Yoga, Sleep, & Hormones: Chicago Experts Chime in!

yoga-imageHormonal imbalances such as PMS, perimenopause, and menopause can cause roller coaster like symptoms ranging from mood swing moments, insomniac nights, and hot flash days. Good news comes to those who suffer, in the form of a yoga mat and as little as 15 minutes a day. Studies show that a specific sequence of yoga is effective in reducing insomnia and menopausal symptoms as well as improving quality of life.
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Falling Asleep, Staying Asleep, Staying Youthful

woman sleepingIt’s winter. In most parts of the nation, people have already begun to hunker down as the temperatures continue to drop. For many, even during long, cold winter nights that seem best for hibernation, quality sleep can feel far out of reach.

Since the 1930s, we’ve known that sleep is much more complex than it appears.  It occurs in several discrete stages, each of which plays a role in maintaining health, growth and functionality. READ MORE →

6 Signs of Adrenal Burnout

Let’s face it—stress is everywhere! Whether you’re behind the wheel, watching the news or talking to a family member, stress is accepted part of every day living. When it hits, the body normally releases a bountiful cascade of survival hormones to rescue you from danger, otherwise known as the fight-or-flight response.

Here’s how it works: Your brain perceives a threat (physical or psychological stress) and promptly responds; your heart starts pounding and your adrenals (a pair of triangle shaped glands on top of your kidneys) pump out epinephrine, aka adrenaline, and other hormones to give you a quick burst of energy to fight the threat or run away—internal programming that has kept humans alive for thousands of years.

While this metabolic process is all about survival, the fight-or-flight response has one major flaw in the context of modern day living: The body can’t decipher between life-threatening danger and psychological stress.

If your stress levels are high or you drink a lot of caffeine to stay alert, you may be at risk for adrenal burnout, also referred to as adrenal exhaustion and/or adrenal fatigue: when the adrenal glands can’t keep up and struggle to produce enough of the stress-response hormones, leaving you feeling sick and exhausted.

 6 Signs of Adrenal Burnout

  1. Diminished ability to tolerate stress
  2. Abdominal fat that just won’t go away
  3. Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  4. Lowered immunity
  5. Difficulty sleeping
  6. Tired in the morning and afternoon (even if you get a good night’s sleep), and more alert in the evening

 

Sound like you? Contact Ageology today—we will help you regain balance and thrive!

7 Tips for Women to Combat Stress

The American Psychology Association reports that women are more likely to report physical and emotional symptoms associated with stress. Findings include:

  • Almost half of all women surveyed said their stress has increased over the past five years.
  • Women are more likely to report that money and the economy are sources of stress.
  • Women are more likely to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress, such as having had a headache, having felt as though they could cry or having had an upset stomach or indigestion.
  • Married women report higher levels of stress than single women.

Although you can never completely eliminate stress, you can reduce it immensely by incorporating a few simple lifestyle changes to balance your stress hormones. Stress hormones can disrupt almost all of a woman’s body’s processes and put her at increased risk of numerous health problems including:

  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive problems and ulcers
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Obesity
  • Memory impairment
  • Worsening of skin conditions, such as eczema
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Increased likelihood of infectious diseases

A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Healthcare
While Ageology physicians believe that a customized medical treatment plan of vitamins, nutrition, exercise and hormone therapy, and prescribed medications as needed, is essential to help women achieve optimal health, they also believe the mind and body are inextricably linked with a woman’s state of physical health. Most traditional medical doctors do not explore the link between symptoms and the spiritual and mental well-being of their female patients. Nor do they seriously offer strategies for patients to manage the impacts of challenges such as prolonged stress, depression and anxiety beyond prescribing medication.

 

Women do need to stick to an exercise regime, eat healthy and nutritious food, take vitamins to supplement their diet, and possibly undergo bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in order to age well physically, emotionally and mentally. But women also need to understand there’s another side of keeping themselves healthy. Women also need to be able to laugh at themselves, sleep away stress (even if it’s only for a few hours), practice yoga or meditate, and be honest with their friends, family and themselves.

 

Ageology physicians can and do prescribe, and help female patients manage medication, but they also work with them one-to-one, using non-traditional approaches to managing mind/body health, and helping to restore the critical balance between physical and mental self. Here’s a few examples of a mind/body approach for women:

  • Eat well: The connection between the brain and the gut cannot be understated. Every day, new research is being released on what Ageology physicians and other integrative metabolic medicine physicians have known for a long time. What you eat affects how you feel and how you think. Too often, patients get shuffled from doctor to doctor looking for the cause of their unknown malady. After an adjustment to a low allergen (gluten/dairy/nut/sugar/fruit and alcohol free) diet, within days the patient starts to finally feel better, possibly after many years or a lifetime of feeling poor.
  • Get regular exercise and plenty of sleep: Exercise is a natural de-stressor. When women are engaged in physical activity their brains can partially refocus on the task at hand vs. the 1,000 other things that seem so pressing.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Quality sleep will stabilize women’s hormone levels and give them a chance to “wind down” to normal levels after a stressful day.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: There is nothing better than yoga to release stress. Like other exercise it gives women’s brains a distraction from stressors. But any exercise is even better if you can combine meditation into your practice.
  • Foster healthy friendships: Having friends and taking care of animals has been proven to be enormous de-stressors. If you can take your dog to work with you, do it and don’t forget to make time to connect with a friend each and every day.
  • Have a sense of humor: Instead of fretting over problems try to find the humorous side of them. Friends and your partner, boyfriend, fiancé or husband are often especially adept at helping you find the lighter side of your challenges, no matter how big they may seem.
  • Balance your hormones: Your Ageology physician will use saliva testing to help determine your cortisol levels and based on the results, will help you balance those levels, using a combination of stress reduction techniques, personalized nutrition and fitness regimens, pharmaceutical-grade supplementation and bioidentical hormone therapy.

For more information on how you can get well, feel well and age well, contact an Ageology physician near you today.

 

Learn more about women’s health issues and how Ageology can help:

 

Read Ageology’s recent blog posts and library resources to learn more about women’s mind/body and integrative metabolic medicine:

Want a better memory? Spend more time with your grandkids—but not too much!

Great news! A study published in 2014 showed that grandmothers who care for their grandchildren one day per week have a better chance of preventing cognitive decline and retaining a healthy memory.

 Australian researchers had 186 (post-menopausal) grandmothers take three different tests: one to measure cognitive performance in the areas of working memory, one to measure processing speed, and one that measured executive functioning, or the ability to problem solve and plan ahead.

The researchers found that grandmothers who cared for their grandchildren just one day per week performed better on the tests that measured working memory and processing speed. Conversely, those who cared for their grandchildren five days per week or more did significantly worse on a test that measured attention, working memory, and processing speed.

Social engagement supports good cognitive function and lowers the risk for dementia, yet it seems that too much of a good thing may be worse than no engagement at all.

While spending limited time with your grandchildren, engage them in activities that involve new learning and physical exercise. Go to the park, take a walk to the local library or visit a museum for the day. Physical activity gets your blood pumping and new learning encourages the growth of new brain cells and connections—a win/win scenario for everyone!

Source: http://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Citation/2014/10000/Role_of_grandparenting_in_postmenopausal_women_s.7.aspx

 

3 Ways to Stop Sugar Cravings for Life

1. Keep your blood sugar balanced

Low blood sugar can leave you feeling anxious, irritable and absolutely ravenous! In these imbalanced moments, you’re more likely to reach for quick, empty calories or comfort foods. Support your ability to make healthy food choices by eating small snacks that contain protein and/or healthy fats every few hours. Protein and healthy fats are highly satiating, so they’re perfect to carry in the car or purse.

Healthy fast foods include:

  • A hard-boiled egg
  • Turkey or beef jerky
  • A small bag of nuts
  • Hummus with baby carrots or snap peas

2. Kick the artificial sweeteners

If you really, REALLY want to tackle sugar cravings, it’s imperative that you stop the cycle of sugar addiction. Yes, this means decreasing your intake of artificial sweeteners. Many people think that synthetic sweeteners are ok because they have no calories, but that does not mean they are innocuous. The truth is: Artificial sweeteners are up to 600 times sweeter than sugar. While they have no calories, they do reinforce sugar cravings in the brain.

Start small by cutting back your intake. Replace flavored waters and diet sodas with counter-brewed teas like hibiscus, which is full of vitamin C and tastes amazing!

3. Manage stress

Chronic stress has been associated with increased appetite, sugar and fat cravings, abdominal obesity, low energy, poor concentration, heart disease, increased risk for strokes, diabetes (reduced sensitivity to insulin), osteoporosis and more! A daily stress-management program can help you keep a calm center and reduce the cravings that tear you down.

When you feel stressed-out, try:

  • Taking a brisk 15-minute walk
  • Listening to your favorite music
  • Calling a friend or family member
  • Connecting with your spiritual community

3 Scientifically Proven Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

As of 2015, approximately 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease, and experts predict that this number will grow to over 7 million in the next 10 years—a 40% increase. Clearly, something must be done!

 

Some people believe that Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented, cured or slowed, yet we know that there are a number of ways that you can care for your body and brain to effectively lower your risk. According to a 2011 study, up to 54% of Alzheimer’s cases could have been avoided had the individual adopted healthier lifestyle habits. The most modifiable risk factors presented in the study were physical inactivity, depression, smoking, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity, low education and diabetes.

 

While some of the risk factors are a bit more complex to avoid, there are a few easy ways that you can start nourishing your brain and brain today. 

 

Eat more healthy fats and veggies. According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk for cognitive impairment is 42% lower in mature adults who eat a diet that is higher is high-quality fats—think avocado, coconut oil and walnuts—and lower in refined carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and rice. Your brain matter is approximately 60% fat, so it needs enough “good fats” to function properly. With that said, make an effort to eliminate “bad fats” such as the ones in fried and processed foods.

 

Work your buns to boost your brain. Physical activity improves circulation and blood flow, which means that there is more oxygen and nutrients nourishing your brain cells. Exercise also helps prevent heart disease, weight gain and diabetes, which are all risk factors for Alzheimer’s. If that weren’t enough, exercise is also a fantastic antidepressant! How much should you get? Brisk walking for 30-45 minutes, 3-4 times per week is a fantastic way to start. Invite a friend for maximum enjoyment.

 

Spend time with your grandchildren. Spending time with your grandchildren—particularly while engaged in physical and/or learning activities—is another scientifically proven way to maintain cognitive health as you age. These types of activities, in addition to healthy social time with friends and family, strengthen the neural connections in your brain and help you stay sharp and happy!

 

Combine all three of these suggestions for maximum results. A 2014 study showed that after just two years, people who made these changes experienced improvements in memory, executive function (planning, thinking ahead) and scored higher on cognitive skills speed tests.

 

Who says that being healthy has to be a drag? Have fun with it!

Five Things Exercise CANNOT do

GettyImages_168533629-1Exercise can improve your mood, increase your energy levels, and help you feel better both physically and emotionally. So how many more reasons do you need to get moving? On the other hand, if you’re just starting an exercise regime, it’s important to set expectations and know some of the things exercise cannot do. Exercise isn’t a quick fix. It’s a long-term commitment that, combined with good nutrition and vitamins and sometimes with hormones and medications prescribed by an Ageology physician, can help you achieve optimal health. READ MORE →

The Real Cost of a Poor Diet

We’ve all heard the phrase, “you are what you eat,” on several occasions. It’s even possible that we’ve heard it so many times that we allow it to go in one ear and right out of the other.  But when it comes to keeping a well-maintained body weight, building your immune system and living a long, healthy life, the phrase holds a great deal of significance.

America’s obsession with fast food and cheap meals has led to record numbers in obesity and chronic illness. According to the CDC, an estimated $94 billion price tag is attached to the obesity epidemic America is currently battling and a healthier diet could prevent at least $71 billion in medical cost per year. Physical weight is hardly the only issue associated with a poor diet. What often goes unnoticed when it comes to bad food choices is the affects that processed foods can have on mental health. A study published by the Public Health Journal found that regular consumers of fast food are 51 percent more likely to experience bouts of depression.

While these facts work to show that convenience comes at a price to the longevity and quality of one’s life, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  As more Americans become privy to the negative effects of fast food and poor eating habits, the casual dining industry is beginning to experience a slow decline in sales. A prime example of the case is the continued decline of sales from fast-food giant McDonalds. The world’s largest fast food chain reported a nearly 2 percent drop in sales in January 2015.  Analyst expected the drop to be around 1.2 percent.

When examining areas such as Okinawa and the San Blas islands off the coast of Panama, studies have found that the populations tend to live a longer life.  A common thread between these groups of people: their diet is built for longevity. Consuming foods rich in calcium, vitamins, and antioxidants, these populations are experiencing an average life expectancy of as much as 81 years.  Compare this to the United States’ life expectancy of 78 years and one could argue that the proof is, literally, in the pudding.

Check out this post by WebMD and find out what you can eat to increase the quality and longevity of your life.

Acquire new patients without breaking the bank

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, as much as 40 percent of adult Americans are turning to forms of medicine outside of mainstream approaches to treating chronic ailments. With demand for alternative healing on the rise, it’s no wonder many institutions and ambulatory practitioners are looking to accommodate the need for total wellness, rather than symptoms-centered solutions.

The continuous uptick of those suffering from conditions such as diabetes and heart disease is driving the general population to explore new forms of care not offered through conventional methods. While this is a great time for healthcare professionals in Integrative Medicine, it presents a unique challenge: How do I acquire these patients for my practice without spending a load of money?  The answer depends on how much time and energy you are willing to invest. As is the case with many IM providers, funds are limited, eliminating many instant gratification strategies such as advertising.

Here are some tactics that may prove to be beneficial, while keeping dollars in your pocket.

Develop a social media presence
It’s no secret that social media is infiltrating the healthcare industry.  In 2011, more than 60 percent of providers reported using social media to reach patients and encourage conversation about healthcare with the general public. While this seems simple enough, where many fall flat with social media is directly related to the content of their posting. Knowing what to post to capture the attention of your audience is paramount. Avoid focusing so much on yourself and instead look to serve as an information source. Share content such as your blog, other blogs you find useful and tips to improve health and wellness.  Forget the need for business.  Establish your expertise on a defined subject and paying clients will follow.

Encourage word of mouth
WOM is often overlooked in the digital age but turning a blind eye to the value it brings could have you missing out on prime opportunity to acquire new patients. A Physicians Practice article discussing ways to attract new patients urged providers to lean on their current clients to drive new business.  Ask your patients to refer friends and post online reviews, perhaps even offering a small incentive to those who do so.  It can pay off big in the long run.

Build your network
Ever heard the expression “it takes a village to raise a child”? The same can be said for a growing practice. Patients looking for the integrative medicine approach to treatment are likely taking part in ancillary services such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation, etc.  Find facilities that offer these services and build a relationship with them to foster referrals.  Be sure to track where your patients are getting their referrals and adjust your efforts accordingly.

Determine what potential patients care about most
Spending a great deal of time understanding and catering to those most likely to visit your practice is vital to the success of your business.  Integrative medicine practitioners often burdened with the task of finding cash-paying patients. Knowing who to target and what services they care about can dramatically cut time and costs when it comes to gaining new clients. Find out what ailments are prominent in various areas around you and set up shop according to where the research leads you.  It should be noted that this task should be completed before determining the location of your practice.

The healthcare industry is on the brink of some big changes.  Developing a blueprint on how to position yourself to be a leader takes time and invested effort.  Not everything has to cost a ton of money … some tactics just take a little creativity.

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