Posts Tagged ‘perimenopause’

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.

Preventing Osteoporosis In 4 Easy Steps

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

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

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

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

Stop Smoking

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

Quit Excessive Alcohol Use

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

Improve Diet and Exercise

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

Increase Calcium Intake

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

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

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

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

What No One Tells You About Menopause

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common Ingredients You Should Avoid

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

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

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

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

NO!!

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

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

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

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

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

Causes:

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

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

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

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

 

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup

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

Causes:

a. Increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels

b. Development of diabetes and tissue damage

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

 

3. Monosodium Glutamate.

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

Causes:

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

b.     Affects neurological pathways of the brain

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

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

 

 

4. Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite

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

Causes:

a.     Constricts and hardens arteries leading to heart disease

b.     Disrupts insulin regulation leading to diabetes

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

holiday weight gainOh the dreaded holiday weight gain. The mornings are dark, the air is crisp, and holiday season is lurking upon us. That’s not the only thing creeping up. The dreaded winter weight is fast approaching. No way Jose! Not this year!! Do you know how simple it is not to gain weight this winter but still enjoy everything you love?? Read on….

  1. Start your morning off with warm green tea.

Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and reportedly contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals — damaging compounds in the body that change cells, damage DNA, and even cause cell death. Many scientists believe that free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. **

  1. Invest in a heart rate monitor.

We overestimate how high our heart rate really increases during exercise. Perceived exertion, where we think we are working harder than we are, is the biggest road block to weight loss. Invest in a heart rate monitor and let the numbers do the talking. Popular brands include: Polar (my personal favorite), Garmin, Fitbit etc. Available online. Average price: $70-$200. It’s worth it!

  1. Maintain consistency.

Take it one step at a time. Change doesn’t occur overnight. Train your body and your mind to remain on a schedule. Be steadfast and disciplined with sleeping, eating and exercising.

Your body doesn’t like surprises. When you maintain a rhythm, no doubt there will be a physiological response to exercise…weight loss. Weight loss is simple. It is not rocket science. Calories in minus calories out equals weight gain or weight loss.

     4. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE NOT TO EXERCISE.

There is enough time in the day to dedicate to your body. With the amazing advancements in the health and fitness industry, there is no shortage of resources to help you get moving. Don’t complicate exercise. It doesn’t have to be at a gym or in a structured setting. Just move!!

An hour workout is ONLY 4% of your day! There is NO excuse not to exercise!

  1. Give yourself a break.

Enjoy those favorite foods. When you enjoy your favorites (in moderation of course), a surge of endorphins is released that leads to a happier you. This catalyst effect helps lower cortisol which means weight loss. Be wise with your choices!

Just like anything else, take a deep breath and take the first step. You are not in this journey alone. The weight loss is just the cherry on top. You are so much more than that!

Here are some quick go-to exercises to keep you moving this holiday season! Plug in your favorite music and here we go:

Exercises on the go:

  1. Warm-Up : Jumping Jacks-2 minutes
  2. Push-Ups: 2 minutes (break after one minute)
  3. High knees: 2 minutes
  4. Power abs: 20x crunchies; 20x bicycles; 20x scissor kicks; 20 sec plank- x2 rounds
  5. Alternating chair step ups: 2 minutes
  6. Standing leg abductors: 1 minute each leg
  7. Tricep dips: 60 sec feet on the ground; 30 sec right leg raised, 30 sec left leg raised.
  8. Alternating plyo lunges: 2 minutes

Is your heart rate up yet?? I hope you have your heart rate monitor!! WATER BREAK

  1. Bicep curls with bands: 16 reps. X3 rounds
  2. Elbow plank hold: 2 minutes
  3. Downward dog/alternating knee pull-ins: 2 minutes
  4. Superman back extensions: 12 reps. X 3 rounds
  5. Interval cardio – Max calorie burn-all out 5 minutes: ONE MINUTE EACH EXERCISE:
    1. Run in place
    2. Jumping jacks.
    3. Plyo squats.
    4. Jump rope.
    5. Burpees
  6. Cool down and stretch

YOU DID IT!!!!

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.

**Source: Green tea | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea#ixzz2ebgAocBQ  — University of Maryland Medical Center

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.

How Hormones Affect Hair, Skin & Nails

Hormones can have a major affect on your hair, skin and nails. Skin, the single largest organ in the human body readily tells the story of what is really going on beneath those layers.

hormones hair skin nails

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

 

  • Hair loss in clumps or strands
  • Slow or no hair growth
  • Thinning eyebrows
  • Sparse eyelashes
  • Brittle or cracked nails
  • Nail ridges
  • Dry skin
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Eye circles
  • Acne

Contrary to popular belief, these symptoms are not from getting older. While aging causes a decline in hormones, environmental and dietary factors also have a hand in speeding up the aging process. While we can’t control our biological clock, what if we could get a handle on things we can control? It starts with our endocrine system.

The endocrine system is comprised of eight main glands:

  • Pituitary
  • Pineal
  • Thymus
  • Thyroid
  • Parathyroid
  • Adrenals
  • Pancreas
  • Gonads

The glands, located in separate areas of the body, must work in perfect alignment and synchronize to achieve optimal balance. If any part of the pathway “short circuits,” the body immediately signals its distress and begins the healing process. The symptoms you experience are nothing more than indications of the dysfunction occurring at the cellular level.

So why do we develop these symptoms and what can we do to reverse them?

Good question. The reasons are many. The most important thing to identify is WHY you are having the symptoms? For example, the emotional impact of hair loss is likely the same for everyone, but the cause of why it is occurring is starkly different for each individual.

Here are some of the most common causes of endocrine imbalance and its effect on the hair, skin and nails.

  1. Declining Estrogen. Estrogen stimulates collagen production and blood flow and contributes to the smooth, firm appearance of skin. As estrogen levels drop, so does collagen production. Without adequate collagen, the skin loses its elasticity, hence developing the appearance of wrinkles.
    Treatment: Topical estrogen use has shown some improvement in appearance, but the risks of estrogen outweigh the benefits. Although not a permanent solution, some temporary options to enhance collagen stimulation include:
  • Tretinoin
  • Vitamin C
  • Alpha hydroxy acids
  • Chemical peels
  • Dermabrasion
  • Laser resurfacing
  1. Elevated Androgens. Estrogen dominance results when estrogen is higher in RELATION to progesterone. Although the absolute value of estrogen declines, the estrogen/progesterone ratio favors estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance causes estrogen to convert to testosterone. Elevated levels of testosterone triggers a chain reaction which ultimately leads to the typical “male pattern baldness” in both men and women.
    Treatment: Balance estrogen/progesterone ratio with natural compounded progesterone. Restoring depleted progesterone levels helps decrease estrogen dominance and thereby decreases conversion to testosterone.
  1. Bacterial/Fungal Infection. Any compromise to the immune system can weaken hair follicles and dermal layers of the skin. While treating the infection is important, it is even more important to identify WHY an infection is present. Infections are red flags that there is something more going on.
    Treatment: Oral Nystatin may be used to treat if there is any suspicion of a systemic fungal infection. Antibiotics for bacterial infections must be used with caution and only given once a definitive cause is identified. Developing antibiotic resistance only worsens the problem. Use with caution.
  1. Everything is blamed on the thyroid. Whether the thyroid gland is under functioning (Hypothyroid) or over functioning (Hyperthyroid), the wrath it leaves on the hair and skin is emotionally scarring. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THYROID LEVELS ARE TESTED IN ITS ENTIRETY. Too often the diagnosis of thyroid disease is missed due to an inadequate testing of thyroid panel. To fully evaluate a thyroid condition, the following levels should be done: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Total T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies, Thyroglobulin Antibodies, Magnesium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron levels.
    Treatment: Once an accurate diagnosis of Hypothyroid or Hyperthyroid is made, appropriate treatment is given and monitored. If hair and skin continues to be effected after thyroid is in balance, LOOK FOR ANOTHER CAUSE.
  1. Medication Side Effects. Answers we seek the most often sit right under our nose. Always, always assume a medication can cause side effects, until otherwise proven. Even if the symptom is not listed in the package insert, don’t assume that is can’t happen. Simple to identify and simpler to reverse.
    Treatment: Revisit all medications and ALL SUPPLEMENTS.
  1. Leaky Gut. This requires a whole article in itself. GI health and “Leaky Gut” are single handedly catapulting modern medicine to all new heights. EVERYTHING STARTS WITH THE GUT. LET ME REPEAT………HEAL THE GUT…..HEAL THE BODY! Foods we consume are infested with hormones, antibiotics and other unknown chemicals. Going up against the food industry to change their habits can leave us frustrated and defeated. But changing OUR habits can leave us complete and empowered. As the gut flora is disrupted, it creates a “hole” in our ozone in the gut. This leak causes release of many known and unknown cytokines. The inflammatory nature of the cytokines triggers a disruption in the normal hormonal pathway. As mentioned above, we can now understand what happens when hormones are not aligned. Assume even the healthy foods you consume contribute to the leak.
    Treatment: Navigating through the lumen of the GI tract is a winding tortuous ride to unknowns. Begin by decreasing consumption of high reactive foods: gluten, sugar, dairy, non-organic meats and produce. To track your body’s response, maintain a food journal and monitor any physical or emotional improvements. You can also restore the gut’s natural flora with a pro-biotic. You may also consider having an extensive food sensitivity panel testing done. The MRT Leap test measures 150 of the most common food sensitivities.

The complexity of the endocrine system and its effects on the body is quite extensive and many entities are still unknown. The points discussed here are only a mere entry point into the depths of what lies within our cells. Skin is that glorious organ that blankets and shields us from the daily trauma we endure. Waiting around for science to discover the answers will only leave us feeling more impatient and confused. But taking charge of our own health proves to be our greatest ally.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! THE SYMPTOMS YOU EXPERIENCE ARE YOUR BODY’S ATTEMPT TO GET YOUR ATTENTION. Every symptom is just as important as the next. Don’t ignore when your body is talking to you. It could be the most important conversation you will ever have! If you are listening to your body and ready to move forward with healing, contact our office today!

Explaining the Hypertension Link in Women

2015_aug27_life1Did you know that “hypertension” and high blood pressure, often used interchangeably, is really the same thing? Patients often misunderstand the truth about hypertension, thinking it is brought on by stress, anxiety or other emotional occurrences in one’s life. In reality, hypertension is a physiological dysfunction that researchers have found can turn into a chronic disease if left alone and untreated.

A simple blood pressure test, which usually happens as soon as you sit on the doctor’s table prior to a check-up, tells your physician what your systolic pressure is as the heart pumps blood out as well as the diastolic pressure while your heart relaxes and refills with blood. This is measured in mercury millimeters (mmHg). Making your weekly trip to the grocery store? Most pharmacies and groceries also offer reliable and free testing stations to make sure your blood pressure is what it should be based on normal blood pressure ranges. Normal blood pressure ranges are below 120 systolic and 80 diastolic. 120 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 diastolic are deemed “pre-hypertension”, increasing your risk of hypertension without intervention. Above 140 and 90? Hypertension has occurred.

A recent study that appeared in the Therapeutic Advances in Cardiovascular Disease Journal found that 1 in 3 adults in the US have high blood pressure. Previous studies thought that high blood pressure and hypertension was the same whether the test subject was a man or a woman. This most recent study discovered that women, compared with men who had the same level of blood pressure, had increased vascular disease…in the whereabouts of 30-40%! One reason researchers believe hypertension in women can be more severe is the fact that there are physiologic differences in the cardiovascular system to include types of hormone levels that help regulate a woman’s blood pressure.

So, what can you do to stay healthy and prevent stroke and heart disease?

Because hypertension can build up for years without showing symptoms, it’s important to get regular check-ups. It’s a growing epidemic and researchers believe that diet and lifestyle changes need to be made to combat this deadly trend. Excessive alcohol, salt intake in the foods American’s eat as well as lack of exercise all leads to higher blood pressure and hypertension. Smoking is also detrimental to a healthy lifestyle and keeping your blood pressure under control. Women during the menopausal years will also see a rise in their blood pressure as a result of hormonal imbalances. In some circumstances, balancing the hormonal levels can normalize blood pressure. It also seems that younger adults are battling with high blood pressure, getting diagnosed as early as their 20s and 30s. Starting a wellness plan early, exercising and eating right, will decrease your chances of developing high blood pressure and vascular disease.

With the new findings, women need to make sure they are combining regular check-ups with regular physical activity. Many times, women are focused on taking care of the other family members, often neglecting their own health. Because hypertension can creep up silently and without warning symptoms, it’s important to take the new research “to heart”. Treatment of hypertension in women may require earlier diagnosis as well as more aggressive management than what was previously thought to be acceptable. Heart disease, unfortunately, is now the leading cause of death in women.

If you want to learn more about hypertension in women or have questions, Dr. Raman can help.

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

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

The Importance of Well Woman Exams: Keep It On Your Calendar

12458_well_woman_homeRecommendations about women’s health screening have changed in recent years, and often-conflicting information can lead to confusion. For instance, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, not every woman needs an annual screening for cervical cancer, known as a Pap test. Authorities on breast cancer also vary on their recommendations for mammograms, but it is important to listen to your body and be proactive—no matter what the guidelines may say.

What hasn’t changed, however, is an across-the-board recommendation for annual well woman exams. In fact, annual well woman exams are considered routine preventive care as outlined by the Affordable Care Act.

Pelvic Exams

Even if a Pap test is not performed, an annual pelvic exam allows your doctor to check your vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, rectum, ovaries, and pelvis, comparing each part of the pelvis with the results from the previous year’s exam. As a woman enters various phases of the hormonal cycle in her life, there will be changes in a woman’s anatomy. Regular pelvic exams help to track these changes and give patients opportunities to discuss any concerns with her physician.

Clinical Breast Exams

A clinical breast exam (CBE) is part of a well woman visit, which offers an opportunity to discuss a personal schedule for mammogram screenings. Many health authorities now recommend biennial (every two years) mammogram screenings for women ages 50-74. Other equally reliable authorities continue to recommend annual mammograms beginning at age 40 and continuing beyond age 74.

**It is essential to remember that the best defense against breast cancer is a good offense. Monthly breast self-exams should be done in-between clinical breast exams. The biggest reason for non-compliance in doing monthly breast self-exams is, “I don’t know what I am feeling for.” This is precisely why a woman should make this part of her monthly routine. The more familiar a woman is with the findings in her breast during self-exams, the more she will know what is normal and what is not. With practice, each month will become easier.  

Colorectal Screenings

Colorectal cancer screening guidelines, as well as most patients’ reluctance to get screened, have remained relatively stable over the years.

The stigma of the prep for the colonoscopy and the sensitive nature of the procedure can quickly cause undue stress and anxiety.

Most colon cancers arise from a single polyp. A colonoscopy can detect and treat the polyp during the procedure itself. But often if the polyp is not removed, this can and often does lead to colon cancer. Isn’t it better to endure a few hours of discomfort for the prep and procedure of a colonoscopy rather than enduring a removal of part of the colon for a treatable colon cancer?

A Discussion About Overall Health

An annual well visit also focuses on general overall health and maintains an ongoing discussion between you and your doctor about healthy lifestyle choices, reducing or eliminating health risks, weight concerns and healthy aging (inside and out). Screenings that facilitate these discussions include full in-depth discussions on physical, emotional, psychological and environmental stressors. A detailed blood work and physical exam with blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) screenings and body fat analysis will help identify the source of symptoms. A symptom is your body’s way of talking with you. DON’T IGNORE THESE WARNING SIGNS!

As your well woman exam appointment approaches, you might consider other issues that affect your overall health and be prepared to cover these areas with your doctor, including:

  • Contraceptive counseling
  • Tobacco, alcohol or drug use
  • Depression screening
  • Vaccines and immunizations
  • HIV screening
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening

View your annual well woman exam as an opportunity to partner with your doctor on the business of your good health. The active role you take in your day-to-day health is encouraged and supported by your doctor, and your well woman visit is the best way to review and fine-tune your efforts.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance through routine wellness exams.

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

Estrogen and Progesterone: Finding Balance As You Age

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

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

Progesterone and Estrogen Changes During Perimenopause and Menopause

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

  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Mood swings
  • Tender breasts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healthy Aging IS Possible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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