Posts Tagged ‘weight gain’

Ways To Combat Cabin Fever

ways to combat cabin feverIs it winter? Is it spring? Well, yes it is!

If you are a St. Louisian, you know it is only a matter of hours before we go from freezing temperatures and a wind gust stronger than the Arctic to walking around in shorts and flip-flops!

What you may not know is the effects of drastic temperatures changes on our health. It is not the frigid winter woes or the smothering summer heat that drives us crazy. It is the sudden fluctuating extremes that affect the body’s ability to adapt.

Lingering colds, food cravings, joint pain, fatigue, mood changes are just a few of the symptoms we experience. There is nothing we can do about Mother Nature. But there is always something we can do to take care of our physical and mental health.

When Meteorologists advise us to stay indoors, WE DO IT. We so often feel that we must be productive to stay healthy.  But the greatest form of health comes from stillness. It is in utter silence, the very essence of life begins to heal!

Don’t let this year’s weather create frustrations of cabin fever. Here is your opportunity to refuel and recharge.

Just a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Get into your PJs. Grab your beverage of choice (ETOH totally fair game J). Open your favorite book. And get lost in the pages of your favorite story.
  2. Binge  your favorite show. If books aren’t your cup of tea, no problem. Turn on your favorite TV show/Movie and enjoy hours of distraction or until your eyes see double, whichever comes first.
  3. Begin planning Spring Break. Ok, granted we have no clue when spring will shine upon us, but thinking to exciting times can raise endorphins and boost mood.
  4. Declutter. There is nothing like clearing your energy within than by releasing what doesn’t serve you. It doesn’t have to be a deep clean, but maybe one or two drawers to start. You would have accomplished something and feel good doing it.
  5. Workout in your PJs. I had so much fun with this one this year! If your gym cancels your favorite HIIT class or you just can’t spend one more minute on the treadmill, get into your favorite sleepwear and grab resistance bands or simply use your own body weight to enjoy a quick 15 minute workout. Don’t underestimate the power of short bursts of exercises.
  6. Journal. Writing (or typing on the computer) offers a safe place to release anything you hold within you. You could journal your thoughts, write about your dreams, outline a game plan for your workouts or inscribe handwritten letters to friends who would love to get a card in the mail.  This is a great way to slow down, reflect and revive the lost art of communication. Spending time in gratitude is more effective than anything else.
  7. Talk. When was the last time you picked up the phone and CALLED your friend? (Texting doesn’t count!) I am guilty of this.  I am not much of a talker and do way better in text than verbal dialogue. Even though it was out of my comfort zone, I picked up the phone and reconnected with friends I hadn’t spoken to in months. Hearing about their lives lent happiness and joy to mine.
  8. Meditate. My all-time favorite. Trust me. I am NO yogi and can sit still maybe for all of 10 minutes tops. But those 10 minutes is all that is needed to reflect on how amazing we are! In 10 minutes, you can create a path of where you are and where you desire to go. Time is a scarcity. Time is the bridge between what was, what IS and what will be. Time is the mirror that reflects absolute truth.  Time is and always will be the ultimate gift given to everyone equally-we just have to choose to accept it.

Take time to thank Mother Nature for reminding us of the gift that is always above us, below us, within us and surrounding us.

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

For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT  our office today to schedule your appointment.

You can learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

How To Balance Hormones Naturally

balance hormones naturallyIt seems like just when I have the hormonal pathways figured out I am gently reminded of how much I don’t know. To me, that is the beauty of trying to understand a system that continues to elude us. The learning is endless.

In my previous blogs, I have discussed the varying components to hormones. What are the different hormones? What are the functions of each one? Why do they become imbalanced? How do we check for them? What medications can we use?

This month is all about my two favorite topics: Hormones and anything natural!

The complexity of the hormonal pathways is similar to our highway system. One road may lead to multiple different avenues with multiple different ways to get there. Just so, there is no one correct way to bring things into alignment.

Let’s take a look at how we can naturally keep our hormones balanced and how to naturally bring them back into balance if an imbalance were to occur.

  1. Maintain weight. With a higher body fat percentage, more adipose tissues are available to covert to Estrogen. This conversion results in worsening estrogen dominance, which leads to decreased metabolism, insulin resistance, increased weight gain, and subsequent imbalance.

    Solution:  Strength train 3-4x/wk. Increasing muscle mass helps maintain insulin regulation and metabolism resulting in lower body fat.

  2. Adequate sleep. Without proper quality and quantity of sleep, cortisol levels may fluctuate greatly throughout the day in an effort to support basic daily functioning. When cortisol levels are unable to synchronize with our natural flow, it places the body into “stress mode.”  In anticipation of the stress, insulin, once again, is down-regulated and thyroid functioning slows. This leads to cravings, mental fogginess, slowed reaction times, and decreased metabolism. This can cause an increase in weight and therefore, worsening estrogen dominance.

    Solution: Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Allow the body to rest in the full capacity it needs. Many people have told me, “Oh, I can function with just 4 hours of sleep.” Sure, maybe in the short-term. But in the long run, the body can’t sustain optimally under constant tension. Just like a car can’t run on empty, neither can you. Fuel up with sleep.

  3. Limit supplements. Why take something if your body doesn’t need it just because some limited research claims it can prevent Disease X or Symptom Y, only to come back in a few years claiming it is not beneficial at all. Overloading with a garland of drugs in a hopeless promise to health is becoming one of the leading causes of imbalances. Supplements stimulate the adrenal glands in ways we don’t yet understand. So what is all of this REALLY doing to us a decade from now. Be picky with what goes in your body.

    Solution: Have an open discussion with your physician regarding any non-prescription medications, even if you think it is not significant. Blood work can be done to check certain vitamin levels. If you are depleted, taking a supplement maybe beneficial. But only after asking the question, why are the levels abnormal in the first place?

  4. Meditate: Google “meditation” and you will find no shortage of studies proving meditation is ONE of the BEST healing therapies available. It doesn’t have to be for a gazillion hours or on top of a mountain. It can be for a few minutes with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Meditation is an ancient remedy that has gotten lost in the confusion of our techno-driven world. As meditation is finding its way back to us, it is worth trying.

    Solution: Take five minutes daily in a quiet uninterrupted place and observe your breath. Observe the chaos leaving and peace entering. Envision your entire system coming into balance working harmoniously so that you can become the best version of yourself.

  5. Self-Love.We have been conditioned to believe that taking time out for ourselves is selfish. When we allow self-criticism, judgement, and negativity to invade our space, our system starts to believe that we are less than. We begin to feel we are not worth the effort it takes into becoming healthy. Before we know it, the downward spiral has begun. This self-destructive process leads to depression, anxiety, poor sleep, and addictive behaviors. These choices once again puts the body into the familiar space of fighting stress.

    Solution: Daily positive affirmations are powerful tools. Every morning before starting the day, choose an affirmation, look yourself in the mirror and repeat it until you believe it. Then walk out the door with your head held high knowing you are worth SO MUCH more than ANYTHING that defines you.

Listening to your body is one of the best ways to ensure never getting lost on the road to healing!

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

For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT  our office today to schedule your appointment.

You can learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Artificial Sweeteners – Not the Lesser Of Two Evils

artificial sweetenersThere is no way around it. We love our sugar fix. Americans on average consume 20 tsp of sugar a day. A 12 ounce can of regular soda holds 39 gm of sugar, that’s 10-12 tsp of pure toxins. So do artificial sweeteners offer another healthier option?

Artificial sweeteners are often times called “intense sweeteners” because they are often sweeter than natural sugar.

The FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners:

  • Acesulfame potassium (Sunett)
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • D-Tagatose (Sugaree)
  • Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low)

These chemicals are found not only in carbonated beverages, but also in baked goods, canned products, candy, powdered mixes, sports drinks, jams and jellies.

Another sweetener, stevia, an herbal sweetening ingredient used in food and beverages by South American natives for many centuries and in Japan since the mid-1970s. According to Ray Sahelian, MD, author of The Stevia Cookbook, “There are no indications at this point from any source that stevia has shown toxicity in humans. Although further research is warranted.”

Because stevia is not FDA-approved, it can only be sold as a dietary supplement and not an artificial sweetener.

Although sweeteners have zero calories compared to their counterpart sugar, they are not the easy go to answer for reducing calories.

According to Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity and weight-loss specialist at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, “non-nutritive sweeteners are far more potent than table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. A miniscule amount produces a sweet taste comparable to that of sugar, without comparable calories. Overstimulation of sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners may limit tolerance for more complex tastes.”

A San Antonio Heart Study showed those who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese as people who didn’t drink diet soda.

To further that point, animal studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be addictive. In studies of rats who were exposed to cocaine, then given a choice between intravenous cocaine or oral saccharine, most chose saccharin.

According to an article from health.harvard.edu, the results from a Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis proved daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

“Sugar-containing foods in their natural form, whole fruit, for example, tend to be highly nutritious—nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and low in glycemic load. On the other hand, refined, concentrated sugar consumed in large amounts rapidly increases blood glucose and insulin levels, increases triglycerides, inflammatory mediators and oxygen radicals, and with them, the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses,” Dr. Ludwig explains.

There doesn’t need to be compelling evidence or research to convince us that by putting unnatural chemicals any good can come of it. With the urge to satisfy our palate, toxins are leeching into the foundation of our ecosystem destroying the very purpose of healthy existence.

Stop the sugar cravings by stopping what is causing them in the first place: sugar and sugar substitutes!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.

 

Have You Seen My Metabolism Anywhere?

metabolismWe all know it is coming. We fight it tooth and nail. We don’t give into the relentless annoyance of it. But yet, somehow it always seems to have the upper hand. And by “it”,  I mean your metabolism or lack thereof.

How is it that three little numbers makes us lose so much sleep?

Before starting yet another dieting spree, let’s take a step back and understand what metabolism is and how it changes through the aging process. If we don’t understand it, we can’t change it.

Metabolism is a “series of chemical reactions that sustain the living state of organisms and cells.” Metabolism can slow one to two percent each year after the age of 30.

Nutrition is the KEY to metabolism! Carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals and vitamins comprise the majority of fuel needed to keep metabolism operational.

Let’s take a brief look at how each one plays a role.

  1. Carbohydrates: This includes starch, sugar and fiber. When eaten in moderation, carbohydrates are broken down to fuel metabolism.
  2. Protein: Proteins are the main tissue builders in the body. They are part of every cell in the body. Proteins help in cell structure and function. They are also vital in supplying nitrogen for DNA and RNA genetic material and energy production.
  3. Fats: Fats produce twice as much energy as either carbohydrates or protein. They help form the cellular structure, help absorb fat soluble vitamins and provide a reserve storage for energy.
  4. Minerals and vitamins: Minerals do not play a direct role in energy needs but play an important role in metabolism. Vitamins are essential compounds that the body doesn’t produce and therefore relies up nutritional intake.

What are some other potential causes of a slowed metabolism?

  • Hypothyroidism and other endocrine issues
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Chronic stress
  • Exogenous hormone intake
  • Hormonal imbalance (low estrogen and testosterone)
  • Medication side effects
  • Excess supplement intake
  • Excess fat intake
  • Calorie deprivation
  • Low muscle mass

The good news is that there are ways to naturally increase our metabolism. But first understand something. Chasing after a “goal” weight or “ideal” size is unrealistic and can lead to frustration and disappointment. The scale doesn’t take in to account skeletal density, muscle mass or fat reserves. It only tells you an absolute number, a number which is false and misleading.

Don’t panic yet. We are not doomed forever. Here are some simple ways (many of which we have seen before) to raise your metabolism.

  1. Assessing the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). The Resting Metabolic Rate test (RMR) determines the amount of calories your body is using at rest. The results of a Resting Metabolic Rate test can tell if you have an increased or decreased metabolism, and if your body primarily uses fats or carbohydrates for energy. This information can be used to determine the amount of calories you need to eat each day to maintain or lose weight. The testing is done by breathing into a mask that measures your Oxygen –Carbon Dioxide exchange.
  2. Increase muscle mass. Strength training three to four times a week is mandatory when trying to increase metabolism. Developing and maintaining muscle mass allows the RPR to increase. Every pound of muscle uses approximately six calories a day to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only two calories daily.
  3. Eat. Calorie deprivation causes the body to go into crisis mode. As a preservation mechanism, the body slows down its metabolic response by storing fat and calories. Adding protein to every meal allows a constant release of glucose and maintains insulin regulation.
  4. Drink up. Dehydration is the killer when it comes to a slow metabolism. Calories need water to process. Even small levels of dehydration can cause  a slowing of the RPR.  Try for a goal of 90oz/day. If you struggle to get down your daily water quota, consuming fresh fruits that contain natural water is a great alternative.
  5. Sleep. Think of sleep like pulling into the gas station. We have to bring the car to a complete stop before we can fuel up. Just the same, sleep forces us to stop so that the body may refuel. If we compromise on sleep, we wake up on an empty tank of gas and expected to go the same distance as if the tank was full. Not possible. To sustain life, the body saves energy by decreasing metabolism.
  6. Question your medications and supplements. Just because it doesn’t say it on the package insert doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Assume everything going into your mouth is the cause until you proven otherwise. See what lifestyle changes you can make that could help you get off of prescription drugs.
  7. Maintain zero expectations. Our body will never be how it was in our 20’s and 30’s. So how can we expect it to respond in the same manner? Don’t be disappointed because you lost “only three pounds”. Be happy you didn’t gain three pounds. Body fat percentage, changes in clothing fit, how you feel is the REAL goal.

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by looking for a solution under every advertisement. In the US, the weight loss market is a billion dollar industry! If these companies claim to have the answer, then how come we are still the most overweight nation? These are empty promises. The diet pills, the latest calorie restricted programs that leave you emaciated and crabby, the guaranteed “to lose 20# in 20 days” nonsense.  THEY DON’T WORK.  Don’t waste your money. Our parents and grandparents didn’t seem to struggle as we are now. So how come it is the topic of almost every conversation? What was once a simple seamless process of aging has now become a race against who can promise the fastest results.

If we stop for a second and reflect, in every moment of life our bodies are in constant conversation with us. The symptoms we experience are the body’s attempt to get our attention. A slowed metabolism isn’t something to become consumed by.  It is an opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle. Rather than trying to “fix” it, listen to what it has to say.

There is no fast way to lose weight. Let me repeat….there is no fast way to lose weight. Dropping weight faster than the body can handle is a sure fire way to crash the metabolism to an all-time low.

Be gentle and patient with yourself. No matter what the scale says, you will always be worth more than those three little numbers.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.

 

Why Am I So Tired? The Truth Behind an Improperly Functioning Thyroid

There are so many articles out there about an improperly functioning thyroid, it is hard to know where to begin! Let’s start at the top. How many of these symptoms describe you?Improperly Functioning Thyroid

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Depression
  • Rapid hair graying
  • Decreased libido
  • And too many other “little issues attributed to aging”

These little issues could be caused by a small gland with some big responsibilities. That gland is your thyroid.

The thyroid gland produces and stores hormones through an integral and complex pathway that is directly linked to your hormones and adrenals. The thyroid plays a part in EVERYTHING AND EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY. It is butterfly-shaped and is found in the lower part of the neck, wrapped around the trachea.

Hypothyroidism: A Common Condition, But Frequently Misdiagnosed

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the body, for various reasons, doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone or is unable to utilize the thyroid at a cellular level. No matter what the cause, this diagnosis has debilitating and frustrating consequences.

Being diagnosed with hypothyroid myself in 2002, I have spent the last 13 years researching, studying,
and understanding the complexity of this “little gland.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 4.6 percent of the U.S. population (approximately 18 million people) age 12 and older has hypothyroidism. As prevalent as hypothyroidism is, most people are not correctly diagnosed when they first present symptoms to their doctors because there is not a standard interpretation criteria for screening tests—meaning that one doctor may think a slight dip below the normal range is acceptable while others would argue otherwise.

Your thyroid can be affected if your adrenals are not balanced or if your hormones are constantly fluctuating. Due to the minute-to-minute variability of ALL the hormones in your body, patients are often under-diagnosed.

A single thyroid level test is insufficient to make the determination of hypothyroidism.

Many other thyroid levels also need to be checked. These could include TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody, Thyroglobulin Antibody, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin D, Hormones and Cortisol.

A patient who self-educates and self-advocates is in the best position to work collaboratively with his or her doctor to determine the best course of treatment for the symptoms and diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Self-advocacy is much easier when you choose a doctor who has experience in recognizing the symptoms of hypothyroidism as well as other hormonal conditions such as diabetes and adrenal gland issues.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

Once hypothyroidism is diagnosed, there are many treatment options that need to be considered. Synthetic thyroid (Synthroid or Levoxyl) medication is not the only option. There are T3-only medications such as Cytomel or combination of T4 and T3 medications such as Armour Thyroid or Nature Thyroid. Patients even have the option of having their thyroid medication compounded with an accredited compounding pharmacy.

Hypothyroidism is not a cookie-cutter diagnosis and neither should be the treatment.

It is extremely important to work closely with your physician to monitor symptoms and continue to regularly check your thyroid levels.

The discussion of thyroid disease is more extensive than I can capture in a single blog post. In my 15 years of practicing primary care, I have diagnosed and corrected misdiagnoses of many patients with hypothyroidism. I understand and have experienced every symptom you may be having. I know the frustrations, I understand the suffering and I continue to live with this diagnosis everyday.

If you are suffering from any symptoms that are interfering with your life, Please contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.

Perimenopause To Menopause: Important Things to Know

Perimenopause To MenopauseThe human body changes over time, both externally and internally. Hormones are one of the body’s great regulators and both men and women experience hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives.

For women, the transition through perimenopause to menopause is a time of major hormonal fluctuation. The phases are often confused with each other, but true menopause is when a woman has not menstruated for a full year. Perimenopause is the phase leading to menopause and lasts an average of four years, although it can range from a few months to 10 years. A woman’s body typically begins to start the perimenopause process at age 35.

Perimenopause

Perimenopause usually begins between the age of 35 and 50 when the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen. The imbalance of estrogen and progesterone often results in missed periods as well as side effects like hot flashes (the most common side effect of perimenopause), fatigue or low energy, difficulty sleeping, decreased libido and what some women call “PMS plus” —instances when pre-menstrual side effects worsen.

Like many transitions, perimenopause can be physically and emotionally challenging. There is no quick fix for troublesome side effects but many women find relief in lifestyle changes that improve overall health, including:

  • Adding moderate exercise to your daily schedule
  • Improving nutrition
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol
  • Reducing stress
  • Increasing water intake
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and bioidentical hormone therapy (BHT) provide side effect relief for some women. These therapies help balance hormone levels that vary throughout perimenopause. However, using hormones to control symptoms are NOT mandatory. The first question to ask is, “how much do my symptoms affect my daily life?” And if the answer is not at all, then no hormones are needed at that time. The fluctuations of the hormones are like the waves of the oceans. Symptoms are variable depending on lifestyle habits, stress during that particular period in your life, weight loss or weight gain, climate and weather changes and Mother Nature.

Menopause

Even though menopause is the official ending of your menstrual periods, the hormone fluctuations that created side effects during perimenopause are still occurring, meaning that some perimenopause symptoms may remain (or return) and new side effects could appear during menopause.

Once women reach menopause they are at greater risk for developing osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones. The post-menopausal drop in estrogen is directly related to loss of bone mass. Because there are no symptoms of bone loss, it’s often only after a bone-related injury that the presence of osteoporosis is discovered. Bone mineral density tests (BMD) are x-rays that measure bone density. Screening should begin if you have any of the following risk factors or at the cessation of the menstrual cycle. The following puts you at a higher risk of developing osteopenia or osteoporosis:

  • Advanced age
  • Your race – Caucasians and Asians have a higher prevalence of osteoporosis
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Body frame – people with petite frames can have a higher risk because they often have less bone mass to begin with.

Likewise, your doctor can offer osteoporosis treatment and prevention suggestions which may include:

  • Eating foods high in calcium
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplements
  • Bone density medications
  • Estrogen therapy
  • Exercise, especially weight bearing exercise
  • Medically Supervised Weight Management
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol

Health Care Options for Perimenopause and Menopause

Perhaps one of the most important things to know about perimenopause and menopause is that you aren’t alone. Approximately three million women transition to menopause every year and there are abundant health care options for both phases. Each woman will enter this phase in her life. During these transition years, remember that these symptoms are not forever. Your doctor can help get you through the storm, by teaching you to dance in the rain.

Certainly the scope of this topic is much more in depth and much more individualized than can be covered here. Knowing that the greatest years of your life don’t have to be the darkest days, lends hope for every woman to reclaim her body.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.

Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?

adrenal fatigueIt has been some time since I have talked about Adrenal Fatigue. As with anything in medicine, there is debate as to whether this is a real condition or a made up label for where there is no answer.

Before we can answer that question, it is important to understand the purpose of the adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands, also known as suprarenal glands, are small, triangular-shaped glands that rest on top of the kidneys. Their primary role is produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, and regulate an appropriate response to stress.

The specific hormones released by the adrenal glands include:

  • Cortisol – Cortisol helps control the body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It suppresses inflammation, regulates blood pressure, increases blood sugar and helps control our sleep patterns. Cortisol is released during times of stress to help in the flight or fight mode.

  • Aldosterone – Aldosterone regulates blood pressure by directly by affecting the sodium and potassium pump. Aldosterone sends signals to the kidneys that direct sodium into the bloodstream and release potassium out into the urine.

  • DHEA and Androgenic Steroids – These are precursor hormones that are converted in the ovaries into female hormones (estrogens) and in the testes into male hormones (androgens).
  • Epinephrine (Adrenaline) and Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline) – These hormones increase the heart rate and force of contractility of the heart muscles. This leads to an increase in blood flow to the muscles and brain. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are often activated in stressful situations when our body needs additional resources and energy to endure ongoing stressors.

So what does all of this mean?

Let’s simplify our understanding. Adrenal glands are needed to live. Period. It is our fuel tank. When we are born, the tank is full. Then, life happens that requires us to tap into those reserves. And when the demands out weigh the supply, a deficit occurs.

As we have understood from above, the hormones released from the adrenal glands are needed for overall survival. What happens when we run on empty? Fatigue sets in. Hormones are in chaos. The entire ecosystem of the human structure and function is in peril.

How do you know if you have this? Well, this is where we need to take a step back and really understand what our body is going through.

With the current lifestyle the world lives, I am sure we all have some degree of adrenal fatigue. Google the symptoms and I am sure most of us check off 90% of the list.

However, the difference between adrenal fatigue and adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s Disease) is that the latter is a TRUE diagnosable medical condition.

Those that suffer from Addison’s disease are unable to produce the hormones in adequate supply to maintain bodily function. The diagnosis is confirmed with laboratory testing. Every symptom must be watched and treated quickly and aggressively. Time is of the essence with Addison’s.

Conversely, adrenal fatigue doesn’t always have abnormal test results. This doesn’t mean that patients don’t have some diminish of hormone production. It just means that it is not as profound as in Addison’s.

I am sure you’re thinking that is great but how do I treat this so I can move on with my life?

When I first started learning and understanding about adrenal fatigue in 2007, I was sure the answer was replenishing with unproven garland of supplements. What I soon discovered was the supplements caused more issues than the fatigue itself. It didn’t make sense to treat one thing only for it to lead into another issue. Over the years, I have continuously asked myself how can we treat something we are not sure is a real entity? Whether the label is real or not, the symptoms are!

Ok. So we know it is real, but now what?

How about looking back through previous years and recognizing the habits that could have led to this?

  • How much processed foods did you consume?
  • How strict were you about your sleeping habits?
  • How active were you, really?
  • How much did you handle and resolve stress rather than sweeping them under the rug?
  • How many times did you make a choice you knew wasn’t right?
  • How many days did you neglect your “me time” thinking it was selfish?
  • How many times did you put yourself at the end of the priority list?

There is no judgement here. We have all been there. Hind sight is 20/20. But it is never too late to refuel, replenish and revive!

Try and begin with these five basic steps.

1.     Move at least 20 minutes a day.

2.     Stop all screens 1 hour before bedtime.

3.     Take a 5 second pause before acting on any choices you make.

4.     Move yourself up on the priority list.

5.     If it isn’t going to matter in one year, let it go.

This will take time. Keep expectations out of the equation. Work for a lifestyle change. Not for an immediate gain. It all starts with simplicity. Simply staying present. Simply starting. Simply observing. Simply being!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance.  For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT  our office today to schedule your appointment.  You can learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance.  For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT  our office today to schedule your appointment.  You can learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

5 Ways To Prevent Pre-Diabetes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over The Counter Medicine Safety

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

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

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

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

Here are some staggering OTC Statistics:

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

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

  1. Dextromethorphan:

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

  1. Caffeine:

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

  1. Diet Pills:

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

  1. Laxatives/Herbal Supplements:

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

  1. Pseudoephedrine:

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

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

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance.  For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT  our office today to schedule your appointment.  You can learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.