Make 2015 a Game Changer: The Metabolic Motivation Podcast Interview with Dr. Mike Carragher

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Dan O’Beirne for his Metabolic Motivation Podcast and blog.

Here’s the the link to the video:

Metabolic Motivation Podcast Interview with Dr. Mike Carragher

We talk about how I got started practicing Age Management Medicine and why i think it’s so important for everyone to be proactive about their aging.  I talk about my own personal story of hormonal decline and how I changed my life so dramatically through optimizing my hormones that it inspired me to devote my career to helping others do the same.

Some of the questions I ask my patients on their first visit (and that you should ask yourself) are:

1. Are you beginning to lose your edge?

2. Are you feeling less energetic?

3. Are you gaining weight around the middle despite your best efforts?

4. Is your skin less supple and smooth, becoming more wrinkled?

5. Are your libido and sexual performance declining?

6. Do you wish you could look and feel vital, active, and youthful again?

I was experiencing many these symptoms and feeling this way in my early 30s.  I didn’t know what the problem and despite being a physician, didn’t know where to turn. Physicians don’t learn about optimizing hormones in medical school!

In my years of practicing medicine in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, these were some of the most common complaints brought to me by my patients. I realized that along with the symptoms of aging they were experiencing, they were also becoming at increased risk for  the chronic degenerative diseases of aging such as Alzheimer’s, insulin resistance and diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and stroke.

Making matters worse, their primary care doctors were often telling them “everything was fine” and that their symptoms were simply part of “normal aging.” They were frustrated and didn’t know where to go or what to do to begin feeling more vital, youthful, and full of energy.

It was a lose-lose situation.

But I found an anti-aging solution that worked for me, and believe so strongly in it, that I assembled a team of professionals at The Body Well dedicated to bringing this anti-aging solution to you.

Beginning as early as your late 20s, the hormones you want low typically begin to rise (e.g. insulin, cortisol) and the ones you want high begin to decline (e.g. testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, pregnenolone, human growth hormone (HGH), DHEA, thyroid). As a result, men and women begin to experience changes in attitudes and moods, mild depression, fatigue, loss of mental sharpness and memory, lower sex drive, skin wrinkling, muscle loss, belly fat, loss of energy, and reduction in physical agility.

It’s commonly a result of these hormone changes. And there is a solution.

Comprehensive Age Management Medicine is a medical specialty that involves evaluating you for symptoms and signs of degenerative aging and decline and slowing down that process through hormone optimization including HGH hormone (HGH injections) if indicated, proper nutrition, and exercise. It’s not just about living longer, it’s about living better.

So tune in and learn a little more!

To schedule an Age Management/Hormonal Optimization evaluation with me, call 1-323-874-9355.

Sleep, Stress, and the Holidays

Guest Blogger: Lisa Marlene Thompson is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who specializes in all areas of health and wellness, specifically: digestion, sugar handling issues, hormone balancing and general nutrition and lifestyle. She’s a core part of The Body Well Age Management team.

Holiday season is here and with it comes all the joy and good feelings coupled with the stressors of trying to fit everything and everyone in to your life!   It’s challenging – there are parties and get-togethers with friends, coworkers and family; the special kids events; the bit of extra work that needs to get done before the break can begin; the shopping for gifts and food as well as the preparation of these things… and the list goes on….

I cannot stress enough how important sleep is – if you’ve worked with me, I’m sure you’ve heard me say “It doesn’t matter what your mission statement is in life – if you’re not getting good sleep, it’s likely not going to happen”.  With poor quality sleep it’s probable that you’ll experience the following:

  • Poor memory/concentration
  • Performance affected
  • Weight gain
  • Mood / Depression

Over 60 million Americans are sleep deprived, and of those, 40 million have diagnosed sleep disorders.  These disorders range from sleep apnea (when you stop breathing during your sleep) to insomnia (when the brain doesn’t shut off) and circadian rhythm disruption (when we deviate from our natural internal clock and regular sleep time) – the most diagnosed of the 80 recognized and defined sleep disorders that exist.

Sleep is a basic human need, and it needs to be made a priority – just like nutrition and exercise.  Consistency and quality are paramount when it comes to sleep.  It’s important to be consistent with our sleep cycle – going to bed and waking at about the same time each day.  During this season this can be tricky, but try to stick as closely as you can to your regular sleep cycle.

Try incorporating these pre-bedtime rituals:

  • Power down ALL electronics about an hour or so before you want to go to sleep (the brain stimulating blue light emitted from all of our electronics wreak havoc on our sleep – make sure you have this free download https://justgetflux.com/ on your computer which offers an amber veil to block that blue light – tied into your time zone you don’t even have to think about it
  • take a bath or hot shower – exposure to the cool air when you get out signals the body it’s time for slumber
  • read something inspirational – not too engaging to lull you into sleep
  • light some candles and listen to relaxing music

In addition to getting good sleep, I also want to talk about keeping your stress levels low… so that sleep is an actual possibility.

Here’s a primer on what happens when the body is put into a stress-response, and that hormone we’ve all been hearing so much about, comes into play: Cortisol.

Cortisol is a powerful hormone produced and secreted by one of our endocrine glands: the Adrenals (two tiny button shaped glands that sit atop each kidney).  Cortisol is triggered to release when our “fight or flight” or survival response kicks in – a Sympathetic Nervous System response.  The kicker here is: our bodies have not evolved enough to distinguish the difference between being chased by a wooly mammoth and meeting a deadline.  A stressor is a stressor is a stressor!  It’s all the same to the adrenals, the output is the same, with effects as far reaching as: increased heart rate and blood pressure, shortness of breath, digestion shut down, and a whole host of physiological and biochemical events occur.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) with it’s never ending sugar spikes and crashes also trigger the release of cortisol…. And when there’s too much cortisol in the blood, where does it go?  You got it: Directly to FAT storage.

The body’s main goal is to always be in homeostasis, equilibrium, and balance.  The body’s natural state is health, not dis-ease.  It strives to be in a Para-Sympathetic state (aka: Rest and Digest=RELAXED as opposed to a Sympathetic state=SURVIVAL).  Simply put, when we are stressed we absolutely work against ourselves – all those things we so desperately want to achieve, get hijacked by a hormone.  The anti-dote you ask?  Finding ways to stay in that para-sympathetic state, things that might include:

  • meditation and deep breathing exercises,
  • consciously visualizing yourself in a peaceful setting, breathing in the beauty and quiet of this place
  • closing your eyes and seeing your inhale move through your body while using your exhale to blow out any toxins or debris that aren’t serving you.

Another great place to live in your mind is in a state of gratitude.  Perhaps the penultimate symbol of the holiday season.  A truly great place to reside.

When we focus on gratitude, be it someone or something we are truly grateful for, or if we can hold in our thoughts someone who we aspire to be more like, one who embodies the true essence of living in a state of grace: compassion, loving kindness, humor, respect of self and others, sense of peace and well-being.  When we are living in a state of gratitude, stress cannot exist there, nor can fear, anger, frustration, shame or any other number of emotions that ultimately do not serve our wellbeing.  When we live in a state of grace and gratitude, we more easily return to homeostasis, equilibrium and balance.  In closing, I’d like to share a TedTalk by Louie Schwartzberg entitled Gratitude http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXDMoiEkyuQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

I’ve shared it with friends and clients alike and I never tire of watching it.  I hope you enjoy it too, as well as some good sleep during your holidays!

Be Well,

Lisa M. Thompson, NTP

Lisa can be reached at lthompson@thebodywellusa.com

Why Are We So Afraid of Testosterone?

There’s a tremendous amount of information out there on testosterone these days.  Even a cursory internet search and you can find yourself down a rabbit hole full of benefits, risks, legality, muscle men, prostate cancer, athlete abuse, and ambulance chasing lawyers.  It can quickly become so complicated that you may just sigh and walk away.

So I’d like to address some of your questions and hopefully bring you to a better understanding of this remarkable hormone.

But one thing first.

I’m biased.

I’m biased because I’ve been practicing Age Management and Hormonal Optimization for over 10 years.  I know the research.  The real research.  I have also seen testosterone transform lives when responsibly and appropriately prescribed.  It’s the reason I love what I do and why I want to share some of what I know with you.

Here are some of the questions people frequently ask me:

Why should I care about testosterone?

Testosterone is a crucial hormone in how your body functions.  For most of us, the amount of testosterone our body produces starts to decrease around the age of 30.

This poor hormone has gotten a bad reputation over time due to abuse & overuse in professional sports and bodybuilding, as well as by the media who tend to demonize it.  But the truth is it’s extremely beneficial to your health when it’s prescribed by a hormone specialist and taken in controlled, therapeutic replacement doses.

Why should I consider taking testosterone?  Shouldn’t I just let my hormone levels fall as I age? 

Think about it this way:  Medical problems develop over time for all of us.  You get treated for these issues so you can feel better and continue to function the best way possible, right?

For example, if your vision starts to decline, you go to an eye specialist and get glasses or contact lenses prescribed.  Or if you develop a cavity in your tooth, you go to the dentist to get a filling in order to relieve your suffering and not let a bad problem get worse.

Shouldn’t the same hold true for hormonal decline?

So what does testosterone do exactly?

It’s commonly known that testosterone can help you to build muscle and boost sex drive. Both are true.  But here are some other important benefits of testosterone:

Cardiovascular health:  Did you know that the highest concentration of testosterone receptors is in the heart?  It improves overall cardiovascular function, improves cholesterol levels and is associated with decreased plaque size in arteries.  It’s an absolutely critical hormone for cardiovascular health.

Bone Density: Testosterone helps maintain bone density and decreases fracture risk.  It’s a key player in preventing osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Memory and Brain Health:  Low testosterone levels may cause you to experience a decreased sense of well-being, depressed mood, heightened anxiety, and low energy.  Additionally, you run a higher risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenrative disorders with low testosterone.  Testosterone replacement therapy improves mood in men and women with low testosterone.  People treated with supplemental testosterone experienced a decrease in anger, sadness, fatigue, nervousness, as well as increased energy and friendliness.  In fact, the number one reported benefit in those who receive testosterone therapy is an overall better sense of well-being.  They just feel better.

I thought testosterone treatment was just for men. Can women can benefit too?

Testosterone is often associated with men, but yes, it’s a key hormone in women too.  In fact, a healthy young woman produces 300 micrograms of testosterone per day.  As it does with men, it stimulates sexual desire, increases libido, heightens arousal and increases sexual satisfaction.  Testosterone also helps women to maintain bone density, muscle mass, body composition and improves energy levels.

So why all the fear about testosterone if it’s so great?

In my opinion, testosterone has to be prescribed by a physician who knows the research. There are several different forms of testosterone therapy. There are injections, creams, pellets, gels, and alternative medications that signal your body to produce more of it’s own testosterone.  Many doctors use a single approach without full consideration of which form is best for an individual patient. For example, most physicians don’t know that injectable testosterone can lower your HDL (good) cholesterol…that’s the one you want as high as possible.  This doesn’t happen with the other forms of replacement,  So if you’re a patient with already low HDL, your doctor could unknowingly make a bad situation worse by prescribing testosterone injections.  Another example is that for men who want to preserve fertility, there are alternatives medications to optimize your testosterone levels that will not decrease sperm production like testosterone can.

Also, with all of the “Low T”clinics springing up across the country, there is a trend toward treating testosterone levels as if it were the only hormone in the body.  Testosterone is only one of the key hormones that need to be addressed. Your hormones interact together in profound ways.  Prescribing testosterone alone without addressing your other key hormones (DHEA, growth hormone, cortisol, thyroid, insulin, LH, estrogen, etc.) is like changing a flat tire on a car that may have no oil in it. It’s only addressing part of the problem.

So how do I know if my testosterone (or other hormones) are low?

My best advice is to have a comprehensive hormone panel done by a physician who specializes in optimizing hormones.  That’s your best bet.  With all due respect to your general physician, most are not educated in how to comprehensively address hormonal deficiencies in a way that best serves you.

You can find Hormone Optimization Specialists here:

https://www.agemed.org/ActiveAMMEFPhysicianDirectory/tabid/1163/language/en-US/Default.aspx

or email me for an evaluation or more information at doctormike@thebodywellusa.com

Read This If You Want More Sleep, Sex, Stamina or Strength

Which of the following 4 ‘Ss’ do you suffer from?

  • Poor Sleep?
  • Lack of Stamina?
  • Low Sex drive or sexual function?
  • Declining Strength?

Traditional medicine does a lousy job at treating these problems.  Why?  Because most physicians – yes, even your doctor  – are neither trained nor knowledgeable about a key component of how these problems should be evaluated.  What is that key component? Your body’s hormonal status.

Hormones scare people. They scare doctors. Why? Because of misinterpretation of research and because of media hype.

“Hormones cause cancer!” or  ”Hormones cause heart attacks and strokes!” are some of the frightening things we hear about hormones. 

Sound familiar?

So what most doctors do is rather than look at the studies more closely, or look at the full body of research, most doctors steer clear.  In my opinion, they are doing you the greatest disservice. The right kind and dose of hormones not only can dramatically change your quality of life and improve or ameliorate the symptoms of aging – they can also SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE your risk of cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

What do hormones have to do with aging?

Declining hormones are key players in the development of the symptoms of aging and disease progression, so a thorough hormonal evaluation by a physician knowledgeable in their decline should be part of your finding a solution.

You see, as we get older, our bodies produce lower levels of critical hormones needed for stamina, sleep, sex drive and function, and strength.  As well as many other key quality of life measures. Some of these hormones are: testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH), estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, thyroid hormone, and melatonin.

Meanwhile, as we age, we start to increase the production of hormones that are ideally kept at lower levels – typically our fat storing hormones like insulin and cortisol. When this happens, we start to see and feel the effects of aging.

Though it may seem that these hormones decline because of aging, the opposite is actually true. Many of the problems related to age are caused by declining hormone levels, and bringing those hormones back to their optimal state can slow down and even reverse many of the effects that aging has on your body.  And at the same time reduce your risk of chronic, degenerative diseases.

Check this out: hormone levels start declining as early as our 20s:

How do these hormones affect the aging process?

Your hormones have a wide variety of crucial roles in your body and affect things like:

  • Stamina
  • Sex drive and sexual function
  • Sleep
  • Strength and endurance
  • Body composition
  • Bone health
  • Brain function
  • Cellular health
  • Gastrointestinal health
  • Growth and tissue repair
  • Heart health
  • Mood balance

If your hormone levels are declining (and if you are aging, they are), your body becomes less capable of regulating these functions. As a result, you might experience many symptoms that are often attributed to growing older, such as:

  • Cognitive decline
  • Decreased muscle strength and endurance
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Hot flashes
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular menses
  • Low energy
  • Low sex drive
  • Mood changes
  • Weight gain

What can you do about hormonal decline?

Don’t wait until it’s too late!

If you notice any of the signs and symptoms above, blood tests can be used to determine your hormone levels. An Age Management specialist can test levels of all the hormones involved in the aging process and inform/treat you if any of yours may have fallen below (or above) an optimal range.

Once your hormones have been measured, hormone replacement therapy can help you return your hormones to optimal levels. This will help to reduce or resolve many of the problems you may be experiencing.

Hormonal optimization and replacement is important in order to maintain healthy levels of each of the hormones your body produces. This will help to reduce your risk and prevent chronic degenerative disease while allowing you to function at optimally at any age.

If Your Doctor Tells You You’re Normal, Say “That’s Not Good Enough!”

Do you want to be “NORMAL” or do you want to be:

OPTIMAL?

VIGOROUS?

AMAZING?

UNFORGETTABLE?

I know what the answer is for me. And I bet it’s the same answer for you.

One of the most frequent questions I get from clients is “I went to see my regular doctor and he told me my hormone levels are normal.  We checked everything and he said everything is fine.  So why do I feel so lousy? Why am I so tired? Why is my sleep so poor? Why is my sex drive lower than it used to be? Why does my recovery from exercise take so long? Why am I so irritable?”

Well, the answer to this depends on what you define as normal.

How is “normal” defined?

In general, most doctors consider normal levels to be those ranges revealed in a blood test that the lab designates to a certain hormone. For example, if you’re getting your testosterone levels tested, a normal total testosterone value is often used. The “normal” range for testosterone is roughly between 300 to 1200 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter). If you fall anywhere in this range, you’re told your level is normal.

Here’s where the problems start.

Problem 1: The Gap

That’s a pretty big gap between the two numbers! It says that someone who has a level of 300 ng/dL is essentially the same as someone who has a level of 1200 ng/dL. It doesn’t say anything about what is normal FOR YOU.  Nor does it consider that your level may have been 3 or 4 times higher a few years ago. You may have symptoms because your level should be higher than it is even though your level falls in the “normal” range.  Normal for you may not be the same as normal for me. We are all different, and this should be acknowledged.

Problem 2: Who is defining “normal?”

Second, who comes up with the “normal” range?  These ranges were calculated in the past by taking the testosterone levels of a sampling of guys with ages ranging anywhere from about 19 to 90. Their health and fitness levels varied anywhere from fit to obese. The healthy 19 year old levels were more on the high end of the chart, while the older guys were at the lower end. So, it was concluded by the powers that be that it is “normal” for older men to have much lower testosterone levels than younger guys. But do you want to be compared with any old (or young) guy? Regardless of any underlying medical problems they may have? I don’t! I want my hormone levels to be compared with healthy, optimally performing men, or even more importantly with ME and how I feel.

Optimal hormone levels are the levels associated with the highest quality of life, the lowest incidence of symptoms, the lowest risk of degenerative disease, and the best health outcomes. That’s where I want my levels to be.

Problem 3: Your doctor needs to be checking the right hormones

Your doctor should be looking at the right hormone levels in the first place.  Sadly, they’re often not.  Testosterone is a perfect example. Most doctors look at total testosterone, when they should be looking at free testosterone, which is the testosterone that is actually available to do all the things you want it to do in your body.  I see many patients with high total testosterone levels (“My doctor says my level is great…”) and low free testosterone levels (“…so why do I feel so lousy?”). It’s important the right levels are being looked at in the first place!

So who should you go to for lab testing and to discuss your hormone levels?

It may be challenging for you to discuss normal versus optimal hormone levels with your regular doctor, as he or she may not be familiar with or has not researched enough to give you the best advice. That’s why when having your hormone levels tested, it’s important for you to find a physician that specializes in hormone optimization in order to be better informed and treated for any hormonal deficiencies. And most traditional doctors do not have the time to sit down with you for an hour or more to come up with a comprehensive individual treatment plan specific to your needs.

Just as you should see an orthopedist to fix an injured shoulder or a cardiologist for heart issues, you should see a physician who specializes in hormonal optimization to evaluate and treat you.  And since traditional endocrinologists specialize in treating hormonal diseases, you are better off seeing an Age Management Medicine physician to advise and comprehensively treat you when you’re not diseased, but are suffering from the signs and symptoms of hormonal decline.

Hormones do not act alone

Lastly, there are so many different hormones in your body. Each does not exist in a vacuum. They play together like instruments in an orchestra, working together to create an amazing you. They should be comprehensively addressed, along with looking at nutrition, exercise and lifestyle, since all of these contribute to your overall hormonal health.  Your body and health cannot be summed up or improved by testing one or two numbers.

Optimizing hormone levels can help you look and feel better as well as rejuvenate tissue and help you feel more youthful and vigorous.

So if you’re being told by your doctor that “normal” for your age is fatigue, low sex drive, depression, increased body fat, loss of muscle mass and poor quality of sleep, turn around and run.

You deserve better.

For an evaluation with Dr. Carragher, please call (323) 874-9355 or email drmike@thebodywellusa.com