The Importance of Advocating for Your Health So Your Kids Will Too

“Adulting” has become a buzzword among young adults and millennials. It means what it says: to carry out the duties and responsibilities expected of a fully grown individual.

But ⅔ of young people don’t feel prepared for the milestone, according to a survey by Bank of America and USA Today. In fact, one of the age group’s most popular jokes is not knowing how to make a doctor’s appointment. So, it begs the question, how do we make sure our children will be prepared to take charge of their health once they leave the nest?

When You Advocate for Your Health, Your Kids Learn to Care for Themselves Too

If you’ve ever heard a toddler repeat a cuss word, you know kids want to emulate everything their parents say and do. At a young age, children learn by picking up attitudes, behaviors, and interactions.

Teens and young adults are no different — they may need a little more pushing to pay attention, though. So, the best way to prepare your 18-year-old for the big, wide world of health care is to be an advocate for your own health. Here’s what you can do:

Understand Your Health Insurance

Health insurance is complicated even for us doctors. But understanding your policy can help you cut down on unexpected, costly bills. If you familiarize yourself with terms like deductible, copay, out-of-pocket maximum, and coinsurance, you’ll be ahead of most Americans.

You probably won’t get your teen to read the policy with you. But, as you go to visits or checkups, have your child go through the process of payment with you. Talk to them about why there’s a copay, how much you’re paying, and what that’ll mean in regards to the final bill (i.e., you won’t be out-of-pocket).

Be Prepared for Your Visit

If you see a general practitioner, your doctor is likely pressed for time and will only have around 7 minutes to listen, diagnose, and treat. Arriving prepared to your appointment can help you make the most of that visit and ensure you get treatment that’s aligned with your goals and desires.

Create a list of questions to ask your doctor. You may want to list out your symptoms, when you first noticed them, and any other relevant information you think could be pertinent to the diagnosis. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Doctors have a wealth of knowledge and tend to talk over your head. But, when you ask, they’ll stop and explain it to you.

Maintain Your Health Records

We know someone who showed up to his doctor’s office to get his weekly allergy shot — something that can’t be missed — only to read a sign that said the office was now closed. Luckily, he already had access to his medical records via an online portal (and owned the vials for his shots), but if he hadn’t, he would have missed an injection and potentially have to start the treatment over.

Transferring records can be a hassle, but when you maintain your copies, they won’t get lost in the shuffle. And you can see what your doctor is seeing.

Communicate Financial Concerns

Errors in medical billing are more common than you think. So, firstly, demonstrate to your children that it’s important to review all your bills (even if the visit was fully covered).

Secondly, don’t be shy about bringing up financial concerns with a doctor. Many doctors have medication samples, coupons, or even know of financial programs that can help you afford the care you need.

Your young adult will likely encounter a situation where he/she can’t afford care. Teach your children to speak up if money is an object. Physicians do have options, and they will help you.

Understanding your health insurance, being prepared, maintaining health records, and communicating are all very important ways to be an advocate for your health AND model responsible behavior to your children.

What other ways do you teach your young adults to, well, adult?

31 Day Challenge: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone (and why you should)

You’re familiar with the saying, ‘use it or lose it’. And you probably understand the importance of keeping your mind sharp as you age. If not, check out this 2013 study. Results showed adults who were productively engaged in learning a new skill showed improvements in memory.

The comfort zone has always been a hot topic for researchers because people learn more, stretch their creative muscles, and are more productive in that space. Stepping outside your comfort zone doesn’t mean sending yourself into a frenzied panic or facing your worst nightmares.

It’s developing the flexibility to respond to the new changes and challenges you’ll experience as you age. And it’s breaking habits, so you can live life to the fullest and achieve goals you thought were too late to reach!

So, to help you step outside your comfort zone, we’ve created a 31 Day Challenge so you can age with grace and vitality. We suggest starting the challenge on a Sunday and inviting a friend to complete the challenge with you.

31 Day Step Outside Your Comfort Zone Challenge

Day 1: Sign up for a local class and try something new. For example, you could take a golfing lesson or join a cooking class.
Day 2: Whether you’re using your phone or the car radio, listen to something different. Find a new station, podcast, or album in a genre that’s not usually your style.
Day 3: Go to the library. Ask the librarian what his/her favorite book is and read it!
Day 4: Take a 20-60 minute power nap for a boost in alertness and productivity today.
Day 5: Headed somewhere? Take a different route!
Day 6: Dress boldly today. Wear bright accessories, a colorful tie, or a quirky hat…anything that’ll make someone smile, laugh, or ask ‘where did you get that?’
Day 7: Say ‘yes’ to everything. You can figure out the details later.
Day 8: No-tech day! Lock up your phone, computer, and TV for 24-hours.
Day 9: Wake up early and meditate for at least 30 minutes.
Day 10: Reconnect with an old friend (online or in person).
Day 11: Try a new recipe. We love Allrecipes.com for finding new dishes.
Day 12: Reverse your morning routine. Are you a shower first, eat breakfast second person? Not today!
Day 13: Watch a foreign film. And yes, subtitles are allowed.
Day 14: Volunteer for a cause that’s close to your heart.
Day 15: Try a new cuisine — Indian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Japanese, what haven’t you tried before?
Day 16: Share a secret with a friend. We won’t tell.
Day 17: Send a handwritten letter in the mail (bills/invoices don’t count).
Day 18: Invite a coworker you don’t know very well to have lunch with you.
Day 19: Ask for a discount on something you buy today. Coffee? New TV? What’s the worst they could say?
Day 20: Paint your nails an outrageous color or skip shaving and rock the 5 o’clock shadow.
Day 21: Dress in your finest clothes, go to a luxury car dealership, and drive the swankiest car on the lot.
Day 22: Grab your hunny or friend and have a picnic in the park.
Day 23: Write a love note to someone else…or yourself!
Day 24: Toss a coin to make decisions today — heads is ‘yes’ and tails is ‘no’.
Day 25: Seek out an opportunity to make someone’s day. Here are a few ideas.
Day 26: When someone asks how you are, respond with, ‘Outstanding! How are you?’
Day 27: See a movie by yourself. Maybe even get an extra large bucket of popcorn!
Day 28: Hire a photographer to update your family album.
Day 29: Act like a kid for a day — finger paint, go to the zoo, color, whatever your inner child would love to do!
Day 30: Send someone flowers…just because.
Day 31: Film yourself dancing. Bonus points if you post it online!

Did you take our 31 Day Step Outside Your Comfort Zone Challenge? Let us know on Facebook!

Here Are Some Tips for a Pain-Free Exercise Routine

Exercise needs to be a priority for everyone in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. In fact, one study proved the benefits of strength training for 90-year-olds.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never exercised, have an existing injury or illness, or lament the days when you were once an accomplished athlete. Exercising three hours per week can increase a person’s lifespan by about five years.

If you already make exercise a priority, you’re in the right mindset. But maybe you’re now experiencing ongoing pain and discomfort while at the gym.

You’ve given up because it hurts too much. But combined with the natural effects of aging, your muscles are getting smaller and your belly bigger.

As you’ll soon learn, there are ways to make gains without the pain. In this post, we’ll give you tips on how to warm-up, exercise, and stretch to decrease the chances of injury or discomfort.

Start with Small Changes

When you were younger, you could walk into the gym, lift 200 lbs or play a game of touch football…even after weeks of sitting on the couch. But now that you’re older, it’s important to start where you are, not where you want to be.

First, don’t try to do everything at once — starting a diet, exercising, and taking supplements. Make small changes so you’ll stick to your goals and decrease the chances of injury or pain.

For example, for one month, commit to exercising three times per week. This could be walking for 30 minutes every evening. And the next month, add in a 30-day diet (one that’s approved by your physician)– you’ll be surprised how easy it’ll be to stick to your new habits after the 30 days are up!

Get a Health Check

Before starting an exercise program or diet, get medical clearance from your doctor. Keep in mind the following:

  • Do you have any past or present injuries or chronic illnesses?
  • What’s your current level of activity?
  • Have you ever lifted weights?
  • Are you a cardiac patient or on high blood pressure medication?
  • Some exercises can be harmful or detrimental depending on your condition or current level of activity. For example, abdominal crunches can be risky for people taking heart or hypertension drugs, while Crossfit isn’t appropriate if you have a weak back. Your doctor can advise you on the best program and nutritional plan for you.

    Warm-Up Twice As Long

    Warming up is a vital part of any exercise routine, and even more important as you age. A dynamic warm-up can improve range of motion in the hips, shoulders, and upper spine. Plus, it reduces the risk of injury and pain while improving your performance. Here’s an example of a dynamic warm-up:

  • Walk for 3-5 minutes and swing your arms
  • Alternate walking/jogging for 3-5 minutes
  • Skip for 50 meters
  • Sidestep for 20 meters
  • Combine Interval & Strength Training

    Most people think endless cardio is the fastest way to lose weight. But doing the same exercise for an hour can hammer your joints. The best approach is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). You perform a movement for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off.

    For example, you squat for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds; repeating this for three or so rounds. Here are a few more examples of HIIT workouts.

    Water-based HIIT is a big trend this year as it builds muscle strength and endurance while reducing pressure on the joints. Pilates and yoga are also great for strengthening the core and increasing flexibility.

    But remember to add weight training into your routine! Doing this will strengthen the muscles that are getting weaker as we age.

    Focus on Form

    But, don’t load up on weight quickly! Focus on your form to increase mobility and range of motion. Perform high reps with low weight and follow the 10% rule. Only increase your weight by 10% each week to help your body safely adjust to the new load.

    Stretch for 10 Minutes After Every Workout

    Finally, stretching is incredibly important. It reduces muscle fatigue, increases blood circulation, and aids in injury prevention. Here are a few stretches you should incorporate into every post-workout routine:

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Hip stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Buttocks stretch
  • Lower Back stretch
  • Are you ready to start a pain-free exercise routine? Schedule your consultation to learn more about whole body health and treatment.

    Joints Hurt? Here Are a Few Reasons Why

    Do your knees pop when you stand up? Or do your joints hurt when you wake up in the morning?

    We see this complaint all too often at our clinic. Our patients aren’t living life to the fullest because it’s difficult to get up and get moving.

    If this sounds like you, there are several reasons why you’re experiencing pain, stiffness, tenderness, or swelling in your joints. Here are the 5 most common reasons we come across every day.

    Why Do Your Joints Hurt?

    Osteoarthritis

    Osteoarthritis is the most common form of degenerative joint pain. When you age, the cushion between your joints, called the cartilage, begins to wear down. Your bones to rub together, triggering pain, tenderness, stiffness, and swelling.

    While this mostly affects people who are middle-aged or older, you can be at a higher risk if you’re obese or overuse a joint due to sports or intense exercise. Over-the-counter pain relievers, braces, and gentle exercise can reduce symptoms and help you maintain an active lifestyle.

    Rheumatoid Arthritis

    An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis also affects the joints, but for a different reason. Your immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s tissues and affects the lining of your joints. This causes painful swelling, inflammation, bone erosion, and joint deformity.

    People usually feel symptoms in their smaller joints first, for example, the fingers and toes. And then as the disease progresses, pain and inflammation can spread to wrists, knees, elbows, etc.

    You may feel pain more frequently in the morning or after you’ve been resting; however, symptoms can also last all day. While it may seem difficult to get moving, gentle exercise can help you maintain your strength and flexibility.

    Vitamin D Deficiency

    Nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is considered a pro-hormone and not a vitamin because it can be synthesized when sunlight hits the skin. So, if you needed another reason to head to the beach, here’s your sign.

    Either way, it plays a vital role in many functions of your body, particularly bone health. In fact, research shows low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of arthritis. And studies found low blood levels of vitamin D in patients who have osteoarthritis of the hip and knee.

    If you want to improve symptoms of arthritis or your overall health, increase your sun exposure or consider a supplement.

    Hypothyroidism

    Hypothyroidism indicates an underactive thyroid gland. Due to an autoimmune disease, radiation treatment, or surgical removal of the thyroid, your body isn’t getting enough of the hormone. Your thyroid, which is located in the lower front of your neck, produces hormones that help your body use energy, stay warm, and keep organs working as they should.

    Approximately, 10 million Americans have this condition, but It’s more common in women who are over the age of 50. You may experience swelling in certain joints, joint pain, stiffness, and carpal tunnel syndrome. But, symptoms also include fatigue, weight gain, and decreased libido.

    Hypothyroidism is diagnosed with a blood test and treatable. Thyroid hormone replacement is the best treatment, but pain relievers, like ibuprofen, can help relieve some pain.

    Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder, often triggered by emotional or physical stress. It affects the muscles and soft tissues and causes pain and tenderness to touch, sometimes over the entire body. It affects 2-4% of people, most of whom are women.

    There’s no test to detect fibromyalgia, but it has shown to be genetic. Symptoms include sleep disturbances, fatigue, muscle pain and aches, and pain in the joints. While there’s no cure, medication, cognitive behavioral therapies, and gentle exercise can help relieve symptoms.

    Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, vitamin D deficiency, hypothyroidism, and fibromyalgia are four potential reasons your joints count hurt, but there are many more possibilities.

    While this will help you ask your doctor the right questions, we suggest scheduling a consultation to explore all the possibilities. To learn more about the benefits of hormone replacement therapy, check out our recent article here.

    Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Benefits Mood, Sleep & More

    I’m sure you’ve heard bioidentical hormone replacement therapy benefits your mind and body; bringing zest and vitality back into your life. But, what does that mean exactly? It can be difficult to invest your hard-earned money in hormone replacement therapy if you don’t have a full understanding of what it is, how it works, and if it’s right for you.

    That’s okay — this topic is our specialty! First, here’s the quick and dirty.

    Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) uses hormones to relieve symptoms related to an imbalance of hormones or a decline in hormone production (due to aging). Usually, those hormones are related to reproduction and youth, like estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and adrenal.

    There are different forms of hormone replacement therapy, including pills, injections, gels, skin patches, and creams. Mostly, it’s based on your preference, but a trained physician will also consider your health and symptoms, plus the efficacy of each form.

    But, in truth, it boils down to this: synthetic vs. bioidentical.

    In this post, we’ll explain what makes bioidentical hormone therapy safer and more effective. And share all the benefits you can expect from this type of treatment. Once you’re armed with the right knowledge, it’ll be easier for you to make a decision that’s right for your health.

    Synthetic vs. Bioidentical Hormones

    Bioidentical hormones are made from soy and yams. They have the same molecular structure as your body’s natural hormones.

    When introduced to the system, your body recognizes bioidentical hormones and can use them just as well as the ones you produce naturally. The correct messages are sent to support the body’s functions and tissues, and you experience very minimal side effects. If you are experiencing side effects, it can be as easy as talking to your doctor about changing the dosage.

    On the other hand, synthetic hormones are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies and imitate hormones. Maybe you’ve heard of brands like EstraTest, PremPro, Premarin, and Provera? Those are all synthetic.

    Synthetic hormones offer a partial, temporary fix for your symptoms. And, they often send the wrong message (or none at all) to certain parts of your body; creating the potential for serious health issues and side effects. For example:

  • increased risk of cervical and breast cancers
  • increased risk of stroke and heart attack
  • migraines
  • high blood pressure
  • loss of bone density
  • increased risk of blood clotting
  • While synthetic hormones are prescribed in the dosages produced by manufacturers, bioidentical hormones can be compounded and given in the exact dose your body needs.

    The Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)

    Hormonal changes can wreak havoc on your body. Perimenopause, menopause, and andropause often cause physical, mental, and sexual health issues.

    Following a specific laboratory testing, your doctor can determine if bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is right for you. Sometimes, a lifestyle change is all you need to feel better and more energized.

    But, if you’re approved for BHRT, you may experience some of the following benefits:

  • Better maintenance of muscle mass and strength
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased hot flashes and night sweats
  • Better mood, concentration, and memory
  • Reduced risk of depression
  • Reduced risk of osteoporosis and improved bone density
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Reduced risk of endometrial and breast cancer
  • Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Improved libido
  • Reduced incidence of vaginal dryness
  • Want to learn more about hormone replacement therapy plans and how the testing process works? We have a few more articles you can check out:

    3 Benefits of a Hormone Therapy Plan Designed for You
    A Quick Guide to How Your Hormone Levels are Tested
    6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Hormone Therapy Physician

    Have more questions? That’s okay! We offer consultations for new patients. Just head over to our contact page to schedule a time that’s convenient for you!

    Low Testosterone: Here’s What Can Cause it and What to Do

    Recently, the Endocrine Society issued an updated clinical practice guideline on testosterone therapy in men with hypogonadism. Awareness and attention to men’s health issues have been growing rapidly, but surveys say men are being prescribed testosterone hormone treatment without an appropriate diagnostic workup or monitoring plan.

    The Endocrine Society is hoping to address issues, including:

    • Avoiding testing and treating healthy men
    • Individualizing treatments
    • Increasing lab accuracy

    These guidelines ring very true at our clinic — it’s how we’ve always done things. We start with a long, initial consult to dive into your medical history. Because, if what we depended on was just the lab work, you’d be in and out the door in five minutes. But, that’s not how we care for our patients.

    You can read more about our customized hormone therapy plans here and how we treat the whole person here.

    Today, what we really want to focus on is the importance of knowing your testosterone levels and taking time to make a decision that’s right for you.

    Why You Should Know Your Testosterone Levels

    Low T has been associated with diabetes, high cholesterol, excess weight, and other metabolic syndromes. It’s unclear if those conditions cause low T or if low T contributes to those conditions (chicken before the egg dilemma).

    When your body is fighting off a chronic health issue or infection, it may simply put less effort into testosterone production. But, because we don’t know if it’s the cause or side effect, it’s crucial to know your numbers.

    When other health conditions are at play, maybe low testosterone doesn’t sound like a significant risk to you? But, it could contribute to poor long-term health.

    Not to mention, low testosterone can affect your:

    • Sex drive
    • Sperm production
    • Muscle strength
    • Fat distribution
    • Fat density
    • Red blood cell production

    What Can Cause Low Testosterone

    You may experience a drop in testosterone for a few different reasons, including an injury to your testes, a tumor on a hormone-producing gland, stress, or medications like corticosteroids.

    However, testosterone levels also just fluctuate naturally. They peak around 8 am and decrease throughout the day with the lowest levels being around 8 pm.

    Several things can nudge your levels in either direction. For example, a high-intensity workout can increase testosterone. But tough exercise (coupled with lack of sleep and nutrition) can significantly drop levels. And men who are 40 years and younger will experience more substantial climbs and drops.

    How to Prevent Low Testosterone

    You can make positive lifestyle changes, including:

    • Healthy diet
    • Exercise
    • Adequate sleep
    • Stop smoking
    • Manage stress
    • Limit alcohol
    • Follow your doctor’s advice and management plan

    But, do you need a testosterone therapy plan?

    Maybe not. In young men, testosterone therapy can prevent natural production from returning. Once you’re on it, you can’t get off it. It may affect your sperm production too. So, there are other ways to treat low T (including the lifestyle changes mentioned above) that won’t decrease your natural ability. Consult your doctor to learn more about those options.

    There’s no urgency when deciding if you need treatment. And there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. We encourage all our patients to book a one-on-one consultation, research the facts, and think about it.

    Understanding what’s going on with the physiological processes is important. It can help you make an informed, careful decision.

    If you decide testosterone therapy is right for you, follow up with your blood work and keep track of your symptoms. Do you feel better? Do you feel worse? Are you noticing any unusual side effects? Is it helping? Instead of relying on the numbers, check in with your body too.

    Have more questions? Or want to know your options? Book your one-on-one consultation today.

    Why Your Skin Care Products Can Cause a Hormone Imbalance (and a book for your teenage daughter)

    Choosing skin care products is difficult enough. Find your skin type. Research popular skin care lines. Start (and stick to) a daily routine.

    Add interpreting product labels, and you might as well throw in the makeup wipes.

    We get it. We’re all trying to slow down the aging process, let alone find a safe, miracle product to do it.

    Research on toxins and harmful chemicals in everyday products has come a long way. In fact, the European Union Cosmetics Regulation has banned over 1300 substances from use in cosmetics. But, by comparison, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned 11.

    Nope. That wasn’t a typo. It isn’t clear why so many harmful ingredients are permitted in U.S. products. However, we know the FDA does have little control and power in the cosmetics industry.

    But, let’s back up a second. And lather on a foundation so you know why you should avoid harmful chemicals in your skin care products.

    First, there are two types of aging: intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic aging is from ultraviolet radiation, lifestyle, and pollution. Mostly controllable. Intrinsic aging is caused by your biological clock — genetic mutations, increased inflammatory signals, decreased lipid production and hormone levels. Sometimes controllable.

    The endocrine system is one of the most important factors in aging. It produces and regulates hormones, chemical messengers in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and thyroid glands.

    Hormones control or regulate many biological processes, including blood sugar control, the differentiation, growth, and function of reproductive organs, and body growth and energy production.

    Returning to those toxins banned in the E.U. (but not the U.S.).Those include lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, parabens, and triclosan. These are endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). They interfere with the production, transport, breakdown, binding, and elimination of your hormones.

    This interference could be linked to infertility, lowered sperm counts, obesity, diabetes, thyroid imbalance, and certain types of cancers.

    While skin products are topical, your skin has pores and is highly absorbent. The product leaches into the lower layers of your skin and makes its way into your bloodstream. Changes may occur inside that cause distress and abnormality in your endocrine system.

    A subcategory of EDCs is xenoestrogens. When they get inside our body, they can mimic natural hormones and increase the total amount of estrogen, causing estrogen dominance. They aren’t biodegradable and can be stored in your fat cells.

    Remember that as estrogen fades, your skin produces less collagen and elastin. It gets thinner, drier, and more wrinkled. That’s why most people turn to anti-aging skin creams which contain xenoestrogens.

    Because they can partially bind to estrogen receptors, xenoestrogens work as anti-aging agents. But, they bind incompletely, which may be part of the danger. The incomplete binding may activate the receptor to do something harmful, rather than beneficial.

    Spectacular Skin in Memphis, TN is owned by a licensed medical aesthetician, Teri Lewis. She’s adamant about using products that have a natural base and don’t contain chemically augmenting ingredients.

    “It’s a catch-22, the products that work best are hormone-disrupting,” says Teri Lewis, “But, look for the company that has the least amount of additives and a lot more natural ingredients.”

    Since there are concerns about the link between EDC’s and reproductive cancers in women, a smarter choice is to use a compound with proven, safer ingredients.

    Lewis recommends checking your skincare product ingredients using The Environmental Working Group’s website, which rates personal care products based on ingredients and chemical safety.

    “[Choosing skincare products] is not something you should read about and pick yourself,” advises Teri, “Consult with someone who knows what they’re doing. If you’re having skin and hormone problems, you need to be seen by a professional.”

    Here are some other ways you can avoid harmful toxins in your skin care products:

  • Eat a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon and nuts)
  • Exfoliate for cell renewal
  • Avoid creams with estrogenic ingredients, such as parabens.
  • Minimize your use of nail polish and nail polish removers
  • Use naturally based fragrances, such as essential oils
  • Use chemical free soaps
  • Read the labels on all your products
  • Book Recommendation from Dr. Heather Pearson Chauhan (to help Your Young Daughters/Granddaughters):

    There’s a book called, The New Puberty: How to Navigate Early Development in Today’s Girls written by Louise Greenspan, MD, and Julianna Deardorff, Ph.D. It explains the potential causes and consequences of early puberty in girls. Part of that discussion has to do with sugar and weight gain, but it’s also due to hormone-mimicking chemicals in our household products.

    How to Manage Your Medication, Rather Than Miss It

    How hard could it be to manage your medication? You fill the prescription, read the instructions, and place the bottles in your medicine cabinet.

    Sure, that part is child’s play, but remembering to take those pills, following the instructions every day, and keeping an eye out for adverse interactions is difficult.

    As personal care physicians, we’ve realized there are three types of patients:

  • Those who fill their prescriptions and use them as bathroom decor
  • Those who take their prescriptions diligently…for about a week
  • Those who manage their prescriptions well and don’t forget to floss either
  • If you’re the third person, pat yourself on the back, and move along to one of our other blog posts. Like this one on balancing your hormones naturally.

    But, if you’re here, it’s likely you fall into the first or second category. Don’t worry — most people do!

    In fact, we aren’t perfect either. Yet, we do have a few tips when it comes to organizing and managing your medication, vitamins, and supplements.

    Use a Pill Organizer, Like this One

    Hear us out. We’re big fans of the old lady pillbox. Pillboxes help you take medication every day, even when you’re rushing out the door or on vacation in the Galapagos islands.

    Lucky for you, we’ve found a stylish, discrete, and tech-savvy pillbox.

    The Sagely Smart Weekly Pill Organizer has seven containers which sit on a magnetic tray. The dispensers are large enough to hold fish oil or vitamin D supplements. It’s easy to open, ‘pleasing to the eye,’ and has AM/PM dispensers. Each container is detachable from the tray, so you can tuck it in your purse or pocket.

    You can also download the free reminder app. You type in your medications, set a reminder, and a notification pops up on your phone when it’s time to take your pills. No excuses, right?

    Create a Schedule and Reward Yourself for Sticking to It

    Speaking of reminders — the instructions wrapped around the bottle aren’t suggestions.

    Take it from us. We write prescriptions for natural progesterone frequently and advise our patients to take it at bedtime. But, often, the patient pops the pill in the morning (when they’re more likely to remember).

    While the intention is admirable, the execution leaves them feeling sleepy all day long.

    Timing is important. Sit down with your medication and create a schedule based on the instructions. Set reminders or alarms on your phone (for every day), so you don’t forget.

    Or try setting some “not until” parameters. For example, you’re not allowed to brush your teeth until you take your statin drug. Choose a method (or tasty reward) that’ll work best for you!

    Fill All Your Prescriptions at One Pharmacy

    If you’re taking several prescriptions, we understand the need to hunt down savings. But, there are risks involved when you fill one prescription at CVS and another at Kroger.

    When you go to one location, the pharmacist is aware of all the medications you take. He or she can inform you about potential drug interactions. If you fill your prescriptions at different pharmacies, it may be overlooked.

    They’ll also review the instructions with you so you can stick to that schedule we talked about earlier.

    Be Your Best Advocate and Make Your List

    Of course, your doctors and pharmacists all have your best interest at heart. But you know your body better, and need to play an active role in your healthcare.

    Create a list of all the medications you take. The record will speak for you in case you can’t. Plus, it can be hard to remember everything!

    WebMD has a drug interaction tracker. You enter the names of all your medications, vitamins, and supplements. It will tell you if there’s any overlap, and you can discuss with your doctor whether any interactions are a significant concern or not.

    These are a few best practices to manage your medication, supplements, and vitamins.

    Use a pillbox to get organized and keep your medicine at top-of-mind. Take time to create a list of your medication, the instructions, and if there are any potential drug interactions. Then, create a schedule and stick to it!

    Did we miss a tip? Share how you manage your medication below!

    Do You Feel Off? Here’s the Secret to Balancing Your Hormones Naturally

    How many hours of sleep do you get at night?

    Statistics report 36.7% of adults in Tennessee sleep less than seven hours in a 24-hour period. Guidelines say you need seven hours or more for optimal health.

    If you want to balance your hormones naturally, you need quality sleep.

    Take a second to think about your nightly routine.

    Do you lie in bed reading articles on your phone? Or watch TV until you doze off? Do you wake up multiple times throughout the night?

    We can see you typing now…

    But, Fitbit said I slept eight hours!

    Sure, you might be lying in bed for an appropriate amount of time, but you may not be getting quality sleep.

    The National Sleep Foundation said the key determinants of quality sleep are:

  • Sleeping at least 85 percent of the total time you’re in bed
  • Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
  • Waking up no more than once per night
  • Being awake for 20 minutes or less after you initially fall asleep
  • How does your sleep stack up?

    When your body is well-rested, it produces more growth hormones, and stress hormones are metabolized. You lower your blood sugar and decrease cravings.

    On the other side of the pillow, sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and depression.

    Let’s add menopause and andropause to the pot.

    Hormone imbalances cause weight gain, hair loss, depression, anxiety, hot flashes, low libido, and a general feeling of unwellness.

    Abracadabra, you’re now a hermit.

    When you don’t feel well, it’s easy to close the blinds and hide under the covers. You miss out on living life because you feel drained, frumpy, irritable, and off.

    We wish there were a counterspell to help people naturally produce more estrogen or testosterone.

    But, despite our best efforts or intentions, we don’t get to control the aging process that comes with being human (bioidentical hormone replacement therapy does slow it down though).

    However, you can maximize other things to help minimize the symptoms related to the drop in hormones.

    And that starts with quality sleep.

    Here’s something else to consider.

    We see patients who make the mistake of relying on medication, such as Ambien, to get some shut-eye.

    But taking sleep medication is a short-lived strategy with a long list of bad side effects, from drowsiness and headaches to memory loss and diarrhea.

    So, here’s what you need to do to sleep well, reclaim your energy, and balance your hormones naturally.

    1. Eat a high-protein breakfast in the morning.
    2. Limit your coffee intake to one cup per day (and no caffeine 6 hours or less before bedtime).
    3. Take a magnesium supplement to relieve insomnia.
    4. Stay hydrated throughout the day.
    5. Stop eating three hours before bedtime.
    6. Pick a bedtime, and stick to it!
    7. Skip sleep medication, but, if you need a little assist, try melatonin.
    8. Meditate — it can be as easy as focusing on your breath for five minutes.
    9. Establish a ‘No Pet’ rule for your bed.
    10. Turn off night lights, TVs, and lamps. Immerse yourself in complete darkness.
    11. Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom.
    12. If you like to read before bed, use a print book or an e-reader that doesn’t emit light.
    13. Treat your bedroom as a sanctuary for only sleep and sex.

    Your body functions better when you get quality sleep.

    But, every body is different. People who have a chronic illness, are stressed, or have a history of depression or anxiety may be at more risk for poor sleep. Poor sleep could also be a sign of a medical condition.

    Talking with your doctor or a hormone specialist is the best first step you can take. Then, consider what your habits are each night. How can you improve your chances of falling asleep quickly and staying asleep until morning?

    To balance your hormones naturally, you’ll need a little knowledge and lots of discipline.

    Was there something on this list you could change today to get better sleep?

    Are You Taking Statin Drugs? If So, You Need this Supplement

    You’re home from the doctor; a packet of information in one hand and a prescription bottle in the other.

    You’re on strict orders to lower your fat and carbohydrate intake. Plus, add exercise to your daily routine.

    We’re sorry to say; you’re not done yet.

    If your primary care doctor prescribed a statin drug, such as Lipitor®, Zocor®, or the like, you need to check your coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) levels.

    While your body will produce less CoQ10 as you age, you’re at a higher risk of depletion when you take statin drugs.

    When this depletion occurs, the side effects of statin drugs can increase.

    Those side effects include:

  • muscle pain
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • liver and kidney damage
  • increased blood sugar levels
  • Your body makes CoQ10 naturally. In short, it’s the Energizer bunny to your cells.

    Your cells need the energy to repair, build, and fight off intrusion. On any given day, muscle fibers break down and rebuild to get stronger. Old cells are shuffled out the door, and new cells move in.

    But, when your CoQ10 levels go down, the whole system begins to collapse.

    You’ll notice when you’re in short supply of CoQ10. It’ll affect your mobility — your knees might collapse, or you might experience joint pain.

    To replenish CoQ10, you can try adding oily fish and organ meats (like beef liver) to your diet. Or, you can take a supplement.

    CoQ10 is readily available. We won’t go into how to choose a supplement today, but you can read this post for quick tips.

    CoQ10 comes in two forms: ubiquinol, the active antioxidant form, and ubiquinone, the oxidized form.

    Some might argue ubiquinol is a better supplement. Basically, it saves your body one step in the breakdown process. Price wise, there’s no difference. We suggest speaking with your doctor to see which option (and what dosage) would be right for you.

    When you take statin drugs, you’re improving one thing but taking away the benefit of another. But, it’s important not to be leary of taking statin drugs.

    If you add CoQ10, you can protect yourself from the depletion and enjoy the benefit of strong muscles and a healthy heart.

    However, we do recommend seeking more in-depth testing if your primary doctor suggests statin drugs. A cardiologist can perform a higher level of testing to see what would be the best plan for your body — and statin drugs might not be a beneficial option.

    Your physician might also recommend following up with additional blood work. It’s essential you do this, so you know your liver is functioning well.

    Many of our patients book a consultation with us after a physical exam with their primary care doctor. We help people make sense of their lab work and create a customized plan that treats the whole body.

    If you’ve been prescribed statin drugs and are concerned about your CoQ10 levels, schedule a free consultation with us today and we’ll talk to you about the options you have for maintaining quality of life.