breast cancerIt’s likely that you or someone you know has been affected by breast cancer. Studies indicate that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. This staggering number makes breast cancer the second leading cause of death among women, and an important reason to pay attention to your breast health, not just in October…but every day of the year.

Women spend a great deal of time tending to the needs of others. Whether you work full time or are a stay-at-home-mom, there’s always something that needs your attention. If a child or family member gets sick, women are usually on the front lines, ready to take action and care for a loved one in need. If the PTA calls asking for an extra two-dozen cupcakes for an upcoming fundraiser, or your boss needs you to attend an after-hours event with a new client, it’s often difficult to “just say no”. Always with good intentions, women end up neglecting their own health and any warning signs that may go along with an illness because they are helping others. It’s important to know, breast cancer does have a higher success rate for a cure when caught early, so awareness is the first step to a healthy, cancer-free you.

It’s still unknown why people develop breast cancer, however experts do know that breast cancer occurs when cells start to develop abnormally. Dividing more quickly than healthy cells, a “lump” can form within the breast tissue, lymph nodes or other parts of your body. Although it’s more common for women to develop breast cancer, it can affect men as well. Obesity, age, sedentary life, and a family history of breast cancer increase the risk for developing breast cancer. More recently, it’s been discovered that certain genetic gene mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 also increases likelihood. Unfortunately these same genes can also increase the risk of other cancers, such as ovarian cancer.

Genetic testing may be considered if there’s a family history of breast cancer. Simple blood or saliva tests are used to identify any inherited mutations in BRCA or other genes.

Because a new lump or mass is the most common sign of breast cancer, it’s important to be aware of changes to your body. Regular mammogram screenings have decreased the number of advanced breast cancers, making it an important appointment to make when scheduling your well visits. Fifteen percent of breast cancers cannot be detected on mammograms, making self-exams another key component of your wellness routine.

Other breast cancer symptoms to watch for include breast size changes, swelling, skin irritation, breast or nipple pain, or inverted nipples, puckering of the breast skin or discharge from the breasts that is not related to child rearing. Breast cancer treatment has come a long way as more and more research and funds are invested into identifying the cause of breast cancer. As women are becoming more in tune with their bodies, they are learning the importance of   putting themselves first.

It’s important to take your health seriously, and scheduling regular well visits offers optimum health benefits that aren’t just essential for your quality of life, but for your family as well.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each patient’s individual needs with comprehensive, individualized treatment options and health programs.

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

concierge medicineIt feels like every week the world becomes a little more upside-down and inside out. What do we believe? Who do we believe? How do we make the simple day to day decisions that once took mere seconds have now extended into days? When will the vaccine be ready? Will a vaccine be ready? Where do I go to get tested? Can I have my antibody levels checked? What do I do about sending my kids to school in the fall when I am scared to let them out of my sight? And the list goes on and on……

The truth is, I don’t know that any of us have the answers –  it is okay not to know. It is perfectly okay to be feeling everything you are feeling. Don’t dismiss it. Don’t justify it. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Accept that everything you are feeling is legit and valid.

I have spent a great deal of time during these last four months in meditation and introspection.  My intention for these monthly articles is to always in some small way inspire each of you. But what do I write about that isn’t already out there? How can we have a conversation that doesn’t include a left or right or an up or a down? How can I translate my thoughts into words and hope it will inspire a wave of health and healing?

The only way I know how to do that is to be myself. Raw and authentic.

I thought I would share the story of how I came to practice with the principles and beliefs that I hold.

There was a time in my early years of practice when my patient schedule would be bookmarked with 20+ patients, all spaced in increments of 15 minutes.  I barely had time to say ‘Hi’ to them and next thing I knew, I was walking out the door. There was no time to ask them how they were doing or how the family, kids, or work life was going. We had time to address only one problem at each visit, leaving the rest for a future appointment.

I will never forget the day that I decided I needed to make a change. It was March 2011, and as usual my schedule was double booked with no breaks in sight. As a person who is time conscious, I make it a point to stay on time, but one small set back in the day would put me behind by at least an hour. The day started like any other. I was feeling good that I was on schedule and the stars were aligning.  By late morning, a quick 5 minute break opened. I felt like I hit the jackpot.  I walked into to see my next patient before that break, only to find out her beloved husband had suddenly died.  How could I leave her in the middle of her anguished tears just because the timer on the 15 minutes was ticking down? I couldn’t! So I stayed there to be with her.

I was very well aware of the angry patients that began to line up after her. They also had places to go, things to do, people to see. However, I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that our time was finished. I wanted to give her the respect of my time as she began telling me about the special love she shared with her soulmate for over 50 years.

I also knew it was not fair to the others who were waiting after her because their time was just as important and valuable.

The internal tug-o-war was too much for me to handle. Both pulled at my heart strings and I didn’t know what the right thing to do was. Stay and comfort or politely excuse myself?

It was in that moment I knew I couldn’t do this anymore.  How was I to take care of somebody in 15 minutes when they were placing so much trust in me to help them?

I went home that night 2 hours behind schedule only to collapse into a pool of defeat.

When I graduated from medical school, I took the oath “First Do No Harm,”  NOT  “First Do No Harm but only for 15 minutes!”

This realization left me with no choice except to make the decision to change to Concierge Medicine.

In September 2011, I began my new practice. There was an exponential learning curve during those initial days.  I had to give myself permission to take my time. I had to get used to the fact that there was no reason for me to rush. What a feeling of freedom and joy I had!!  Nine years later, my patients have become like family. I cherish hearing their stories. I relish in their experiences, and I rejoice in their healing.

Concierge medicine has allowed me to scale down my patient volume from having a panel of 3000 patients to a panel of 300 patients.  This gave me the opportunity to take care of patients in a way I never thought possible. The concept of Concierge Medicine has only come to the forefront in recent years. As more focus is directed towards preventative medicine, concierge practices will soon become mainstream medicine. The last nine years have offered me the opportunity to engage in full dialogue with each one of you. I no longer feel a sense of urgency to stop the appointments in mid-sentence in an effort to stay on time. For me, the most profound experience has been the process of learning together with my patients. I always say I don’t have all the answers, but why not find out together? To engage in dialogue that brings about mutual growth and discovery is the best platform I know how to offer.

The time gives me the chance to earn your trust and I hope it allows you to feel heard.

We don’t always get it right – but we always have something to work towards.

Why I am writing about this now is because everything around us, outside of us and inside of us, is chaos and confusion.  When equal trust spans between physician-patient, you know you have an anchor to always hold onto.

Practicing Concierge Medicine is the reason my bond with each of you allows me the space to say “You know what? I don’t know what is going to happen.  I don’t know when things are going to be okay, but together we will figure it out.”

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

5 reasons to spend more time outsideAs the sun glares over the horizon, the warmth of its rays welcomes us to come be present with nature in the great outdoors.

After nearly 10 weeks of doing what is best for our nation and the people of it, we began to sense the door was cracking just enough to raise our excitement.

However, this doesn’t mean it is business as usual. I caution you not to fall into the patterns of previous behaviors. We are not even close to being out of the woods.

But with what we have learnt about the Coronavirus, making smart and safe decisions can ensure we keep ourselves and others safe while being able to enjoy the summer days ahead.

We are still in the nucleus of a pandemic – and unless safe guidelines are in place, even outdoor fun can put us in a major setback.

When I intended to write on this topic a couple of weeks ago, it looked very different in my mind than it does now.

How can we ignore what is happening in our streets, in every corner of our world and within every community that surrounds our lives. All of this while a virus, known as Covid, continues to silently tear through leaving a painful path of its presence.

How are we to make sense of any of what is happening while continuing to live our day to day lives? I don’t know that we can.

But getting outdoors maybe the best possible thing we can do right now.

Here are just some ideas on how to spend more time outside this summer to get you started while still staying safe.

  1. Family picnics. Go back to the good ole days with a blanket on the ground, homemade sandwiches and the lingering scent of bug spray. After a satisfying meal, just lay back and look at the massive painting of stars, each one waiting for you to make a wish.  Such simplicity.
  2. Ice cream stroll. How fun! Load up the family, after all who can’t be bribed with ice cream, and visit your local ice cream parlor. Make it a to-go order and enjoy the savory summer treats while strolling the streets of your community.  What a wonderful way to support local business, get to know your neighbors and be out in nature. Everyone wins.
  3. Family tag. Ok. You may have a little trouble getting the older ones off their screen for this one, but it may be worth a try. Do you remember the game of freeze tag? The game goes like this, if you are tagged, you have to freeze and cannot move until someone untags you? Oh boy, do I remember.  We played this all the time and I would constantly pull pranks on my friends. Right before we would begin to play, I would tell my friends that the only coolest kid was able to drink five glasses of water in 2 minutes. And I double dared them to do it. And they did. By the time the game started, they all were running around with a full bladder.  When they were tagged, they would lose right away because they were unable to stand still because they had to pee so bad! So, I won most of the time, until they caught on to my ploy. It is a blast. You should try it with the family minus the water prank, unless you are competitive like me and really want to win. It is hilarious to watch and keeps everyone hydrated.
  4. Backyard camping. How much lower maintenance camping can you get than this? Pitch a tent or roll out the sleeping back in the privacy of your own back yard. Take in the cool night breeze and reflect on how the last 10+ weeks have brought us all back to the way life is supposed to be lived.
  5. Car roof chats. If it is just a night with the two of you or you are in need of some alone time, why not climb to the rooftop of the car and enjoy conversations with each other or yourself from a different vantage point? It is amazing how a change in location can bring clarity to thoughts and feelings. It is worth finding out, right?

My friends, this was a challenging task to write this blog.  I wanted to find a way to write on a topic that was light but in no way take away from the reality of the darkness that surrounds us.

I DO NOT want to diminish the magnitude of healing that still awaits us. Our hearts are heavy and our spirits are weary. But if we don’t find ways to take care ourselves, how can we hold up our brothers and sisters?

In the few minutes you spend reading this blog, my hope is you place down all the burdens being carried upon you and remind yourself that the world is good and it will once again become our home.

As we are caught in between the splintered worlds of the unknowns, the only thing I know how to do is extend my hand.

I hope being in the embrace of nature allows you to find the solace within the inertia of more questions and not enough answers.

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

working out at homeSix weeks have passed since ringing in the New Year with all of those promising resolutions to get healthy. We set our intentions and march forward to sign up for those “unbeatable” gym specials. However, Old Man Winter can get in the way of leaving the house so we can keep up with those promising resolutions.

Whatever the reason that kept you from using that newly minted membership card, look no further. Here are my suggestions on ways to stay active without having to leave your home.

The benefits of incorporating resistance training far surpasses hours on a cardio machine.  Resistance bands have become one of my absolute favorite tools to have.  The versatility as well as the safety and ease of use are suitable to almost all fitness levels.

Bands are available online or at any retail store. Depending on the brand, prices can range from $5-$30+, a very worthwhile investment.

If you have any medical concerns that may preclude you from exercising, be sure to discuss it with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.

My Band Resistant Workout: Recommend 3x/week

Warm-up: 7 minutes

Block 1: Repeat 2x rounds.  Tie band around a sturdy structure so that both ends are available to hold. (ie a wall pillar, couch leg, a tree etc)

  1. Band squats. Extend arms straight holding on to end of the band, squat, one sec pause at the bottom and then stand. Repeat 15x reps.
  2. Alternating lunges. Extend arms straight holding on to end of band, alternate reverse lunges

Repeat 15x reps each side.

  1. Squat jack. Extend arms straight holding on to end of the band, sit low in a squat and begin jumping jacks. Repeat 30x low squat jack.

Cardio:  2 minutes high knees

Block 2: Repeat 2x rounds. Free up band from structure.

  1. Lateral pulldown. Hold band in the center with approximately 12 inches between each hand, then raise band overhead and while pulling down to chest, pull the bands apart. Stop mid chest and slowly extend back overhead. Repeat 15x reps.
  2. Bicep curls. With hands in same position as 1st exercise, rest the hands on the thighs palms facing up. Next, create tension on the band by pulling it apart in opposite direction as you flex the elbows to the foreheard. Lower back down slowly. Repeat 15x reps.
  3. Chest pull aparts. Keeping band at chest level, begin pulling the band in opposite directions to outside of chest, 3 sec pause, slowly return to center. Repeat 15x reps.

Cardio: 2 minutes run in place

Cool down/Stretch: 7 minutes.

This format is only a starting point to get you motivated to stay focused on your health. There are any number of resources (online videos, books or magazines, personal trainers) that maybe utilized to take these few exercises and transform them into a consistent way of life, no matter what the outside circumstance maybe.

Be greater than your excuses!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other contributing factors include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

breast cancerOctober has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness. Everywhere you look, pink is the color you will be sure to find.

This months’ blog is dedicated to anyone who has personally been affected or knows someone with breast cancer.

It seems every day we hear about someone else that was diagnosed. Has breast cancer really become more prevalent? Or has medical technology advanced so much that we can pick up a ‘speck’ of something with the earliest of screening? I believe the answer is a little of both.

According to The National Foundation of Cancer Research, today,  the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 8 for U.S. women and 1 in 1,000 for U.S. men.

While we can never 100% prevent cancer. Let’s look at the 5 scientifically proven ways to REDUCE the chances of developing breast cancer in ones’ lifetime.

Maintain healthy body weight. Excess fat converts into estrogen. High estrogen levels in the body leads to mutation of cells which can eventually lead to cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise/week. This includes aerobic as well as strength. Just another reason to get moving.

Limit alcohol. In its Report on Carcinogens, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known carcinogen. “Excessive and prolonged alcohol use can weaken the immune system, which is important for preventing and controlling cancer,” says Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery at UPMC. The ethanol in alcohol breaks down to a toxic chemical that can damage DNA. Alcohol may prevent the body from absorbing nutrients that may decrease cancer risk; and it increases estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer. Cancer-causing chemicals could also enter alcoholic beverages during the fermentation process. Moderate alcohol, particularly red wine, may have anti-inflammatory properties that contribute to a larger preventative goal,” Dr. Francis says. Women who drink 3 to 6 drinks per week of any type of alcohol have a 15% increase in their risk of breast cancer. You don’t have to give up your occasional cocktail just yet. Just be mindful of the amount consumed.

Breastfeeding
. Research proves mothers who choose to nurse lower their overall risk. Breastfeeding decreases the levels of free estrogen. To those mothers who struggled with this, it is absolutely ok. There are many other things you can do to protect yourselves. If breastfeeding is an option for you, choose it. The benefits clearly outweigh the discomfort of those initial nursing days.

Limit processed foods. The many revealing documentaries have exposed many of our food industry for what it is. With our crops, livestock, and even non-living products being tainted with estrogen, it is no wonder why breast cancer is climbing the charts as the leading cancer of women. Limit your red meats. A recent study from the University of North Carolina showed that eating grilled and barbecued meat increased the risk of death among breast cancer survivors. “Dangerous chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be produced when cooking muscle meat like beef, pork, poultry, and lamb at high temperatures over open flame or hot coals,” says Shayna Komar, a licensed and registered dietitian at Piedmont Healthcare in Georgia. “These chemical reactions cause compounds in the meat to change into potentially cancer-causing agents.”

Know where your foods and other household products are coming from. Go green while eating as local as possible.

Let go of the stress. Stress hasn’t been proven to link to cancer, but recent studies are beginning to point in that direction.  “Studies over the last 30 years have identified psychosocial factors including stress, chronic depression, and lack of social support as risk factors for cancer progression,” state authors of the study at UTMD Anderson Cancer Center.  Another study at Ohio State University showed that stress actually turns on cancer genes. Next time you begin to get worked up, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”

The discussion of cancer prevention is just as exciting as it is daunting. Although there are many proven ways to decrease your risk, new findings suggest we may have barely scratched the surface.

While we can’t prevent everything, we sure can try!

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

Benefits of AcupunctureThe idea of needles inserted throughout your body for pain relief may make the hair on the back of your neck run for cover. What if these needles inserted in very strategic locations could actually help cure symptoms that modern medicine couldn’t?

I am talking about the science of acupuncture.

The International Academy of Medical Acupuncture defines this 7000 year old alternative method as:

“Energy network traversing just below the surface of the skin which communicates from the exterior to the internal organs and structures over 1,000 “Acupoints” on the body. This energy works in harmony with the body’s circulatory, nervous, muscular, digestive, genitourinary and all other systems of the body. When this vital energy becomes blocked or weakened, an effect in a body system or anatomic location becomes evident. Stimulation of one or a combination of key “Acupoints” on the body may restore harmony to the affected area.”

Let me be very honest here. While I believed in “theory” acupuncture could help, I underestimated the enormous clinical impact it could have on healing the body. Well, at least until this March, that is.

Dealing with somewhat chronic gluteal tendinopathy caused my running days to come to a screeching halt. Steroid injections offered short term relief. Physical therapy taught me how to strengthen those weakened areas. But it is hard to work on strengthening when you are in a constant state of pain.

Desperate for any relief before my April half –marathon, I opened to the possibility of alternative treatments.

I was introduced to a remarkable chiropractor who assessed my issues and began weekly medical acupuncture treatments. For the first time in five years, I was able to sit crossed legged for more than ten minutes. My running pace improved significantly. And I ended up finishing the half one minute faster than last year!

So how exactly does acupuncture work?

According to The Internal Academy of Medical Acupuncuture, ”The human body’s energy flow courses over twelve meridians or channels that are normally well balanced. If a disruption of energy flow exists, it can alter the entire system, producing pain or symptoms in the body. This is Acupuncture’s goal-to restore normalcy to the body’senergy balance by utilizing a combination of Acupoints located on the twelve meridians.This is accomplished by a variety of means, the needle is just one.”

To begin, a certified acupuncturist will obtain a complete history and perform a thorough physical exam to assess the possible origin of pain. A thin gauge needle is inserted along the desired meridian points. During my treatments, I was also treated with electrical stimulation at the point of insertion. This allowed for pain receptors to dial it down a notchwhile increasing blood flow to the injured sites.

After one treatment, my pain, range of motion, strength and stability improved by 80%. Although skeptical that it would last, subsequent treatments only continued to improve my symptoms. Once the pain was tolerable, I was now able to start a regimented structured strength training program.

**Case controlled studies have shown acupuncture to also be an effective form of treatment for:

  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Biliary colic
  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • Dysentery, acute bacillary
  • Dysmenorrhoea, primary
  • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • Headache
  • Hypertension, essential
  • Hypotension, primary
  • Induction of labor
  • Knee pain
  • Leukopenia
  • Low back pain
  • Malposition of fetus, correction
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Postoperative pain
  • Renal colic
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow

**Source: UC San Diego School of Medicine: Center for Integrative Medicine

Chronic symptoms halt a life from being lived to its utmost potential.

We are always seeking answers from a future solution that is yet to be discovered. But what if those answers already exist and we just need to turn around and find them in the place where we have already been?

No matter what condition is affecting your life, consider remaining open to the idea that alternative holistic medicine could offer a restorative treatment that helps in realigning your energy flow.

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

 

 

Exercise EquipmentHave you ever walked into a gym, took one look at the equipment, and turned right around and walked out?

All the latest and greatest gadgets can not only be daunting, but they can also leave one to ponder who comes up with this crazy stuff.

Well, let me tell you, this is my absolute favorite thing to write about. I love and adore anything fitness. Some people reach for the latest upgrades to their Smartphones. Not me, I reach for the most convoluted apparatus to hit the market.

Don’t let lack of experience deter you from your fitness goals. If the gym is not your thing, no problem.

However, there is no excuse not to exercise.  Our aging bodies need movement to keep the joints mobile, hormones in check, metabolism up and mental sanity functioning.

Listening to your body’s cues will help streamline what type of exercise is optimal for you. Once you start on this journey, you will never want to live without it.

For those that prefer to workout in the privacy of their homes or in the nucleus of Mother Nature, here are 5 must have equipment staples:

  1. MAT. Your mat is there to support you, ground you and keep you safe. Yoga, pilates, core work, deep fascial stretching, restorative meditation are just a few of the opportunities the mat brings. Have one in the car at all times. You never know when you may have free time in your day to take to the mat.
  2. DUMBBELLS. Resistance training is a non-negotiable component to exercising. While doing cardio formats are great, strength training is where systemic balance occurs. We all know resistance training helps maintain bone strength. But did you know it also helps lower cholesterol, improve insulin resistance, decrease cellular inflammation and increase metabolism? For optimal results, strength training should be done 3-4x/wk.  Begin with the basic exercises: squats, lunges, pushups, planks. As your strength improves, begin adding weights. With those that are affected by orthopedic injuries, water aerobics is an excellent alternative.
  3. RESISTANCE BANDS. Just like my purse, these go EVERYWHERE with me. How can a latex tube cause so many muscles to cry out for mercy? That is because they are just awesome. Lightweight, compact and so versatile, bands are the best travel accessory one can pack. Resistance bands are colored for the varying intensities. Each resistance level represents the weight in pounds. For example, depending on the manufacturer company, a blue band may have enough resistance of lifting 8-10# dumbells.  This is one purchase that is a must have.
  4. SUSPENSION STRAPS.  This is where the fun begins! Straps were initially used in the military to train soldiers in various structural suspended planes. Just as the name implies, the majority of the exercises are done in a suspended manner relying on your core and the straps to keep you from falling. I bought my first set of straps 10 years ago and it still continues to be my go to on a day when I need to go all out. Many different companies have created off-brands that make it easily affordable.  Suspension straps are for every level.  That’s what makes them so great! Trust me. You will not regret adding this to your collection.
  5. FOAM ROLLER.  Cardiovascular and resistance training causes micro tears in the deep muscle fibers. The body’s natural defense mechanism is to increase blood flow and lay down new tissue to repair the damage. In the process of regeneration, scar tissue begins to develop. Over time, the scar tissue will start to inhibit range of motion in the joints. This restriction leads to injuries and avoidable traumas. Foam rolling is used to ‘knead’ out those scar tissues. If possible, do it daily for 5-10 minutes. Those that foam roll on a regular basis, notice an improvement in their overall quality of exercise.  Foam rollers also make great tools for pilates/strength exercises. Relying heavy on the core, rollers help improve balance and postural stability.

There are many other available modalities, other than those listed here, that constantly challenge our physical form.  The five listed above is a great starting point for beginners and a must-have for all advanced athletes.

We must continuously change our approach to our body and evolve our techniques so that we may keep up with the emerging science and aging self.

Be mindful and practice safe proper form.  Remember, how you work out is how you will end up looking. There are a plethora of online videos that show correct technique. Find your favorite instructor and bring the training home to you.

We all have to climb this mountain of healthy living someday.  Start now when you GET to rather than waiting until you HAVE to. The choice is YOURS! Choose YOU! The view from the top really is more breathtaking!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fermented foodsWhat are fermented foods and how can they help promote a healthy gut?

Fermentation is an anaerobic process where bacteria or yeast convert sugars in food to organic acids or alcohol. This helps preserve the food while adding a little zing to the palate.

In recent years, fermented foods are finding their way to grocery store shelves for their potential benefits on gut health.

Many fermented foods are made with the help of bacterial/yeast cultures. However, most of the finished products do not contain live or active cultures, one of the main components found in probiotics.

Fermented foods contain what is knows as “prebiotics.” However, since it is in the presence of “probiotics” we see reduction in gut inflammation, it is unclear the role fermentation has on leaky gut.

And while there are no recommended daily serving sizes, it is not clear how much we need to eat to optimize our GI system.

While we can’t always rely on a boost of “good bacteria” from them, fermented foods offer other benefits. They are rich in nutrients and vitamins while adding a punch to the taste buds.

Here is a look at different fermented options:

Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented drink using green or black tea. Most of the studies outlining the benefits of Kombucha are limited to animals or test tubes. However, they show promising hope against liver toxicity, cancer cells and lowering blood sugars. Kombucha can be made at home, but care must be taken when attempting to handle live cultures.

Kefir

Kefir is a type of cultured dairy product made by adding kefir grains made from yeast/bacteria. In one small study, kefir was shown to improve the digestion of lactose in 15 people with lactose intolerance. Another study found that consuming 6.7 ounces of kefir daily for six weeks decreased markers of inflammation. One study looked at the effects of kefir on 40 people with osteoporosis.  After six months, the group consuming kefir was found to have improved bone mineral density, compared to a control group.

Tempeh

Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that have been pressed into a compact cake and can be used as a meat-substitue. A test-tube study found that certain plant compounds in tempeh could act as antioxidants, helping reduce the buildup of free radicals. A word of caution when using soy: soy contains estrogenic properties and should be used in limited quantities.

Probiotic yogurts

Studies have shown fermented milk products like probiotic yogurt could help reduce blood pressure, improve bone health and contributes to helping maintain body fat. Not all yogurt varieties contain probiotics. Look for ones that contain “live cultures” with minimal sugars.

Maintaining a mostly plant based process-free diet is the perfect way to help preserve and maintain gut restoration. Fermented foods only assist in this process. If you have questions about this, or any other issues going on with your gut, contact our offices today to schedule an appointment.

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.