Menopause, Symptoms, and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Monday, 23 Jul 2018

Menopause — the time of life that all women anticipate. It can be the cause of a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms – from hot flashes to mood swings – that can make life miserable.

While there’s really no avoiding menopause, there are simple lifestyle changes that may make symptoms more manageable. Holistic medicine, designed with a whole-patient approach to medical care, considers every aspect of the mind and body for overall health and wellness. Julia Ward, MD specializes in holistic medicine in Sugar Land, and it’s her mission to offer natural and healthy alternatives – including symptom relief during menopause.

Common Menopause Symptoms

Some of the more common symptoms women may experience during menopause include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular periods
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Night sweats
  • Low libido
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain

Not everyone experiences symptoms in the same way; however, if you or someone you love has experienced some of the more unpleasant symptoms of menopause, you might already realize how disruptive they can be.

How Hormone Replacement Therapy Helps

During menopause your body stops producing certain hormones. The result is that your hormone levels may become unbalanced, which is the underlying cause for many of the symptoms women experience. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) often helps.

Conventional HRT uses synthetic or animal-based hormones, which aren’t the same as naturally occurring human hormones. The result is that the body often doesn’t recognize the artificial hormones, so women may not notice any improvement at all.

By comparison, bioidentical HRT at Balanced Body Image uses hormones that are identical on a molecular level to the hormones that women’s bodies need to function at their best.

As a primary care physician who specializes in holistic medicine, Dr. Ward may also suggest some other natural ways to help reduce the severity of menopause symptoms. For example, incorporating more exercise into your day and making sure you get a good night’s sleep can help too.

Likewise, making healthy food choices may help manage symptoms more effectively. Add more fresh fruit and vegetables into your meal plans. Drink more water (and less soda or caffeinated drinks) to help reduce bloating. Micronutrient testing at our Sugar Land medical spa can help determine nutritional deficiencies; IV nutritional therapy may restore the proper balance.

Call Dr. Ward at Balanced Body Image today — and discuss how bioidentical HRT can help you look better, feel better and live better!

Diabetes, Lifestyle Changes, and You

Monday, 23 Jul 2018

Diabetes has become increasingly common in the United States today. You probably know someone (or it may even be you) who has been diagnosed with it.

What exactly is this disease and why is it so rampant? There are two types of diabetes, and for many, lifestyle changes can make a significant difference when it comes to getting this disease under control. At Balanced Body Image, a metabolic health practice in Sugar Land, Dr. Julia Ward helps her patients understand their bodies, symptoms, and overall health — and the lifestyle changes that may help improve it.

First, let’s dive in and learn more about diabetes.

The two types of diabetes
You may have heard about “Type 1″ and “Type 2” diabetes. What’s the difference?

With Type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t make insulin, which is the hormone that helps glucose move from your bloodstream to the cells that power your body. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have Type 1. If you are within that number, your doctor may prescribe insulin therapy.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body makes insulin but doesn’t use it properly. You become resistant to the insulin that is available. The pancreas tries to pump out more insulin to accommodate the problem, but over time, it simply can’t make enough.

Regain control with lifestyle changes
No matter which type of diabetes you have, lifestyle changes may help you keep your blood sugar closer to target levels. As a holistic medicine physician, Dr. Ward not only practices evidence based medicine, but she also seeks natural ways to help her patients return to health.

For example, she counsels her patients to make changes in what they eat and how they exercise. Swapping refined sugars (such as white bread and soda) for complex carbs (like vegetables and whole grains) and pairing them with protein will release the glucose into the bloodstream more slowly. Smaller, more frequent meals often help to keep blood sugar levels constant, as well.

Exercise helps with diabetes because it increases insulin sensitivity; that means your cells are able to absorb and use glucose more easily. You don’t have to be a weight lifter; even just 30 minutes each day of light to moderate exercise (such as walking or biking) will help.

Supplementing everyday care
Dr. Ward works with her patients from day one to develop a nutrition and exercise regimen that fits specific diabetes requirements. Would you like to learn more about diabetes? Contact Balanced Body Image in Sugar Land at (281) 710-3380 or click here to request an appointment.

Fighting Fatigue?

Monday, 23 Jul 2018

Chronic fatigue affects many aspects of life. More than just an “I’m tired” feeling, fatigue can also be very debilitating. It’s like carrying around 50 pounds of wet towels on a hot day. You feel completely zapped, and no matter how much you “rest”, you never quite recover.

We’ve all experienced that feeling, and let’s face it. Life’s hectic pace of work, school, kids, and pets can leave you feeling totally drained. But before you blame your lifestyle, know that many health conditions can cause fatigue too.

Knowing the root cause of your fatigue is key, and when it begins to affect your quality of life, it may be time to consult a physician. Julia Ward, MD, is a family practice doctor who specializes in holistic medicine in Sugar Land. It’s her mission to help her patients feel better and live better – and that includes overcoming the draining effects of fatigue.

Her first step? To find the cause.

What Causes Fatigue?

It’s important to first determine if an illness is the cause of the fatigue. Dr. Ward may order diagnostic tests, such as blood tests, to help her detect the reason. If an illness is discovered, she’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Sometimes, though, fatigue is caused by a poor diet and hectic routine. When your body doesn’t get all of the nutrients it needs on a regular basis, you may start to feel sluggish and tired.

Micronutrient testing provides Dr. Ward with details about the vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids nourishing your body. If you’re deplete in any of these areas, Dr. Ward may recommend IV nutritional therapy. Far more effective than supplements, this outpatient procedure delivers nutrients directly into your bloodstream for immediate results.

Nutrition isn’t the only way to combat fatigue.

Our bodies are often fraught with toxins obtained in the very air we breathe and water we drink. Poor diets can lead to toxic buildup, as well, which makes it difficult for your liver and kidneys to perform efficiently. Detoxification removes heavy metal and environmental toxins from your body, and the result is invariably a feeling of rejuvenation and renewed energy.

Hormone imbalance is another possible cause of fatigue. If diagnostic tests reveal this is the case, bioidentical hormone replacement is a natural way to safely restore energy.

Working Together for Better Health

As your partner in health, Dr. Ward will work closely with you to identify the source of your fatigue. Then together, you’ll decide on treatment options that will restore you to health. It may be medication, but also supplements, nutritional therapy, bioidentical hormones, or other holistic approaches.

Schedule time to meet with Dr. Ward or contact us for more information. If you’re fighting fatigue, we’ll go into the battle with you!

The Pros and Cons of Protein

Monday, 23 Jul 2018

Without a doubt, good nutrition is vital to health and wellness. What you eat and drink has a significant impact on how your body functions and feels.

We’re inundated daily with ads for diet plans and programs that are “guaranteed” to help you drop inches and transform your body. These days, the buzzwords are “high protein” and “ketogenic”. With all of these hot trends and information overload, how do you know what is actually good for your health?

At her functional medical practice in Sugar Land, Balanced Body Image, Dr. Julia Ward helps you break it down.

High protein benefits

Nutritionists often recommend high protein diets because, with fewer carbohydrates available, your body is forced to burn fat for energy. This process, known as ketosis, is thought to support weight loss. Protein can also help you feel satisfied and full, so you may not be as tempted to continue eating (and consuming more calories).

Protein is required for many bodily processes too. In addition to building muscle, protein helps manufacture hormones, repair and build skin and bone, and produce enzymes that are involved in thousands of biological chemical reactions. Proteins also help strengthen your immune system.

Current research is also investigating the positive effect of a ketogenic diet in Alzheimer’s disease.

Potential drawbacks

Consuming a high protein diet may come with some risk, though. Consider the source of your protein. If you’re cutting back on carbs in favor of red meat and full-fat dairy, you may be increasing your fat/cholesterol intake – which is not so great for your risk of heart disease. High protein diets may also be hard on kidney function.

Fully eliminating carbs from your meals may also mean that you’re not eating enough natural fiber. Insufficient fiber can cause constipation.

The bottom line

Always consult a physician before putting yourself on a high protein diet. At Balanced Body Image, Dr. Ward addresses every aspect of your health, including nutrition and healthy eating.

Services she offers at her Sugar Land medical spa, like micronutrient testing, assess nutritional deficiencies – and help Dr. Ward determine the best nutritional course for your optimal health.

To learn more about your health and ideal nutrition, contact Balanced Body Image today!

Take Your Health to Heart

Wednesday, 11 Jul 2018

February is traditionally know as heart health month, and it’s a great time to polish your knowledge about heart disease and the symptoms of heart attack. While you might be aware of the more obvious signs of a heart attack, like chest pain, are you familiar with all of the symptoms? Would you know what to do?

Dr. Julia Ward, a functional medicine physician in Sugar Land, encourages everyone to be prepared and be aware.

Know the Signs

The American Heart Association is a great resource for learning the signs of a heart attack. Recognizing the symptoms, and calling 911 immediately, can make all the difference: Act quickly if you feel:

  • Chest discomfort, tightness or pain
  • Discomfort or pain in the upper back, one or both arms, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness

If you or someone you are with experiences any of these symptoms, don’t delay. Even if you’re not sure whether it’s a heart attack or not, call 911 immediately. It’s far better to take action quickly and be sure — than to delay and risk a life.

Improve Your Heart Health

Dr. Ward offers holistic medicine in Sugar Land at her practice, Balanced Body Image. She offers these healthy lifestyle changes that can help prevent heart disease and reduce your risk of having a heart attack.

Some simple things you can do to improve your heart health include:

  • Monitor your cholesterol levels. If they are a little high, work on making healthier food choices and adding exercise to your day. Dr. Ward can show you how.
  • Keep an eye on your blood pressure. It’s estimated that one in three American adults has hypertension, or high blood pressure, which can cause damage to the heart and artery walls. If your blood pressure is high, there are some things you can do to bring it back under control.
  • Get moving. Make a plan to add a little more physical activity into each day. There’s no need to join a gym to work exercise into your daily routine; just try to find simple activities that get your body moving. Take a walk in the sunshine. Pull weeds in the garden. Stroll the mall before heading into the store. Dance around to some of your favorite tunes. You’ll be increasing your fitness level and strengthening your respiratory system and your heart muscles too.
  • Choose food wisely. Adding more fresh fruit and vegetables into your daily meals helps fuel your body with essential nutrients. Limit fatty food, fried food, and sugary or processed meals and snacks.

Learn more about lifestyle changes to improve not only your heart health, but your overall well-being too. Dr. Ward and the team at Balanced Body Image in Sugar Land will help you get on the right path for healthy aging.

Call us at (281) 710-3380 and take the first step.

Don’t Like to Exercise? Here are 6 Reasons Why You Might Want to Reconsider.

Wednesday, 11 Jul 2018

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health – and that’s one of the reasons why Dr. Julia Ward recommends it to her patients! To make sure you’re convinced it’s worthwhile, let’s look a little deeper at what regular workouts — even shorter, low-impact ones — can do for you.

  • Weight loss
    Even gentle forms of exercise, like walking and yoga, will burn calories. And if you exercise vigorously, your metabolism will stay revved up long after your workout is over.
  • Cardiovascular conditioning
    As you perform physical activity, your muscles require oxygen. Your heart has to pump blood to get the oxygen where it’s needed. Over time, the heart gets stronger so that it can get more blood through the body with each pump. This means you don’t get fatigued as easily and can keep doing the activity longer. At the same time, exercise positively influences the health of your arteries, reducing bad cholesterol and improving the production of nitric oxide necessary for keeping the arteries smooth and relaxed. This conditioning helps you even outside your workouts and reduces your odds of heart disease and stroke.
  • Better sleep
    Although doctors are still studying the exact mechanisms, research shows that people who exercise regularly fall asleep faster, sleep slightly longer, and enjoy higher quality rest. Who couldn’t use more zzzz’s?
  • Improved mood
    Exercise releases endorphins, those “feel good” hormones that help us deal with tension and stress. Exercise is also a simple distraction. Studies show that exercise can improve symptoms of both depression and anxiety.
  • Better mental functioning
    As with sleep, professionals are unpacking the “why” behind the improved brain performance that exercise brings. The production of specific hormones and proteins might play a substantial role in supporting better focus and memory.
  • Disease control
    Exercise can reduce insulin resistance, decreasing the odds that you’ll develop diabetes. It may also have a positive effect on your immune system by changing the release of stress hormones, flushing bacteria out of airways, mildly shifting body temperature, and helping antibodies and white blood cells circulate well.

Exercise does not require any fancy equipment, tons of space, or even lots of time. Even a 30-minute walk with your dog or a race with your toddler will help!

If you’re not sure where to start, contact Balanced Body Image today. Dr. Ward will work with you to develop an exercise and nutrition plan for a happier, healthier you!