healthy snacksHaving been vegetarian for most of my life, nutrition was not always an easy path because of the limited food choices available. There weren’t as many plant-based foods as there is now. Back when I was growing up, there was no such thing as a “veggie burger.”  If you wanted a veggie burger, you ordered “Big Mac minus the meat.” Talk about ‘deer in the headlight stares’ every time I placed my order.

Fast-forward to 2014 when gluten sensitivities entered into my already scant food menu. The reactions were severe enough that even one bite of gluten would leave me inflamed and sick for days.

My love-hate relationship with food ended up being the biggest blessing in disguise. To be honest, I enjoyed the study of fitness and body movements more than I did about the role of nutrition in the healing process. But now, I had no choice but to understand why certain foods affected us the way it did.

As I began to understand the process of how crops were grown to how they made their way onto the shelves, I knew it was time for another change in this journey. It was then that I decided to make a conscious choice to eliminate dairy from my diet.

With no meat, no gluten, and no dairy available on my list, I developed a frustration with nutrition. Initially it was a daily struggle to find something that quenched my hunger and satisfied my cravings.

I knew there were endless combinations that would have allowed me to be creative in whipping up some unique delicacies. There were also certainly no limits on the number of online resources had I just googled “gluten-free vegan food.” But the truth was, I didn’t have enough patience to be creative. This led me back to resorting to all of the processed foods I worked so hard to walk away from.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love to cook and am pretty good at it when I take the time and stay present with the process of creating.

A few weeks of eating from a box left me feeling swollen, tired, anxious and imbalanced.

That was when I accepted that nutrition was more than just eating. Nutrition was life.

I had to be realistic and straight and transparent with myself on how much time I wanted to spend in the kitchen. So, I quickly learned to put together recipes that were easy, nutritionally dense and could be made in batches and stored.

No doubt a huge learning curve for someone who would rather be doing anything else other than spending time in the kitchen. But it was where I needed to be!

I am still learning.  The kitchen may look like a tornado struck the same spot twice, but in the whirlwind of the chaos emerges the essence of healing-nutrition!

Listen, the pandemic has knocked us off of everything we knew to be safe. So if you , like many others, put on a few pounds during this time, don’t sweat it. If your anxiety levels are escalating thinking of the winter days ahead, don’t sweat it.

The body is magnificent and can reset with a little discipline and effort.

Just to have some fun this month and to get you motivated in the process, I want to share with you three of my favorite original recipes. These are by no means an elaborate creation. But for me, they satisfy my sweet cravings and bring comfort to my soul. I hope they do the same for you.

 

  1. Banana Energy Bites:

1 banana

¼ cup chopped nuts of your choice

¼ cup sweetened Baker’s coconut

½ cup peanut butter

½ – ¾ cup mini chocolate chips

1 scoop protein powder (optional)

2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Spread into greased 9 x 13 pan or make into equal size balls. Place in fridge for 3 hours. Can place in freezer if prefer more crunchier texture. Cut into squares.

Enjoy for breakfast or mid-day snack.

 

  1. Indian lentil soup

1 cup lentils (any variety)

Choice of any vegetables-fresh, chopped

1 onion

2 bay leaves

4 cloves

4 cloves garlic

1 inch piece of ginger grated

½ stick cinnamon

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 tablespoons oil

Curry masala powder (available at any ethnic grocery store)

Red chili powder (optional for spicier variety)

Salt to taste

½ can coconut milk (optional)

Chopped coriander to garnish

Soak lentils for 3-4 hours.

In large pain, heat oil. Once heated, add fennel seeds. Allow it to turn slightly brown. Then add onions, bay leaves, cloves, garlic, ginger, cinnamon. Saute until brown. Add vegetables and saute. Add 2 tsp masala powder and salt. Mix so vegetables are fully coated.

Drain lentils and add to mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add 2 tsp more masala powder (adjust to taste) and red chili powder (if desired) and salt.

Add enough water to cover to top of lentil mixture. Cover with lid on medium heat. Stirring occasionally. Continue to add more water until lentils have cooked.

Add ½ can of coconut milk and allow to boil for 5 minutes.

Turn off stove and garnish with coriander leaves.

Enjoy as a soup, with naan or on top of warm fluffy rice.

 

  1. Cream Cheese Sandwich (Can substitute dairy free spread cheese and gluten free bread)

1 tub cream cheese

1 shredded cucumber

1 finely chopped red bell pepper

¼ cup shredded carrots

Red chili powder

Paparika

Indian Chaat masala (optional. Available at Asian grocery stores)

Salt to taste

Mix cream cheese, cucumber, bell pepper, carrots. Whip until frothy. Add desired taste of chili powder, paparika, chaat masala and salt. Store in refrigerator in air tight container.

Enjoy on bread, dollar rolls, crackers. Or use as your favorite vegetable dip.

 

These are just a few fun creations I enjoy having around and hope it will spark the same for you.

Planning ahead and understanding how important nutrition is in our healing allows for us to live a life that can be enjoyed without having to compromise on some our favorites.

I am by no means a recipe developer. I am just a girl with a sweet tooth who values the meaning of living your best life, but knows it is perfectly ok to have your cake and eat it too!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hypothyroidism: A Common Condition, But Frequently Misdiagnosed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.


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 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.


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.