Could It Be My Thyroid?

I routinely hear from patients in the office, “Could it be my thyroid?” It could be. But usually that’s not the real blame for weight problems. It is however, something to try and understand. It’s commonly a problem, especially in women. When it gets treated people feel so much better.

With all hormones, balance is absolutely key! If you balance one hormone, potentially you can throw off another hormone. You don’t want one working too well and the other not working well enough. Hormones come from endocrine glands. There are lots of different endocrine glands. They all produce different hormones. The endocrine glands are found throughout the body. There are lots of different glands in the body: pancreas, testis, ovaries, and more. A hormone is simply a chemical messenger. They communicate between one part of the body and another. The tissue that makes the hormone releases the hormone into the bloodstream. Subsequently the hormone goes throughout the body. The tissues that have receptors can receive the message. It’s that “Lock and Key” type of thing. It needs to fit well into the receptor in order to send the message. Hormones are one of the main tools your body uses to maintain homeostasis (balance). Hormone balance is a key concept. It’s especially true with Thyroid Hormone.

The pituitary gland is a tiny gland the size of a berry sitting in the center of your head. It receives messages and sends messages. It works in concert with the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus often sends the message of what the pituitary gland should release. The pituitary gland releases all sorts of hormones. It releases prolactin, growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, FSH, and more. Often it’s the pituitary gland that’s sending the message to the endocrine gland. Then the endocrine gland releases the hormone. The thyroid gland receives instruction from the pituitary gland. There are a lot of places where these hormones can be thrown out of whack.

The thyroid gland sits in your neck. It’s below the “Adam’s apple.” It’s one of the largest endocrine glands. The thyroid comes from the Greek word for shield. It’s protected and covered by some of the neck muscles. The parathyroid glands are adjacent to it. The parathyroid glands influence your bones but they don’t really influence your overall metabolism. They are adjacent to the thyroid glands. The function of the thyroid is directly related to metabolism (how your body uses energy). This is what drives your metabolism—whether it’s slow or fast. This is what overseas our metabolic rate. When someone talks about a slow or fast metabolism, they are alluding to their thyroid gland. If you looked under a microscope at a slice of your thyroid tissue you would see these open areas that have food in there. That’s the thyroid hormone. If this goes out of whack potentially you can get thyroid disease.

A balanced hormone means there’s good communication between different areas. The hypothalamus talks to your pituitary gland. The pituitary gland talks to the thyroid gland. Then the thyroid gland releases the thyroid hormone. There are multiple layers. They are like multiple feedback loops. One of these hormones in the loop feeds back on the other. So you don’t want to get too much of any one thing there. It’s also very dependent on appropriate iodine intake. Iodine is essential for life. It’s utilized by every single cell in your body. The thyroid uses about 3 mg every single day. The breast tissue uses a couple milligrams every single day because the breast is very receptive to iodine. It’s very important in breast function. Iodine has been added to salt. The iodized salt is one of the only ways we get iodine.

Unfortunately the iodine that’s in the salt can vaporize. Once the iodized salt container has been opened the iodine can vaporize. We often don’t get enough iodine because it’s been released into the atmosphere. It’s very common that people don’t get enough, especially Americans. Iodine used to be added to a lot of different foods. It’s been taken out of a lot of foods and substituted with bromine. In Europe bromine is illegal. The receptors for bromine are very similar to iodine. So if you’re exposed to a lot of bromine eventually the iodine receptors get blocked and then, subsequently even with the iodine, you’re not utilizing as much as you could. Iodine is very important to the thyroid. If you don’t get enough it can lead to goiter. Cysts form because the tissue is trying to work but can’t due to lack of iodine. The cysts can turn into a goiter. They can be very noticeable or very small. Eventually the thyroid could have to be taken out.

Again, the thyroid system runs from the hypothalamus down to the pituitary, and up to the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland then makes the thyroid hormone. Iodine is important in all of this. It releases thyroid hormone into the bloodstream. The thyroid hormone will go to just about every cell in your body. If the thyroid hormone is unbalanced, then that would be either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. It’s very important for growth and development and overall metabolism.

Is your thyroid functioning normally? TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone. It’s made by your pituitary gland in your brain. The thyroid functioning test is a screening test telling. It doesn’t tell us how well your thyroid is working. If the pituitary gland makes a lot of TSH it basically means your pituitary gland is screaming at your thyroid to get it to work. It often means the thyroid is not working well. That’s a sign of hypothyroidism. If the pituitary gland doesn’t make much TSH that means the thyroid is working like crazy. You don’t need to tell it to work anymore. That’s often a sign of hyperthyroidism. Again, the thyroid function test is really a poor test. What’s important is not what the brain is telling the thyroid to do. What’s important is what the thyroid is actually doing. To know what the thyroid is doing, we look at the thyroid hormone. The working thyroid hormone is T3. It’s called free T3. What this has to do with is how many iodine molecules are on that thyroid hormone? T4 is levothyroxine. T3 is missing an iodine. Synthroid is synthetic thyroid. The issue there is that if you’re taking synthroid, you’re not taking the working thyroid hormone, T3. Subsequently your body has to convert it to the T3. Some people don’t do that well. If you don’t do that well synthroid (levothyroxine) might not be a good choice. The reason we would give you T4 and not just T3 is because the T4 is much longer acting. Therefore it’s just one dose a day. T3 is short acting and you have to take multiple doses. Most people will continue to take the T4 and convert it to T3. I want to know what your TSH is (for the thyroid function test). But I also want to know what the free T3 is because that’s the true working hormone. All the others are just working up the working hormone. The T3 is what’s telling all the cells in your body how to act. How do we look at the thyroid physically? We can do an ultrasound or radioactive iodine. Often an ultrasound is a better way to look at the thyroid.

The TSH is coming down from the brain and tells the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormone. The level will change depending on what it needs to tell the thyroid. If it’s telling the thyroid to release more, the volume goes up. If it’s telling the thyroid to release less, the volume goes down. The T4 is converted the T3, which then tells all the cells what to do. The T4 could actually make what’s called reverse T3. You don’t want to make this. It’s kind of a mirror image of T3. The mirror image of the T3 doesn’t function like the actual T3 does. Reverse T3 really doesn’t do you a lot of good. Some people take the T4, and instead of converting it to the T3, convert it reverse T3. Subsequently you’re thyroid doesn’t work well. But it may not show up on that TSH screening test.

Lots of thyroid symptoms go along with abnormality. The biggest thing we’re worried about is hypothyroidism. If you’re truly hyperthyroid you usually don’t have a weight problem. The symptoms with hypothyroidism are numerous and vague. That’s where the problem comes in. Because they are vague, we just don’t think about these things. For example, there are a lot of reasons to be tired. You might lose some of your eyebrow hair. You might get a puffy face, enlarged thyroid gland, or be hot or cold all the time. Cold intolerance is a symptom. You could be tired all the time, have dry skin, menstrual cycles are way off, weight gain, constipation, or brittle nails. Unfortunately a lot of these symptoms are very vague and don’t necessarily point at any one thing. It potentially can be hypothyroidism. There are some overlap symptoms that go with both hyper and hypothyroidism. Part of the problem is how we sort all these things out. Again, we look at those thyroid function tests.

What do you do if your thyroid is not quite abnormal enough to be on thyroid medication? One thing is iodine. It can help. Most Americans don’t get enough Iodine. There are some thyroid support supplements. We have them here is our store. You can also find them in health food stores. They usually have some B vitamins in them. They also have extra zinc, selenium and some herbal things as well. Typically there are some things you can do for supporting the thyroid. Again, we can’t live without iodine.

Shop online at: https://cfwls.com/shop-online/

Estrogen, Menopause & Weight Gain

Is there something about hormones, change in hormones and menopause that makes women gain weight? The answer is yes. Almost every woman has some complaint or observation about this. Is it just related to age or is it real? It is real!

When we talk about hormones, balance is key! We need to have our hormones in balance or things don’t work quite right. If you do something to one hormone, it can affect other hormones. When we talk about the hormones associated with menopause, we start talking about treatments. Often you will hear us talk about bioidentical hormones or synthetic hormones. Bioidentical hormones mean it looks exactly the way your body made it. There are three types of human estrogen. The chemical structure of human vs. bioidentical hormones is basically the same. The point is that your body will react the way it always does. The chemical structure of synthetic hormones is not the same as human hormones. The big deal of this is that your body doesn’t react the same to synthetic hormones as it does to bioidentical hormones. That’s where a lot of these problems with hormones can arise. When you hear about people talking about hormones causing blood clots, heart problems, and other problems, they are typically referring to synthetic hormones. It’s the synthetic hormones that cause the problems, not the bioidentical hormones. Bioidentical hormones actually prevent some of these problems.

Why would anyone use synthetic hormones? Part of the reason is that’s all the major drug companies can produce.  No one can patent something that occurs in nature. If something already occurs in the human body I can’t patent that. In order for me to patent something I have to actually change it. I would have to make it slightly different.

Hormones are chemical messengers that communicate between one part of the body and another. It’s different human tissues communicating between each other. This hormone making tissue sends it out through the bloodstream. Only tissue with receptors to that hormone will respond to that hormone (lock and key). You have to have the right key to open the lock. It’s basically just sending a message so the receptive tissue will do something. Hormones are one of the main tools your body uses to maintain homeostasis (balance). Cortisol and thyroid hormones are important in sex hormone function, but we won’t be discussing them today. Hormone balance is a key concept. We need to keep the hormones in balance so things will work correctly the way we need them to.

All the sex hormones are derived from cholesterol.  We would die without cholesterol. It’s needed in every single cell in our body. The sex hormones include: testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. There are three types of estrogen: Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), and Estriol (E3). Estradiol is the most important one. Men and women all share these hormones. The only difference is the absolute number and the relative amounts of them. The sex hormones all come from the cholesterol molecule.  All the sex hormones look similar chemically. They just have side chains on them and they do different things.

As we get older our hormone levels change. Testosterone levels go down. After the late teens/early 20’s men and women we lose about 1% of our testosterone every year.  Women tend to lose it sooner.  Testosterone is your “feel good” hormone. It’s your vitality hormone. It certainly affects your libido. It also affects sleep, exercise, metabolism, clarity of thought and more. It preserves our lean body mass. It’s an extremely important hormone throughout our lifetime. As women age testosterone naturally declines. The other thing that happens is the sex hormone binding globulin tends to go up. This works against testosterone because it actually binds the testosterone. So even if we had the same amount of testosterone, it wouldn’t work as well. There’s a double whammy. This is true for both men and women. It’s the free testosterone that is the working molecule. You don’t want it bound up against something else. If it is bound up then it won’t work as well.  It is something that changes with age.

A little bit of testosterone is made by the adrenal glands and ovaries. Most of it is made by the ovaries for women and testicles for men. In women, testosterone is critical for optimum function of many systems: sex drive, heart health, preservation of bone and muscle mass, and sense of well-being.  Osteoporosis is very common. It’s a huge problem for women. It’s testosterone that is the true bone builder. We can increase someone’s bone density by about 8% a year with testosterone. The heart is a muscle. Testosterone can help with the way the heart beats. Women typically produce about 10% of the testosterone that males produce. Part of the reason is that women are more sensitive to it. Production of testosterone by the ovaries decreases by 50% from age 20-40 and continues to fall until menopause. It also tends to drop during pregnancy. For women who have had multiple pregnancies, it tends to drop quicker (Nature’s “family planning” with a lower sex drive). The more children women tend to have, the lower the testosterone levels go. Some of the testosterone breaks down to estrogen. That’s how men get their estrogen. We’re finding out some interesting things. Some people think testosterone is linked to prostrate problems. It’s probably not true at all. The issue is that estrogen levels start to go up. It’s most likely the estrogen in men that affects the prostrate. The ratio gets out of whack.

Progesterone is a woman’s hormone. It’s the natural antagonist, or balancer, to estrogen. We don’t want estrogen levels to be too high or too low. We need to keep that balance. It’s the ying and yang of the female hormone system. The relative balance determines either a state of physical and emotional well-being or unpleasant symptoms. Progesterone is produced mainly by the ovaries, but also small amounts by the brain and adrenal glands. Receptors are found in the brain, breasts, blood vessels, bones and reproductive glands. They wouldn’t be found in all these organs if they weren’t needed. Low progesterone levels put women at risk for fibroids, endometriosis, and uterine cancer.

Three Types of Female Hormones

Estrogen is the primary female hormone. There are three types. Estradiol is the important one.  The adrenal glands make estrogen, but it’s mainly the ovaries. When women go through menopause, the ovaries quit working. Then, a small amount comes from the adrenal glands. Estrogen receptors are widely distributed throughout the body: brain, breast, bone, blood, blood vessels, and reproductive organs. Estrogen is an important hormone to send a message to these different organs. It’s critical for sexual maturation, puberty, and the reproductive cycle. Adult women produce 3 primary estrogens: estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Estriol is very important in pregnancy.

Estradiol is the strongest of the estrogens and the main one produced by the ovaries. The balance of estrogen and progesterone shifts back and forth during a woman’s monthly cycle.  Disturbances in this ratio can lead to anxiety, emotional changes, and insomnia. These are some of the things that occur in that pre-menopausal period. It’s not that you aren’t producing the hormones, but the ratios are starting to get a little out of whack. Estradiol production remains relatively steady during your 30’s and 40’s. Then it becomes erratic in your late 40’s with surges and falls. It finally falls dramatically during menopause. The ovaries quit working so the estrogen levels go really low.

Estrone is the next strongest estrogen. It’s produced by conversion of estradiol in the tissues. There can be conversion back and forth. Estrone is the main post-menopausal estrogen. Estrone can be produced by the fatty tissue.

Estriol is the weakest of the 3 estrogens. Normally it’s produced in high levels only during pregnancy. It’s important in both pregnancy and breast cancer protection. It acts to block the potent effects of estradiol on breast tissue growth and possible cancer promotion.

When you approach menopause you may get the night sweats and hot flashes. As you’re approaching menopause, you have pre-menopausal symptoms. That means there is estrogen dominance. That means you’ve started making less progesterone. That balance is no longer there. Even if the estrogen levels are where they should be, it’s still referred to as estrogen dominance.

The average age of menopause is 51. The ovaries basically quit working and no longer produce estrogens. All of the total estrogen levels fall, especially estradiol. Estrone can still be made by fat cells. What does this have to do with your weight?

The major ways that sex hormones can affect weight is by their influence on a critical enzyme used in fat storage. That hormone is called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). LPL is the “gatekeeper” for fat accumulation. You have to turn on this enzyme in order to store fat. Any cell that uses fatty acids for fuel or stores fatty acids uses LPL to make this possible. LPL can actually be used to help burn fat or store fat. It depends on what tissue it’s on. If it’s on fat cells, it stores fat. If it’s on muscle cells, it’s burning fat. The more LPL activity on a cell type, the more fatty acids that cell will absorb.

Insulin is the primary regulator of LPL activity, but it’s not the only one. In fat cells, insulin increases LPL activity. In muscle cells, insulin decreases LPL activity. Women have higher LPL activity in their adipose tissue. Women can store fat easier than men. In men, LPL activity is higher in the abdominal region, but in women LPL is higher in the hips and buttocks. That changes as they get older. The sex hormones also influence LPL activity. Testosterone suppresses LPL activity in the abdomen. So as men age, testosterone decreases (and insulin increases) and they tend to develop a “gut.” They lose the testosterone so they lose that protective effect.

Progesterone increases the activity of LPL, especially in the hips and butt. Estradiol can actually decrease the LPL activity. Estradiol tends to remain high in women until about their 40’s. The estradiol actually helps preserve the lean body mass. As you go through menopause estradiol levels decrease. It’s the decrease in this estrogen (during menopause) that leads to an increase in fat storage. Women lose that LPL suppression.  Estrone levels go up and it’s made by the fatty tissue. Estrone increases the LPL activity leading to more fat deposition. When you go through menopause, estradiol levels go way down so you lose the protection. Estrone levels start going way up which cause an increase in LPL activity. There’s a double whammy there. It’s a hormonal thing, not a how much you’re eating thing.

Carb rich meals increase LPL activity in the fat tissue. Interestingly, fatty meals do not! Another interesting finding is that obese individuals have higher LPL activity in their fat cells, meaning that a larger person can gain weight much more easily than a thin person. The more overweight you are, the easier it is to gain weight. It’s a snowball effect.

Hormones, menopause, and weigh gain are all closely related. This has nothing to do with how many calories you are eating. It does have a lot to do with how many carbs you are eating. Age and hormone changes (as well as a loss of LBM) have a lot to do with it. As estradiol decreases, and estrone increases (as well as testosterone decreasing) it becomes easier to store fat. This is one more reason you might want to consider Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Call to schedule your labs and initial consultation with us.  We offer a webinar that will help to explain the process and benefits of BioIdentical Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Improve Your Libido!

1It’s a fact – getting older is inevitable.  Your chronological age advances with each passing day.  Although this is true, it’s become much easier to embrace each year.  In fact, you can enjoy your “mature years” as much or even more than your “younger” years.  This is especially true if you feel happy, healthy, balanced and in control (at least most of the time).

Impossible you say?  Well, it’s not as impossible as you may think!

So what’s the key to success?  I believe it primarily comes down to these five things:

  1. Don’t avoid focusing on YOU! It’s easy to come up with reasons as to why you are your last priority.  The fact remains that you are the one who controls your decisions.  You are the one who can determine what you eat each day, how active you are each day, how you organize and prioritize your day/life and how you respond to setbacks, frustrations and saboteurs.
  2. Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Sounds simple but it’s a conscious choice and if you are involved in any of our programs, you will understand how to make this happen.  Don’t view your weight loss plan as a “diet”.  It’s your new way of life.  Let us help you make it work for you so you feel satisfied instead of deprived.   Otherwise you are set up for failure.
  3. Embrace fitness! If you do, you will feel better, have more energy, significantly decrease your stress level and be better prepared for the challenges life sends your way.  Don’t forget about yoga (a great way to clear your mind and strengthen your body) and resistance training (build your muscles and enhance your metabolism).
  4. Get organized and simplify your life! What gets on your calendar is much more likely to get done.  Set your goals, review them every day, plan ahead with a daily/weekly planner for your meals/activity and the things that have to get done.  Delegate what you can and  realize that some things don’t have to be done now!  Put them on your calendar for a future date if they are important so you don’t forget about them.
  5. Get balanced and love yourself even more!  If you haven’t had your hormone  levels checked yet, do it!  The independent lab at CFWLS makes it a no-brainer.  Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy has been providing men and women with more energy, better mental clarity, higher libido, lower body fat/more muscle mass, lower levels of depression, irritability and mood swings and protecting against osteoporosis, heart disease and many cancers for decades.

Call 757-223-0940 to schedule your labs and consultation or visit www.CenterForHormoneHealthAndWellness.com for more information.

 

 

I Want to Feel Balanced!

Balance“Balance” – What is that you say? Well the official definition of balance is mental and emotional steadiness; habit of calm behavior.  It is a state of equilibrium or equipoise.  That’s all fine and good but the reality is that if you feel balanced, you have a greater sense of control. You also have a better ability to constructively manage the ups and downs that come your way in life. If you feel balanced, you not only survive but you thrive!

So when was the last time you felt balanced? Does such a feeling seem out of reach? It doesn’t have to be. Finding balance in your life is the key to your overall health and wellness. In order for you to obtain a state of optimal health, your body needs to be balanced. Factors that influence your “balance” include things such as what you eat, your exercise regime (or lack thereof), your sleep pattern, your relationships and even your vitamin and hormone blood levels.  So…how do you obtain balance in your life?

A great place to start in order to understand what’s really going on with your body on a cellular level is to have some important laboratory blood tests evaluated. Knowledge is power when it comes to understanding your body.  Proper nutrition, regular exercise, taking quality vitamins, and getting enough sleep affects what’s going on in every cell of your body. If one of these factors is out of balance, it will be revealed in your lab work. There’s also a big difference between being “normal” and “optimal”. This is something you may not even realize. Why feel “ok” when you can feel “great”?

So what tests are important? Dr. Clark initially orders approximately 16 different important laboratory tests. Once the test results are in (within 2-3 days if drawn at CFWLS), Dr. Clark reviews everything you need to know about each of them (why they are important, normal value, your value, significance of your result and how to improve your levels).

Did you know that you can actually have your blood evaluated through a separate corporation (Atherotech Labs) at CFWLS. You can either have Atherotech bill your insurance (with a maximum of no more than $39 out of pocked expense if any aren’t covered) or as a reasonable cash pay option. Here are a couple of important laboratory test examples:
Vitamin D – One of the labs checked by Dr. Clark at CFWLS is your Vitamin D level.  This vitamin is important for bone health, preventing heart problems, and is also important for fat mobilization.  Normal levels are 30-100 ng/ml.  If lab results indicate your vitamin D level at 30, it’s within normal range. However, OPTIMAL levels for vitamin D are greater than 60.  Being in the OPTIMAL range will give you better results than a low NORMAL range. Therefore, we would suggest sun exposure 5-30 minutes 2x a week and an ADK supplement.
Testosterone – This is a vital hormone for men and women. Testosterone is one of the most important hormones for preserving your vitality, sex drive, lean body mass and youthful feel. NORMAL range for women is 30-95 ng/dl and 300-1200 ng/dl for men.  However, being in the OPTIMAL range will make you feel even better and more balanced.  OPTIMAL range for men is 800-1200 and 80-150 for women. Intense exercise, quality sleep, and testosterone replacement (we recommend natural bio-identical hormone replacement) are all crucial for optimal testosterone levels.

The staff at the Center for Weight Loss Success and the Center for Hormone Health and Wellness can help you find your balance and experience optimal health.  You can take advantage of our fitness center and our highly trained and professional personal trainers.  Or stop by our nutrition store to purchase our high-quality vitamins and tasty high quality protein products. If you are experiencing mood swings, depression, migraines, sleep problems, poor sex drive, hot flashes, and other hormonal issues, The Center for Hormone Health and Wellness can help you get your hormones back in balance using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Get your lab work done to determine what your body is missing.

Don’t settle for feeling just “ok.”  Strive for optimal vitamin and hormone levels along with healthy nutrition, fitness and behaviors. We are here to help you look and feel your very best. Control your health before it controls you. Being balanced feels great!

You CAN Enjoy Aging!

39It’s a fact – getting older is inevitable.  Your chronological age advances with each passing day.  Although this is true, it’s become much easier to embrace each year.  In fact, you can enjoy your “mature” years” as much or even more than your “younger” years.  This is especially true if you feel happy, healthy, balanced and in control (at least most of the time).

Impossible you say?  Well, it’s not as impossible as you may think!

So what’s the key to success?  I believe it primarily comes down to these five things:

  1. Don’t avoid focusing on YOU! It’s easy to come up with reasons as to why you are your last priority.  The fact remains that you are the one who controls your decisions.  You are the one who can determine what you eat each day, how active you are each day, how you organize and prioritize your day/life and how you respond to setbacks, frustrations and saboteurs.
  2. Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Sounds simple but it’s a conscious choice and if you are involved in any of our programs, you will understand how to make this happen.  Don’t view your weight loss plan as a “diet”.  It’s your new way of life.  Let us help you make it work for you so you feel satisfied instead of deprived.   Otherwise you are set up for failure.
  3. Embrace fitness! If you do, you will feel better, have more energy, significantly decrease your stress level and be better prepared for the challenges life sends your way.  Don’t forget about yoga (a great way to clear your mind and strengthen your body) and resistance training (build your muscles and enhance your metabolism).
  4. Get organized and simplify your life! What gets on your calendar is much more likely to get done.  Set your goals, review them every day, plan ahead with a daily/weekly planner for your meals/activity and the things that have to get done.  Delegate what you can and realize that some things don’t have to be done now!  Put them on your calendar for a future date though if they are important so you don’t forget about them.
  5. Get balanced and love yourself even more! If you haven’t had your hormone levels checked yet, do it!  The independent lab at CFWLS makes it a no-brainer (out of pocket cost no more than $39.00 after insurance).  Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy has been providing men and women with more energy, better mental clarity, higher libido, lower body fat/more muscle mass, lower levels of depression, irritability and mood swings and protecting against osteoporosis, heart disease and many cancers for decades.  Talk to any of our staff or visit CenterForHormoneHealthAndWellness.com for more information.

It’s up to you!  Age healthier…age happier and remember to enjoy the journey!

Restful Renewing Sleep

19We’ve already established that stress causes a number of negative side effects – exercise helps and so does something we take for granted every day of our lives. Restful Renewing Sleep!

According to the National Institute of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. Are you average? If so, you may be getting enough to get by but not enough to function at your best!

The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life. Mental sharpness, your productivity and emotional balance, creativity and physical vitality, even your weight can be tied to the amount and quality of sleep that you get. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort. While you are asleep, your brain stays busy. Biological maintenance is taking place! Hormones are coaxed back into balance. Energy and efficiency are being restored.

It’s not just the number of hours that you sleep but the quality of those hours that make a difference. You may have noticed at times that your sleep is disrupted. Your internal clock can be affected by shiftwork, traveling across time zones, irregular sleeping or even too much artificial light at night.

Melatonin is one of the naturally occurring hormones produced as a result of light exposure. It helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Spending time away from natural daylight and too much time around bright light at night may suppress your body’s production of melatonin and make it harder to sleep.

Tips for a Restful Night

  • Set a regular bedtime and don’t change the routine on weekends just because it’s tempting to stay up late. Create a relaxing routine and make sure that your bed is comfortable.
  • Wake up at the same time every day. You should be able to wake up without an alarm clock. If this isn’t the case, try going to bed a little earlier.
  • Nap to make up for lost time instead of sleeping late. Try an early afternoon nap (30-45 minutes) so that you don’t disturb your natural sleep pattern.
  • Avoid falling asleep on the sofa. If you find yourself drifting off after dinner, get up and do something that is mildly stimulating to avoid throwing off your routine.
  • Stay away from big meals at night and cut back on caffeine. Caffeine has been known to cause sleep problems as much as 12 hours after drinking it!
  • As little as 20-30 minutes of daily exercise will help. The more strenuous exercise should be done earlier in the day but relaxing exercises like yoga or gentle stretching can be done in the evening.

‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes one healthy, wealthy & wise.’ There may be something to that proverb!

How to Stop the Clock? Exercise and Aging

22Exercise and aging – you will notice the changes by the time you’re 30 – what happened to the body you had in college? Diminished aerobic capacity and loss of muscle can leave you feeling breathless and exhausted with normal daily activities. Most Americans also put on 3-4 pounds a year! Add to that slower reflexes, memory lapses and a decrease in coordination – that’s right, aging is not for the timid.

No one can stop the clock but you can definitely slow it down! The key is regular activity. You don’t need to be an athlete, just enjoy a variety of things that keep your blood pumping. Dr. Clark tweeted just last week that a recent study showed the more time you spend sitting, the higher your biochemical markers for developing diabetes & metabolic dysfunction. There are so many reasons to get moving but how do you start?

Start slowly – something as simple as walking 30 minutes a day will provide benefits. A balance of different exercises will help you optimize your strengths.

Cardio exercise keeps the heart muscle strong and the arteries flexible and generally results in lower blood pressure. Cardio or endurance exercise does many things for you. It reduces body fat, increases sensitivity to insulin, and lowers blood sugar levels. Exercise can improve sleep and lift your spirits, off-setting anxiety and depression. It can also help improve your reflexes and decrease age-related memory loss so let’s get moving!

Resistance exercise using light weights or machines will increase lean body mass and improve your bone density allowing you to remain stronger and more independent as you celebrate those birthdays.

Flexibility training will keep you limber and allow for greater range of movement making daily activities easier and more fun. Stretching can be done anytime but is ideal as a warm-up or cool-down when paired with a cardio exercise.

Balance exercises will help you avoid injuries and move more gracefully – this does not happen on its own, you must work at it.

If you haven’t scheduled your labs and a hormone consultation, call today!  757-223-0940

The Good Bacteria – Probiotics

Unhappy WomanProbiotics are the good bacteria that live in our gut. We have over a trillion bacteria in our colon and most of them are beneficial. Problems start arising when the ratio of good to bad bacteria gets out of balance. If that balance gets out of hand, you might consider taking probiotics. Do you obtain probiotics through your food or from a pill?

The United States has been slower than other countries in recognizing the importance of probiotics. The Northern Europeans and the Japanese acknowledge their importance. However, some GI specialists in the US are starting to treat gastrointestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, with probiotics.

What can probiotics do for us?

  1. Digestive Health: treatment of IBS, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and possibly Crohn’s Disease
  2. Urinary Health: Studies have shown that probiotics can help prevent the unhealthy bacteria from getting into the bladder, thus preventing a bladder infection.
  3. Women’s Health: Probiotics have been shown to prevent vaginosis and yeast infections.
  4. Immunity: One of the functions of helpful bacteria is to stimulate the immune response.
  5. Obesity: Obese people have different gut bacteria than those with a healthy weight. Probiotics could help surgical weight loss patients maintain their weight loss.

PRObiotics dump new bacteria into the colon. PREbiotics are food ingredients that stimulate growth of good bacteria in the colon. They are found naturally in oats, some honey, and bananas. Dr. Challa, author of Probiotics for Dummies, recommends the following foods: plain yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, pickles, kimchi, and kambucha tea.

There’s no evidence that taking probiotics in pill form will cause harm. Flatulence and abdominal discomfort are the only reported side effects. However, measuring the effectiveness is tricky. Probiotics, in pill form, must be packaged in something strong enough to survive stomach acidity. Then, scientists aren’t quite sure how many make it through the GI tract. And, since the effects of probiotics are temporary, you must keep consuming them.

Research on Probiotics is on-going and will continue providing us with more definitive answers. Scientists say probiotics PROBABLY will help you, with the possibility of minor side effects. Instead of buying in pill form, it may be more advantageous to consider measures with proven benefits, such as diet and exercise.