Menopause, 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 Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Two years ago if you would have told me yoga was one of the best kept secrets around, I would have laughed at that notion. Fast forward two years later, and I am here to tell you yoga is in fact ONE of the greatest hidden treasures of our time. Not only has it taken my fitness to an all-time high, it has taken my mental calm to an existence of peace.
During my research while writing this article, I came across an eye opening and awe inspiring story of Dr. Dilip Sarkar, a healthy 51 year old Vascular Surgeon from Virgina. In 2001, Dr. Sarkar found himself undergoing emergency cardiac bypass surgery. After recovering from this near-fatal event, Dr. Sarkar turned to Ayurvedic medicine and yoga therapy as a way to improve his health. Retired from his private medical practice, Dr. Sarkar is now a yoga teacher and clinical researcher focusing on yoga’s many life-saving benefits.
“What I’ve found through studying yoga therapy is that people who have a daily practice have effortlessly and automatically changed their lifestyle. They eat better, sleep better, their lifestyle is more regulated,” says Dr. Sarkar, who also serves as chairman of the School of Integrative Medicine at Taksha University in Hampton, Virginia.
I know it is very overwhelming to know where to even begin understanding all the various yoga forms. Figuring out which form of yoga you jive with comes from experiencing the various types. But the health benefits and mental reprieve of any of the asanas is unmistakable. This article will help answer some of those questions and explain the incredible health benefits of establishing a regular yoga practice.
Benefits of Yoga:
Improves cardiovascular health. “Hypertension is due to a constriction of blood vessels, and heart disease is due to blockage in the coronary arteries. When relaxation sets in, yoga therapy relaxes blood vessels and reduces blood pressure while increasing the blood flow to the heart muscle.” A study published in the journal Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome showed researchers followed 182 middle-aged Chinese adults who suffered from metabolic syndrome who practiced yoga for a year. The conclusion was lower blood pressure and increased weight loss.
Improves muscular pain. Postures are the backbone of yoga. “Herniated discs and spinal stenosis don’t cause pain. They cause an irritation of a nerve which cause a contraction of the muscle. The muscle tightness or spasm then causes the pain. In yoga therapy, when you hold a pose, your muscles contract and then slowly relax as you breath in and out. When relaxation sets in, back pain starts to go away,” says Dr. Sarkar.
Improves cognitive function. “Focused breath equals maximizing oxygenation and movement increases blood flow to brain and body,” says registered nurse Graham McDougall Jr., Ph.D., the lead researcher of the report published in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing. Participants of the study saw significant gains memory performance and fewer depressive symptoms.
Regulates blood sugar. “The practice of yoga increases your digestive fire called agni,” Sarkar says. “So the yogic way of looking at diabetes is that the body cannot digest sugar, which is why blood-sugar levels are high. If you can improve your digestion, you can improve your blood sugar, which is great for both diabetes prevention and control,” he says. A new study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research showed 30 males with Type 2 diabetes who practiced yoga for six months saw a significant decrease in their blood glucose levels.
Controls stress and anxiety. There is nothing like visiting a yoga studio filled with low dim lighting, fragrant aroma of lavender and mood music to calm even the most stressed out nerves. A report presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) Conference 2015 linked yoga to lowering levels of cortisol, especially in women at risk for mental health problems. In the study of 52 women, ages 25 to 45, who had mildly elevated anxiety, moderate depression or high stress, those who performed Bikram twice a week felt better, looked better and had better control over their anxiety.
Decreases depression. In the Indian Journal of Palliative Care, breast cancer patients who practiced 60 minutes of yoga daily over a 24-week period, which included surgery and radiotherapy or chemotherapy reported a significant improvement in depressive symptoms compared to the non-yoga group.
Decreases risk of cancer. “If cancer runs in your family, you may want to pick up a regular yoga practice, which has shown to prevent the genetic mutation from expressing,” states Dr. Sarkar. A study published last January in Journal of Clinical Oncology found that performing yoga twice a week for as little as three months could lower inflammation, boost energy, and lift the mood of female cancer patients.
Improves self-esteem. In a study from Brazil published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, university students reported improvement in self-control, self-perception, well-being, body awareness, balance, mind-body and reflexivity. “The word yoga itself means union. It unites your mind, body and spirit. During yoga practice, we inhale positive emotions and exhale negative emotions,” explains Sarkar.
Promotes a healthy and long life. A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine analyzed the effects that 90 days of yoga had on an obese 31-year-old man. The results showed dramatic reduction in oxidative stress hormones and inflammation, which goes a long way in preventing life -long diseases.
Helps control hormones. Who wouldn’t feel relaxed in Savasana? Conscious breathing helps regulate cortisol balance which helps maintain estrogen-progesterone-thyroid homeostasis.
The benefits continue to span miles long. I will be the first to admit that it took me a couple of months complaining and whining through class to realize what I had been missing all of these years.
Go outside of your comfort zone! Experience the wonder of conscious breathing. Experience the steadiness of mind-body alignment. Above all, experience the truly miraculous gifts yoga can bring into your life!
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.
Why not consider giving the gift of health this year? We all know that the spirit of the holiday is anchoring into gratitude but nevertheless, the gifts that need to be purchased can sometimes weigh down our spirits. While keeping true to the idea of getting healthy, I thought it would be fun to combine the spirit of the holidays with the inspiration of mind, body, and the soul connection.
Even if your family or friends don’t have health gadgets at the top of their wish list, it may serve them well for you to open the possibilities of healthy living.
Here is a list of possible fun gift ideas that could ignite their interest in achieving the perfect mind, body, and soul connection:
- Personal Training Sessions. Don’t be afraid to approach personal trainers to see if they would be willing to offer packages of 3 or 5 sessions. All it takes is one wow workout and they are hooked.
- Heart Rate Monitor. Even though this maybe on the higher price range, the investment is well worth it. Some great reputable brands include Polar (my personal favorite), Garmin, Timex, FitBit. Many more are available and really comes down to ease of use and personal preference. Don’t underestimate the power of what a heart rate can indicate. It is so much more than how many calories are burned.
- Group Yoga Sessions. Approach your local yoga studios to see if they would be willing to do a semi-private class with your closest kith and kin. Perfect gift that comes with the perfect opportunity for bonding time. To add a little flavor to this, consider a monogramed yoga mat.
- Cooking Lessons. Whether it be at your local grocery store or with independent chefs, learning to cook healthy can be exactly the experience needed to get a taste of how easy and how wonderful healthy living can be. A great local place that offers healthy eating/cooking classes is Kitchen Conservatory.
- Healing Energy Sessions. This absolutely has to be my favorite gift to give and receive this season. There are some incredible healers, with Catherine Millman being one of my favorite. Energy Healers can be masters in the art of emotional and physical therapies for the mind, body, and Soul. It is truly amazing how the body recovers/heals when it is understood, nurtured, and loved. A truly unique and personal gift with an all-encompassing bow around the package!
- Meditation Workshops. Let’s face it, sitting for any length of time with your eyes closed with nothing to do is hard for anyone, but the power of silence is astonishing for the health when done collectively as a group. The healing energy not only has been shown to stabilize physical ailments, but it also contributes to recovery. There are many meditation centers locally to considering asking.
- Home Made Recipe Book. Compile all of your favorite recipes, tips and techniques into a “What’s What of Healthy Living.” Adding that extra personal touch adds a little extra bit of holiday cheer.
- Fitness Flash Cards. Genius idea for any family or friend who feel they don’t have time to work out. Now they have no excuses! These flash cards are available online. Each card has a description of an exercise, how many reps etc. They can pull random cards from the deck or create a designated workout. How easy and useful of a gift is that!
These are only a sprinkle of the possibilities that can be considered to draw others into healthy living. With the endless confusion of deciding which gift is appropriate, I invite each of you to change the thought process and gift others with the inspiration and choices you have made to live a healthier more fulfilling life.
As 2016 comes to a close, my well wishes that 2017 may open with the highest and purest intentions of health and healing.
Happy Holidays to you and your families!
Oh 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….
- 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. **
- 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!
- 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!
- 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:
- Warm-Up : Jumping Jacks-2 minutes
- Push-Ups: 2 minutes (break after one minute)
- High knees: 2 minutes
- Power abs: 20x crunchies; 20x bicycles; 20x scissor kicks; 20 sec plank- x2 rounds
- Alternating chair step ups: 2 minutes
- Standing leg abductors: 1 minute each leg
- Tricep dips: 60 sec feet on the ground; 30 sec right leg raised, 30 sec left leg raised.
- Alternating plyo lunges: 2 minutes
Is your heart rate up yet?? I hope you have your heart rate monitor!! WATER BREAK
- Bicep curls with bands: 16 reps. X3 rounds
- Elbow plank hold: 2 minutes
- Downward dog/alternating knee pull-ins: 2 minutes
- Superman back extensions: 12 reps. X 3 rounds
- 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.
- 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 Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn 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
A common question I get in my practice is “How much sleep should I be getting?” This is a very important question. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control called insufficient sleep a public epidemic. It is estimated that nearly half of all American adults get less than the minimum recommendation of seven hours of sleep per night. With that many people operating on inadequate sleep, fatigue is so common that it’s easy to overlook the serious nature of the issue. However, with insufficient sleep being cited for auto and industrial accidents and increasing a person’s risk of chronic disease, the case for getting enough sleep should be heard.
Sleep and Reaction Time
Sleep studies have consistently shown that “function” (identified by reaction time measured in a variety of tests) is almost 100 percent impacted by sleep. In fact, a NASA-funded study at the University of Pennsylvania showed that people who self-identify as being able to fully function on less sleep actually experienced more substantial delays in reaction time than people who self-identified as needing (and finding a way to get) eight to 10 hours of sleep per night.
While these reduced reaction time results on controlled tests are alarming, the reality is even worse. Lack of sleep by key personnel has been cited in nuclear power plant disasters, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger space shuttle explosion. Maybe your job doesn’t require intense focus, but a lack of sleep can impact the results of everyday activities just as drastically. Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. consider driving a car under the effect of extreme fatigue identical to driving while drunk.
Sleep Habits and Risks for Disease
Lack of sleep’s effect on overall health is also of great concern. Inadequate sleep is known to increase the risk for the following:
- Heart disease
- Heart attacks
- High blood pressure
- Colon cancer
There also seems to be a link between lack of sleep and a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Reduced testosterone levels have been measured in men who reported getting six hours of sleep per night or less.
Not getting enough sleep also negatively affects the immune system. That’s why a person might find oneself coming down with a cold or flu after an extended period of reduced sleep. Studies have shown that T-cell count (which is often used to measure immune system function) is relative to a person’s average amount of sleep. Likewise, there’s a reason your doctor recommends rest when you’re ill: fever response is better while we sleep.
Sleep deprivation can also lead to muscle loss and fat gain. With too little sleep, the body is also more likely to produce the stress-response hormone, cortisol. After sleep deprivation, subjects in several studies had higher levels of cortisol later in the day, a time when it should be tapering off to prepare the body for rest. Heightened cortisol prompts the body to store more fat and be more inclined to use other soft tissue, such as muscle, as energy which means that sleep-deprived dieters lose more muscle and gain more fat than do those who are well rested. One study found that after two weeks of minor calorie restriction (10 percent less than their daily energy expenditure), subjects who were getting 5.5 hours in bed a night lost just 0.6 kilogram of fat but 2.4 kilograms of other tissue, such as muscle. Subjects who got 8.5 hours slumber each night lost 1.4 kilograms of fat and 1.5 kilograms of other tissue. “Some of these metabolic effects occur pretty quickly,” Dr. Mehra – Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Oversleeping: Too Much of a Good Thing?
Just as not getting enough sleep is unhealthy, getting too much sleep isn’t a good thing either. There may be times (such as with illness or during periods of excess stress) when your body may feel an increased need for sleep, and this is normal. However, oversleeping on a regular basis should be watched carefully. Researchers acknowledge a strong association between frequent oversleeping and depression and/or other underlying health concerns like heart disease.
Children up to age 12 should aim for about 10 hours of sleep per night, teens should get 9-10 hours per night and adults should get 7-8 hours per night. Naps can occasionally supplement shortened overnight sleep, but sleep cycles depend on a specific chunk of time, so it’s still important to focus on getting a good night’s sleep.
Discuss Your Concerns with a Trusted Physician
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each patient with comprehensive, individualized treatment options and health programs. Our office is committed to helping find the best solutions for you and your particular needs.
Like many other conditions, sleep disorders affect each person differently and require a very personalized approach to care. For more information on healthy sleep habits, please contact us today or schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman.
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.
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
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:
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.
- 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:
- Vitamin C
- Alpha hydroxy acids
- Chemical peels
- Laser resurfacing
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
With its painful cramping, accompanying gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, is there possibly any good news about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Actually, the answer is yes. Although the condition usually requires long-term management, sufferers are not at an increased risk of colorectal cancer because IBS doesn’t cause bowel tissue changes. Additionally, IBS can usually be controlled by making healthy lifestyle adjustments.
What is IBS?
Affecting the large intestine/colon, IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder worldwide, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. However, because the majority of people who do suffer from IBS have only mild symptoms, they rarely realize they have the condition.
Importance of Gut Health
A small number of IBS patients experience severe symptoms that require medication and ongoing physician care, but most patients can control symptoms by improving their gut health. The gut is garnering a lot of attention lately and rightly so. Research continues to connect a healthy gut with overall good health.
Not just one specific body part, the “gut” refers to your overall digestive system that runs from your mouth to the end of your large intestine. When determining gut health, most doctors focus on gut flora and the gut barrier.
The gut is filled with 400 known varieties of bacteria and 100 trillion microorganisms in a system called the gut flora that regulates metabolism and gastrointestinal function and makes up most of our immune system. The healthiest gut is one where all the bacteria and microorganisms are in balance and there’s plenty of diversity.
A variety of common things can negatively affect gut health by disrupting gut flora diversity, including:
- Antibiotics, birth control pills and NSAIDs
- Diets high in processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugar and wheat that has been stripped of its nutrients
- Chronic stress
The gut barrier is an optimally functioning gut that processes and delivers the products our body needs while moving along and disposing of the things that our body doesn’t need or which could harm it.
When the gut flora is out of balance, the gut can become inflamed which negatively affects the gut barrier. If this condition becomes chronic, it can present itself as irritable bowel syndrome.
Improve IBS Symptoms and Overall Gut Health
Now, back to the good news. It IS possible to not only keep IBS symptoms in check, but to also achieve optimal gut health.
- Toxins and Antibiotics: The most common recommendation for a healthy gut is to avoid the toxins listed above, particularly antibiotics. Before requesting or accepting an antibiotic, discuss your concerns about gut health with your doctor and determine if an antibiotic is truly needed. If it is, ask about ways to balance gut flora after completing the course of antibiotics.
- Diet and Stress: Eliminating processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugar and wheat is quite possibly the best way to improve your gut health and control IBS. Most people experience a dramatic improvement in IBS symptoms and overall wellbeing within weeks of eliminating those foods from their diet. Similarly, people who learn and apply stress-reduction techniques experience positive results that provide motivation to continue efforts.
Work with a Trusted Physician
IBS, like many other conditions, affects each person differently and therefore requires a very personalized approach to care.
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.
It’s the holidays, and there is food everywhere you turn. From office parties to family events, it’s one long chow fest from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Put that all together with the emotions of the season and your weight loss efforts can come to a halt. The holiday stress, the lack of sleep, and the flood of emotions that come with it will have all that comfort food calling your name.
The good news is that it is possible to keep all the holiday feasting from ruining your diet. Experts say that the best way to start is by finding what your holiday overeating triggers are.
Emotional Triggers of Overeating
Emotional eating is a way to either soothe or suppress your emotions. These feelings include stress, anger, fear, sadness and loneliness. Major events in your life, like the holidays, can set off negative feelings that lead to emotional eating, which in turn disrupts your weight loss plan.
Stress is an emotional trigger that stimulates over production of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol triggers cravings for high-fat, sweet, and salty foods. The more uncontrolled stress that you have in your life, the greater the chance you will turn to food for emotional relief.
Emptiness and boredom are emotional triggers. People eat to give themselves something to do or to fill a feeling of emptiness. Next time you find yourself opening the refrigerator, ask yourself, are you really hungry or just really bored?
Nostalgia is an emotional trigger. Those memories of baking Christmas cookies with your mom or grandma, or sitting down around the table with your family for a huge meal can trigger you to eat even when you aren’t hungry. Perhaps you were given a sweet treat when you were younger to make you feel better and you yourself automatically going back to that habit when you feel sad now.
Social influences can be an emotional trigger. Getting together with friends or coworkers to have a meal is a way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to you overeating. It’s easy to eat when the food is right in front of you and everyone around you is eating. Perhaps you eat because you feel nervous in social situations or because you don’t want to be the downer at the table.
Stress-Taming Foods You Can Eat Before the Party to Feel Full
Stress management is a powerful wellness tool. Foods can help ease your stress in many ways. Comfort food, like a bowl of hot oatmeal, can boost your serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other foods can decrease the levels of adrenaline and cortisol, thereby decreasing your appetite. These foods can also help you feel more full before attending that holiday party.
Complex carbs trigger the brain to make more serotonin which help stabilize the mood swings that lead to over-indulging. Complex carbs take longer to digest and help regulate insulin functions. By stabilizing insulin release, the blood sugars remain constant, therefore keeping you full longer. Excellent choices include whole-grains, pasta, oatmeal, and high fiber vegetables.
Oranges are a great comfort food because of their high Vitamin C content. Vitamin C can tame stress levels while boosting your immune system. A recent study showed that people with hypertension (high blood pressure) and high levels of cortisol returned to normal levels faster when they took Vitamin C before a stressful event or task. An adequate dose of 500mg of Vitamin C appears to be effective.
Spinach is an excellent source of magnesium. Low magnesium levels can trigger headaches and fatigue, making your stress levels rise. Spinach not only helps raise magnesium levels, but also restores iron. Both magnesium and iron play a vital role in controlling cortisol release. If spinach in not your thing, try other green, leafy vegetables as alternative options. Soybeans and salmon are also great sources of magnesium.
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish like salmon and tuna, can prevent surges of cortisol and may also help to prevent heart disease, depression, and PMS. To keep your Omega-3’s flowing, plan to eat 3 ounces of fatty fish at least two times per week.
Green Tea– In a recent study, volunteers who drank a bottle of tea (fortified with green tea extract) every day for three months lost more body fat than another group who drank a bottle of regular oolong tea. The catechins (helpful phytochemicals) in green tea may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and mildly reduce body fat.
Water– Water is a keeping-it-off superfood. Research suggests that people who drink liquid carbohydrates (in the form of soda) are more likely to consume more calories than their body needs.
Avoid Foods That Increase Your Hunger
While trying to maintain your weight during the holidays, there are some things you should avoid that might stimulate your appetite and actually not be good for you.
Anything white– white flour that is used to make white bread has been stripped of bran, which takes away the grain’s full-feeling fiber content. Eating white bread spikes your insulin levels. Avoid it.
Juice– Juicing is all the rage these days, but juice contains all the sugar in your favorite fruit, but none of the fiber that comes in the pulp and skin. Drinking a glass of juice can send your blood sugar levels up quickly, and back down again, bringing on hunger. Opt for a smoothie instead.
Salty snacks-Snacks like chips and pretzels, are quick digesting simple carbs that will spike our insulin levels. Salty snacks will also cause you to crave more sweets. Stay away from them.
Fast food – The more you eat the more you want! Trans fats inflame your stomach, which impairs the body’s ability to produce dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters that control your appetite. Trans fats also block absorption of important minerals and vitamins that help with early satiety. High fructose corn syrup found in fast foods will lead to insulin resistance causing glucose stores to convert to fat, which leads to those dreaded holiday pounds. No matter how good it may taste, it is not worth it!
Don’t let your hard work and efforts during the first 10 months of the year be sabotaged by poor choices made in these last few weeks. Let the joy of the holidays uplift your spirit!
I wish you and your family a very happy, safe, and joyful holiday season and a prosperous and blissful New Year!
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
It’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 is it about the holidays that makes it so stressful?
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.
For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment.