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.

benefits of exerciseWho knew the benefits of exercise far exceed the results of weight loss? Here we are, three weeks into the New Year. The smells of cinnamon and nutmeg, and the endless aroma of cookies, are slowly dissipating leading us to the once theoretical promises of resolutions which are now lurking at every turn. What was an empty parking lot at the gym is now abustle with fitness enthusiasts trying to fulfill a promise they think they should be keeping. But why? Where is the motivation?

According to a Nieslen Survey done in January 2015, weight loss continues to hold the number 1 ranking on all American’s New Year’s resolution list. But aside from weight loss being the most obvious benefit to exercise, there are many others benefits just as important that remain in the shadows. So what are they?

  1. Enhances all five senses. Most of us who love to workout do so with music. Tempo and “rhythm response,” which is how the body moves to the music, helps determine the extent of endorphin release. Research has shown songs with an average of 120 bpm stimulate a cortical response and transmit electrical activity to the motor and sensory components of the brain. This triggers the release of serotonin, dopamine, and all other feel good hormones. The production of these hormones allows each of the 5 senses to become responsive to stimuli.
  1. Reduce visceral belly fat. Belly fat, also known as “bad fat”, has made its way into mainstream conversations. What really is belly fat and why is so important to lose it? Some fat is needed to insulate and protect the vital organs from trauma. Too much belly fat triggers the release of adipokines, a dangerous inflammatory hormone that is the culprit in many diseases. Risk of metabolic disease increases in men with waist circumference greater than 40 and women greater than 35. Doing endless number of sit-ups won’t fix this. Healthy food, ample exercise, quality sleep and peace of mind can help control your belly fat.
  1. Improves healing. “Inflammation is one of the fundamental underlying causes of almost all chronic disease, including certain cancers,” says Mark Hyman, MD. Inflammation causes an elevation in cytokines which is a direct result of sedentary life and poor eating habits. Exercise also aids in the removal of bacteria from the lungs with increased respiration and flushes carcinogens through urine and sweat. This leads to the production of white blood cells which helps create more antibodies. This response aids in restoring cellular homeostasis and optimizing cellular healing and repair.
  1. Improves sexual function. A 2003 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that men over 50 who were physically active had a 30 percent lower risk of erectile dysfunction compared with those who were sedentary. In women, exercise has long been known to balance estrongen:progesterone ratios. Known as the natural “feel good antidepressant”, exercise plays a vital role in improving self-image and self-confidence, thereby leading to happy times behind close doors.
  1. Solidifies friendship. This is not one we hear often, but let’s stop and think for a moment. If you are a fitness fanatic or are happy exercising in moderation, you reap the benefits of what exercise has done in your life. Those friends in your exercise circle keep you accountable, just as you do for them. When the body is healthy, the mind is calm. If the mind stays strong, the heart is joyful. If the heart feels happy, so do you! Next time you hesitate to go the gym, just remember you have a friend who gets it.

The benefits to exercise, clean eating and healthy lifestyle are endless. With the crazy time-restricted, gadget filled, world we live in today, we lose our priorities and in the process we lose ourselves.

Taking one hour  4-5 time a week to take care of yourself is the MOST UNSELFISH thing you can do! So exercise at home or join a gym, but take care of you!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieveing 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.