With All The Choices Out There, Which Diet Should I Be Following?

which diet should I be followingThe world of nutrition can be just as overwhelming as choosing your pizza toppings.

Keto? Paleo? Carnivore? Mediterranean?  Vegan? Vegetarian? Lacto Vegetarian? Ovo Vegetarian? Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian? Pollotarian? Pescatarian? Flexitarian?

I am seriously not making this stuff up. There really are such things, but is there truly only one path that leads to success? Trying to pick just one is like trying to pick your favorite child. The fitness and nutrition industry continues to be a multibillion-dollar revenue stream that promises to FINALLY get you the results when other “diets” have failed to do so.

If we really believe that to be true, how come the US still has the highest obesity rate compared to all other nations? That is because we have created a societal culture of believing there is only ONE right way that is superior to the other. Because we are so desperate for results, we have failed to realize that every time we “diet” hop, we are disrupting the homeostasis of the human metabolism.

There are no bad foods. Let me repeat. THERE ARE NO BAD FOODS! THERE ARE ONLY BAD CHOICES.

THE POISON IS IN THE DOSE!

As part of a Sports Medicine Internship program I am currently in, I have the privilege of learning and being mentored by some of the industry’s best nutrition scientists. The science is clear and the equation is on point:  1 + 1 does equal 2. This means your weight loss journey comes down to one simple formula:

CALORIES IN CALORIES OUT.

It is simple math. If you are taking in more calories than you are putting out, you will gain weight.

It really is just that simple.

We underestimate how much we eat and overestimate how much we workout. This may sound harsh.  I prefer to call it tough love. Don’t let the promises of a marketing agenda discourage you from following where science has always had it right.

If you want what you set out to seek, then you must put in the work. Diets are excuses that only take you further away from your goal. Be honest with your intentions. And get real with your expectations. Better yet, don’t have any. There is two parts to the equation. Both are equally important. There is only so much you can succeed with nutrition alone. – and you can never outrun a bad diet.

Blaming aging metabolism is a distraction. You must become comfortable with the discomfort of the process. Face the reality of how much you are really consuming versus how much you perceive to be consuming.

No foods are off limits. There is no need for extreme elimination, unless there are medical conditions that require it.

Our bodies didn’t get here overnight. So, how is it fair to demand change in two months? It is not. That is why we are in this tsunami of failure.

YOU can stop this vicious cycle!!

It is not going to be easy, and the reason it won’t be easy is because you are going to have to do something that you may not have done before. Let go of the idea that the answer is in some best selling book. It is not! It has always been within you.

Would you rather have short term results or long-term success?

This sounds great in theory, but what about in real life? I hear you. I could workout 24 hours a day, no problem, but if you asked me to give up my favorite desserts, you would see a very hangry person.

It has taken me 21+ years to get out of my comfort zone and open up to trying a new way of eating. I was always one of those, ‘I am going to eat whatever I want because I work out hard’ people. While part of that is true, there are so many better ways to do it. You really can have your cake and eat it too. You have to just be willing to try a different approach than what you are used to.

Here are just a few of the things I do for myself that help me stay the course:

  1. Hydrate. I strive to maintain a minimum of 90oz/water day. Some days are better than others. But on those off days, I do not sulk into self-judgement. I look at it for what it is and remind myself I get tomorrow to try again. And more times than not, tomorrow will be better.
  1. Measure your food. Uggh! Not going to lie! This is painful. Early on in my journey, I learned about portion control through measuring and weighing food. I was able to visualize what a “serving” looked like. For one month, I weighed everything I ate. I was shocked to see that 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is actually not ½ the jar. It was not easy to do this, but this was the turning point that has kept me consistent for the last 21 years.  Unless you are an elite athlete or competitor, you don’t have to do this every single day. But try it for a month. I guarantee anyone that tries it will be reaching out to me after a month telling me how much this experience has changed them.  It does take work, but it will be worth it.
  1. Strength train. In my opinion, this is actually the most important aspect to getting real. There is no other form of exercise that physiologically has as much of an effect on our health like resistance training. Designing a strength training program that incorporates progressive overload and movement pattern exercises will result in weight loss for any person at any level.  Cardio is fine if you need a day to zone out, but don’t expect it to get you to the same place that only strength training can.  I totally get it. I am a runner and dancer and I love to swim and spin. Until 2002, Cardio is all I used to do. But once I began to understand the power of lifting and its physiological benefits, my physique took a dramatic turn. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I took my lifting to a different level.  I lift heavier than I ever thought I could and let me tell you, my blood work results have never looked better.  It is not about the number on the scale that matters, it is about getting real on how insignificant that number actually is IF you are putting in the work needed to do this right. Don’t allow yourself to blame external factors. Get real with your intensity. Lift heavy!
  1. Just Eat Real Food. Just EAT people!!! Don’t be so concerned about searching for the best diet. The best one is the one that is sustainable. If keto works for you, great. Stick with it. If you enjoy eggs, great, stick to a Ovo Vegetarian diet. It doesn’t matter. Because at the end of the day, it is CALORIES IN CALORIES OUT. Period.  Don’t underestimate your intake. Don’t overestimate your activity.
  1. Sleep. The body needs time in stillness to restore. You may think you can get by with six hours of sleep, but you can’t. None of us can. There is a threshold of time the body needs to adequately replenish. It is like trying to put gas in your car. If you drive off before it has had a chance to fill up, it can only take you a short distance. But you would get significantly more mileage with a full tank. The body is no different. Don’t rush the restoration process. The body will not take any more time than it needs. Just like the gas pump, it will let you know when it is full and ready to go. Turn off the devices. Quieten the breathing. Settle your thoughts, and make sleep a priority. I promise – you will see a difference.

I used to complicate my life by spending so much energy looking externally to the experts who I thought knew so much more than I did. I trusted their opinion because after all, if it was open to the public, there must be some truth to it, right?

After years of disappointments, I came to realize that only I had the answers. It was I who I was seeking. It was me that was holding open the pages that held the secret code of life.  I didn’t have to reconfigure the formula, I just had to understand the simplicity of it. One Plus One DOES Equal Two.

I keep my realness simple:

  1. Daily workouts
  2. Daily meditation (only few minutes a day)
  3. Adequate hydration
  4. Quality sleep
  5. Eating the way my body guides me, not the other way around
  6. Letting go of expectations
  7. Trusting the process

Please remember that it is YOU who is the real thing.  You don’t need outside influences convincing you that you need their opinions to succeed. Do your own research. Be your own experiment and find what works for you! Makes choices in your life that is a representation of your authenticity and keep it simple. You may not get there in the time you want. But you will get there!!

You just keep doing you!!

Why I Switched To Concierge Medicine

September 2021 will be ten years since changing to concierge medicine. A lot has changed in the last ten years! But the one thing that has remained constant is my belief of how healthcare should be delivered and received.

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, work were. 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. But 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 placed 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 an 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.

To 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 I now have gives me the chance to earn your trust and I hope it allows you to feel heard.

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.”

Why Self Care Should Be At The Heart Of Healthy Habits

self care“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” “You can only love others as much as you love yourself.” “You are no good to others if you are not good to yourself.”

Golden words that have never been truer. Isn’t that how it was always supposed to be? So how did we get this so wrong?

Ok. Let me stop for a moment. I am not judging anybody. But, let me be clear! By taking care of you, it doesn’t make you selfish. It doesn’t make you greedy. It doesn’t make you arrogant. It doesn’t mean you don’t care.

It just means that you respect yourself enough to do the work to become the best version of YOU. So therefor, collectively as a society, we can all become better!

It took me years to understand this, let alone accept it. I am still not sure I totally get it. But what I do know is that when self-care is first on the to-do list, the list doesn’t seem so daunting.

One of my greatest pet peeves is hearing “I don’t have time.” What do you mean you don’t have time? We all have the same 24 hours. It is how we use that precious commodity that matters. When we get stuck in the notion that time is finite, we lose ourselves in the maze of excuses. Once excuses become part of our everyday vocabulary, health, peace, joy and happiness becomes a distant dream. Then the tsunami of failing health, mental fatigue, hopelessness and desperation hits.

We all HAVE it! We breathe it 24 hours a day. It is in our faces every minute. To say we “DON’T HAVE TIME” seems like a little bit of an oxymoron.

I know! I know! I am usually not this gloom and doom, but when it comes to prioritizing self-care, I have a pretty low tolerance of hearing excuses.  Every single one of you is deserving of your “ME TIME,”  but it is up to you to seize it. The spectrum of longevity and quality of living is determined by the time and effort you put into you.

It is not a luxury! It is a necessity! Self-care is an act of lovingly giving to yourself what you deserve without judgement or guilt. The path is different for each of us. In whatever way you replenish yourself, remember why you are doing it.

While in that “ME TIME,” remember to allow the flurries of joy to arise within you.  Don’t silence it just because the task is finished or the clock tells you your time is up. Stay there. Enjoy that strange feeling, that familiar feeling from childhood when joy was all we knew and has now become a faint distant memory of adulthood. That’s where we are going. Back to that place where self-care wasn’t an option. It wasn’t something we had to choose to do. We just lived it.  And we were so much healthier because of it.

Everyone has different ways of getting back there. Take your time finding yours.

The road for me continues to be under construction. Different phases of my life have offered different opportunities and experiences to become healthier. I am learning new ways of healing while unlearning old patterned ways of destruction.

I like to keep it simple.

As many of you may know I am a Friends freak.  I watch very little, if any, TV. However,  when I see that my fuel tank is getting close to ‘E’, I will watch a couple episodes of my most favorite show! During those 60 minutes or so, I don’t worry about what has been left undone or how much time I am “wasting” in mindless glare of the screen.

For me, those few precious minutes remind me of the 20-something year old girl that is still within me and the carefree spirit she once danced through life with. That memory reminds me that no one has taken anything from me. I had just forgotten that part of me that was buried deep into the caves of other people’s expectations of me.

When I give myself permission to climb out of that burial site and allow myself to experience that joy, an internal glow of warmth takes over and it reminds me that I am enough just as I am –  and that all is ok and all will be ok.

And all of this because I gave myself 60 minutes to live, laugh and love. That feeling is what healthy living looks like.

Some of the other ways I utilize self-care in my healing are:

  1. Strength train 5-6x/wk. If one long block of time is not possible, break it up into 3x-10 minute sessions throughout the day.
  2. Meditation daily. This is a work in progress. Currently only doing it for 5-7minutes/day.
  3. Read one page out of any book.
  4. Look at my reflection in the mirror and tell myself one positive affirmation a day-OUT LOUD. This one is weird in the beginning and will take some getting used to. It is one thing to say it in your head, but it is another thing to say “You are total awesomeness” out loud. But trust me, it will change your day.
  5. Stretch for 180 seconds before bed. Notice how I didn’t say three minutes? Why? Because our thoughts will immediately tell us we don’t have time. But when we hear ‘seconds’, it is like, ‘oh, I can totally afford to take out a few seconds.’ Outsmarting the mind is the only way to recondition our engraved societal thought patterns of ‘I can’t’; ‘I don’t have time’; or the ‘go big or go home-all or none’ mentality.
  6. Every month, do ONE thing that scares you. Now why would we do something that is going to skyrocket your cortisol levels? Because when we do what we think we can’t, we realize just how capable we are and this will cause the endorphins to multiply exponentially.

As you can see, I try to keep things simple. It only takes spending a few minutes with yourself every day. Here are some other fun easy ideas:

  • Massages
  • Sports games with friends
  • At home mani-pedi
  • At home spa day
  • Diffusing essential oils
  • Sleepovers with your BFF’s-Pillow fights and all-nighter movie marathon allowed
  • Bubble baths
  • Head oil massages
  • Sidewalk chalk art

The possibility to be creative is endless. Doesn’t matter what you do. Just do it.

I used to write out complicated timelines and elaborate visions of how I was going to take the ‘best’ care of myself. They often required more time or more planning and if just one thing didn’t go according to plan that day, my whole intention was derailed. I would find myself in a fast tailspin towards mental and physical collision.

I have learned that when healing is kept simple, more space is available for us to learn, play and enjoy the experiences.

If we are patient enough, we will learn that the open grounds of life’s experiences will lead us to health and healing. When we truly begin loving ourselves and all of our perfect imperfections, we begin to love everyone around us just the same.

And that my friends, is what we call SELF-CARE.

Self-care is a mosaic of your best work: a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of infinite potential buried under the misconceptions of other people’s perceptions.

YOU DO YOU! Because there is no one else like you!

Be safe. Stay healthy.

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.

Have You Seen My Metabolism Anywhere?

metabolismWe all know it is coming. We fight it tooth and nail. We don’t give into the relentless annoyance of it. But yet, somehow it always seems to have the upper hand. And by “it”,  I mean your metabolism or lack thereof.

How is it that three little numbers makes us lose so much sleep?

Before starting yet another dieting spree, let’s take a step back and understand what metabolism is and how it changes through the aging process. If we don’t understand it, we can’t change it.

Metabolism is a “series of chemical reactions that sustain the living state of organisms and cells.” Metabolism can slow one to two percent each year after the age of 30.

Nutrition is the KEY to metabolism! Carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals and vitamins comprise the majority of fuel needed to keep metabolism operational.

Let’s take a brief look at how each one plays a role.

  1. Carbohydrates: This includes starch, sugar and fiber. When eaten in moderation, carbohydrates are broken down to fuel metabolism.
  2. Protein: Proteins are the main tissue builders in the body. They are part of every cell in the body. Proteins help in cell structure and function. They are also vital in supplying nitrogen for DNA and RNA genetic material and energy production.
  3. Fats: Fats produce twice as much energy as either carbohydrates or protein. They help form the cellular structure, help absorb fat soluble vitamins and provide a reserve storage for energy.
  4. Minerals and vitamins: Minerals do not play a direct role in energy needs but play an important role in metabolism. Vitamins are essential compounds that the body doesn’t produce and therefore relies up nutritional intake.

What are some other potential causes of a slowed metabolism?

  • Hypothyroidism and other endocrine issues
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Chronic stress
  • Exogenous hormone intake
  • Hormonal imbalance (low estrogen and testosterone)
  • Medication side effects
  • Excess supplement intake
  • Excess fat intake
  • Calorie deprivation
  • Low muscle mass

The good news is that there are ways to naturally increase our metabolism. But first understand something. Chasing after a “goal” weight or “ideal” size is unrealistic and can lead to frustration and disappointment. The scale doesn’t take in to account skeletal density, muscle mass or fat reserves. It only tells you an absolute number, a number which is false and misleading.

Don’t panic yet. We are not doomed forever. Here are some simple ways (many of which we have seen before) to raise your metabolism.

  1. Assessing the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). The Resting Metabolic Rate test (RMR) determines the amount of calories your body is using at rest. The results of a Resting Metabolic Rate test can tell if you have an increased or decreased metabolism, and if your body primarily uses fats or carbohydrates for energy. This information can be used to determine the amount of calories you need to eat each day to maintain or lose weight. The testing is done by breathing into a mask that measures your Oxygen –Carbon Dioxide exchange.
  2. Increase muscle mass. Strength training three to four times a week is mandatory when trying to increase metabolism. Developing and maintaining muscle mass allows the RPR to increase. Every pound of muscle uses approximately six calories a day to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only two calories daily.
  3. Eat. Calorie deprivation causes the body to go into crisis mode. As a preservation mechanism, the body slows down its metabolic response by storing fat and calories. Adding protein to every meal allows a constant release of glucose and maintains insulin regulation.
  4. Drink up. Dehydration is the killer when it comes to a slow metabolism. Calories need water to process. Even small levels of dehydration can cause  a slowing of the RPR.  Try for a goal of 90oz/day. If you struggle to get down your daily water quota, consuming fresh fruits that contain natural water is a great alternative.
  5. Sleep. Think of sleep like pulling into the gas station. We have to bring the car to a complete stop before we can fuel up. Just the same, sleep forces us to stop so that the body may refuel. If we compromise on sleep, we wake up on an empty tank of gas and expected to go the same distance as if the tank was full. Not possible. To sustain life, the body saves energy by decreasing metabolism.
  6. Question your medications and supplements. Just because it doesn’t say it on the package insert doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Assume everything going into your mouth is the cause until you proven otherwise. See what lifestyle changes you can make that could help you get off of prescription drugs.
  7. Maintain zero expectations. Our body will never be how it was in our 20’s and 30’s. So how can we expect it to respond in the same manner? Don’t be disappointed because you lost “only three pounds”. Be happy you didn’t gain three pounds. Body fat percentage, changes in clothing fit, how you feel is the REAL goal.

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by looking for a solution under every advertisement. In the US, the weight loss market is a billion dollar industry! If these companies claim to have the answer, then how come we are still the most overweight nation? These are empty promises. The diet pills, the latest calorie restricted programs that leave you emaciated and crabby, the guaranteed “to lose 20# in 20 days” nonsense.  THEY DON’T WORK.  Don’t waste your money. Our parents and grandparents didn’t seem to struggle as we are now. So how come it is the topic of almost every conversation? What was once a simple seamless process of aging has now become a race against who can promise the fastest results.

If we stop for a second and reflect, in every moment of life our bodies are in constant conversation with us. The symptoms we experience are the body’s attempt to get our attention. A slowed metabolism isn’t something to become consumed by.  It is an opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle. Rather than trying to “fix” it, listen to what it has to say.

There is no fast way to lose weight. Let me repeat….there is no fast way to lose weight. Dropping weight faster than the body can handle is a sure fire way to crash the metabolism to an all-time low.

Be gentle and patient with yourself. No matter what the scale says, you will always be worth more than those three little numbers.

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.

Heart Health and You

heart healthAccording 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.

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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!

Natural Ways To Raise And Maintain Your Immune System

Natural Ways To Raise And Maintain Your Immune SystemEight months into 2020, Covid has become a household name. However we cannot forget the other virus that visits us every winter, Influenza A & B.

Public health officials have been warning us since March that this winter will be the year of the double virus whammy, but what does this mean for us and how can we keep ourselves safe and healthy?

Strong theories suggest because of increased compliance with mask wearing, social distancing and aggressive hand washing, this flu season could be one of the lowest infectious years. It makes sense, but we shouldn’t take anything for granted.

As most of you who know me know, I believe in minimizing supplements and medications and would rather allow the body’s natural defenses to protect us.

So, let’s talk about some natural ways we can raise and maintain our immune system this winter season.

  1. Eliminate processed foods. Excessive intake of sugar and other processed foods triggers inflammatory chemicals, such as cytokines and IL-1, Tumor Necrosis Factor. Overtime, this signals a sense of false-alarm in the body and lowers the body’s response to be able to launch a defense against infections. Processed foods also cause a decrease in the white blood cells needed for optimal immune system. Studies have also shown that a diet high in sugar and salt can cause vaccines to be less effective. This is why maintaining a fresh, clean and whole diet is imperative.
  2. Hydration. Our immune system is highly dependent on nutrients in our blood stream and water is the most important nutrient. Staying well hydrated is also very important for detoxification pathways, increasing lymphatic drainage and clearing out any foreign invaders. Dehydration can contribute to muscle tension, headaches, low serotonin production and digestive issues. I recommend drinking ½-1 oz/ pound body weight. Increased and more strenuous activities will require a higher intake. For example, someone weighing 150lb requires a minimum of 75 oz/day. If plain water is not your jive, try sprucing it up with fresh fruits, lemon, ginger, mint or your choice of flavorings. If the day gets away from you and you find it difficult to get in your quota, try setting an alarm every 20-30minutes as a reminder.  It will make a big difference for your immune system.
  3. Sleep. Our immune system releases proteins called cytokines. These cytokines are needed to help keep us healthy. Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in the release of cytokines as well as a decrease in infection fighting antibodies.  I cannot emphasize how crucial sleep is for our overall well-being. Sleep requires discipline.  Make an effort to shut down all electronic devices one hour before bedtime. Wind down with soothing instrumental music and maybe a warm cup of decaf tea or your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. Take five minutes to write in your gratitude journal or just close your eyes and enjoy the flow of your breath. As simple as all of these may seem, they are the most powerful tools we have. And we each have it in abundance.
  4. Don’t worry. Be happy. Life is a canvas of stress. That won’t change. But how we react to can. Acute or chronic stress raises cortisol levels which decreases our abilities to fight off foreign antigens. Stress also inhibits the body to mount an immune response by decreasing the production of lymphocytes. Of course there are things in life that require our constant attention and can lead us into a path of uncertainty and fear.  Remaining on this path will only takes us into a pit of disease and poor quality of life. Best way to neutralize the effects of stress is to identify which coping mechanisms help you BEFORE stressors arise.  Do you feel happy after a five mile run? Do you forget your troubles after laughing to your favorite sitcom or movie? Does reaching out to your BFF put a smile on your face at the end of the conversation? Or can sitting in silence bring you the peace and calm that is needed? Go on the offense before needing to get defensive.
  5. Essential oils. Health care providers are beginning to incorporate more holistic options into the treatment plan. While much research is still needed and ongoing, the NIH in December 2019 stated, “Certain plants possess immunomodulatory properties exerting effects on various parts of the immune system on both cellular and molecular levels: T cells and other immune effector cells, cytokine, and antibody production.” There are of course many variables that need to be factored in when choosing the correct oils. We must understand the quality control and extraction process of the company.  The plant from which the oils are extracted must be from a reliable healthy source. Understanding the compression process of the oils must retain its natural concentration and properties.  Preliminary studies show certain plants target certain parts of the immune system. Although essential oils shouldn’t be a replacement for medical care, it can be a topic of conversation with your physician.  Many of you may know, I am recovering from Covid.  Not knowing what to expect, I spent two weeks in isolation waiting to see what the day would bring. In May of this year, my daughter got me to try Essential Oils for various conditions, just to see what the hype was all about. During my two weeks with Covid, I thought this would be a good time to test out how effective these oils can really be. I used them in various ways (diffused, topically applied, drops in my water, etc.) and much to my surprise, it offered symptomatic relief for each of my symptoms. I only needed to take Tylenol one time in the entire 14 days. Essential oils may not be for everyone and they are not to be used as a substitution for your prescription medications unless discussed at length with your physician, but I do believe this is another resource to natural holistic support.

Whether you follow one or all of these tips, remember WE WILL get through this. We must be diligent, alert, patient and considerate. We are not only protecting our own health, but also the health of every single person.

Please stay safe. Please stay healthy – and know all will be ok.

Think Pink: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healthy Snacks To Get You Through The Pandemic

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.

Why Am I So Tired? The Truth Behind an Improperly Functioning Thyroid

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.

5 Reasons to Spend More Time Outside This Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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