Tag Archives: meditation

Medical Mondays: How are hormones and stress related?

Medical Mondays – You ask the questions and our highly trained bioidentical hormones experts will post your answer LIVE!

Q:

“I’m 47-years-old and I’ve been researching natural hormone replacement options to help me find some relief from my hot flashes and moodiness. Another big issue I’ve been dealing with is stress. I’ve always been high-strung, but lately I’ve noticed that I fly off the handle over the smallest of things. Is it true that hormones or lack thereof can make stress worse? Also, what are some things that I can do that might help me de-stress?”

A:

Relaxation Techniques to Try

By: Dr. Benita Swartout, Medical Director of BodyLogicMD of Nashville

Relaxation techniques can be anything from very formal to informal. There’s formal training in relaxation, where you learn to lie in a quiet, dark room, and you learn to relax your body from head to toe. Meditation can also be very formal. You can learn to meditate and take yourself into a state of extreme relaxation. For informal relaxation techniques, you can just sit in your favorite chair, where everything’s quiet, nothing’s going on around you, and you are just there. Just let your mind go blank — which is kind of hard to do with everything that we have going on in our life. But, it can be as simple and informal as that.

One of my favorite things to do is to just close my eyes and think of what I guess you could call your happy place. Think of a relaxing scene in your mind. Mine is always the beach. It’s a white sand beach, with the Caribbean-blue water that’s slowly lapping. And I’m in a hammock and between two palm trees in the shade. So I’m warm, but yet I’m not hot. And it’s amazing. Within a few seconds of imagining that and taking everything else out of my mind, I’m much more relaxed.

It can also be as simple as deep breaths, from what I call your seat-belt muscles. You need to take your deep breaths from down deep in your abdomen, and they need to be deep and cleansing breaths. Just three deep breaths can be relaxing. And it can help the body manage the stress.

Read the full article: Don’t Let Stress Control Your Life

Stress-Reduction Techniques Can Decrease Risk of Heart Disease

According to an article on NaturalNews.com, recent studies funded by the Medical College of Wisconsin and Iowa’s Maharishi University have concluded that people who use stress-reduction techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation can significantly reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke and death attributed to heart disease.

How Stress Affects Your Health:

The impact that stress has on our health is ten-fold. Stress increases the production of the stress hormone known as cortisol, which can lead to metabolic abnormalities often typified by weight gain and hormonal imbalances such as stress-induced adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue wreaks havoc on the body, inhibiting the production of DHEA. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is widely referred to as “the mother of all hormones” because it regulates the production of all hormones throughout the body. A DHEA deficiency usually leads to a host of other symptoms related to hormonal imbalance such as inflammation, which has been said to be the number one cause of everything from cancer to coronary disease.

How Stress-Reduction Techniques Can Help:

Stress-reduction techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation can have been proven to decrease one’s risk of heart disease by up to 47%. Meditation has been a common practice for centuries and is widely recognized as the most effective way to relieve all types of stress; physical, mental and emotional. It’s important to understand that stress takes many different forms. Stress can manifest itself through host of symptoms such as anxiety, depression, low libido, memory loss, irritability and fatigue. It’s important to find productive coping strategies to deal with stress, instead of resorting to unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking to deal with everyday stressors. Meditation is not a “band-aid,” quick-fix solution that only works for a short period of time. Meditation can help us pinpoint stress and resolve it using exercises that promote mindfulness, mental acuity and peace of mind.     

Here’s a great video featuring Dr. Eric Honing BodyLogicMD of Phoenix and Dr. Gregory Pippert of BodyLogicMD of Minneapolis discussing how bioidentical hormones can help with stress reduction:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nslPOBAq-Uk]

How Holiday Stress is Affecting Your Health

As we have discussed, weight gain is often associated with the holidays and all of the stress that comes with them. Ever hear of that little thing called “nervous eating?”

According to an article in the Brownsville States-Graphic, stress raises levels of the hormone cortisol, which often increases appetite. The article also discusses other ways in which stress can take a toll on your health. For one, stress can weaken your immune system, causing you to become more susceptible to infection. In order to avoid spreading bacteria and infection, it is important to wash your hands often; “wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.”

Digestive problems are also a common occurrence with the onset of stress. The stress hormones either slow down or speed up the emptying of the stomach, causing much discomfort in either case. “Heartburn is another concern for holiday revelers. Make it a point not to skip meals or overeat. Fatty foods are harder to digest, so limit those foods. Stay away from foods that usually give you digestive trouble.”

Levels of important values such as blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol usually go up during stressful times such as the holidays. “This increases your risk for stroke & heart disease if left unmanaged. If you have health concerns such as diabetes or high blood pressure, monitor your numbers closely during the holidays and stick to your diet, physical activity, and medication schedule.”

The best piece of advice the article gives regarding maintaining good health during the holidays is “Your best defense against holiday stress is a good offense. Getting plenty of sleep, eating a balanced diet, pausing during the day for deep breathing and/or meditation, and exercising regularly are all good strategies for keeping holiday stress under control.”

Admit it man… you're stressed!

stressed out manStress can be very dangerous to a man’s health. The stress a man deals with on a day-to-day basis has been linked to heart disease, migraine headaches, diabetes, and other diseases. Stress can lead a man to develop unhealthy habits in an attempt to relieve the stress such as drug abuse, overeating, and drinking. Instead of taking the unhealthy route of stress reduction, there are ways that men can reduce stress that will not harm them at the same time. 

Exercising regularly, eating and sleeping well, and meditating each day help improve a man’s overall health and well-being. Other ways to reduce stress include solving the cause of stress, avoiding stressful situations, accepting things you can’t change, avoid procrastination, and don’t overload yourself. While taking these approaches, it is important to keep a positive attitude. Most importantly, when you do something good for yourself you should celebrate your victory and recognize the hard work you put into your efforts. All of these steps should help a man lead a less stressful and healthier life.

Testing cortisol levels is a good place to start to determine if that is in fact the issue at hand.  Armed with that information, along with putting a healthier lifestyle in place and feeding your body the nutrients and supplements it needs will be the path to stress reduction and lowering cortisol levels.

Chronic high stress has a direct effect on your hormone levels

stressed out manI have been telling my patients for years that chronic high stress has a direct effect on hormone levels. I was initially seeing this problem in women who began to experience more significant hormone imbalances as stress levels increased. However, more and more men are coming to see me with symptoms of hormonal imbalance, specifically, low testosterone – many of them in their late 30’s and early 40’s! The problem is that the same hormone precursors (building blocks) are used to make cortisol, the stress hormone, and the sex hormones (DHEA, testosterone and estrogen). When stress levels are high for a long period of time, the precursors that would have been going to make the sex hormones are diverted to make cortisol so the sex hormone production is reduced. To make matters worse, the chronic high level of cortisol increases belly fat. That belly fat has an enzyme that encourages the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. So, with an increase in belly fat, whatever testosterone is being made by these men is encouraged to be converted to estrogen. While some estrogen is necessary in all men, too much estrogen will counteract the effects of testosterone and create symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, gynecomastia (breast enlargement) and increased weight.

relaxed manIt is important for men to realize the importance of stress reduction, diet and lifestyle on their hormone levels. Men should find ways to reduce their stress such as meditation, exercise, reading, journaling or enjoying nature. Watching television and surfing the internet are not the best ways to reduce stress. Men should also make sure that they are getting adequate sleep since optimal growth hormone and testosterone levels are connected to sleep. The diet should focus on lean proteins, complex carbohydrates (especially vegetables), high fiber fruits (apples, berries, pears) and the limitation of white flour and refined carbohydrates. It is important to have small snack between meals so that you’re eating a little something every two to three hours. I call this grazing. In these times of high stress, it is important that we all support ourselves as best we can to maintain optimal health and allow us to cope with all of the challenges we are facing.

Alicia Stanton, MD

Chief Medical Officer BodyLogicMD

Related articles: Credit crisis could crunch men’s testosterone

Top 10 Tips To Manage Stress Naturally And Avoid Adrenal Fatigue

Make the commitment to “go green” and manage stress naturally on Earth Day this Wednesday, April 22nd.  With the increased level of stress we are managing, it’s important to take steps to protect your adrenal glands.  Adrenal fatigue can set in after your adrenals have been forced to work extra hard for a long period of time.   Try and incorporate the following into your day to day activities to help your body better cope with stress and manage your hormone levels.

  1. Increasing nutrient intake by eating a diet that includes plenty of quality protein with regular meals of high nutritional valuego green on earth day with a natural approach to stress relief
  2. Limiting or avoiding the intake of hydrogenated fats, excess caffeine, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and sugar
  3. Supplementing with a good multi-vitamin, B-complex vitamin, vitamin C, magnesium, adaptogenic herbs, and DHEA supplements
  4. Supporting local organic farmers and sustainable farming by purchasing pesticide-free produce
  5. Avoiding genetically engineered foods, preservatives, dyes, as well as synthetic hormones, antibiotics, and drugs in animal products
  6. Taking time to evaluate daily and situational stressors and practice stress management
  7. Getting plenty of sleep so the adrenals can repair overnight
  8. Adding the practice of gentle exercise, meditation or yoga
  9. Undergoing diagnostic adrenal testing, including comprehensive saliva tests to determine cortisol levels and amounts produced to determine your body’s reaction to adrenal stress
  10. Adding bioidentical hormone therapy when necessary to help sustain adrenal function

Get your hormone levels tested if you’re feeling a reduced ability to deal with stress, you are depressed, fatigued, have anxiety, are having trouble falling asleep or you just don’t feel like yourself.  Many of our patients have experienced relief from bioidentical hormone therapy in combination with a customized nutrition and fitness program.

Managing stress naturally is a good practice all year round, “go green” this Wednesday for Earth Day and keep it going!

BodyLogicMD’s Top 10 Health Tips for 2009

As we start the New Year, we wanted to share our Top 10 tips for overall health, wellness and balance. BodyLogicMD highly trained anti-aging physicians recommend this concise list of health tips to their patients to serve as a guideline to improve the quality and longevity of their lives.

1.    Balance Your Hormones:  Your hormones are vital components in just about every bodily function.  An imbalance can cause serious symptoms and health issues, ranging from fatigue to hypothyroidism.  Getting your hormone levels checked and balanced with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help you live better, longer.

 

2.    Increase Vitamin D intake:  The health benefits of vitamin D are becoming increasingly apparent.  This vitamin is linked to bone health, heart health, muscle performance, nerve function and the prevention and treatment of some cancers.  So, drink your milk, eat your egg yolks and consume fish (like salmon) to find natural sources of this important supplement.  While vitamin D can be obtained through sun exposure, experts say that it is better to take supplements.  BodyLogicMD expert anti-aging physicians will likely prescribe pharmaceutical grade vitamins, nutrients and minerals as part of a customized nutrition plan.  By using pharmaceutical grade vitamins and supplements, you can be assured you are getting the very best in quality.

 

3.    Exercise:  What goes in must come out!  Losing weight is a popular New Year’s resolution, and there really are no shortcuts.  For optimal health and weight loss, exercise should make up an hour of your daily routine.  Exercise can include any activity that makes you break a sweat, including all sports.  Mix up your exercise routine every 4 weeks to avoid muscle memory.  Studies show that people who lead a life filled with exercise live the longest and have the lowest incidence of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and mental deterioration! 

 

4.    Eat Less, More Often:  Eat five portion-controlled meals a day.  So in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, have a snack in between.  The idea is to keep your sugar levels balanced throughout the day, extreme highs and lows hurt your metabolism!  The best foods include white meat (like chicken and fish), colored vegetables (not white), hard fruits (if it crunches, it’s good for you!) and some liquid fat (olive oil, fish oil) or nuts.  Good nutrition and exercise is key to optimal health and well-being.

 

5.    Keep Hydrated:  It’s been said again and again, you need to drink water and lots of it. A minimum of eight 8 ounce glasses a day is required. Water is necessary for so many body functions and yet most of us barely drink one glass a day.  Not drinking enough water deprives your cells of the fluid they need, in turn causing fatigue.  Coffee, soda and energy drinks dehydrate your body and actually lead to lower energy levels.  Water is the original energy drink; it helps you maintain energy, lose weight and stay healthy.  Green tea is also a good choice.

 

6.    Sleep:  This one is easy and enjoyable!  Your body needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.  Getting proper amounts of sleep make you feel better during the day and even help you lose weight.  Sleep is one of those secrets of health and longevity!

 

7.    Relieve Stress: When your body is stressed, your adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol to manage the stress on your body.  Too much cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue, which can cause malfunctions to other hormones in your body. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga can help you relieve stress. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of joy and serenity.

 

8.    Keep in touch with Your Body:  Don’t skip those annual doctor’s visits, too many diseases show few if any symptoms.  It’s worth the time to make sure you won’t be blindsided with a serious medical condition.  This also means keeping up with your cancer screenings; mammograms, prostate and colorectal.  Having regular bone density screenings after the age of 40 is also suggested.  Annually measuring hormone levels and keeping them balanced by an expertly trained hormone doctor can also help prevent disease and even some cancers.

 

9.    An Aspirin a Day:  As long as your doctor hasn’t told you to avoid it, middle-aged adults can benefit from simply taking one aspirin every day.  It can help you avoid strokes and heart attacks.  This inexpensive tip with has big benefits.

 

10. Take Time for Yourself!  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you should set aside 20 minutes every day for you.  Many of us lead stressful lives and this can throw off our hormone levels and lead to serious health problems.  So take a relaxing bath, catch up on your favorite book or take a peaceful walk; get away for a little while and take care of you.

 

Wishing you low stress, good health, and great success in 2009!