Posts Tagged ‘hypothyroid’

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.

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.

5 Ways To Prevent Pre-Diabetes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over The Counter Medicine Safety

Over The Counter Medicine SafetySince getting over the counter medicine has never been easier, over the counter medicine safety should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. From the GI relief of the PPI’s to the cold remedies of antihistamines, the choices are endless. But these self-prescribed options need to be used with caution and care. Many symptoms we often experience can be a sign of something more serious. A little Tylenol for headaches or Zantac for heartburn or Zyrtec for alleriges may seem innocent enough. However, being vigilant with your body’s responses to these medications can prevent catastrophic outcomes.

If your symptoms are new or different from previous times, or you have never used an OTC medicine before, it is worth putting in a call to your doctor for advice. Many of these medications have interactions with prescription medications. So only use them if no other options exist.

First and foremost, find out what is the actual CAUSE of your symptoms. Don’t merely medicate them. Identify the trigger and begin to remedy that cause. Medications temporarily bandage the immediate issues, not always fix the root problem.

I have known many patients to use OTC meds on a daily basis “just because” or “that’s how they have always done it.” Just because you don’t need a doctor’s authorization to purchase these drugs, doesn’t mean they don’t come without the same risk as prescription meds.

Here are some staggering OTC Statistics:

  • Approximately 5 BILLION OTC drugs are purchased annually.
  • This number accounts for 60% of all health-related drug purchases.
  • Teenagers are 18 times more likely to fatally overdose on OTC medications than illicit street drugs.
  •  40% of US teens think OTC medicines are safer than illegal drugs.
  • Almost one-third of American teenagers think that it is perfectly safe to occasionally abuse OTC drugs.

According to Consumer Med Safety, here are the top 5 most commonly abused OTC medications:

  1. Dextromethorphan:

This is an active ingredient in more than 100 OTC cough and cold medicines. Side effects include impaired judgment, vomiting, loss of muscle movement, seizures, blurred vision, drowsiness, shallow breathing, and a fast heart rate. Dextromethorphan is also addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms, including depression and difficulty processing thoughts, when the drug is stopped.

  1. Caffeine:

OTC caffeine pills such as NoDoz or pain relievers with caffeine have been abused for the buzz or jolt of energy they seem to provide. If these pills are taken with high caffeine energy drinks, the effects are felt even quicker. Large doses of caffeine can cause serious dehydration, gastric reflux disease, panic attacks, and heart irregularities that have occasionally been linked to accidental deaths, particularly in those with an underlying heart condition. 

  1. Diet Pills:

Although the FDA has banned several of the most dangerous stimulants commonly found in OTC diet pills—phenylpropanolamine, ephedrine, and ephedra—other ingredients in these OTC products can also be dangerous. Bitter orange is a common ingredient that acts much like ephedrine in the body. It can cause nervousness and tremor, rapid and irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, and death. The FDA ban on ephedra pertained only to diet pills considered dietary supplements, not herbal remedies such as teas and Chinese preparations.

  1. Laxatives/Herbal Supplements:

Laxatives and herbal diuretics (including uva ursi, goldenseal, dandelion root, rose hips) can cause serious dehydration and life-threatening loss of important minerals and salts that regulate the amount of water in the body, acidity of the blood, and muscle function.

  1. Pseudoephedrine:

This nasal decongestant and stimulant is found in many cold medicines. Its similarity to amphetamines has made it sought after to make the illegal drug methamphetamine. This medicine has also been taken as a stimulant to cause an excitable, hyperactive feeling. Abuse may be less common with pseudoephedrine than with other OTC medicines due to a federal law requiring it to be kept behind the pharmacy counter, limiting the purchase quantity, and requiring photo identification prior to purchase. However, people have taken pseudoephedrine to lose weight, and athletes have misused the medicine to increase their state of awareness and to get them “pumped up” before a competition. Dangerous side effects include heart palpitations, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks. When combined with other drugs, such as narcotics, pseudoephedrine may trigger episodes of paranoid psychosis.

No doubt that having medications available to us at the 11th hour has certainly made life easier. But as prescription drugs continue to become readily available on shelves throughout the world, we must err on the side to be even more diligent and mindful of its risks. Due to the ease of accessibility of these meds, we must remain guarded to prevent overuse and abuse.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other contributing factors include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!