Posts Tagged ‘healthy gut’

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.

How To Keep Your Liver Healthy

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

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

The liver serves in multiple roles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colon Cancer Screening – Don’t Put It Off

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

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

The colon is VITAL to maintaining homeostasis and overall balance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few simple ideas:

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

What is gluten?

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

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

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

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

What are symptoms of gluten sensitivity?

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

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

What can gluten consumption cause?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Fight Depression Alone

depressionDepression has been labeled “a hush hush” diagnosis. The stigma of being called “depressed” has somehow placed a Scarlet Letter on those affected. Everyone reading this understands at some point what it feels like to be down. Let me tell you, we have ALL been there, continue to be there, or will be there. There is nothing wrong in admitting that we can’t do it all. It doesn’t make us weak. It makes us that much stronger for having the courage to say what everyone else may be thinking. I have talked about the effects of hormonal imbalances in my previous blogs. This month, I would like to focus on breaking through the silent conversations of depression.

While depression is known to have genetic links, it does not mean we are destined to that fate. With the convoluted ways of our world and the minute to minute emotional roller coaster we face from our home life, work place or just by turning on the news, there is no doubt we have all been plagued on some spectrum of depressive symptoms.

So why am I writing on this topic? I am writing because it is time to start having REAL conversations on what is happening within our psyche.

While depression has earned its own DSM code, all depression is not treated equally. Each degree of symptoms is just as important as the other. It must be acknowledged and accepted so that healing may begin.

How does depression affect the physical body beyond the obvious?

“The most frequently occurring endocrine abnormality in depressed subjects is hyperactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Depression also affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-GH (HPGH) and -thyroid (HPT) axes. Alterations in the reproductive system may also play a role in the pathology of depression. In addition, there is increasing evidence that leptin and neurosteroids, such as DHEA, are implicated in mood disorders.” J Endocrinol Invest. 2005 Jan;28(1):89-99.

So what does this mean? Exactly what we think it means. When neurotransmitters are imbalanced or depleted, it drives cortisol into over production to compensate for the deficit. This puts an extra burden on the organ systems leading to the development of diseases we are too often familiar with.

What are causes of depressive symptoms?

  1. Hormonal imbalances
  2. Decreased levels of neurotransmitters
  3. Endocrine disorders (Hypothyroidism,Hyperthyroidism, Diabetes etc)
  4. Autoimmune disease (Thyroid, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus etc)
  5. Food or environmental allergies
  6. Environmental stressors or trauma
  7. Medication side effects

By no means is this a complete list, but it is evident most anything can cause symptoms.

How many of these sound familiar?

  • Physical pain
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Decreased concentration
  • Fleeting thoughts
  • Indecisiveness
  • Weight changes
  • GI disturbances
  • Sleep disturbances (too little or too much)
  • Increase in alcohol consumption
  • Spending increased time on social media or online (who would have thought?)
  • Not keeping up with grooming or hygiene

Don’t give up!! There are many ways to treat these symptoms and come out on top!

How can I get well?

  1. Therapists/Healers. They are your BEST and #1 resource. There is nothing like being able to sit in a room for an hour talking about yourself with someone listening to your every word. They are trained to listen and they are trained to help. No, they can’t change the situation, but they do know how to give objective insight and perspective. We all at some point should experience the awesomeness of seeing a therapist.
  1. Breathe. If we block oxygen from entering our cells, then nothing can heal, including our emotions. Pick your favorite breathing technique and start inhaling power and exhaling doubt.
  1. Stay present. Easier said than done, I know! Learn to control your mind from re- visiting the past or jumping to the future. Both are out of your control, so begin accepting the gift of the present.
  1. Mindful eating. YES, everything comes back to the GI tract! When we eat clean, the body stays clean. Don’t hoard toxins that only spin you further out of control. Hydrate – 90 oz water/day. Even if you have to force yourself to get the water down, it is worth it.
  1. Exercise. Moving the body has been proven to release endorphins that stimulate release of neurotransmitters. Higher levels of hormones means happy you. Move, move, move.
  1. Buddy up. Nothing like being in the company of friends whose energy can give you a boost. Relish and cherish the bonds of friendships. BFF’s are the best antidepressant in the world.
  1. Explore your creativity. Color, paint, write, choreograph a dance, compose music, cook, sew….whatever brings out the Martha Stewart in you, do it. Stimulating our creative forces causes increase blood flow to different parts of the brain thereby increasing levels of the neurotransmitters.
  1. Get a pet. Now, I know this maybe a little bit of work so don’t panic on me. Just think of the love, energy, unconditional compassion they bring into the home. That is enough to take away anybody’s down days. Just consider it.
  1. Herbal supplements. I have included this on the list, but I am not a strong advocate of herbs. There is some evidence that certain natural supplements help lift minor depressive symptoms, but it has not been evaluated in long term studies. Be cautious! It is only a temporary solution.
  1. Antidepressants. Let me clear up one thing. Antidepressants are very effective in treatment of depressive symptoms and I am in favor of using them, BUT only in conjunction with other treatment modalities. Think of antidepressants as a crutch to help you walk on this rocky road. It doesn’t mean you are unable to handle the situation without the use of meds. It only means they help protect your physical body from the effects of depression. It doesn’t have to be a permanent treatment, but only to be used only until the storm passes. Whatever your reason may be for resisting them, don’t. They truly can help ease the passage into brighter days.

There are many more advanced treatments, remedies and therapy techniques on the treatment of depression and its associated symptoms.

The courage must lie within you to find the voice of your feelings. Sweeping things under the rug doesn’t make them go away. It only makes the magnitude of the situation seem worse.

We are all human beings. And part of being human is the glory of having feelings. Some feelings make us feel good and others don’t. It is about identifying those that don’t and making things alright. Because at the end of the day, it will be alright!

“People cry not because they are weak. It’s because they have been strong for so long.” — Johnny Depp

You are not alone!!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieveing 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.

Tips For Eating Healthy While Eating Out

eating healthy while eating outEating out is fun, and with a little planing, you can still be eating healthy while eating out. And why wouldn’t you? Gathering around for a meal has long brought families together for hours of conversation over endless bowls of our favorite dishes. Once in a while it is nice to shut down the kitchen and give Mom and Dad a break from chopping, stirring and cleaning.

Trying out great new restaurants or visiting your old favorites is no doubt exciting, relaxing and rejuvenating. However, what we don’t often realize is how excited our palates become when these tasty treats in their most perfect presentation are brought out in front of us. Before we know it, we have devoured the last bite consuming more calories than imagined.

Enjoying good food is a must. Enjoying new food is a necessity.

So if you are one that loves restaurant hopping, keep at it!! Life is too short not to enjoy the simple pleasures! To avoid spiraling down an unhealthy lifestyle, plan ahead!

The following may seem like simple suggestions, but I assure you simplicity will bring about longevity!

  1. Decide the restaurant early. Knowing what type of food will be ordered will help you be aware of the amount of carb, protein, and fat in that item. If you anticipate a great Italian Bistro where carbs are in very selection, plan to decrease carb intake couple days prior to the outing. Most restaurants offer apps that allow you to search the menu as well as nutritional values. Making good choices comes from being educated.
  1. Hydrate.This should be your staple even when you don’t plan to go out. 90 oz of water /day helps keep cellular function performing at optimal levels. Avoid any water substitutes and go for the plain H2O.
  1. Eat a small protein snack one-two hours before anticipated meal time. Protein intake helps keep the balance of insulin and glucose. This results in longer satiety and decreased cravings. Good examples are almonds, string cheese, fruit, slice of meat, peanut butter, hummus etc.
  1. Check out the menu beforehand. If you know you will not be leaving that table until you have had that favorite 1000 calorie dessert, then scale back on appetizers and entrée. Yes you can have your cake and eat it too, but only in moderation. You don’t want to wake up the next morning with a sugar laden hangover.
  1. Don’t be afraid to ask the server. Ask the server how the food is being prepared. Ask them if they use butter, cream or any other high fat substitutes to give it that rich mouthwatering flavor. Ask to speak to the chef if you are not satisfied with the answer. Even if they think you are one of “those” customers, it doesn’t matter because ultimately, you are only accountable to yourself. So take ownership and be ok asking!
  1. Avoid “low carb” options and high carb temptations. Anything that claims “free or low carb,” STAY AWAY! To take something out and still have it taste so good, means something else has to be put in. That something else is likely to be highly processed ingredients that do you no good. Better to go for the real stuff in smaller quantities. Also skip the bread basket. It’s not worth it!
  1. Double the veggies. Just because it doesn’t say it on the menu, doesn’t mean you can’t ask. Ask for double quantity of veggies-steamed or broiled, NOT FRIED. Even if it costs a few pennies more, it is well worth it.
  1. Watch out for the salad temptation. Of course the vegetables in the salad are healthy, but the croutons, cheese, dressing, not so much. Salad toppings may seem insignificant, but what we may not realize is that these innocent munchies turn out to be the biggest culprits of our weight gain. Have you seen how many grams of fat are in ONE tablespoon of dressing? A LOT! You know they don’t stop at one tablespoon. So is it really worth ruining all of your hard work with something that is not even the main meal? Ask for dressing on the side.
  1. Skip the alcohol. Alcohol consumption causes an increase appetite and not to mention increase in empty calories. If you absolutely must have a drink with your meal, choose red or white wine limited to 1x glass. For every one sip of wine, take 3-5 large gulps of water. Chances are you won’t even be able to finish that one glass. Avoid the fruity cocktails. Choose your calories wisely.
  1. Dress up nicely. Who would have thought right? Research has shown when you take the time and effort to dress nicely and are happy with what you see in the mirror, you will be less likely to make poor dietary choices. If dressing up is a time consuming process for you, you may not be keen to put in the effort just for going out. And in the long run, less eating out means less consumption of unwanted calories.
  1. Walk off the guilt. If your willpower happened to get the best of you, don’t sweat it. We are all human. We all have cravings. It’s ok! If you still can’t shake the guilt, take a brisk walk outside and breathe knowing you can start over with the next meal. We ALL go through these times when we know better, but we choose otherwise. Following the 80-20 rule can help with any feelings of guilt. Focus on mindful eating 80% of the time and look forward to the other 20% when you know you’ve earned it!

Indulgences are part of life’s greatest joys. Don’t deprive yourself of a little happiness. Eating out is more than just about watching calories. It is the opportunity to kindle relationships and foster new ones.

Food is nourishment. It is our greatest ally, not our worst enemy. Savor each bite because you know you have earned it. And when you have taken that last bite, set yourself back on that right path until you can look forward to it again!

How To Come Off A Sugar Addiction

sugar addictionSugar addiction is really prevalent in the news right now. Sugar – we can’t live with it, we can’t imagine life without it. Could removing sugar from your diet be that one magic answer to our weight loss battle?

Let’s start at the beginning. Why do we thrive on it? The more we have, the more we want. The answer may be simpler than we once thought.

Ingesting sugar causes a dopamine release in the Nucleus Accumbens. When we consume sugar often and in large quantities, dopamine is released in excess causing a down regulation and blunting of the receptor sites. Therefore, in order to get that “feel-good” response, the body requires even MORE sugar to produce the same response.

“The reviewed evidence supports the theory that, in some circumstances, intermittent access to sugar can lead to behavior and neurochemical changes that resemble the effects of a substance of abuse. According to the evidence in rats, intermittent access to sugar and chow is capable of producing a “dependency”. This was operationally defined by tests for bingeing, withdrawal, craving and cross-sensitization to amphetamine and alcohol. The correspondence to some people with binge eating disorder or bulimia is striking, but whether or not it is a good idea to call this a “food addiction” in people is both a scientific and societal question that has yet to be answered. What this review demonstrates is that rats with intermittent access to food and a sugar solution can show both a constellation of behaviors and parallel brain changes that are characteristic of rats that voluntarily self-administer addictive drugs. In the aggregrate, this is evidence that sugar can be addictive.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral ReviewsVolume 32, Issue 1, 2008, Pages 20–39

The compelling evidence and research on sugar addiction proves the effects on the brain mimics those of cocaine and heroin abuse. But how do we get away from it when it lurks in the shadows of every ingredient we consume?

How Do I Take The First Step?

We must first accept that this change will be gradual. Don’t expect to have immediate results. Sugar is a “drug.” It will be hard before it gets easy. Taking the first step will be the hardest. We didn’t get here overnight, so don’t expect the body to revert just the same. This is a marathon, not a sprint!!

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to this. Here are few things that help the process.

  1. LEARN INGREDIENTS. I am not talking about memorizing the chemical makeup of every ingredient you eat. Understand the common names and abbreviations. Ingredients are hidden under different names including high fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup, invert sugar, molasses, sucrose (or any word ending in “-ose”), brown rice syrup, honey, and maple syrup. There are many lists available. The goal is to become educated. Click here for one such list.

  2. KEEP A FOOD JOURNAL. It’s not so important at this stage to worry about calorie counting. While consuming the correct amount of calories plays a key role, it is more important to really know WHAT types of food you are eating. Chances are, like most of us, you are eating things thinking they are healthy. The food industry has made its way into every aspect of our health. FIGHTING THE GIANTS, MEANS BEING ARMED WITH THE POWER OF KNOWLEDGE.
  1. HYDRATE. I can’t emphasize this enough. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF WATER. It has always been our ally long before flavored drinks entered the picture. I understand water may not taste good. This is because our palate and taste buds have been conditioned to the sweetness of drinks that claim to give us instant energy. What it has also conditioned us to is the crash that comes with the sugar laden beverages. Flavored waters (8 tsp/bottle), bottled iced teas (>9 tsp/bottle), energy drinks (7 tsp/can), bottled coffee drinks (8 tsp/bottle), and store-bought smoothies (>12 tsp/small) all contain way too much sugar. Strive to consume 90 oz of pure water/day. If you are not a water drinker, you may need to start with only 8 oz and work up slowly. However you do it, WALK AROUND WITH A WATER BOTTLE.
  1. TIME YOUR MEALS. Sugar thrives on messing with not only dopamine, but also insulin. Its very essence is to disrupt our insulin regulation and response. Timing of meals is crucial to stabilizing the insulin surges and decrease sugar cravings, especially in the initial phases of removing sugar from your diet and your life. Increase protein and healthy fats in your diet to help maintain steady release and uptake of glucose. Most important take home message: YOUR EVENING MEAL SHOULD BE FINISHED BY 7:30PM.
  1. KEEP MOVING. Two parts to this: First, move your body-in whatever capacity that can circulate blood. Walk, workout, lift weight, dance, swim, clean…it doesn’t matter. Just move. Don’t worry about how much you move….just move. Second, keep moving forward. Don’t become discouraged because your body is not responding the way you THINK it should. Your body is here to protect you. It won’t always give you what you want. But it will always give you what you need. Changing life long habits is a process. Be kind to it. It was kind to you when you weren’t so nice to it. THE BODY IS ON OUR SIDE.
  1. MAINTAIN HEALTHY GUT. Sugar undoubtedly alters pH throughout the body. The shift in acid base balance triggers more chemical disruptions that worsen the down regulated neurotransmitter receptors. One of the largest target organs is our GI tract. I have talked in extensive detail in previous blogs about the crucial importance of maintaining a healthy GI tract. Studies have shown the desensitization process that happens with sugar consumption also occurs with other foods. In other words, our weakened immune system sets us up for chemical attacks from other food groups (even the healthiest of foods). HEAL THY GUT.
  1. AVOID THE FAKE STUFF. This is worse than consuming the real stuff. Anything that reads “sugar-free” is a blaring warning label. Stay away!! Dangerous chemicals are added to sugar free substitutes that lead to whole other set of problems. According to a review in the 2010 Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, when you eat something sweet, your body expects calories and nutrition, but artificial sugars don’t give your body those things. That may be why fake sugars are associated with weight gain. According to a meta-analysis in the Journal of Medicinal Food, sprinkling on cinnamon has been shown to naturally regulate blood sugar, which helps control your appetite. DON’T GO FOR THE FAKE STUFF.
  1. RELAX. Just take a deep breath. There is no finish line in this race. This is about a life style change. This is about taking back control of what you lost. This is about being the best version of yourself. Don’t make it about the weight. The weight is only your body’s way of telling you that it is not feeling good. Don’t let the 3 little numbers on the scale define your worth. The body is a glorious vehicle that will take you where you want to go if you nurture and love it the way it is. Make these changes gradually. Cut back slowly and enjoy the process of getting healthy. You will learn so much about what your body has been trying to tell you for years. If you want to enjoy that chocolate cake, by all means, do so. This is about finding the body, mind and soul connection. If you totally give up all of your favorites, your body will fight you with the cravings and then then mind will be consumed with the thought of wanting that cake and the soul will become restless watching these two go at it. Take the bite of the cake when you want to and listen when the body tells you to stop.

Mindful eating is truly becoming an entity of its own in the medical field. The next few years will uncover some of the greatest mysteries of the human body. My thought is that the answer has been with us all along: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!

Let’s all become empowered and walk this journey of discovery together.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieveing 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.

A Healthy Gut – What’s all the Fuss About?

healthy gutOver the last three months, I have deliberately chosen to write and focus on understanding how a healthy gut affects every aspect of our health. It has become clearly evident to me that the true source of healing resides in the confines of our GI tract.

I recently attended a talk given by my dear friend on the topic of Ayurvedic Medicine. This healing concept originated in India over 3,000 years ago. The fundamental philosophy of Ayurveda is “heal thy gut, heal thy symptoms.” During this talk, the realization came upon me that what Eastern ancient medicine knew 3,000 years ago has only claimed territory in the West a decade ago.

How many times do we recall our mothers or grandmothers complaining of merciless symptoms of menopause or our fathers moaning with relentless joint pain? Not much at all, right? But now, it seems every article, every conversation, every ad mentions one physical ailment or another and how there is a medication to “fix” it. I often wonder why we see so many advertisements for medications but hardly any on exercise or nutrition. Why does medication have to always be the only answer?

Why are the children of this generation thrown into the fires of puberty before they even hit double digits? Why do the women in the third through fifth decade of their lives suffer when life is supposed to be rosy? What could have so drastically changed within the last 30 years that health is no longer the care free life we once thought it was?

Our DIET has changed. Our FOOD industry has changed. Our CONSUMPTION has changed. There is no big mystery disease that explains most of our symptoms. We, as humans, need to simply the search for the answers.

We are what we eat.

I know it is frustrating!! We eat the “right” foods. We eat the “right” quantities. We eat at the “right” times. Yet, nothing seems to help improve those dreaded badgering symptoms. If what you are doing is not working, stop trying to put a round peg in a square hole. Look at other causes. Look at what is going into your mouth!!

The term “leaky gut” is beginning to make its way into research labs and proving how our gut seems to have the answers. Here’s a very simplistic explanation. Altered, modified, hormone and antibiotic infested crops are not meant for human bodies to process. Over the years, this constant traumatic exposure has caused disruptions to our DNA structure. The breakage of the DNA molecule has resulted in maladaptive pattern to which our bodies don’t recognize. This causes our endocrine system to short circuit. It prevents our hormonal pathway from staying in true alignment.

Simultaneously, antibiotics in the food enter the lumen of the bowel and kill our “good” gut flora. With the diminishing army of the good guys, the bad guys, “bad” bacteria, flourish. These bad guys cause a “leak” in our gut. This leak triggers a release of inflammatory cytokines. The surge of cytokines leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance subsequently causes weight gain, hormonal imbalances, diabetes and eventually blankets the operation of every system in the body.

With full disclosure, I share the story of my own journey over the last two years. In 2014, my thyroid relapsed. Normally it is a small adjustment in my medication and I revert back to normal. At that time nothing worked. Long story short, I soon found out I had a severe sensitivity to gluten, which I never experienced before. I gave up gluten expecting to improve. Never came. Struggled on for the next 18 months while beating my head against a wall trying to figure out what I was missing. I was a “clean” eater. I exercised like a crazy person. Slept like a baby. Why couldn’t I figure this out?  So in February of this year, I had blood taken for the MRT Leap Food sensitivity testing. MRT checks for 150 of the most common food sensitivities.

I had my answer. The test confirmed I had high sensitivity to apples, quinoa, whey, milk, lentils, turmeric, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, chocolate, oats, and broccoli.

Say what??  But those are all the healthy foods I was “supposed” to eat. That’s what I was told. That’s what I read. And there isn’t anyone taking away my chocolate and peanut butter!!

It turns out those specific foods were continuously causing insults to my GI system. The leaky gut was now a high tide flood. I very slowly started decreasing and eliminating the high reactive foods. Within two weeks, swelling in my hands diminished. Energy levels improved. Weight started to normalize. Life started to have hope.

It has only been two months. But in these two months, it is beyond a shadow of a doubt, clear to me, we must heal the layers that lie in solar plexus. When getting evaluated by your physician, it is very important ALL medical causes are evaluated also. You are welcome to call my office and learn more about this test, and other ways I can help you.

If you are left with more frustrating questions than answers, I encourage you to look into the core of your existence, the core of your health, the core of your central energy. Look into the core of your gut!

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Ways to Achieve a Healthy Gut

Irritable-bowel-syndrome-and-wheat-intolerance-symptoms-610x300With its painful cramping, accompanying gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, is there possibly any good news about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Actually, the answer is yes. Although the condition usually requires long-term management, sufferers are not at an increased risk of colorectal cancer because IBS doesn’t cause bowel tissue changes. Additionally, IBS can usually be controlled by making healthy lifestyle adjustments.

What is IBS?

Affecting the large intestine/colon, IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder worldwide, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. However, because the majority of people who do suffer from IBS have only mild symptoms, they rarely realize they have the condition.

Importance of Gut Health

A small number of IBS patients experience severe symptoms that require medication and ongoing physician care, but most patients can control symptoms by improving their gut health. The gut is garnering a lot of attention lately and rightly so. Research continues to connect a healthy gut with overall good health.

Not just one specific body part, the “gut” refers to your overall digestive system that runs from your mouth to the end of your large intestine. When determining gut health, most doctors focus on gut flora and the gut barrier.

The gut is filled with 400 known varieties of bacteria and 100 trillion microorganisms in a system called the gut flora that regulates metabolism and gastrointestinal function and makes up most of our immune system. The healthiest gut is one where all the bacteria and microorganisms are in balance and there’s plenty of diversity.

A variety of common things can negatively affect gut health by disrupting gut flora diversity, including:

  • Antibiotics, birth control pills and NSAIDs
  • Diets high in processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugar and wheat that has been stripped of its nutrients
  • Chronic stress

The gut barrier is an optimally functioning gut that processes and delivers the products our body needs while moving along and disposing of the things that our body doesn’t need or which could harm it.

When the gut flora is out of balance, the gut can become inflamed which negatively affects the gut barrier. If this condition becomes chronic, it can present itself as irritable bowel syndrome.

Improve IBS Symptoms and Overall Gut Health

Now, back to the good news. It IS possible to not only keep IBS symptoms in check, but to also achieve optimal gut health.

  • Toxins and Antibiotics: The most common recommendation for a healthy gut is to avoid the toxins listed above, particularly antibiotics. Before requesting or accepting an antibiotic, discuss your concerns about gut health with your doctor and determine if an antibiotic is truly needed. If it is, ask about ways to balance gut flora after completing the course of antibiotics.
  • Diet and Stress: Eliminating processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugar and wheat is quite possibly the best way to improve your gut health and control IBS. Most people experience a dramatic improvement in IBS symptoms and overall wellbeing within weeks of eliminating those foods from their diet. Similarly, people who learn and apply stress-reduction techniques experience positive results that provide motivation to continue efforts.

Work with a Trusted Physician

IBS, like many other conditions, affects each person differently and therefore requires a very personalized approach to care.

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 on improving gut health, controlling IBS, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.