Have you been feeling a little "off" lately? Lack of energy, always feeling cold, trouble concentrating, or unexplained weight gain could be a sign of an underactive thyroid. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, upwards of 27 million Americans suffer from some type of thyroid disorder. Of those, it's estimated that half remain undiagnosed.
Misdiagnosed and Misunderstood
Hailed as "the master" of our endocrine system, second only to the pituitary, the thyroid is a small gland shaped like the outspread wings of a butterfly that sits at the base of the throat. It excretes two hormones - thyroxine (also known as T4) and triiodothyronine (or T3) - that regulate metabolism within every cell in the body.
Low levels of these hormones slow everything down, and it's why symptoms of hypothyroidism often include weight gain and fatigue, as well as constipation, depression, irritability, low body temperature, sleep disturbances, forgetfulness, edema (fluid retention), hair loss, decreased libido, joint pain, and a hoarse voice.
Yet, because these symptoms can resemble a host of other diseases, the thyroid is often overlooked by physicians.
Donating blood has many health benefits. Not only will you help someone in need of blood, but you will also help optimize your health and wellness. Here are the top three health benefits from donating blood.
Protect Your Heart by Reducing Oxidative Stress
Iron in your blood can oxidize resulting in damage to your cells and tissues. The increase in oxidative stress is most dangerous to your cardiovascular system. According to a new study published by the American Medical Association, giving blood every six months led to fewer heart attacks and strokes in test participants ages 43 to 61.
Excessive iron is thought to contribute to heart disease, especially at its early stages. Donating blood on a regular basis reduces the iron stores in the body and this study supports the theory that reducing iron appears to preserve cardiovascular health.
A second study of 2,682 men in Finland, reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that men who donated blood at least once a year had an 88 percent lower risk of heart attacks than non-donors. This same group of researchers published a follow-up study and found that men who donated blood were less likely than non-donors to show any signs of cardiovascular disease.1
You're back! Glad to know I didn't scare you away with Part 1 of my turmoil and trouble with ED. And if you're joining me for the first time, ED = Eating Disorder, not Erectile Dysfunction... I'll save that topic for the experts (see Part 1 of the blog here).
When I last left you, I was talking about all the ways an eating disorder can envelop you, taking you to the deepest, darkest places of your soul. It's a sickness – and it really IS a sickness, mentally and physically – that seeps into every pore of your being. It becomes the absolute most important thing in your life and does not care who (or what) is sacrificed in the process whether it's friends or family members... or husbands, marriages.
A positive? You get really good at math. In the good old days of my eating disorder, I was constantly calculating calories consumed vs. calories burned in my mind, figuring out just how many hours of exercise I would need to burn off that apple I had for dinner. To be honest, I still do this to some extent; I'm just eating a more "acceptable" amount of food.
An eating disorder never gives you a rest. It consumes every second, every minute of your day, from the moment you wake until you fall asleep. I even dream about it.
We had a saying in Naturopathic Medical School that stated, "if you want to heal a person, heal the gut." It's fitting that I have written about digestive issues like intestinal permeability or "leaky gut syndrome" and all of its complications various times in the past decade and the time has come again.
Intestinal permeability describes a cascade of symptoms and disorders that stem from small intestine's semi-permeable membrane becoming excessively permeable for a variety of reasons, allowing infiltration of microbial and metabolic toxins (as well as undigested food) into the bloodstream. These symptoms include fatigue, immune deficiency, food allergies, asthma and eczema.
Intestinal permeability may also be a contributor to other modern illnesses such as insulin resistance, obesity, neurotransmitter disorders, autoimmune disorders and cancer. In fact, it may account for 50 percent of chronic illness.
One symptom that I have not linked to intestinal permeability in the past, which has been getting my attention lately, is the vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, an overlooked aspect of inflammation.
I was going to wait until "Eating Disorder Awareness Month" came around to write this blog, but the truth is we should be "aware" of eating disorders every single day.
If you've never been affected by an eating disorder, or you have never known anyone with an eating disorder, you may be thinking, "So what? What do I care? There's a whole month devoted to people who want to be skinny???" For those of us who DO suffer, most of us would probably answer: we honestly hope you don't care.
Contrary to some beliefs, eating disorders – and the physical symptoms that often follow – are NOT always a way to garner attention. In fact, many people suffering from an eating disorder would rather you just leave them and their eating habits (or in some cases, non-eating habits) alone.
My family and some of my friends (the ones I trust) have come to accept this about me. They know I will not be partaking in family or holiday dinners. I will gladly invite people out to eat, but I will not eat with them. My mom has learned to simply not set a plate for me. I'm not offended; I actually love this about her. My husband knows I will never join him in ordering at dinner. He "eats for two," as I often explain it. And I love him for it as well. The servers at our favorite restaurant know that I may take something to-go, but I will never eat in the confines of the establishment.
I have a radio show that airs every Wednesday at noon Pacific Time on RadioMD.com called "Mindful Medicine". It is simply another format for me to hopefully "knock 'em alive" with empowering information that can help people be their own PCPs "primary care providers" and have their homes be their own HMOs "Health Maintenance Organization" Get it?
I am fortunate to have a fascinating and amazing regular contributor, Dr. Jacob Tietlbaum MD, join me every week to talk about easy, effective, natural ways to help people take back control and manage their health. Jacob and I were talking very passionately about the newest recommendations, handed down from a government agency, which suggested (based on a faulty calculation) that many more people would be candidates for taking statin medications.
We both were fairly incensed about this notion, knowing that statin medications come with serious risks and side effects and research has shown that there are many common lifestyle choices that are far more likely to be associated with a lower risk of heart attack and heart attack death than taking statins medications. Some of these include eating chocolate, participating in regular exercise, getting adequate nutrition and having cats. YES, having cats.
While the fluctuation and decline of reproductive hormones is a normal and expected event in mid-life women, the associated symptoms are nonetheless disruptive. Until very recently, millions of women alleviated their hot flashes and night sweats with conjugated equine estrogens and medroxyprogesterone acetate (synthetic hormone replacement therapy or HRT).
However, mounting evidence from several clinical trials has shown that women using synthetic HRT are at significant increased risk of developing breast cancer, coronary heart disease, pulmonary embolism, and stroke.
With little room for HRT in current practice and little else in the traditional medicine chest to consider, physicians are increasingly turning to natural non-hormonal therapies for women who need relief from menopausal symptoms.
As a naturopathic physician, I have used botanical medicines and other natural alternatives for many years with great success to help women create and maintain hormonal health. I've found the most effective approach combines stress management, diet, exercise and nutritional supplements to support and work with a woman's body, not against it. While each patient's treatment plan is unique, it has been my experience that most symptoms caused by menopause and/or hormone fluctuations and imbalances will respond to natural therapies.
Would 51-year-old James (Tony Soprano) Gandolfini or Tim ("If it's Sunday, it's Meet The Press") Russert be alive today if their docs had followed the new cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines just issued by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association?
This week, we asked that question to many of the docs with whom we work at the Wellness Institute. We just do not know enough about Gandolfini or Russert; however, you know enough about YOU—that's the key. And the likelihood is Gandofini and Russert both would have been taking statins if their docs had followed the new guidelines...and aspirin and exercising, losing weight and changing their diets (and Russert and Galdofini weren't doing food –perhaps the most important choice—right if observations and news reports are correct.) You might too—and we want you to stay alive.
With today's stressors being multiple, constant and prolonged it is quite easy to loose one's cool, which unfortunately, just makes any situation worse.
I call it having a "short fuse syndrome".
So how can you keep your cool and "lengthen your fuse" during times of strife such as your commute in terrible traffic, with angry clients or terrible customer service agents, with aggressive co-workers or with fussy family member? Believe it or not, the answer is in your brain. Yes, your brain!
Our brain is equipped with two sides of a nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is that which control our response to these multiple, constant and prolonged stressors, our fight or flight is carried out here. On the other side, the parasympathetic rules our ability to rest, relax and repair.
In cooking, onions are one of the components of mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah) - a French culinary term for a finely chopped mix of onion, celery, and carrots. It's used as a flavor base for a wide variety of dishes.
I know this, not because I cook, but because I love watching the Food Channel. I don't know why, but watching other people cook simply fascinates me.
I digress ... back to onions.
Anyway, new research shows that onions are good for mice brains and probably ours as well. Eating them or supplementing with an onion extract may help to lower MDA or malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress and a brain cell killer.
Why is it that more places are offering gluten-free foods, but are recommending that people with Celiac Disease shouldn't eat there?
Doesn't that defeat the purpose?
It's been two years since my diagnoses of Celiac Disease. At first, I would overdramatize how much my life was ruined and that food would no longer mean the same. I recently became excited to hear of all the great options that were open to me. Little did I know, what restaurants really meant was their gluten free option is only for those who are going through yet another diet fad, not those who truly need it.
I've always had digestive problems, but thought it was just stress, or IBS. It seemed normal to me (and I as I type this I realize how this sounds) to throw up, have diarrhea, and get horrible abdominal pains, and constantly feel bloated immediately after eating.
I had just transferred to DePaul University in the fall of 2011, and was just getting used to living back on a college campus again. This was when I began noticing more and more issues with my gut. However, I ignored these symptoms and just thought I was stressed from school, as I tend to be during the quick ten-week quarter system DePaul has.
A few nights a week I would be up all night, death gripping the sides of my toilet while everything poured out of my mouth. My roommates would joke with me and say, "You're sick all the time. Maybe you have the gluten thing." Laughing, thinking that was not even possible, I ignored them and continued doing absolutely nothing about addressing the problem.
As time progressed, it started to become a hassle to eat. After every meal I would feel exhausted from throwing up, from the horrible pains I felt and all I wanted to do was lay down. Date nights I had with my boyfriend turned embarrassing, for I would need to quickly excuse myself to spend what seemed an eternity in the ladies room.