forming mostly negative ions. These negative ions have been theorized to aide in healing. More research is still needed.
  1. Reiki. According to Reiki.org“ Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.”

  2. Brain tapping. Based on information from tappingsolutionfoundation.org“The basic technique requires you to focus on the negative emotion at hand: a fear or anxiety, a bad memory, an unresolved problem, or anything that’s bothering you. While maintaining your mental focus on this issue, use your fingertips to tap 5-7 times each on 9 of the body’s meridian points. Tapping on these meridian points – while concentrating on accepting and resolving the negative emotion – will access your body’s energy, restoring it to a balanced state.”

    Freedom Techniques (EFT) lowered the major stress hormone cortisol significantly more than other interventions tested. In a randomized controlled trial 83 subjects were randomly assigned to a single hour-long session of EFT, talk therapy, or rest. Their cortisol levels were measured via a saliva test before and after the session. Cortisol was measured because it is known as the “stress hormone” of the body. As stress goes up, cortisol levels go up.

  1. Meditation. Meditation can be defined as, “a practice where an individual uses a technique, such as focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.”  Most think of meditation as sitting in stillness for hours at a time. If you are anything like me, I am unlikely to make it past 3 minutes. Through my healing, I truly learned that meditation is anything that brings you peace of mind, even if that thing is not being in one place. For me, running, dancing and playing instruments is my happy place. You try to get me to sit still, and I can tell you my cortisol will increase ten-fold. What’s your go to meditation practice?
  1. Nutritional eating. Food is fuel. Food is also earth’s natural medicine. We have talked extensively in previous blogs about the overwhelming contamination of our food source. The manipulation that goes into our crops has made us vulnerable to a weakened immune system. By becoming educated on the origins of our food, we understand how massive of a role nutrition plays in our healing.
  1. Chakra balance. Without going into too much detail here, chakra balancing is the process of restoring a harmonious flow of energy across the chakra system. The effect of well balanced chakras often translates into a feeling of well-being, relaxation, centeredness, increased vitality and embodiment of oneself. There are many online resources that describe what the chakras are, how they play a role in healing and what you can do to realign yourself.

I realize this article has veered away from the confines of conventional medical healing. But there are many facets of the human body that the eye cannot see. I truly do believe that a blend of eastern and western medicine is a powerful formula to ultimate health.

We must simply trust the process and allow healing to go into the crevices of the unknown. Because it is in this space of uncertainty, completeness lies.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.

Perimenopause To Menopause: Important Things to Know

Perimenopause To MenopauseThe human body changes over time, both externally and internally. Hormones are one of the body’s great regulators and both men and women experience hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives.

For women, the transition through perimenopause to menopause is a time of major hormonal fluctuation. The phases are often confused with each other, but true menopause is when a woman has not menstruated for a full year. Perimenopause is the phase leading to menopause and lasts an average of four years, although it can range from a few months to 10 years. A woman’s body typically begins to start the perimenopause process at age 35.

Perimenopause

Perimenopause usually begins between the age of 35 and 50 when the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen. The imbalance of estrogen and progesterone often results in missed periods as well as side effects like hot flashes (the most common side effect of perimenopause), fatigue or low energy, difficulty sleeping, decreased libido and what some women call “PMS plus” —instances when pre-menstrual side effects worsen.

Like many transitions, perimenopause can be physically and emotionally challenging. There is no quick fix for troublesome side effects but many women find relief in lifestyle changes that improve overall health, including:

  • Adding moderate exercise to your daily schedule
  • Improving nutrition
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol
  • Reducing stress
  • Increasing water intake
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and bioidentical hormone therapy (BHT) provide side effect relief for some women. These therapies help balance hormone levels that vary throughout perimenopause. However, using hormones to control symptoms are NOT mandatory. The first question to ask is, “how much do my symptoms affect my daily life?” And if the answer is not at all, then no hormones are needed at that time. The fluctuations of the hormones are like the waves of the oceans. Symptoms are variable depending on lifestyle habits, stress during that particular period in your life, weight loss or weight gain, climate and weather changes and Mother Nature.

Menopause

Even though menopause is the official ending of your menstrual periods, the hormone fluctuations that created side effects during perimenopause are still occurring, meaning that some perimenopause symptoms may remain (or return) and new side effects could appear during menopause.

Once women reach menopause they are at greater risk for developing osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones. The post-menopausal drop in estrogen is directly related to loss of bone mass. Because there are no symptoms of bone loss, it’s often only after a bone-related injury that the presence of osteoporosis is discovered. Bone mineral density tests (BMD) are x-rays that measure bone density. Screening should begin if you have any of the following risk factors or at the cessation of the menstrual cycle. The following puts you at a higher risk of developing osteopenia or osteoporosis:

  • Advanced age
  • Your race – Caucasians and Asians have a higher prevalence of osteoporosis
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Body frame – people with petite frames can have a higher risk because they often have less bone mass to begin with.

Likewise, your doctor can offer osteoporosis treatment and prevention suggestions which may include:

  • Eating foods high in calcium
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplements
  • Bone density medications
  • Estrogen therapy
  • Exercise, especially weight bearing exercise
  • Medically Supervised Weight Management
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol

Health Care Options for Perimenopause and Menopause

Perhaps one of the most important things to know about perimenopause and menopause is that you aren’t alone. Approximately three million women transition to menopause every year and there are abundant health care options for both phases. Each woman will enter this phase in her life. During these transition years, remember that these symptoms are not forever. Your doctor can help get you through the storm, by teaching you to dance in the rain.

Certainly the scope of this topic is much more in depth and much more individualized than can be covered here. Knowing that the greatest years of your life don’t have to be the darkest days, lends hope for every woman to reclaim her body.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.

Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?

adrenal fatigueIt has been some time since I have talked about Adrenal Fatigue. As with anything in medicine, there is debate as to whether this is a real condition or a made up label for where there is no answer.

Before we can answer that question, it is important to understand the purpose of the adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands, also known as suprarenal glands, are small, triangular-shaped glands that rest on top of the kidneys. Their primary role is produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, and regulate an appropriate response to stress.

The specific hormones released by the adrenal glands include:

  • Cortisol – Cortisol helps control the body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It suppresses inflammation, regulates blood pressure, increases blood sugar and helps control our sleep patterns. Cortisol is released during times of stress to help in the flight or fight mode.

  • Aldosterone – Aldosterone regulates blood pressure by directly by affecting the sodium and potassium pump. Aldosterone sends signals to the kidneys that direct sodium into the bloodstream and release potassium out into the urine.

  • DHEA and Androgenic Steroids – These are precursor hormones that are converted in the ovaries into female hormones (estrogens) and in the testes into male hormones (androgens).
  • Epinephrine (Adrenaline) and Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline) – These hormones increase the heart rate and force of contractility of the heart muscles. This leads to an increase in blood flow to the muscles and brain. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are often activated in stressful situations when our body needs additional resources and energy to endure ongoing stressors.

So what does all of this mean?

Let’s simplify our understanding. Adrenal glands are needed to live. Period. It is our fuel tank. When we are born, the tank is full. Then, life happens that requires us to tap into those reserves. And when the demands out weigh the supply, a deficit occurs.

As we have understood from above, the hormones released from the adrenal glands are needed for overall survival. What happens when we run on empty? Fatigue sets in. Hormones are in chaos. The entire ecosystem of the human structure and function is in peril.

How do you know if you have this? Well, this is where we need to take a step back and really understand what our body is going through.

With the current lifestyle the world lives, I am sure we all have some degree of adrenal fatigue. Google the symptoms and I am sure most of us check off 90% of the list.

However, the difference between adrenal fatigue and adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s Disease) is that the latter is a TRUE diagnosable medical condition.

Those that suffer from Addison’s disease are unable to produce the hormones in adequate supply to maintain bodily function. The diagnosis is confirmed with laboratory testing. Every symptom must be watched and treated quickly and aggressively. Time is of the essence with Addison’s.

Conversely, adrenal fatigue doesn’t always have abnormal test results. This doesn’t mean that patients don’t have some diminish of hormone production. It just means that it is not as profound as in Addison’s.

I am sure you’re thinking that is great but how do I treat this so I can move on with my life?

When I first started learning and understanding about adrenal fatigue in 2007, I was sure the answer was replenishing with unproven garland of supplements. What I soon discovered was the supplements caused more issues than the fatigue itself. It didn’t make sense to treat one thing only for it to lead into another issue. Over the years, I have continuously asked myself how can we treat something we are not sure is a real entity? Whether the label is real or not, the symptoms are!

Ok. So we know it is real, but now what?

How about looking back through previous years and recognizing the habits that could have led to this?

  • How much processed foods did you consume?
  • How strict were you about your sleeping habits?
  • How active were you, really?
  • How much did you handle and resolve stress rather than sweeping them under the rug?
  • How many times did you make a choice you knew wasn’t right?
  • How many days did you neglect your “me time” thinking it was selfish?
  • How many times did you put yourself at the end of the priority list?

There is no judgement here. We have all been there. Hind sight is 20/20. But it is never too late to refuel, replenish and revive!

Try and begin with these five basic steps.

1.     Move at least 20 minutes a day.

2.     Stop all screens 1 hour before bedtime.

3.     Take a 5 second pause before acting on any choices you make.

4.     Move yourself up on the priority list.

5.     If it isn’t going to matter in one year, let it go.

This will take time. Keep expectations out of the equation. Work for a lifestyle change. Not for an immediate gain. It all starts with simplicity. Simply staying present. Simply starting. Simply observing. Simply being!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance.  For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT  our office today to schedule your appointment.  You can learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

5 Ways To Prevent Pre-Diabetes

prevent pre-diabetesComing off of the holiday sugar rush, this month’s blog couldn’t have come at a better time: 5 ways to prevent pre-diabetes. With discipline, determination and an understanding, pre-diabetes can be controlled effectively with diet and exercise alone.

The Mayo Clinic defines pre-diabetes as, “The blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be type 2 diabetes.”

The A1C test is a blood test that provides information about a person’s average levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over the past 3 months. The A1C test is based on the attachment of glucose to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.

  • An A1C level below 5.7 percent is considered normal
  • An A1C level between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes
  • An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates type 2 diabetes

Diet and exercise seems to be the go to answer for almost everything, right? When hitting the gym becomes a bore or tracking calories becomes a chore, it creates a slippery slope of frustration, discouragement and disappointment. How about making this time different by changing the way you look at health beyond the scope of calories in and calories out. Check out my five suggestions on how to prevent pre-diabetes.

  1. Become active in the community. Whether you join a book club, hiking group, or a cooking class, it doesn’t matter. Studies have shown when we are surrounded by happy people, we become happy. Being engaged in society provides a release of any stress you may be carrying from the burdens of daily life. When stress is controlled, cortisol maintains homeostasis. With normal cortisol levels, insulin regulation and glucose metabolism is optimal.
  1. Meditate. You don’t have to spend hours a day meditating. Quieting the mind for 5 minutes/day has shown to have dramatic effects on health. According to the July 10, 2017 issue of Time Magazine, “In a new study published in the journal Obesity, researchers from Penn State University randomly assigned 86 overweight or obese women to receive eight weekly sessions of either mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), taught by a professional instructor, or general health education, taught by a registered dietitian. The MBSR group learned how to use mindfulness techniques—like meditation and breath awareness—to respond to stress. The health education group learned about diet, exercise, obesity-related health issues and general stress management. The goal of these sessions was not to help people lose weight, but to reduce stress and stress-related health problems. In that sense, mindfulness worked better. After eight weeks of training and eight more weeks of home practice, perceived stress scores for women in the MBSR group had decreased 3.6 points from the start of the study on a 10-point scale, compared to only 1.3 points for women in the health education group. Both groups experienced improvements in mood, psychological distress, and sleep-related problems. But only the MBSR group saw a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels—both right after training was completed and when the women were retested eight weeks later.”
  1. Increase water intake. According to an article in The New York Times, being too dry releases a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin tells your kidneys to hold onto water and tells the liver to release stored blood sugar. So what is the optimal amount per day? The jury is still out on that. Most health care providers advise looking at the color of the urine. A light yellow urine indicates adequate hydration. Dark concentrated urine implies insufficient water intake. So just keep drinking until you can see through the pee.
  1. Team up. Partner up with your friends, co-workers, gym buddies and create a challenge for yourselves or join an upcoming race. Being together in a positive environment helps keep us on track. It creates a foundational support and a matrix of resources to keep us accountable. If you ever feel yourself falling off the path, grab your teammate for a hand up. This incredible network ensures a higher success rate and plus, let’s face it, it is fun to do things together. As long as the competition remains healthy and the support unconditional, hormones work together in the same joy as teammates. The result equals a healthy you and happy you.
  1. Take a road trip. Let me explain. It is fascinating to see how other people in another city, state or country live. When we get caught up in the monotony of routine life, our creative flow halts in front of our faces. We don’t know what to cook. We get bored of the same route to work. We lose the zest for experience. Getting a fresh perspective on new ways of living can stimulate excitement and help pull you out of a rut. Drive along a country road and talk to local farmers. Visit local restaurants and try out new variations to age old dishes. Peek in on ways other communities stay healthy. Link up with different people in various geographical locations via social media. The scope of learning is endless. Seeing the world through another’s eye reminds us that life is good and health is good and together, all will be ok.

I know this list deviates from “conventional medical advice”, but I feel we are bombarded with one study after another and one statistic followed by the next. The problems of our health only seem to be growing deeper. The United States continues to lead the way in obesity. We spend incomprehensible amounts of funding trying to control a disease process that we have created.

Now is our chance! Our chance to take it back to simpler solutions. Putting the simplicity back into a complex life is where healing and prevention will occur. Don’t go looking outside for more research to come your way, more supplements to find their way into your medicine chest, more guaranteed diets that deliver unrealistic results or more promising science to undo what has been done.

Go back to what you already know: that everything you need is already within you.

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 Much Sleep Should I Be Getting?

how much sleep should I be gettingA common question I get in my practice is “How much sleep should I be getting?” This is a very important question. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control called insufficient sleep a public epidemic. It is estimated that nearly half of all American adults get less than the minimum recommendation of seven hours of sleep per night. With that many people operating on inadequate sleep, fatigue is so common that it’s easy to overlook the serious nature of the issue. However, with insufficient sleep being cited for auto and industrial accidents and increasing a person’s risk of chronic disease, the case for getting enough sleep should be heard.

Sleep and Reaction Time

Sleep studies have consistently shown that “function” (identified by reaction time measured in a variety of tests) is almost 100 percent impacted by sleep. In fact, a NASA-funded study at the University of Pennsylvania showed that people who self-identify as being able to fully function on less sleep actually experienced more substantial delays in reaction time than people who self-identified as needing (and finding a way to get) eight to 10 hours of sleep per night.

While these reduced reaction time results on controlled tests are alarming, the reality is even worse. Lack of sleep by key personnel has been cited in nuclear power plant disasters, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger space shuttle explosion. Maybe your job doesn’t require intense focus, but a lack of sleep can impact the results of everyday activities just as drastically. Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. consider driving a car under the effect of extreme fatigue identical to driving while drunk.

Sleep Habits and Risks for Disease

Lack of sleep’s effect on overall health is also of great concern. Inadequate sleep is known to increase the risk for the following:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Colon cancer

There also seems to be a link between lack of sleep and a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Reduced testosterone levels have been measured in men who reported getting six hours of sleep per night or less.

Not getting enough sleep also negatively affects the immune system. That’s why a person might find oneself coming down with a cold or flu after an extended period of reduced sleep. Studies have shown that T-cell count (which is often used to measure immune system function) is relative to a person’s average amount of sleep. Likewise, there’s a reason your doctor recommends rest when you’re ill: fever response is better while we sleep.

Sleep deprivation can also lead to muscle loss and fat gain. With too little sleep, the body is also more likely to produce the stress-response hormone, cortisol. After sleep deprivation, subjects in several studies had higher levels of cortisol later in the day, a time when it should be tapering off to prepare the body for rest. Heightened cortisol prompts the body to store more fat and be more inclined to use other soft tissue, such as muscle, as energy which means that sleep-deprived dieters lose more muscle and gain more fat than do those who are well rested. One study found that after two weeks of minor calorie restriction (10 percent less than their daily energy expenditure), subjects who were getting 5.5 hours in bed a night lost just 0.6 kilogram of fat but 2.4 kilograms of other tissue, such as muscle. Subjects who got 8.5 hours slumber each night lost 1.4 kilograms of fat and 1.5 kilograms of other tissue. “Some of these metabolic effects occur pretty quickly,” Dr. Mehra – Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Oversleeping: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Just as not getting enough sleep is unhealthy, getting too much sleep isn’t a good thing either. There may be times (such as with illness or during periods of excess stress) when your body may feel an increased need for sleep, and this is normal. However, oversleeping on a regular basis should be watched carefully. Researchers acknowledge a strong association between frequent oversleeping and depression and/or other underlying health concerns like heart disease.

Sleep Recommendations

Children up to age 12 should aim for about 10 hours of sleep per night, teens should get 9-10 hours per night and adults should get 7-8 hours per night. Naps can occasionally supplement shortened overnight sleep, but sleep cycles depend on a specific chunk of time, so it’s still important to focus on getting a good night’s sleep.

Discuss Your Concerns with a Trusted Physician

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

Like many other conditions, sleep disorders affect each person differently and require a very personalized approach to care. For more information on healthy sleep habits, please contact us today or schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman.

Estrogen and Progesterone: Finding Balance As You Age

Hormone-Balance-1Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that play a significant role in women’s health. These two hormones are most commonly understood as they relate to menstrual cycles, but they affect so many other areas of wellbeing, especially as women age.

Both estrogen and progesterone are primarily produced by the ovaries. From adolescence until perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall related to a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Progesterone and Estrogen Changes During Perimenopause and Menopause

As a woman ages and enters perimenopause, both estrogen and progesterone levels change. In the early stages of perimenopause, progesterone production declines, resulting in estrogen dominance. During this time, many women feel they are in a constant state of pre-menstrual syndrome, experiencing:

  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Mood swings
  • Tender breasts

Estrogen production declines in the second phase of perimenopause. This drop in estrogen levels often results in symptoms such as:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Memory problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Migraines
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Vaginal dryness

Eventually, both estrogen and progesterone decline to very low levels and most symptoms are relieved, although some women continue to experience discomfort through menopause.

As estrogen and progesterone production decline, symptoms can range from easily manageable to negatively life-altering. Additional changes that result from the varying levels of estrogen and progesterone include:

  • Reduction in skin thickness and elasticity
  • Increased risk of heart attack due to increased rigidity of the blood vessels in the heart
  • Reduced calcium absorption leading to decreased bone density
  • Increased bladder infections

Although these lists of symptoms may sound daunting, having a sound relationship with your physician can make all the difference!

Healthy Aging IS Possible

Confusion and stress often accompany the wide variety of symptoms related to estrogen and progesterone imbalance. The inevitability of aging combined with limited information and treatment options add to a sense of frustration and helplessness. However, healthy aging is possible and women should not only survive this time of transition, but can actually thrive.

General recommendations regarding a healthy diet and adequate exercise are more important than ever as estrogen and progesterone production declines. Fresh, leafy greens, colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein support the body as it adjusts to new hormone levels. Additionally, regular weight-bearing exercise builds muscle to support aging bones, while cardiovascular workouts strengthen the heart and lungs and improve circulation.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and bioidentical hormone therapy are common treatments for the side effects of estrogen and progesterone decline. HRT is not without risks, however. A thorough health history review is necessary before beginning treatment and continual monitoring is required during treatment.

Vitamin and mineral supplements, topical estrogen, focused nutritional therapy and prescription medications have all been shown to support healthy aging and offer relief of symptoms related to estrogen and progesterone imbalances. The correct combination for each woman is best determined over time in collaboration with her doctor.

The concept of hormonal pathways, including thyroid and adrenals, has to be understood to seamlessly get through this transition phase. While the scope of menopause is much more extensive than this article allows for discussion, Dr.Raman teaches, counsels, and treats once each women has understood why she is experiencing the symptoms she is.

Dr. Raman is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. Patients at her Concierge Medical Practice may benefit from bioidentical hormone therapy and a medically supervised weight management program to help ease the symptoms associated with progesterone and estrogen changes.

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