According to the CDC, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds while one dies every 36 seconds. Coronary artery disease, caused by arterial inflammation and plaque deposits, is the number one cause of heart disease in the United States.
It is so important to take heart health seriously. The greatest risks for coronary artery disease are obesity, significant tobacco and alcohol use, sedentary lifestyle, consuming a diet of processed foods and living in a chronic state of stress. These are the stereotypical images we see in doctor’s offices, magazine covers, pharmaceutical advertisements and even people in our own lives. We are all at risk and we must work to minimize those chances.
While we can’t prevent everything, we can at least try!
The disease process begins with microscopic cellular damage. We may often have no symptoms or mild symptoms, which we will likely dismiss as a nuance. However, as the damage becomes more intensified, the symptoms become more pronounced until we can no longer ignore it. Given the great mechanism of the human body’s ability to heal and regenerate, many diseases can be brought under control and even reversed. But why wait and get to the point of damage control?
February is all about the heart! The heart of Valentine and the heart of YOU!
Making good lifestyle choices has been engrained into our psyche. It is not enough to know that it is important. We must know WHY it is important. Understanding what is happening on a molecular level will make being disciplined in our day to day living a bit easier.
Let’s talk about some of the ways we can minimize our risks of heart disease.
- Physical activity. According to numerous NIH studies, exercising consistently lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) and increased HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Another study showed regular exercise at a moderate intensity decreased platelet aggregation thereby decreasing the risk of clotting. An active lifestyle also aids in vascular remodeling and angiogenesis. This phenomenon allows for greater blood perfusion to all tissues and organs while decreasing the chances of ischemia. Some of the more commonly known benefits to exercising are lower BP, lower glucose levels, better weight control and overall reduction in cortisol. Undeniably, numerous studies and data points show a direct link between sedentary living and increased risks of heart disease. So, lace up and start moving.
- Diet. We all know processed foods are not good for us. But what exactly is happening at a cellular level with consumption of high fat foods? There is still much debate on the “perfect” heart healthy diet, and that is in part because of the varying ways crops are grown and harvested in different parts of the world. Let me explain. Our food system was once dominated by local markets with little modification to the crops. However, our modern food chains, depending on the part of the world, have fallen into the hands of government regulations as a part of a global business endeavor. This transition has led to changes in processing, packaging, and distribution of our food source. Hence the term GMO has become a household name. That is not to say that everything we put into our mouths is bad. We just need to become educated on how our food crops are grown. According to an NIH article, “a large Danish prospective cohort study of the impact of replacing saturated fats with high-GI carbohydrates found that when high-GI carbohydrates replace saturated fat, myocardial infarction (MI) risk increases 33%.” Refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, excessive sugar intake, low protein and fiber diet have been shown to increase blood sugars that can lead to diabetes. Excessive glucose in the blood stream increases the likelihood of platelet aggregation and thrombosis. While we do not need to deprive ourselves of our favorites, we must understand that daily indulgences can increase the risks. So rather than worrying about which diet is the right one, focus more on taking out the processed foods. Remember, shop local and know your crops.
- Minimize supplements. The jury is out on this one. I believe ‘less is always more’. Many ads convince us by taking multitude of ‘natural’ supplements we can ‘prevent’ diseases from occurring. Since most supplements have not been FDA approved, we do not really know how ‘pure’ the ingredients are. And what’s not to say that some of the fillers used to bind the supplements, couldn’t in some way increase our risk to the heart. I see so many patients come in with bottles and bottles and bottles of supplements in hopes of maintaining optimal health. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if that were the case? But the secret to longevity is not by putting more things into our body, it is taking things OUT. Our bodies are equipped with everything it needs to heal and reset and knows exactly what to do. Why jam the process by adding ‘extras’? Vitamin D, Magnesium, Omegas, Aspirin all have their place and do provide some protection. My concern with supplements is while it may claim to help now, what happens in five or ten or fifteen years? What if it is later proven that they do more harm than good? We do not know that. It is a calculated risk. But if we give our bodies a chance to restore and protect with its own natural mechanisms, it won’t let us down. We just need to do our part by making the right lifestyle choices. Exercise, eat clean, sleep, sleep, sleep, hydrate and decrease stress levels.
- Calm the mind. This one will take lots of practice and conscious effort. Stress causes our bodies to mount a defense against the oncoming attack. This defense triggers inflammatory chemicals to be released into the system. While these components play a vital role in protecting the immune system, it comes at a price. The cost, cellular inflammation, and DNA mutation. Translation? The start of a disease process before even a single symptom is felt! We all know what those stressors look like – not getting enough sleep, becoming physically over exerted, staying in constant states of worrying, holding onto to things that are not for us to carry. But all is not lost. Take a step back and ask yourself, ‘how did I get here’? Here – to this place of scurry, hurry and worry. Was it worth it? IS it worth it? Did it get me to where I thought I wanted to go? Or have I dug myself in deeper? My guess is the latter. It is awesome when we become aware of what we have been carrying and even more powerful when we choose to set down that burden. The inflammatory effects of stress are real people! Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it won’t jump out of the closet one day. But we can lower this fury. How? By literally taking a deep breath. Begin to spend time in activities that will help lower the anger of the adrenal glands. It only takes five-seven minutes a day to do this. Try this:
—As soon as you wake up, instead of checking your social media posts, sit up in bed for few minutes with your eyes closed and envision your cells happy and joyous. Create how you want your day to look.
—Another way is when you are brushing your teeth or in the shower, choose a mantra and repeat it until you finish that activity. Some of the mantras I have created for myself, “My body is the vehicle that helps me live my dream. And I need to honor that purpose.”
“My health is important because it is through my body that I can serve others in ways they deserve.”
“When I invest in my health, I invest in living my life’s purpose.”
“Healthy living doesn’t have to be hard if I choose to live in simplicity.”
You get the point. These are just some I play around with. Some days, affirmations occur on the spot. Just go with it. We must not underestimate the power of the spoken word and its effects on the cells which will rise up and match those healing intentions.
—Meditation, Tai-Chi, Yoga, Pranayama, Essential Oils are some simple resources that can be utilized. However you choose to focus on you, just choose wisely and lovingly.
Writing this blog was a bit of a challenge because I wanted to include just enough data to convince you and me why we should be doing a better job of taking care of our health without sounding like a medical journal regurgitating volumes of stats and case studies.
With every article I write, I always learn something new. But this month was different. This month, I was inspired.
Reading the extensive NIH studies and the concluding data, I was utterly astonished as to just HOW much our simple choices can make a profound difference, good and bad. I have become inspired to be a bit more conscious of my choices and not take for granted every heartbeat.
While we can’t prevent everything, we can at least try.
Happy Heart Month to you all!
- Extreme fatigue
- Weight gain
- Muscle aches
- 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.
Do 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Menopause, a women’s worst nightmare or is it? By simply understanding the basic science, we can clear the myths of this dreaded change and make it the most empowering years of a women’s life.
The two predominant hormones are Estrogen and Progesterone. Menopause is nothing more than a mirror image of menarche, or the start of menses.
In the pubertal years, the E2 (Estrogen) and P4 (Progesterone) begin to increase in quantity in preparation of future pregnancies. During this time, there is an imbalance of E2 and P4 which occurs that results in PMS, development of female habitus, acne, mood changes and so on.
During the 20’s and 30’s, E2 and P4 are in prime balance which allows the opportunity for the woman to conceive. When in equilibrium, a woman feels her best.
Around 35 years of age, the body begins to prepare to slow down. This is the time, the change STARTS.
E2 and P4 levels begin to biologically drop. Progesterone declines twice as fast as Estrogen. It is this imbalance between the lower Progesterone in relation to the higher Estrogen that causes menopausal symptoms.
Walking around with higher than needed Estrogen leads to higher risk of breast, uterine, or ovarian cancers, blood clots, and heart disease. Progesterone is there to keep Estrogen from over stimulating the cells. Progesterone also helps with sleep, balances your mood, acts as a diuretic, and gives an overall sense of calm.
When Progesterone declines in respect to Estrogen, it creates a phenomena known as Progesterone Deficiency or Estrogen Dominance.
This is when women experience acne, mood changes, sleep issues, cravings, slowed metabolism, weight gain around mid-section and hips. In essence, menopause is a mirror reflection of menarche.
The solution? That is the million dollar question. Pre-menopause, Peri-Menopause, Menopause, Post-Menopause-whatever phrase you choose to describe this phase is irrelevant because the concept is the same.
Crossing the turbulent rivers of menopause is much easier and simpler than we think because we now understand why the body is changing the way it is.
So how do we get through these years? Here are few things to remember:
- Breathe. This is not a permanent! The hormones are trying to find their balance and they eventually will. No one can predict how long this will take. And nothing can be done to speed up the process. The body is only trying to protect you. Allow it to do so. Don’t condemn the changes you are experiencing. The body is your armor, your voice and your friend. Understand what it is trying to tell you when it speaks to you in the form of symptoms.
- Stop worrying about the weight. The weight is a symptom like anything else. Weight gain occurs due to Estrogen Dominance/Progesterone Deficiency. There are alpha and beta receptors throughout our muscle and adipose layers in the body. Depending on how those receptors are activated in each person, is where the weight change will occur.
- Watch your diet and move your body. Our foods are coated with Estrogen and other chemicals which worsens Estrogen Dominance. It is imperative to cut out gluten, sugar, dairy. Eat clean and as unprocessed as possible. Additionally, without exercise don’t expect the body to change. Your body will not respond how it did was few years prior. And that’s ok. But it doesn’t mean that it won’t change. This will just become the new norm. One of the places Estrogen is converted is in adipose tissues. So the more fat you carry, the more estrogen it will convert, thereby again, worsening Estrogen Dominance. Striving towards optimal body fat will help keep Estrogen Dominance controlled. Focus on feeling balanced, not skinny.
- Make sleep a priority. Without sleep the adrenal glands cannot function at their best. The disruption to the cortisol results in further Progesterone depletion. Turn off the devices and sink yourself into restful slumber.
- Meditate. When the mind is silenced amongst the chaos of life, we are able to center and align to the root of our existence. Take 5-10 minutes a day, close your eyes and go to the places that feel off balance and listen for the guidance given.
- Use hormones. I am all for using hormones, IF AND WHEN IT IS NEEDED. Treating with hormones during menopause is certainly not mandatory. The fundamental question to ask is, “are my symptoms debilitating enough that it is affecting my quality of life?” If the answer is yes, use the smallest amount needed for optimal results. Hormones are like the waves of the ocean. Anything can affect them – sleep, weight, seasonal changes, stress levels, nutritional habits, exercise commitment. You may need hormones for a while and decide later they are not needed. And depending on what’s going on in life, may need them again. There is no one answer. The correct answer always is what your body tells you it needs. Hormones are not the magic solution to these symptoms. They are only a crutch to lean on while working on lifestyle modifications.
- Stop comparing. Don’t compare yourself to your past self. Menopause is a beautiful opportunity for growth and experience. Just keep remembering the symptoms we experience is the body protecting us. This cloud WILL pass! Learn to dance in the rain and embrace the glory of being a woman. This is a period of transformation, revitalization and rejuvenation.
Menopause is the process of shedding the layers of struggle. But just be patient my friends because the wings of healing are opening to reveal the vastness of all that is authentically you.
There is no way around it. We love our sugar fix. Americans on average consume 20 tsp of sugar a day. A 12 ounce can of regular soda holds 39 gm of sugar, that’s 10-12 tsp of pure toxins. So do artificial sweeteners offer another healthier option?
Artificial sweeteners are often times called “intense sweeteners” because they are often sweeter than natural sugar.
The FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners:
- Acesulfame potassium (Sunett)
- Aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal)
- Sucralose (Splenda)
- D-Tagatose (Sugaree)
- Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low)
These chemicals are found not only in carbonated beverages, but also in baked goods, canned products, candy, powdered mixes, sports drinks, jams and jellies.
Another sweetener, stevia, an herbal sweetening ingredient used in food and beverages by South American natives for many centuries and in Japan since the mid-1970s. According to Ray Sahelian, MD, author of The Stevia Cookbook, “There are no indications at this point from any source that stevia has shown toxicity in humans. Although further research is warranted.”
Because stevia is not FDA-approved, it can only be sold as a dietary supplement and not an artificial sweetener.
Although sweeteners have zero calories compared to their counterpart sugar, they are not the easy go to answer for reducing calories.
According to Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity and weight-loss specialist at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, “non-nutritive sweeteners are far more potent than table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. A miniscule amount produces a sweet taste comparable to that of sugar, without comparable calories. Overstimulation of sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners may limit tolerance for more complex tastes.”
A San Antonio Heart Study showed those who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese as people who didn’t drink diet soda.
To further that point, animal studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be addictive. In studies of rats who were exposed to cocaine, then given a choice between intravenous cocaine or oral saccharine, most chose saccharin.
According to an article from health.harvard.edu, the results from a Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis proved daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
“Sugar-containing foods in their natural form, whole fruit, for example, tend to be highly nutritious—nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and low in glycemic load. On the other hand, refined, concentrated sugar consumed in large amounts rapidly increases blood glucose and insulin levels, increases triglycerides, inflammatory mediators and oxygen radicals, and with them, the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses,” Dr. Ludwig explains.
There doesn’t need to be compelling evidence or research to convince us that by putting unnatural chemicals any good can come of it. With the urge to satisfy our palate, toxins are leeching into the foundation of our ecosystem destroying the very purpose of healthy existence.
Stop the sugar cravings by stopping what is causing them in the first place: sugar and sugar substitutes!
The liver, also known as the ultimate multitasking organ, is underestimated in its importance and significance. That is why it is it should be a top priority to keep your liver healthy.
The liver, weighing in about 3 pounds, sits on the right side of the abdominal cavity. Situated below the liver sits the gallbladder and portions of the pancreas and intestines.
The liver serves in multiple roles:
- It helps to filter the blood from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body.
- It aids in detoxifying chemicals and metabolizing drugs.
- It helps secrete bile to assist in food breakdown.
- It makes proteins so blood clotting is possible.
- It helps break down damaged blood cells so that the body may remove them.
So what issues can arise if the liver is not operating at optimal standards?
There are many medical conditions associated with the liver, such as hepatitis, alcoholic cirrhosis, gall bladder disease, primary biliary cirrhosis, and hemochromatosis only to name a few.
According to ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, the liver is the primary organ responsible for removing toxins and purifying byproducts so that they may be delivered to the necessary organs in a purified condition.
When the liver is healthy and happy, the body will experience:
- Increased energy levels
- Clearer skin
- Regular menstrual cycle with reduced PMS
- Improved allergy symptoms
- Stronger immunity
- Fewer GI issues
- Improved oral health
- Improved mood and mental clarity
“A healthy liver results in better blood flow upward and outward, throughout our vessels, veins and capillaries, which transport oxygen and nutrients to our cells. The liver also interacts with other organs like the gallbladder, stomach and spleen, since it receives digested particles or toxins and decides what to do with them: circulate them around through the blood or eliminate them before they can cause damage.” Dr. Axe
While the jury is still out on the efficacy of “liver detox”, the American Liver Foundation outlines ways you can keep your liver out of trouble.
- Foods that have been shows to have protective effects include:
- Coffee (in moderation): Increases antioxidant levels while decreasing inflammation
- Tea: Black and green tea have been shown to improve fat and enzyme levels. Avoid green tea extract as it can cause damage to the liver.
- Grapefruit: The two main antioxidants found in grapefruit are naringenin and naringin that reduces inflammation.
- Beetroot juice: Protects the liver from oxidative reactions and increases detoxifying enzymes.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Be cautious with concurrent thyroid conditions. These vegetables have been found to increase detoxifying enzymes.
- Nuts: One six-month observational study in 106 people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease found eating nuts was associated with improved levels of liver enzymes.
- Fatty fish. Studies have shown that fish help prevent fat from building up, keep enzyme levels normal, fight inflammation and improve insulin resistance.
- Olive oil. Helps prevent fat accumulation in liver and improved blood flow.
- Limit alcohol.
- Manage medications.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals. Use natural hair and skin products as well as natural household supplies.
- Avoid excess supplements. Iron, Niacin, Vitamin A have been shown to be harmful to the liver in excess doses.
- Avoid a plethora of unnecessary herbal products. A recent study in the journal Hepatology claims that liver injury due to supplements and herbs is on the rise.
- Get the heart rate up and just move.
While discussions of liver health often end up taking a back seat to more exciting health news, it is a vital component to achieving greater balance. So drink your coffee, limit your supplements and get your body moving!
As we all age, our bones become thinner. This isn’t just a sign of aging, but is a disease known as osteoporosis. Preventing osteoporosis is something you hear about, but did you know there’s another disease similar to osteoporosis that’s just as dangerous called osteopenia?
Very few people understand how widespread osteopenia and osteoporosis are. In the United States, about 8 million women and 2 million men have thin bones, or a condition called osteoporosis, and another 34 million Americans have low bone mass, also known as osteopenia.
Osteopenia is a reduction in bone mass that is lower than a normal bone mass. This is a precursor to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition marked by low bone mass, a thinning of the bone, which can lead to a weakening of the bone architecture and increased susceptibility to fracture – typically of the hip, wrist or spine.
But how do we recognize these diseases? What are their risks? How do we slow down their symptoms? How do we recognize their warning signs? More importantly, how do we treat it?
Smoking impacts a person at risk for developing osteoporosis. Cigarette smoke generates huge amounts of free radicals — molecules that attack and overwhelm the body’s natural defenses. The result is a chain-reaction of damage throughout the body, including cells, organs and hormones involved in keeping bones healthy. Smoking triggers other bone-damaging changes, such as increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which leads to bone breakdown. Because those who smoke have weakened bones, they are likely to experience exercise-related injuries such as fractures, breaks or sprains. Also, a person who smokes is more likely to have a longer recovery period and greater risk of complications following any sustained injuries than someone who doesn’t smoke.
Quit Excessive Alcohol Use
Alcohol interferes most with bone formation by inhibiting adequate calcium absorption. Alcohol interferes with the pancreas and its absorption of calcium and vitamin D. Alcohol also affects the liver thereby inhibiting activation of, vitamin D, Vitamin D is needed to aid in Calcium absorption. As with smoking, excessive alcohol use has a wide range of damaging health effects for any person, but is particularly damaging for persons at risk for osteoporosis. The good news: when someone quits drinking, bones may recover fairly rapidly. Some studies have found that lost bone can be partially restored when alcohol abuse ends.
Improve Diet and Exercise
The importance of exercise in the fight against osteoporosis cannot be underestimated. Changing to a healthier diet can have little effect on bone mass when not combined with regular exercise. Starting the right kind of exercise in combination with other preventive measures like appropriate diet can help build bone mass especially in high risk fracture sites like the wrist, hip and spine.
Increase Calcium Intake
Sufficient amounts of calcium are required for bone strength. The body uses calcium for the heart, blood, muscles and nerves. Without the proper amount of calcium intake, the body will strip calcium from the bones where it is stored, causing the bones to get weaker. It is estimated that 55% of men and 78% of women over age 20 in the U.S. do not get enough calcium in their diet. It is important to note that since the human body cannot produce its own calcium, adequate calcium intake is critical in the battle against osteoporosis. To learn which type and how much is best for you, contact our office to schedule an appointment.
Navigating the aging process does not need to be cumbersome or cause you unnecessary worry. That is why it is best to create a relationship with your doctor where you can be free to ask questions and discuss your concerns openly.
Dr. Raman is focused on holistic care, a pleasant office experience and good health maintenance. Dr.Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each patient’s individual needs with comprehensive, individualized treatment options and health programs. Our office is committed to your health, and helping you find the best solutions for you and your particular needs.
Does maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle measure up to the promised hype of feeling better? That’s the million dollar question. Let’s take a look at this more closely and recap what we already know about gluten.
Gluten is a composite of storage proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and oat. It gives elasticity to dough, helps it rise, keeps its shape and gives food a chewy texture. But here are a few reasons why gluten has earned a bad rap:
Gut Inflammation. The proteins in wheat are gut irritants which dig into the lining of the gut wall, causing amylase trypsin inhibitors to provoke an inflammatory immune response.
Increased Intestinal Permeability. The gut is a patrol system that regulates which nutrients may enter and which may not. Inflammation in the gut caused by gluten halts that process of control. It loosens the junctions between cells in the gut wall so too much stuff can pass through. Hence the name of “leaky gut.” This leak is thought to be the number one contributing factor to developing autoimmune disease.
Vulnerability to Gut Autoimmunity. Gliadin is a component of gluten and once it enters the system, the problems begin. The exposure to gliadin causes one’s body to form antibodies against its own tissue, thereby creating an avalanche of toxins. Gluten-related inflammation may also be a factor in the development of Crohn’s Disease.
Autoimmune Reactions. Studies have found wheat exposure might be causing autoimmune issues even without evidence of celiac disease. With the abundance of GMO’s, there have been an exponential surge of autoimmune disorders thought in part due to the toxic effects of gluten.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can vary. Some common ones include:
- Mood changes
- GI issues
- Poor sleep
- Rash (Dermatitis Herpatiformis is specific to gluten)
- Hormone dysregulation
- Hair loss
- Weight changes
- Joint/muscle pain/swelling
If these are reasons enough to make you want to consider cutting back on gluten, here are steps you can take to make the process a little easier.
- Get educated. There is nothing more empowering than understanding exactly why you are choosing this path. When I first began my gluten free journey it was not by choice, but out of necessity. I was one of the few that experienced all 10 of the above symptoms. It was daunting and overwhelming. I simplified the process by reading. A great way to start is with the book “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. Dr. Davis takes you through the history of how gluten has become toxic to our system. Sit with the information and absorb the rationale of why maintaining a gluten-free diet can be life-saving.
- Make a list of the foods your currently eat. Rather than trying to figure out which foods do or do not have gluten, start by streamlining and looking at your own diet. Make a list of all the foods and ingredients you eat on a regular basis. Then begin researching that specific food. Remember – gluten is not listed as an ingredient. It is a protein! You won’t find it on the label. You will learn over time how gluten is disguised in various forms.
- Start slowly. Don’t expect yourself to change overnight. It is not safe for the body, nor is it healthy. Start by decreasing a certain percentage of what you are currently eating. For example, eat only one slice of bread with your sandwich rather than two. This small change can make a significant impact. Remember, gluten is inflammatory. As you decrease your intake of gluten, body inflammation also diminishes. This will result in decreased cravings and an overall decrease in inflammation.
- Limit the gluten-free foods. While reaching for gluten-free cookies is nice when you need that sugar fix, gluten-free products are filled with other ingredients and chemicals that are not good for us. In August 2013, the FDA issued a final rule, effective August 2014, that defined the term “gluten-free” for voluntary use in the labeling of foods as meaning that the amount of gluten contained in the food is below 20 parts per million. This means only a small portion of the food needs to be gluten-free to earn that label. It very well could be that the other portion in the food is not. If you wouldn’t eat a regular cookie, then you shouldn’t be eating a gluten-free one. Indulgences are ok as long as they remain on that special occasion.
- Clear out expectations. Lose the idea that going gluten-free will be the “IT” weight loss miracle. Because it is not! If you lose weight from removing gluten, it is because you are caliberating your metabolism. While weight loss may be an added benefit, the real reward is overall health. When the body is balanced and brought to its natural homeostasis, everything will be in perfect working order, including the weight. Don’t chase the weight loss. Allow it to present itself to you along with all of the other great benefits!
Gluten-free eating is truly not the next fad. There are many, and more to come, unfolding studies and evidence of benefits to living gluten free. It is not a quick fix. We didn’t get here overnight. So stay the path. Stay focused. Stay determined and above all STAY COMMITTED!
CHANGE IS COMING!
To be or not to be……gluten-free? Ahhhhh…….that’s the million dollar question. Does being gluten free really offer the extended health benefits that science claims to offer or is it just another peg on the board of healthy eating?
I have written previously about peeling back the layers of understanding leaky gut syndrome. While this concept is still in its infancy, the research appears to have solid validity. Let’s go one step further and isolate specific microscopic causes that contribute to forming the hole in the ozone of our gut.
First, we must understand what gluten is. Many of the references here are from the research of Dr. William Davis, one of my favorite writers and author of Wheat Belly.
What is gluten?
“Gluten is a complex two-part protein found in wheat with virtually identical structures and amino acid sequences of the protein also found in rye and barley. Each gluten molecule comes in two parts: a larger, polymeric glutenin molecule that confers the stretchiness, or viscoelasticity, of wheat dough, and gliadin, a smaller protein. Both glutenin and gliadin share overlapping sequences also, but it’s the gliadin that is the source of most of the health issues associated with wheat, and thereby rye and barley. Note that the gliadin protein of wheat also resembles the zein protein of corn and, to a lesser degree, the avenin protein of oats, which therefore share some of the same effects, including activation of the immune system. While there is no gluten or gliadin in corn and oats, they have related proteins that have similar effects.” –Dr.William Davis
Although gluten is primarily in wheat, similar chemical properties are seen in oat, barley, rye and most recently discovered in corn. Remember the days of our grandmother’s homemade biscuits, pies, cookies? We devoured them without even giving it a second thought.
Why is gluten now being linked to a host of symptoms and diseases?
Remember, gluten is a PROTEIN, not an actual ingredient. It serves as a binder that prolongs shelf life and helps maintain the product’s shape. With the genetic modification of gluten, the human system is unable to process and breakdown the products as nature intended. This results in an explosion of inflammation within the cell walls. These inflammatory markers then leak into other areas causing cellular and hormonal disruption. It is this disruption that causes our symptoms.
What are symptoms of gluten sensitivity?
- Weight gain
- Worsening PMS
- GI issues
- Muscle/Joint pain
- Hair loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mental confusion/Depression/Decreased concentration
This is only a partial list of potential symptoms. Inflammation is not discretionary. It hits in all corners of the human body.
What can gluten consumption cause?
- Leaky gut. The gap between the intestinal cell junctions allows foreign proteins to spill into the bloodstream. The body looks at this debris as foreign and begins to attack. This is how autoimmune conditions begin. This is why wheat, rye, barley and corn are associated with Type 1 Diabetes, Hashimoto’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Mood changes. The unique amino acid sequences of these peptides act asopiates on the human brain. Opioids activate hunger, increase calorie intake, cause mental fogginess, anxiety, anger, food obsessions, mania and decreases attention span.
- Allergies. Just as pollen, grass, mold triggers a histamine response, the allergen component of gluten and its by-products triggers the same histamine release leading to itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, congestion, rash.
- Increased risk for Celiac Disease. “There is a 33-amino acid long sequence within gliadin that is most powerfully associated with triggering celiac disease. One gene, in particular, coding for this amino acid sequence, Glia-alpha9, was uncommon in the wheat of 1950, but is common in modern semidwarf strains of wheat, explaining why there has been a 400% increase in celiac disease over the last 50 years.” –Dr.William Davis
The science is unarguable! The manipulation and modification of our crops since the 1950’s correlates directly to the increasing symptoms and health ailments entering our lives. It is imperative to understand gluten is only ONE such contributor. Researchers continue to isolate others causes.
Until then, what do we do? Do we go completely gluten free? Is gluten free better than not? Will I lose weight if I am gluten free?
Ideally, is it better to be fully gluten free? Yes. Is it practical? No. So where to start? Begin by cutting down the most obvious sources of gluten, (ie. bread, pastas, baked goods etc.) Gluten is hidden under many different titles. Labels will not list gluten as an ingredient because it is not an ingredient, it is a protein. It is important to learn what ingredients do contain gluten. (I highly recommend reading Wheat Belly.)
Be sure to keep a detailed food journal and make note of any subtle changes you may be feeling. Your body takes a minimum of two months to begin responding to any changes made. Don’t expect to lose weight right away or burst through the doors with untapped energy. Or for that matter, you may not see any difference at all. Don’t lose hope and don’t under estimate what is happening on a cellular level.
Eating “gluten free” products is NOT any better than the real stuff. A gluten free cookie is STILL a cookie. If you wouldn’t eat it before, then you shouldn’t eat it just because it is gluten free.
Keep expectations out of the equation. No matter what you see or don’t see on the surface, below ground, you are doing your body good! Above all, be gentle with yourself. It has taken us six decades to create this mess. We have to begin to dig ourselves out with the shovel of knowledge and a bucket of patience.
Why not consider giving the gift of health this year? We all know that the spirit of the holiday is anchoring into gratitude but nevertheless, the gifts that need to be purchased can sometimes weigh down our spirits. While keeping true to the idea of getting healthy, I thought it would be fun to combine the spirit of the holidays with the inspiration of mind, body, and the soul connection.
Even if your family or friends don’t have health gadgets at the top of their wish list, it may serve them well for you to open the possibilities of healthy living.
Here is a list of possible fun gift ideas that could ignite their interest in achieving the perfect mind, body, and soul connection:
- Personal Training Sessions. Don’t be afraid to approach personal trainers to see if they would be willing to offer packages of 3 or 5 sessions. All it takes is one wow workout and they are hooked.
- Heart Rate Monitor. Even though this maybe on the higher price range, the investment is well worth it. Some great reputable brands include Polar (my personal favorite), Garmin, Timex, FitBit. Many more are available and really comes down to ease of use and personal preference. Don’t underestimate the power of what a heart rate can indicate. It is so much more than how many calories are burned.
- Group Yoga Sessions. Approach your local yoga studios to see if they would be willing to do a semi-private class with your closest kith and kin. Perfect gift that comes with the perfect opportunity for bonding time. To add a little flavor to this, consider a monogramed yoga mat.
- Cooking Lessons. Whether it be at your local grocery store or with independent chefs, learning to cook healthy can be exactly the experience needed to get a taste of how easy and how wonderful healthy living can be. A great local place that offers healthy eating/cooking classes is Kitchen Conservatory.
- Healing Energy Sessions. This absolutely has to be my favorite gift to give and receive this season. There are some incredible healers, with Catherine Millman being one of my favorite. Energy Healers can be masters in the art of emotional and physical therapies for the mind, body, and Soul. It is truly amazing how the body recovers/heals when it is understood, nurtured, and loved. A truly unique and personal gift with an all-encompassing bow around the package!
- Meditation Workshops. Let’s face it, sitting for any length of time with your eyes closed with nothing to do is hard for anyone, but the power of silence is astonishing for the health when done collectively as a group. The healing energy not only has been shown to stabilize physical ailments, but it also contributes to recovery. There are many meditation centers locally to considering asking.
- Home Made Recipe Book. Compile all of your favorite recipes, tips and techniques into a “What’s What of Healthy Living.” Adding that extra personal touch adds a little extra bit of holiday cheer.
- Fitness Flash Cards. Genius idea for any family or friend who feel they don’t have time to work out. Now they have no excuses! These flash cards are available online. Each card has a description of an exercise, how many reps etc. They can pull random cards from the deck or create a designated workout. How easy and useful of a gift is that!
These are only a sprinkle of the possibilities that can be considered to draw others into healthy living. With the endless confusion of deciding which gift is appropriate, I invite each of you to change the thought process and gift others with the inspiration and choices you have made to live a healthier more fulfilling life.
As 2016 comes to a close, my well wishes that 2017 may open with the highest and purest intentions of health and healing.
Happy Holidays to you and your families!