Empowerment and Your Health

I focus on empowerment every day with my patients, but it struck me this Fall just how critical personal empowerment can be in our healthcare journeys. Everything we learn, how we make changes for life, how we create new patterns for success in weight loss and healthy habits: all this comes from a sense of owning knowledge about our bodies.

A few months ago, I started to have a nagging sensation that something beyond the ordinary was off. I had changed up my schedule in April, having been hired on at Lifetime Fitness to take over a Tuesday and Thursday 5:30 am yoga class. I started setting my alarm clock for 4:30 Tuesday and Thursday to attend the class for a few weeks before making the shift to teaching it in early May.

Now, for the past few years I have been getting up to run at 5:30 or sometimes 5:15 a few times a week with my neighborhood friends. My alarm’s been set to 6:00 for years to get kids ready for school and the bus. But these activities don’t require driving. Or using much brain power. Or being “on” for other people.

I have never been a “go to bed at 9 am” type of person. Our household gets up early, but my hubby and I are night owls. We like to hang out after the kids go to be: read, watch our shows, catch up. We can stay up to 2 am and sleep in until 11 in a perfect world. Teaching at sunrise went against the grain of my whole life pattern, and I underestimated just how much it would drain me.

I tried going to bed early. But 10 pm shut-eye with a 4 am wake up call is still not enough sleep for someone who also helps manages a business, sees clients, teaches yoga, takes care of kids, and runs a household.

I loved the challenge of my early bird classes, establishing rapport with students, sequencing classes and making playlists. But after a few months, I started to notice bags under and wrinkles around my eyes. I would be irritable with kids in the afternoon, with weird surges of energy when I should be winding down.

I would jump up and go teach on those early mornings, putting my all into it, then push through the day at work and at home. I noticed how tired I was, but figured I would catch up on weekends as I got used to this new routine.

But I didn’t catch up on sleep over the weekends.

Gradually, my tiredness started to hit me like a tidal wave. After work, driving home to get the kids or stop for errands, I would feel a fog of fatigue. I remembered back to when we first diagnosed me with low testosterone and progesterone 8 years ago: a total vitality zap. This felt somewhat different but similar to that feeling of losing myself.

I knew a few friends who had been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, and started to recall conversations about how they recovered. “Could that be me?” I wondered. Could my adrenals be that shot from stress and sleep deprivation, which then made my neurotransmitters out of whack?

With a vitality zap this severe, depression comes in. You start to feel bad about yourself because you can’t shake the malaise or be awake for those you love. You don’t feel like yourself, which makes you irritable and frankly not fun to be around.

We had recently drawn my labs; thyroid and sex hormones were in range. So it wasn’t that. I started to notice my craving for salty foods: another hallmark symptom of adrenal fatigue. The full realization of my intuition screaming ‘your adrenals are a mess!” hit me at the end of August. I stopped by Safeway to grab a coffee and dog food at 2:41, preparing to be home at 3:15 for the school bus.

But I couldn’t get out of the car. I literally sat in the parking lot with the A/C blasting, my head to my chest and arms loose as I gripped the steering wheel, willing myself to get it together. I sat there for five minutes trying to muster up enough energy to open the car door. Take one step and then the other towards the entrance, and walk into the store.

That night, Dr. B told me to grab an adrenal saliva test kit from our office. To stop wondering and researching and take the diagnostic step to test my hunch.

When my results came back, he texted me this comment: “You were right.”

My first reaction? Empowerment. I was experiencing what I counseled my patients to discover, what our doctors tell patients to tune into about their own wellness when something feels wrong. I felt empowered that I listened to my gut instinct and had an answer to the “why” I felt so bad.

My second response? How can I fix this, how long will it take, and when can I start.

Here is a picture of my cortisol panel test, which looked at my 8 amnoon4 pm and bedtime saliva collection to track how my cortisol leveled out throughout the day.

No wonder I felt so bad every morning. My cortisol tracked way below the range at 8 am, and barely in the bottom range at noon. It picked up later in the day and evening, which explained jittery bursts of energy in the evening as my body tried to regulate.

 

Cortisol, a hormone created in the adrenal cortex, is designed to start high in the morning to get us moving. It keeps firing up and then gradually declines as our systems prepare for rest and sleep with sunset and bedtime.

 

As Dr. B explained to me, adrenal fatigue can correct on its own by catching up on sleep, managing stress better, and the healing nature of time. But I had on this downward spiral for so long, I wanted to feel better fast. My busy life was not slowing down, and I owed it to myself, my family, my clients and my yoga students to work at my optimal level. I am normally a happy, high energy person, and I wanted her back.

So Dr. B prescribed 5 mgs of hydrocortisone in addition to vitamins and supplements I am already on. Almost immediately, taking it in the morning with my thyroid, I noticed a difference. I felt less fatigued and more motivated to jumpstart my days, with less of a crash later. It was still there, but it didn’t feel as elevated.

I don’t want to be on medication forever. I have set some boundaries with my time and am sleeping more. I gave up one of my 5:30 am classes and took on a later morning one instead, which works better with my normal output of energy.

Knowing the “why” to my symptoms decreased my stress tenfold. For me, and for most people I talk to, not knowing why, wondering if you’ll ever feel right again, or if you’ll even get to the bottom of whatever it is that ails you, creates an invasive level of stress.

Stress that you feel when you eat a meal and can’t figure out what you ate that gave you indigestion. Stress of having a nagging feeling that you have an allergy but don’t know how to decipher it. Stress of feeling that something is “off’ – hormones, mood, energy, your clothes not fitting well – but you are unsure where to turn.

Empowerment is the cornerstone of the medicine we practice at Protea. It puts the role of advocate, healer, and educator back in your own hands once you ask the questions, get the answers, and start to fill in the blanks.

Nothing feels as good as knowledge, especially when it comes to understanding your body and learning how to listen to signals. Lab work can verify your hunches as you begin to own your “why” and make choices based on your gut instead of relying solely on what someone else tells you.

As I discovered this Fall, once we start to tune in, we realize that we are smarter and wiser than we think. Our bodies want to restore to balance. From here, we use lab work and all the tools in our medicinal arsenal to fix the problem.

Wellness creates empowerment and empowerment creates wellness. We still need patience, as I am discovering in my recovery from adrenal fatigue. I wanted to restore my adrenals as soon as I saw my results, knowing full well that that would be impossible. I know the healing process will happen in time.

But I now have the answers necessary to recommit to my best health with my own instincts, empowerment, and knowledge at the forefront.

And that is the greatest wellness gift of all.

New IV Bag Nutrition Solutions at Protea Chandler

We’re always looking for innovative and exciting ways of improving your health. We heavily vet and assess cutting edge services before implementing them in our practice, that’s part of the Protea promise. We have been offering Intra-Muscular Nutritional Shots at our Chandler and Glendale locations for a while now. And we can tell you all love them, which is why we are supplementing that service.

We are proud to announce that we are officially offering new IV Bag Nutrition Solutions at Protea Chandler. This is perfect for patients who want a boost of energy and a boost of wellness. Most IV bags are tailored to trends and target low-hanging fruit. What we mean by that is: most other places that offer IV bags do so to treat hangovers or provide “detox.” Our target is a little higher than that…

We want to enhance your metabolism. We want to enhance your wellness. We want to enhance your vitality. We’re tackling issues from chronic migraines to weight loss with these IV bags. While customization is always an option and a priority, you can also look for five standard IV Bags to be offered:

  1. A standard Myers’ Cocktail, a solution designed to enhance the immune system, reduce fatigue, help with seasonal allergies, and reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia and asthma.
  2. A more focused immune boosting bag.
  3. An energizing bag designed to support adrenal function and help fatigue.
  4. A bag for neural health, this bag will aid people with migraines and other similar issues.
  5. An athletic performance bag.

These bags are already available at Protea Chandler! So come on by, try them out, and let us know how you feel. We are committed to your wellbeing, and we are happy to help you live a healthier life.

 

 

 

Further Understanding The Intersection of Weight Management and Anxiety & Depression

The body is complex, and it is also complicated. What do we mean by that? We mean that inside your body is a living ecosystem of countless interconnected elements that work together to make you who you are — and figuring out how to fix a “problem area” without disrupting other aspects of your ecosystem can be complicated.

This is why we make the Protea Promise that we will never just throw prescriptions at your surface level symptoms. No, we dig deeper than that. We get to the root of your issues — the cause of your symptoms, and we address those causes.

One example of this is the relationship between stress, anxiety and depression, and healthy weight management. We discussed the connection between stress levels, cortisol production, and weight gain in our blog post: Food Allergies & Weight Gain. To sum it up: Cortisol is a stress hormone which makes your body want to store fat. Cortisol is also found in dairy products, and if you’re sensitive to it, it can exacerbate weight gain. And that exacerbated weight gain will, most likely, be causing you more stress — thus raising your cortisol levels even more.

Let’s now look at another chemical related to weight loss and mental anguish.

In our last blog entry, Spotlight: The Patented Protea SlimShot!, we discussed a chemical compound called inositol. Inositol naturally occurs in cantaloupe and oranges. It can also be found in our Protea SlimShot. We use inositol in our SlimShot because it helps the breakdown of fat. That’s right, it aids weight loss, but it also does something else quite cool.

Inositol is a known mitigator of depression, anxiety and panic attacks. In fact, a recent scientific study (Mukai, T., Kishi, T., Matsuda, Y. and Iwata, N. (2014), A meta-analysis of inositol for depression and anxiety disorders. Hum. Psychopharmacol Clin Exp, 29: 55–63. doi:10.1002/hup.2369) found that inositol is especially effective for women suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

This makes inositol a very valuable chemical compound for our purposes. Stress levels and weight management are inextricably linked. Understanding that is crucial to a holistic approach to your health. We hope this sheds some light on why we designed our Protea SlimShot the way we did. We want to attack the causes of weight gain on all the levels we can.

We will continue to analyze the intersection of healthy weight management and your mood. Remember: you are a biological and scientific creature made up of a complex web of interconnected elements that make you who you are. We’ll see you next time.

Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

With love,

Protea.

Spotlight: The Patented Protea SlimShot!

We believe in holistic and natural approaches to helping our patients. The Protea path is one paved with in-depth insights gleaned from ongoing and thorough testing. We dig deeper, we go beyond your complex web of symptoms. We dig to the root cause.

We’ve developed a variety of proprietary Protea Intra Muscular Shots to aid us in this process. One of our key shots is our Protea SlimShot, and we’re going to go a little deeper into what makes it so amazing. Click here to see our full menu of Protea Intra Muscular Shots!

Our $20 2cc SlimShot contains lipotropin compounds which catalyze the breakdown of fat during metabolism. We combine B12, inositol and choline to make packed and powerful weight loss aid. Choline is the most common and important lipotrope found in mammals. Choline is essential for fat metabolism and supports healthy liver function as well. Inositol not only helps the breakdown of fat, but it also helps relieve the trauma of depression and panic attacks. More on that in a soon-to-come blog!

We often find that our patients have past experiences that are less than positive. We don’t rush. We take our time. We get to know our patients, and we isolate their needs. This dedication to custom-created plans for our patients manifests in a variety of ways. This means you have the power to custom-create your tailored-to-you Intra Muscular Shot. Maybe the SlimShot addresses just one of your needs, and maybe you have needs that our current menu doesn’t meet. That’s why we put the power in your hands.

Whether you are in Chandler or Glendale, come by your local Protea Medical Center to learn how our patented Protea Intra Muscular Shots can help you. And remember: every day from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm we have our $5 off Happy Hour at both Protea Chandler and Glendale!

Sneak Peek of Dr. Brendan McCarthy’s New Book: Chapter 8

We gave you all a very special sneak peek of chapter 2 from Dr. McCarthy’s soon to be completed debut book! And now we’re back with a very exclusive preview of chapter 8 from Dr. McCarthy’s book.

Chapter 8 is a callback to Julie and her story from chapter 2. In chapter 8 we see an alternate reality for Julie, one that sees her take control of her health. Chapter 8 shows us how empowering it is to become educated about your own body, and in a way that most doctors won’t help you achieve.

Dr. McCarthy details the steps a woman can take to become better acquainted with her own body. Let’s look at a bit of chapter 8 and see what we can learn from this version of Julie, who is in control of her health.

Chapter 8

Julie’s New Story 

Do you remember the story of Julie that I shared with you in chapter 2? Julie was lost and struggling after a lifetime of feeling ignored and dismissed by her doctor.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. After Julie learns the same information you have just learned, and understands her body and her mind, she has a new story. And the earlier she learns it, the faster her new story begins.

At age thirteen, Julie experiences irregular periods complicated by severe cramping. Julie’s mother and father—her healthcare advocates while she is a minor—seek out a physician experienced in treating young women her age. They find one who first works to discover the cause of hormone problems before prescribing birth control. Her doctor tells Julie that she was right to come in—this is not normal. He also informs her that it can be common to have symptoms like this if you have low progesterone, which is also common at her age.

Julie’s doctor runs a battery of labs to make sure that nothing more complicated is happening. When the labs confirm his suspicions, her doctor prescribes a course of low-dose natural progesterone. He re-tests her each month and keeps Julie on this therapy for a few months, until she begins to naturally generate her own progesterone. Then she is able to stop taking it because she no longer needs to—her body makes enough on its own.

When Julie enters college, she does so with a normal level of testosterone because she never took oral contraceptives. She finds that she doesn’t have the same weight gain that her classmates experience. With normal testosterone levels, Julie’s body responds to exercise with healthy muscle development and healthy fat metabolism.

When she has her children, Julie doesn’t suffer from post-partum depression. She knows that low progesterone can cause depression, and she is aware of how common it is for a woman to have lowered levels after birth. Her obstetrician follows her case, periodically testing her labs. When she does notice a deficiency, the doctor prescribes natural progesterone to maintain Julie’s neurological health.

Julie never needs to take an anti-depressant.

After her three children are born and before she goes back to work full-time, Julie consults her doctor regarding work-life balance. She and her husband create a healthy schedule that equally distributes the housework as well as the responsibility of parenting. With this balance, she is able to advance her career and feel fulfilled in her home life.

In her mid-thirties, Julie begins to feel some anxiety. Her physician affirms that this is possibly due to diminishing levels of progesterone, common for a woman in her age group. She is premenopausal, and her body is losing its ability to generate progesterone naturally. Once the level is confirmed, Julie is given a long-term protocol including prescribed progesterone and regular lab work. Her anxiety disappears.

Julie notices some weight gain when she is in her forties. Her physician runs a thorough exam of her thyroid and discovers she has a diminished amount of the active hormone T3. Julie is told this is a normal aspect of aging. Her physician prescribes her a very low dose of natural thyroid. Her weight normalizes within a few months. Julie sleeps well, has a healthy libido, and feels good. More importantly, her body feels right.

Now Julie is empowered to change her narrative.

She is ready to take her health into her own hands.

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Visit Protea Glendale for Our Patented Nutritional Injection-Shot Bar

To all Protea patients — old, new and those who will join us soon — we invite you to come by our Glendale location to try out our intramuscular shot bar.

We have a slew of custom-created nutritional injections we developed specifically for our patients. We spent hours, days and weeks carefully crafting blends of vitamins and nutrients to address a variety of needs we regularly see in our patients.

At our Shot Bar, we offer nutritional injections that help aid weight-loss, enhance endurance and lower cholesterol. We also provide injections designed with women in mind. For example, our “Femshot” combines B-6, MIC and Methyl b-12 to enhance the healthy metabolism of estrogen in a woman’s body.

We also let our patients design their own shots to suit their needs. We’ll meet with you, speak with you and help you craft your very own nutritional injection based on your individual body.

Come by Protea Glendale, and pay our shot bar a visit. We are happy to help you live your healthiest life!

Sneak Peek of Dr. Brendan McCarthy’s New Book: Chapter 2

Dr. McCarthy has been up to something super secret, but very exciting! And we’re here to share some of it with you today. Dr. McCarthy has been working on his first ever book, and it is almost ready to see the light of day. But we wanted to get ahead of the curve and give you all a special preview of the book before it’s officially published and released.

This currently untitled project is slated to be released in early fall, so keep your eyes peeled for details regarding that. And we will also be throwing a celebratory launch party once the book is released!

Dr. McCarthy wrote this book to give power back to the patients — his patients and those who haven’t had the pleasure of being treated by Dr. McCarthy. Far too often women are treated poorly by the medical community. Appointments are quick, a bedside manner is nonexistent and symptoms are treated with hasty prescriptions.

This book is designed to educate and empower the reader. Read below to see a preview of chapter two from Dr. McCarthty’s soon to be released book!

Chapter 2

Julie’s Story

I want to share with you the story of a woman named Julie.

It begins at age thirteen, when Julie experiences her first period. Her menstrual cycle is compli- cated and irregular, with cramping over the first few days. Her mother assures her this is normal, but when Julie begins missing a day of school every month, her parents take her to see the family doctor. “These symptoms are normal for a girl your age,” he tells her, and prescribes oral contra- ceptive pills for the cramps. Julie’s parents assume that their doctor would warn them of any sig- nificant side effects, and they fill the prescription.

By college, Julie no longer has difficult periods, but she feels as if she has to be very strict with her diet to prevent weight gain. When Julie brings this up at the campus clinic, the nurse assures her that the weight gain has nothing to do with the birth control pills. “Just exercise more and eat less,” advises the nurse.

Julie graduates, begins her career, and at twenty-six, she meets a guy and falls in love. They get married. Two years later, she stops her birth control. By age twenty-nine, she conceives her first child.

Julie experiences post-partum depression. When she reports this to her OB, he prescribes her Zoloft for six months.

Over the next four years, Julie has two more children. After each childbirth, she experiences some depression and uses Zoloft.

Her anxiety comes back and won’t be ignored. Her regular doctor prescribes Xanax.

By thirty-five, Julie stops taking Zoloft, gets back on birth control, and goes back to work. She works harder than ever before. Every morning, Julie wakes up early to exercise, then gets the kids up and ready for school and sees them out the door. She puts in a full day at the office, then shuttles the kids to after-school activities before coming home to supervise homework while making dinner. After dinner, she cleans the kitchen, puts the kids to bed, and folds laundry while watching TV. Then she falls into bed and gets up early to start all over again.

Since college, Julie has worked hard to keep her weight in the healthy range. This all changes in her forties, when she gains fifteen pounds. Her routine of careful diet and regular exercise no longer works for her. She restricts her diet to 1,000 calories per day and trains for and completes several marathons. But Julie still can’t keep her weight under control.

Additionally, Julie now begins experiencing insomnia, low libido, fatigue, and depression. Her physician listens to the list of symptoms, runs a battery of tests, and tells her she is “fine.” He prescribes Ambien for sleep, recommends going back on Zoloft, and renews her prescription for Xanax. “Don’t forget that you need to eat less and exercise more,” he reminds her. He also im- plies that if she lost weight, her libido would return.

Julie wants to ask, “What happened to my body? What happened to my zest, my happiness? Why do I need all these medications—and then when I take them, I still don’t feel right?”

Could there have been another way? she wonders.

The Owner’s Manual

Julie is an amalgam of many patients I have seen, and her story is a universal and depressing one. As you read through the rest of this book, see if you recognize Julie—or yourself. Her plight oc- curs because, too often, doctors only focus on a patient’s symptoms. They don’t apply them- selves to the question of why she has those symptoms to begin with.

This is where we step in.

We are going to break this cycle. And it begins by understanding what is happening in your body and mind, and taking charge of both.

You may be asking yourself, “Why is this so important? I’ve lived in this body all my life. Don’t I know everything I really need to know about it, by now?”

Think of the information in this chapter as the owner’s manual to your body.

When you learn how to drive, you are taught the basics of a car and how it works. You need to know where the engine is, that it has brakes, and how the steering wheel controls the four tires. After that, you learn about which gasoline to put in it and why. You learn about oil and how it keeps the engine running. You may even choose to discover more about the finer systems that work within your vehicle.

And just as you need this information before you get behind the wheel, you also need to know the basics of your body and its functions.

This information orients you within the systems of your body. With that understanding, you also take control of your mind and your ability to do something when one of those systems misfires.

You take your car to a mechanic for tune-ups. Similarly, you see your doctor to keep everything running smoothly in your body. As most women have experienced, Mechanics are not always acting in a woman’s best interest. In the case of Julie, neither were her doctors.

Once you understand the different pieces and how they work together, you can make educated decisions about your health. You can have effective conversations with your doctor to help you get everything back in balance.

You are empowered to take control of your body, your mind, and your life.

In this chapter, we will cover the physical parts of your body, including your brain, and how they work. We’ll also break down twelve of the hormones and neurotransmitters that affect your body and mind the most.

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The Cost of Crash Diets – An In-Depth Examination of the hCG Very Low Calorie Diet

It’s summer. And society is screaming at you about “beach bodies!” And maybe you’re genuinely, and dangerously, overweight — and you do really need to shed pounds. Regardless of your circumstances, trendy and flashy crash diets are — sadly — always “in style,” but never any good.

And one trendy crash-diet that has been really influencing people lately (and for a long time too) is the hCG VLCD, or: human chorionic gonadotropin very low calorie diet. hCG is made by the placenta during pregnancy — and as this diet dictates, you get injected with hCG. The “very low calorie diet” portion of the process means you have a daily limit of 500 kcal (kilocalories).

Does this sound dangerous yet?

The traditional hCG VLCD is a 26-day process that involves 23 injections. In fact, HCGDietInfo.com quotes Dr. Simeons (the inventor of the hCG diet), “Patients who need to lose 15 pounds or, 7 kilos or less require 26 days treatment with 23 daily injections.”

But some simple research of published studies quickly shows you how detrimental this is to your health. Let’s start with the hormonal component of this diet: human chorionic gonadotropin injections.

The Food and Drug Administration warns that hCG does not aid in weight loss, and has issued joint warning letters to firms marketing hCG for weight loss. Injecting hCG as part of a weight loss treatment is not an approved usage by the FDA. In fact, the FDA attaches a warning label to approved hCG products stating, “There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or ‘normal’ distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.”

Furthermore, hCG is a hormone, and interfering with your hormonal balance without careful supervision and testing can have consequences. hCG injections have been associated with headaches, blood clots, leg cramps, temporary hair thinning, constipation, and breast tenderness.

Now that we’ve addressed the dangerous and recklessly false promises of hCG, with help from the FDA, let’s dig into some scientific studies for some hard facts on how starvation diets will harm you.

Which brings us to the 500 calories a day part of the diet. Eating only 500 kcal a day is a starvation diet. There are no two ways around it.

Here’s one major problem: starvation diets can result in diabetes. Let’s look at a study that was published in 1996. Michael Koffler and Eldad S. Kisch examined seven initially obese individuals. All seven participants underwent “a strenuous weight-reduction program” involving severe calorie reduction and “developed diabetes mellitus: non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in five cases and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in two cases” (Koffler M, Kisch ES. J Diabetes Complications. 1996 Mar-Apr;10(2):109-12).

Starvation diets can even result in sudden death in obese patients. The abstract of a 1992 study states, “A major concern with the use of starvation or semistarvation diets for weight reduction in severely obese people has been the reports of sudden death due to ventricular arrhythmias” (Fisler, Janis S. “Cardiac effects of starvation and semistarvation diets: safety and mechanisms of action.” Am J C/in Nuir 1992:56:2305-45).

Finally a 1987 study conducted by Barrows and Snook on the effects of a very low calorie diet; this study concerned a 420 kcal/day diet — only an 80 kcal difference between this study and our hCG VLCD crash diet in question. The study’s abstract states, “A 4-6 mo study was conducted to examine effects of a very-low-calorie, high-protein diet and realimentation on energy expenditure, resting metabolic rate (RMR), and serum thyroid hormones of obese women aged 30-54 yr. Fifteen healthy women, greater than or equal to 126% ideal body weight, were placed on the diet (420 kcal/day) and lost an average of 1.1 kg/wk until a predetermined goal weight was attained.” As the study ended, it was found that “T3 values remained significantly below pre-study values” (Barrows K, Snook JT Am J Clin Nutr. 1987 Feb;45(2):391-8).

Ok, there’s a lot there. The takeaway is: the study was 4-6 months, the participants were 15 healthy yet obese women aged 35-54, and they were placed on a restrictive 420 kcal/day diet. And, “T3 values remained significantly below pre-study values.” But what does that mean in simple terms? Well, low T3 is commonly seen as an indicator of starvation or hypothyroidism — and guess what… A common and major symptom of hypothyroidism is unexplained weight gain. This is all a big and technical way of saying: a severe crash diet will actually cause you to gain weight in the long run.

So here we are in 2017, still discussing hCG and the very low calorie diet. People still believe this is a safe way to lose weight. But our secondary research has shown that there is a history of scientific studies that show the dangers of hCG and the very low calorie diet. And to be clear, just some of those dangers are: symptoms associated with hypothyroidism (like a poorly functioning metabolism), diabetes and even death.

Those are just a few (very serious) examples of why we don’t take diets lightly at Protea. Our mission hinges on helping you live a healthy and happy life — and health and happiness don’t come from quick fixes in a syringe… or from starving yourself.

Everyone’s path to their healthiest self is different. That’s why we take the time to deeply and thoroughly examine our patients. We run extensive labwork, and we talk with you. We use hard data, as well as insight gained from speaking with you, to determine how we can help you enhance your life — with an actual lifestyle change. And with that lifestyle change, that we discover together, you will find your version of success.

 

Works Cited:

  • Medication Health Fraud – Questions and Answers on HCG Products for Weight Loss Center for Drug Evaluation and Research – https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/medicationhealthfraud/ucm281834.htm
  • “How to Do the hCG Diet – Original Diet hCG” Dr. Simeons’s hCG Diet WebMaster, https://hcgdietinfo.com/Diet-HCG#prettyPhoto
  • Koffler M, Kisch ES. “Starvation diet and very-low-calorie diets may induce insulin resistance and overt diabetes mellitus.” J Diabetes Complications. 1996 Mar-Apr;10(2):109-12, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8777329
  • Fisler, Janis S. “Cardiac effects of starvation and semistarvation diets: safety and mechanisms of action.” Am J C/in Nuir 1992:56:2305-45, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/56/1/230S.abstract
  • Barrows K, Snook JT. “Effect of a high-protein, very-low-calorie diet on resting metabolism, thyroid hormones, and energy expenditure of obese middle-aged women.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1987 Feb;45(2):391-8, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3812338

I Can Breathe Clearly Now

A few weeks ago, I went for a sunrise run, feeling energized in the breezy almost dawn. Toward the end of my usual 3-mile loop I noticed the pretty play of pink sun rays against yellow flowers on the trees.

As I stopped to take a photo, I realized something: I was running outside, during allergy season. Right above me, dogwood trees were in full bloom. I took a deep breath in and realized the following:

-My eyes weren’t stinging.

-My chest wasn’t congested.

-I was breathing in what felt like broken glass.

-My sinuses were clear.

-I had no headache.

At one point five years ago, we lived in Mesa where the trees bloomed against a man-made lake. For a few consecutive weeks every April, both my husband and I had to sleep with pillows propped behind us, halfway upright, with an inhaler near by. I could not breathe otherwise with severe allergy symptoms, which seemed to get worse every year. Runny nose, cough, trouble breathing, horrible headache and watery, red eyes.

Many people suffer from allergies in Arizona when the trees bloom, and we just get used to it. We push through what should be a magic time of year before the weather heats up for the summer: pool season, patio dining, early morning runs, barbecues and long evening walks.

Hard to enjoy any of those things when you can’t breathe well.

I put myself through an elimination diet in September 2015, to figure out why I couldn’t get to my goal weight, why my skin remained congested, why my stomach hurt in a vague but constant state after I ate. I guessed that dairy would most likely be the culprit, but I wanted to be sure before I cut out this beloved food group.

I journaled, first cutting out gluten, then egg, then dairy. I wrote down symptoms, thoughts, reactions. Before I started dairy, I got on the InBody scale at Protea. I work out 4 times a week, do yoga, consume lots of veggies, eat about 75% clean and drink a ton of water. I felt healthy, besides allergies, skin issues and low grade headaches.

When I got on the scale on 9/1/15, I weighed 157.2 with a body fat percentage of 19.3.

Five days later, I weighed in at 151.4 with a PBF of 17.8.

I couldn’t believe it. Not only did my stomach feel less bloated and my skin considerably less congested through my cheeks, but my stomach didn’t hurt. At all.

It wasn’t allergy season, but I imagined that if it were, I wouldn’t be as inflamed. In researching this phenomenon, I started to realize something powerful: an inflammatory response to food can trigger a myriad of health concerns. Our immune systems are designed to recognize an invader and rally troops, as it were, to attack.

Severe allergic reactions, like some children have with peanuts, are easier to spot. The low-grade ones can be tricky. If we are in a constant state of immune irritation from foods that our systems can’t process correctly, we will experience inflammation. An inflammatory response can present as swollen joints, headaches, skin breakouts (since skin is our body’s largest organ), and IBS, to name a few.

Many doctors don’t look to food as a possible source for allergies. Seasonal allergies come straight from air-borne particles, which trigger immune response a few times a year until the pollen dies down. But if your system is overburdened by eating something almost every day that irritates the lining of your gut, causing the inflammatory system to activate, your body is already taxed.

Working overtime to react to an inflammatory food, the immune response to airborne particles goes into hyperdrive. Reactions against an invader substance has already been engaged, as in my case with dairy. Like the adrenal system, our immune system when working correctly elevates when it senses danger and calms down when things return to normal.

Being systematically inflamed on a constant basis is not a state of normalcy. Something will break down, and our body tries to correct this breakdown. But if we can’t isolate the trigger, we can’t eliminate it. Without eliminating it, the cycle of an overburdened immune system continues.

Something as simple and effective as an elimination diet can illuminate what we may miss in our normal day-to-day eating: a slow build up of immune activity based on a food you can’t process anymore.

Maybe as a kid you were able to eat dairy or gluten, before your system began to react against it. As you get older, with adrenal fatigue, stress, hormones, etc, the immune system takes a hit. And suddenly you have bloating, headaches, inflammation that may seem out of the blue. In reality, your body may have been signaling you for a long time.

My life changed once I eliminated dairy, as I realized that day this Spring during my run. I have no more seasonal allergies, even though the trees continue to bloom every year. My immune system functions better without the constant burden of dairy intolerance. I can keep those pounds off with my normal exercise and eating routine, give or take a few splurges.

When I do have an occasional slice of late night pizza or eat eggs fried in butter (the standard in most restaurants) I feel the effects immediately. They go away after a few hours or sometimes a day, depending on what other stressors I put on my system. I can’t deny my body’s reactions, which keeps me away from dairy even on days when I am especially tempted to reach for some brie or sprinkle parma over my pasta.

It just isn’t worth it. I like breathing clearly in the Spring, my clothes fitting better, and going for runs in the morning, allergy season or not.

Have you wondered if you have a food intolerance? Do you feel bloated when you eat certain foods? Have you gained a few pounds and can’t figure out why or where they came from?

Elimination diets can be customized for your life, done over a period of one to two months or faster if you start first with the top 5 inflammatory food groups: dairy, soy, eggs, gluten and nuts. Start there, and expand out to other foods if you still seek answers.

We’d love to help guide you towards a less inflamed life, with better understanding of your body’s reactions to the food you eat. Knowledge is power, and food holds the key.

Food Allergies & Weight Gain

Our bodies are complex. Many of our day to day habits can affect us in areas of our lives we’d never expect. For example, I have seasonal eczema which is exacerbated by all soap products and even certain temperatures of water. Now, I value cleanliness… I never once thought that my soap usage was actually doing more harm than good. But it was. I took it upon myself to recalibrate my relationship with soap based products. I use far fewer soap products these days. My eczema has been nearly nonexistent for two years now. I also save money now, because I’m not buying “conditioning” products which were developed to undo the “damage” soap can do to the skin.

This is all to say: you may have food allergies that you’re unaware of. Those food allergies could be causing problematic weight-gain, and associated issues like bloating and other gastrointestinal problems. A more apt analogy is how seasonal allergies release histamine in our bodies, thus making breathing hard due to swelling. Many food allergies lead to issues like bloating and swelling, which only exacerbate weight gain.

Many food allergies lead to issues like bloating and swelling, which only exacerbate weight gain.

Another example of weight gain caused by foods is the relationship between cortisol and fat storage. Cortisol is a stress hormone which makes your body want to store fat. Cortisol is found in dairy products, and if you’re sensitive to it, you may find yourself gaining weight from it. This is only made worse by the fact that our bodies produce cortisol when we are stressed. So let’s say you consume way too much dairy for your body’s own good. You may have no idea that your body is sensitive to the effects of cortisol found in milk. So you continue to consume dairy products. Your body will be storing fat, you will see this but have no idea why. This cortisol-created-confusion caused from consuming dairy will stress you out. Understandably so. But that unchecked stress will only cause more cortisol in your body, thus increasing your body’s fat retention.

We test our patients to discover what food allergies they have. It is essential to cut foods that are harmful to your body out of your diet. Doing so will put a stop to the symptoms you’re experiencing. Our purpose, and passion, is to help you live the best life you can — and your health is at the center of that. We’re committed to helping you learn how to not simply diet (we don’t like “diets”) but to actually make a lifestyle change that will positively impact your quality of life.