Posts Tagged ‘depression’

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.

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.

The Root Causes of Cravings – And What To Do About Them

Root Causes of CravingsMerriam-Webster’s dictionary defines cravings as, “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing.” We know that feeling all too well. Salivating at the commercials that lure us inside those restaurant doors, whiffs of free samples handed by sweet little ladies in the grocery aisle, or my personal favorite –  the buy one get one free trick.

It seems whichever direction we turn, we cannot get away from the altered nutrition we call food. No wonder it is so hard to stay healthy. But it doesn’t have to be! Before going head to head with these temptations, it is first important to understand the root causes of cravings, and then we will discuss solutions.

While the reasons are many, here are few explanations that may shed light on the mysteries of our palate and what you can do to help curb those temptations.

  1. Conditioning: Much like the analogy of Pavlov’s response to a bell, we too have been conditioned to associate certain foods to environmental triggers. How many times have you sat down at home to watch a movie and had a sudden craving for popcorn? How about at the ballgame where you hear the pretzel and hot dog calling your name? Or when the summer carnival days has you longing for the cotton candy and funnel cakes? We, as consumers, absorb the silent suggestions of marketers. We subconsciously create a link between their product and our environmental familiarity.

    Solution: When we become aware of our thoughts, we begin to question whether we truly want to indulge or if it is just a Pavlov’s response to a past experience.

  1. Stress: Under the umbrella of stress includes emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual triggers. Stressors cause a disruption in the adrenal glands which elevates cortisol. Surges of cortisol signal that an attack is occurring on your body. As a defense mechanism, the body searches for sources of fuel that can be broken down easily and quickly. Hence, under stress we crave sugar and salt.

    Solution: Get help. Deal with the stress head on. Don’t try to resist and fight the cravings. It is there for a reason. The cravings aren’t the issue. Whatever is causing the stress is the issue. See your doctor, therapist, spiritual confidant or a friend.

  1. Leaky Gut: It always appears to come back to the gut, doesn’t it? This has been a recurring theme in multiple, if not in all, health conditions. The gut is a source of serotonin production – our feel good hormones. In a weakened GI tract, there is decreased serotonin release leading to an increased cravings for processed foods

    Solution: Heal the gut. Begin by going on a 21 day gluten, soy, dairy, grain and sugar elimination. Our taste buds have memory. It takes 21 days to reset the palate. This is not a diet or calorie deprivation technique. This is simply to take out what shouldn’t be there in the first place.

  1. Leptin resistance: Leptin is a hormone produced in fat cells. Its primary role is to stimulate appetite and signal fullness. An increase in body fat and a diet high in sugar triggers an overflow of leptin release. This causes the brain to feel hungry even when it is not. The continuous cycle of leptin production eventually leads to leptin resistance. It is this resistance and the breakdown of communication within our system that causes insatiable cravings.

    Solution: Limit processed foods. Even decreasing by 10% has significant healing on the body.

  2. Dehydration: Even a 1.5% drop in water can be felt in the body. According to Dr. John Higgins, M.D., Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine University of Texas in Houston and Chief of Cardiology at Lyndon B. Johnson General hospital, “Dehydration can make it difficult for the liver, which uses water, to release glycogen. That can lead to food cravings.” Dehydration also interferes with brain levels of serotonin.

    Solution: Divide your weight by 2 and that is the number of ounces of water needed per day.

I am a firm believer that we must enjoy the indulgences life offers, but moderation is key! Containing cravings has less to do with weight and more to do with living. When you heal, you live. When you live, you awaken. And when you awaken, health and happiness is all you will ever know.

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.

Ways to Effectively Manage Holiday Stress Without Medication

manage holiday stressIt’s that time of year again; that whirlwind holiday season of parties, baking, and gift-giving. While this season is supposed to be about love and family, it is also the cause of stress for many people. More than 80% of people find the holidays to be a very stressful time, but what what are some ways to manage holiday stress without resorting to medication?

What is the Cause of Holiday Stress?

Doing too much can be part of the problem. The problem with holidays is that it can be too much of a good thing. Too much stress can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health. Too many fun activities can leave us feeling crazed rather than content.

An overload of parties and gift-giving can lead you to eat, drink, and be merry just a little too much. It’s tempting to overspend on gifts, eat rich desserts, or drink too much alcohol. If you do, you are left to deal with the consequences. In these tough financial times, finding less expensive gifts can be a stress trigger all on its own. Holiday debt is a stressor that can linger long after the season is over.

Too much togetherness can also be a stressor. Sure, you love to see your family and catch up, but too much of being together can make it hard for family members to keep a healthy balance between togetherness and alone time. This can bring more dread than cheer. On the other hand, maybe you don’t get to see enough of your family. Loneliness can be just as stress full, if not more.

So how can you get through this time of year and still keep the holiday cheer?

Yoga for Reducing Holiday Stress

Try a standing side stretch to open yourself up to calm feelings. Holding an open posture for two minutes can lower stress hormones and increases testosterone that can induce confidence.

You can breathe your way to calm control. Deep diaphragmatic breathing turns on your parasympathetic nervous system and blocks your body’s production of stress hormones and stimulate the feel-good hormones.

Raise your feet above your heart. It only takes 30-60 seconds to take the pressure off of your tired legs. It also improves circulation and helps to decrease swelling.

Yoga has been proven to raise endorphins, lower cortisol and balance thyroid. So why not try taking your stressors to the mat?

Stress Relieving Foods

Peppermint is a stress reliever because it contains manganese, iron, magnesium, calcium, folate, potassium, and copper. It also has omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C and Vitamin A. You can make a soothing peppermint tea, add peppermint leaves to your salad, or put some in your hot cocoa.

Broccoli is full of stress-relieving B vitamins. It also contains folic acid that helps to relieve stress, anxiety, panic, and depression. Broccoli, asparagus, kale, and other dark green vegetables have vitamins the help replenish your body during stressful times. Those with thyroid issues should be mindful of consuming smaller amounts so as to not trigger a thyroid relapse.

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein and omega-3’s. Omega-3’s help to protect against high blood pressure and improve mood. They also contain glutamate, which is used by your body to make gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA is an anti-stress brain chemical that helps reduce anxiety.

Almonds are great relievers of stress. They are packed full of vitamin B2, vitamin E, and zinc. Vitamin B helps in the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood and relieve stress. Zinc has been shown to fight negative effects of tress. Vitamin E in an antioxidant that gets rid of free radicals related to stress.

Don’t let the stress of this holiday season effect your health and well-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.

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.

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.