Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Raman’

5 Reasons to Spend More Time Outside This Summer

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.

Giving Back During COVID-19

Two months.giving back during COVID-19

That is how long it has been since life threw us into a sea of unknowns.  With the destruction of our normalcy and the alienation of our basic need for human touch, the Coronavirus has left behind a trail of unforgiving reminders of disbelief and shock.  But even still, from the depths of this despair, heroes have emerged. And the human race has once again united into a melting pot of compassion in a fight for global healing.

Have any of us ever seen, experienced or lived through anything like this?

I know for me, the last two months have been an extensive time of reflection, healing and self-expression. It has been the start of a time in my life that has offered me a humble opportunity to serve humanity in ways I couldn’t be more thankful for. But, I still ache to do more. 

Many have told me how helpless they feel and have asked how they could become part of the circle of healing hands that is so desperately needed around the world.

That gave me the idea for this month’s blog.

Although the Internet offers multitudes of organizations looking for volunteers, it can become overwhelming and confusing.  So if are wanting to become a part of this movement of giving back during COVID-19 while #StayingHome and #SavingLives, try some of these simple ideas.

  1. Online tutoring. In a few short days, schools around the US will be closing out the 2019-2020 academic year. We must not forget how this pandemic has affected the youngest of our humans and the adults who care for them. With little warning, teachers were thrust into going from a classroom based curriculum to an online schedule, while still trying to maintain the same level of teaching and discipline. Many students may have struggled with adjusting to computer based learning, causing them to fall behind on their academic potential. In an effort to keep the learning gap small, tutoring is a much needed service to help students stay on track.  Virus or no virus, education must go on. Reach out to your local school district and see how you can help mentor the children of the future.

  2. Sewing. I know many of you are already involved in some form of PPE design and donation. On behalf of all of the essential workers, our most sincere and humble gratitude! Sewing is one of my favorite hobbies. The therapeutic hum of the sewing machine is so cathartic on those stressful days. I belong to a non-for -profit group that has continued to sew masks for various hospitals, homeless shelters, and nursing homes. The need is great! Masks will be part of our lives indefinitely and we can never have enough. If all you can do is thread a needle, we will take it.  Help is needed to order fabric and replenishing sewing supplies. Even help with cutting the fabric is vital. Whatever way you can volunteer, it is going towards something great. Every stitch and every hand brings us together.

  3. Calling all cooks. Are you a genius in the kitchen? Or just love being there? Food is desperately needed all throughout the communities. Various organizations are heading up food deliveries everywhere. Whether you offer to buy the groceries or drop them off, your help is invaluable. Vulnerable, high-risk volunteers who want to help but are afraid of becoming exposed can still help by staying safe and preparing meals in their own kitchen. The prepared meal will then be taken to the needed locations by other volunteers. PBJ sandwiches count. Anything that feeds the soul. #StayHome #SaveLives.

  4. Photography. No doubt, these are milestone moments. Whether you choose to forget them or cherish them, these unforgettable family times maybe worth grabbing that Kodak moment. We can look back and say, “Hey, remember how we spent 24/7 for what felt like a gazillion years?” So if you love looking through the lens, how about offering to take portraits for family, friends or neighbors from across the street maintaining the six-feet distance? This small act of love will do amazing things for families going through hard times.

  5. Online learning. This is absolutely one of my favorite ways to give back. Look, let’s face it. The next few months and maybe years, connection through the cyber portal will be the new normal. We can either choose to wait to go back to “normal” or we can CREATE our normal. With the online platform, learning has exploded into an infinite canvas of creativity.
    I would like to share a small example of this. You see, I absolutely love fashion.  If I didn’t go into medicine, my back up plan was to enter into fashion design, albeit, I can barely draw a stick figure.  One of my friends, who has studied and taught fashion design, knows how crazy I am about this. Out of her generous kindness, she offered to teach me. I can’t tell you what this simple gesture has done for my morale.  This is something I never would have even thought to do in our “old normal.”  

    If you have a talent, share it with the world!! We need it now more than ever.  You can teach someone to draw, paint, cook, sew, sing, dance, speak a language, learn computer programs or play an instrument.   If you are handy, conduct a home repair workshop. Lead your friends through a guided meditation. If organizational skills are your forte, get online with your friend or friends and walk them through the best way to organize their space. The possibilities are endless. We know these services are all available on YouTube. But, wouldn’t it be so much better learning from someone you know and who knows you?   Think of all the things you do in your everyday life that brings you joy. Take that light and spread it to a whole online community that will become a little happier and little healthier just by your sharing.

The actions of each one of us MATTERS! No one service is greater than the other.

You don’t’ have to be on the frontlines of a NY hospital to make an impact. Your simple acts of kindness plays a CRUCIAL role in keeping people out of there. So, don’t underestimate who you are and what you can do.

I don’t think of us as Frontline workers, but rather as FRONTLINE HEALERS.  While this virus has physically distanced us, it can NEVER break the spirit that connects us.

One final note, the virus is still amongst us. Be smart. Be safe.

COVID-19: One Month Later


covid-19 one month laterI can’t believe it has been just ONE month since every conversation, every thought, and every move of our life has fallen mercy to this bully we call COVID-19. Could we have ever imagined this is how we would be living life, at least for a short time anyway? Just when we feel we have understood a minuscule part of this eluding novelty, it reminds us of how little we really do know.

But do we need to standby and take this? Well, yes because it is staring right at us, and no because we have the power to fight back!

Hear me out. I want to diverge from the normal medical tone that is often written in my blogs to one of motivating the human spirit. Anyone that says they are not scared clearly has not understood the gravity of the situation. But being scared doesn’t mean we have to give into the fear.

What is fear? Fear is when we feel we have lost control of a situation. It is the uncertainty of not knowing where we are going, how long it will last, and whether we will reach the end of a situation safely.  Fear is taking your hands off the steering wheel in a car that is going 100mph.

There truly is so much to be scared of here. It is scary not knowing who the virus will take down next and how it will do it. It is petrifying to know there is not yet a PROVEN treatment or approved vaccine. It is gut-wrenching to watch your friends and colleagues keep a smile while crumbling on the inside.  There is also an overwhelming sense of desperation to want to do more to help, but somehow can’t because the best thing we can do is stay away and stay home.

If any one of the things I mentioned above hit a nerve, join the club. Every single one of those things is exactly what keeps me up at night.

The truth is, neither you nor I can control any of those things! We can’t speed up the vaccine trials. We can’t control when drug testing can safely be completed. And we certainly can’t predict (not yet) how the virus will behave next.

But, we can control our thoughts, our breath, and our actions.

I invite you to take this precious time we have been given and channel it into light, love, and healing while taking your hands off the steering wheel.

This is not about the separation of beliefs or religion. This is not about the polarizing and often times confusing sprays of information coming from our leaders – because the truth is, NO ONE has all the answers.

This is about something so much greater!! It is an urgent plea to come together to help in unifying the spirit of the human heart. Let’s build a wall laid with the bricks of love and compassion and show that bully how tough we really are! #CovidMessedWithTheWrongHumans

FIND YOUR LIGHT AND SHINE BRIGHTER!!

How do we do that? By not giving into the fear! By releasing what we can’t control and by taking back power of what we humans do best: LOVE AND LOVE HARD!

Studies have shown that the thoughts we have carry vibrational frequencies that affect the functioning of our cells and the cells of those that the thoughts reach. Positive thoughts emit higher vibrational frequencies. Negative/fear based thoughts emit lower vibrational frequencies.

If we continue to live in fear and think of only worst case scenarios, we lower our cellular vibrations and the ability to fight off the virus. Our immune defenses become weakened allowing the virus easy entrance into our body.

Don’t get me wrong. We must still do our part and maintain social distancing, hand washing protocols, and follow all other guidelines. But there is so much more we can do!

In my eyes, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US IS AN ESSENTIAL WORKER! We each have a life-saving role to play.

  • The farmers that work so hard to keep providing their crops.
  • The scientists – trust in their knowledge to experiment in the unknowns to unravel the mysteries and find the long awaited answers.
  • The healthcare workers who serve those that can no longer stand on their own and reach for a desperate hand up.
  •  The custodial services that lovingly sweep the residual reminders on the battlefield so that the healthcare troops can be ready for the next round.
  •  The grocery staff and restaurant owners keep us nourished and fueled because without that, nothing else is possible.
  • The construction crews that keep us protected with a roof over our heads and remind us there is a safe haven to come home to at the end of the day.
  • The postal services that allow us to stay connected to the world during this time of ironic dissociation.
  • The IT folks that keep our grid lines of communication open so that ‘virtual’ togetherness can continue to happen.
  • The artists and art, in any form, that remind us that life will not always be black and white. And that we can paint the town any color we want, because nothing can take away one’s imagination.
  • The teachers, God love them, that create a safe haven for the youngest of our humans so they know that everything is going to be ok and not to mention, keep the parents sane in the process.
  • And to every single human reading this  -the loving thoughts you think, the continued prayers uttered with deep faith, the kind gestures extended and anything you do to help in this global healing is reaching EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Don’t underestimate the power of your light!

However you choose to put forth your positive vibes is just perfect!! At a time when we have more questions than answers, know that your role is just as important as anything else. It is like a puzzle. Every piece matters. Even if one piece is missing, the puzzle is incomplete. Such as is the case with this fight. Your light matters! Humanity is incomplete without it.

I have found affirmational meditation helps me to stay in a positive mindset. These are just some affirmations I have created for myself that brings me comfort and peace when I have no choice but to surrender what it is I cannot control.

“Fear is an illusion for what I cannot control. It is not real! My light offers divine protection to myself and to all those that I share it with. I am greater than the invisible threat that has taken away my sense of security. My power lies not in my ability to understand, but in my willingness to trust. I trust I will guided into making the right decisions when I am confronted with doubt. I stand in faith knowing that having more questions than answers right now will protect me from becoming hasty in my actions. I release the need to understand everything, knowing that clarity will come when I have completely surrendered. And when I sink into moments of fear, I remind myself that it is during times of great darkness that my light shines the brightest.”

I leave you with one final thought.

In this battle of uncertainty, the only thing we can be sure of is that NO enemy can ever touch the spirit of the human race!

Wishing each of you safe and healthy days to come!

 

Dr. Raman’s Thoughts On COVID-19


COVID-19With this surreal reality of life, it would very difficult to not talk about the elephant in the room. Although “this elephant” is invisible to the naked eye, it has made its presence known in all eight corners of the world.

A virus that has been mocked for being named after a beer, the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 has caused the very essence of human living to be turned into fear and panic.

But is there really a need to panic? No!

This is a pandemic, not an apocalypse!

There will be enough food. Miles of toilet paper will be at your disposal. We will be ok!

When I decided that I wanted to write on the Coronavirus, there was nothing more I could add that the CDC and leading health experts haven’t already taught us. Things are changing rapidly. From the time I finish writing this to the time the email goes out, this information will be obsolete.  So rather than regurgitating more factual information, I would like to share my heartfelt views on COVID-19 and its effects on the human spirt.

The following editorial reflects my own personal views and biases.

In the almost 30 years I have been in the medical field, I have never seen nor experienced anything of this caliber. I think it is fair to say neither have any of my colleagues.

In early February before COVID-19 made its way to the US, I had been closely watching the unfolding crisis in China. At that time, my instincts were telling me that this would be us in a few short weeks.  I began to express my “concerns” out loud to anyone who would listen.  Many of family and friends would say to me, “you are in the medical profession and you know that this virus is mild to most of us with a very slim margin of mortality rate. And it is not even in the US, so why are you panicking and getting into a frenzy? Have faith. Stay positive.  You are making too big of a deal of this.”

I have ultimate faith that everything happens for a reason and that all is going to be ok.  Although the circumstances surrounding the situation have been less than optimal with the massive shortage and limited access to testing kits, often times the exaggerated media hype, and the chaos and confusion amongst the healthcare professionals of knowing what to do next while still trying to take care of our patients like they deserve, it has been two weeks of pushing us into unchartered and often times very uncomfortable territories. But, I truly do believe in some remote distant way, all of this has been a gift, a gift of time.

That precious commodity of time we so rarely get to experience these days. With more employees working from home, stores shutting down in an effort to contain and mitigate (my heart aches for small business owners and workers that are unable to work from home), college kids moving back home three months ahead of schedule, families are under one roof with nowhere to go. This is not the way we would have wanted to come together, but this has forced us to step outside of our hectic lives and isolate into self-reflection. It is minutes in the day we now have to look out the window and remember that tree that was planted years ago, but somehow didn’t realize its growth.  It is moments inside the divine structure of our home that becomes our church/temple/mosque where we pray for our neighbors, those that live next door and those that live on the next continent. It is trying to take an impossible situation and look for that single ray of hope while waiting to return to some level of normalcy.

Ultimately this time has given us the space to come into the realization that we will win this, as a global unified team of humanity.

Trust me, there is NOTHING about this that any of us want to be going through. There have been more missteps than one cares to count.  But, the reality is, we are here, in this dark tunnel of unknowns that has us hanging on for the next split second turn, not knowing if it is the way out or just another dead end in this maze of eluding mystery. All I do know is that the only way unto the other side is if each of shines brighter than we ever have.

Learning the facts helps turn panic into knowledge, desperation into reprieve, helplessness into service, and social distancing into remote kindling. It has given us the chance to pick up the phone and ask, “hey, you doing ok? Anything I can get for you?”

Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot yet to come that causes me to lie awake at night praying that I have done whatever I could for my family, friends, patients and anyone who I could be of service too.

I wanted to end with a post that I shared on my personal Facebook page that pretty much sums up my thoughts, feelings and prayers on this elephant known as COVID-19.

March 12, 2020

“Just to be clear, I’m not in a state of panic nor do I live in a state of fear. The reference to the 2% fatality rate includes family and friends I cherish more than my own life. It includes my patients whom I have come to think of as family. That 2% are the humans that deserve for people like you and I to do whatever impractical things that inconvenience us to help save their lives and be a part in helping slow down this life that appears more like a dream than it does a reality. I’m not saying we shut down life. I’m saying think about making different choices for a brief period of time: workout at home instead of the gym. Postpone parties for the time being. If going to the grocery store, wipe down the cart before and after, knowing COVID-19 is present on surfaces for days after. Shutting down my life to save a life is worth the sacrifice. I can’t imagine going to bed at night knowing I selfishly chose my convenience over the 2% of people, knowing that if they contracted a virus that for you and I would mean a 2 week hiatus of life would be a death sentence. I don’t know if the small things I’m doing help in anyway. And frankly, I don’t care to know. I see it as my duty and my humanitarian obligation to be a part of stopping this Tsunami of an unknown enemy that has not only invaded our country, but also our very earthly existence. Are we all going to be ok? Of course we are!!! But only if we do this together. Every time I question if I am doing enough, I keep coming back to the saying, “EVERY VOTE COUNTS.” So when everyone does a little something, it counts in ways we have yet to understand!”

Be safe everyone and rest easy knowing your healthcare team is on the frontlines fighting for you!!

Tips For Working Out At Home


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.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other contributing factors include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying Healthy Through The Holidays


staying healthy through the holidaysDo the holidays have you jumping for joy or running for the nearest exit? Labeled as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” the holiday season can be stressful and overwhelming for some. If you are in need of a vacation to refuel after all that joy, how about trying something different this year? Staying anchored amidst the peripheral chaos will not only keep you healthy, but also give you a chance to enjoy in the merriment.

Here are some simple things to keep this year’s festivities filled with glee.

  1. Exercise. Moving the body helps to mobilize stagnant energy. Inducing a heart rate response helps delivery of oxygen to those much deprived sedentary tissues. Plus, it keeps the waistline in check. If you are able to maintain your regular schedule of workouts, fantastic! If not, try using resistance bands at home. Ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes before bed provides enough resistance training to keep your muscles from winter atrophy.
  2. Meditation. Studies have shown just three minutes of mind-stillness is enough to lower cellular inflammation significantly. One of my go-to meditation apps is ‘Insight Timer’.  It is a free download that offers 24,000 meditation options ranging from two minutes up to three + hours.  Set your alarm clock five minutes earlier than you would normally get up and head to your favorite spot. Set a timer. Turn on your favorite music or have no music at all and just let your mind get lost. Don’t stop any thoughts, emotions or feelings that arise. Let them come to the surface and just observe. Go deeper into your diaphragmatic breath as each inhale/exhale brings you to a place of calm.  Once the timer goes off, you get to choose if you are done or if you want to continue longer. There is power in stillness.
  3. Increase protein. With so many tempting processed foods surrounding us this time of year, even the most disciplined cave to the pressures of home baked goods. We all know how we get when we eat too much sugar – crabby, anxious, irritable, depressed, fatigue, joint pain, swelling – and this is all before the weight gain even starts. Do yourself a favor. You know what the outcome of a sugar splurge is going to feel like. So don’t go ALL the way there. Yet, you don’t want to deprive yourself of the simple pleasures in life. You can have your cake and eat it too, but in smaller quantities. If you know you are headed towards the dessert table, load up on high protein meals prior to start of the party. High fiber, high protein snacks curb cravings while making you feel fuller. Stock your pantry this season with nourishing snacks like dates, nuts, fruits, cut meats, pre-made protein shakes (my favorite) or anything else you find nourishing and satisfying and eat it thirty minutes before partying it up.
  4. Water. We all know water helps with satiety, but more importantly water’s function is to keep the cells operating fully and completely.  As our body begins to acclimate to the cooler temperatures, it is vital that we become more diligent with water consumption. Regulating our internal thermostat causes dehydration even before the onset of symptoms. All it takes is just a little effort to see how easy drinking water actually is.  To make the process a little easier, use water bottles with clear markings so it takes the guess work out of the equation. For those that don’t enjoy the taste of fresh water, add fresh fruits through an infuser to sweeten the deal.  Recommended intake is ½ oz per body weight in pounds/day.  Set phone reminders. Having an alarm go off every 15 minutes is surely an annoying way to keep anyone on track. Don’t underestimate the importance of staying hydrated.
  5. Relax. I often tell my patients, “Let’s work really hard the first 11 ½ months of the year so when these last two weeks roll around, we can play.”  Come on guys.  Isn’t life stressful enough as it is? Why do we want to make the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” like all the other stressed out days? Family can be stressful. Cooking can be tedious. Hosting can be exhausting. Sleep can be deprived. Weight can be piled on. House can be random chaos. But soon everything will go back to its organized, fast-paced, hurried, no-time for each other life. Let it go. The pie doesn’t have to be perfect. The decorations don’t have to be like HGTV paid you a visit. Just breathe and remember holidays are of course about celebrating family and the joys in our lives, but it is really about celebrating YOU. It is an opportunity to reflect on who you have become this year and who you are becoming into the next. It is about all that you have learnt and all that you have released. It is about slowing our heart rate and pausing with each breath. Take the pictures. Eat the food.  Enjoy the moment. You know why? Because January 2nd is right around the corner and we will soon be back on this hamster wheel in a game we call ‘life’.

Wishing you and your families a most joyous holiday season. May 2020 be a year of healing, happiness and prosperity!

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 Science Backed Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer


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.

The Benefits of Acupuncture


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.

 

 

Must Have Exercise Equipment


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!