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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!

Micronutrients: The Building Blocks of Women’s Health

Wednesday, 11 Jul 2018

As a woman, you have unique health needs. Menstruation, PMS, pregnancy, menopause, and osteoporosis are all conditions we brave as women, and each of us experiences these phases of life differently. Body composition, genetics, and environmental factors all play a hand in how your body ages and responds.

For some, adopting a positive lifestyle of regular exercise and good nutrition is key to maintaining optimum health in both mind and body. At her medical office in Sugar Land, Dr. Julia Ward provides holistic options to help women age gracefully and in good health.

One aspect of her medical practice involves the role of micronutrients and how they affect our health.

Micronutrients are the building blocks of nutrition — the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly, especially during those seasons when your body is struggling with the added stresses of a period, pregnancy, or menopause.

How would you know if you’re deficient in micronutrients?

Micronutrient Testing
There are many signs that your body lacks micronutrients, including muscles cramps, unusual fatigue, and even heart palpitations. Dr. Ward will first rule out specific illnesses that may cause similar symptoms.

Once a serious illness is ruled out and set aside, Dr. Ward can take a closer look at possible root causes. With a simple blood test she can examine your white blood cells and analyze any nutritional deficiencies that may be the cause of your symptoms.

The fact is, it’s not always practical for women in their ultra-busy lives to eat the foods that will provide them with the essential daily nutrients they need for good health. Moreover, other conditions can reduce a woman’s appetite. Feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed can prevent women from fulfilling their dietary needs.

With services such as IV nutritional therapy, women can obtain the nutritional boost they need to cope with everything from their changing hormones to other health-related conditions.

Maintaining Health
Women have specific health needs and should address them with someone who understands a woman’s unique chemistry. Call Balanced Body Image  at (281) 710-3380 and request a free consultation, or start with a free nutritional health score. It’s time to get your health back on track!

Let’s Talk about Gut Health and IBD

Wednesday, 11 Jul 2018

It’s not a general topic of conversation and nobody really wants to discuss IBD. It may not be pleasant, but it’s a fact of life.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is one of those subjects that many are living with but few want to talk about. It’s a close cousin to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and you may already know the symptoms: bloating, gas, cramps, constipation, and sometimes diarrhea. IBD is an umbrella term that encompasses illnesses the affect the gut such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Digestive health is often overlooked until it starts causing chronic distress, but did you know that your gut supports many bodily functions such as the immune system, sleep, your mood, skin clarity and much more?

Let’s unpack the specifics and learn more about IBD and gut health.

What exactly is IBD?

Inflammatory bowel disease refers to long-term disorders that cause the digestive tract to become irritated. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common and names you may recognize.

Doctors can’t say for sure yet what causes inflammatory bowel disease. They know that your risk goes up if you smoke, take certain anti-inflammatory medications, or live in a highly industrialized area. This suggests that there might be environmental factors that contribute.

However, professionals have also discovered that many people diagnosed with IBD are younger and that risk goes up if someone else in your family has the disease. This points to genetic or biological components.

Symptoms
If you have inflammatory bowel disease, you might experience:

  • Abdominal pain and/or cramping
  • Bloating and frequent gas
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea

All of these issues can cause you to shed pounds without trying. Irritated bowel tissue also can bleed, which can show up as bloody stool. And because the immune system and your metabolism are so closely tied to your gut, it’s also common to experience fever and fatigue with IBD, too.

A better approach to IBD
IBD is nothing to be ignored, and getting an accurate diagnosis and early treatment is essential.

At her functional medicine practice in Sugar Land, Dr. Julia Ward may prescribe a variety of diagnostic procedures such as blood tests, a colonoscopy, or an imaging test like an MRI.

If Dr. Ward confirms IBD, you might benefit from medications, supplements or, in the worst case scenario, surgery. But as a physician who believes in a holistic approach, Dr. Ward may also incorporate options such as IV nutritional therapy and micronutrient testing into IBD care.

Stress relief techniques and dietary changes may be included, as well. These choices can help analyze gut performance and support faster healing, all while taking your individual biology and lifestyle into consideration.

To make your appointment with Dr. Ward and reclaim your intestinal health, contact Balanced Body Image today at (281) 710-3380.

Facts about Functional Medicine

Friday, 01 Jun 2018

Have you heard about functional medicine? Julia Ward, MD, a primary care physician in Sugar Land, would like to introduce you to this holistic way of restoring health.

Functional medicine considers each individual as a whole — including nutritional habits, vitamin deficiencies, hormones, and sleep patterns — and searches for the underlying causes of illness. A doctor who practices functional medicine will uncover what may have caused the illness to begin with, and then determine how to best restore function and vitality.

For example, imagine you have a chronic condition like asthma. (The term “chronic” means that it’s persistent and long-lasting). In traditional medicine, you would see a doctor for an evaluation, diagnosis, and medication to control your asthma.

A functional medicine doctor looks deeper, beyond just the medication. The solution may also include supplements, bioidentical hormones, and nutritional therapy, as well.

With over 20 years of experience as a primary care physician, Dr. Ward practices functional medicine in Sugar Land, partnering with her patients for a more holistic approach to treating chronic illness. Having experienced functional medicine as a patient herself, Dr. Ward truly believes it is the most effective way to bring patients to better health and wellness.

How?

All of our body’s systems are intricately connected, and what affects one system may cause illness in another. Here are a few examples:

  • Adrenal fatigue, caused when adrenal glands are overworked and depleted (most often due to chronic stress and poor diet), can lead to tiredness and decreased functioning.
  • Poor digestive health, brought on by unhealthy choices in food, bacteria, and antibiotics, often leads to “leaky gut” and an impaired immune system. Your body may not process hormones, vitamins and minerals properly, leading to a host of medical concerns.

With a careful assessment including medical history, examination and screenings, Dr. Ward can get at the root cause of your illness and help you overcome it.

Now back to our asthma example.

Chronic wheezing can be caused by a number of things, including allergens, pollutants, food additives, reflux, and stress. Dr. Ward may recommend lifestyle changes to help you overcome the chronic asthma for good, including supplements to boost your immune health and energy, an eating plan to help heal your digestive tract, and help for managing the stress in your life.

Functional medicine considers every aspect of your body’s care. Would you like to know more?

Schedule time to meet with Dr. Ward at her medical practice, Balanced Body Image, in Sugar Land, Texas. It’s her goal to help patients live fulfilled, productive, and healthy lives.

Contact Balanced Body Image at 281-710-3380 today.

Probiotics and Digestive Health

Friday, 01 Jun 2018

Many of us spend a good part of each day washing our hands to avoid potentially harmful germs, so the notion that we should be eating bacteria might be confusing. Yet, according to digestive health specialists, that’s precisely what we should do! “Good” bacteria helps to combat the “bad” bacteria found in the gut, which is often the source of digestive troubles and other health issues. By infusing your diet with the good bacteria found in probiotics, you can prevent, and even treat, some health conditions.

The Importance of Gut Health
Keeping the digestive tract healthy is a cornerstone of good health in general. The body’s immune system, for one, is linked to the digestive tract, and when gut health is suffering, there’s a strong likelihood the immune system is too.

Many digestive problems, like heartburn or diarrhea, also occur when there is an imbalance of bacteria. This is often the result of a poor diet that’s high in sugars, alcohol, and caffeine, which can cause bad bacteria to quickly multiply and cause digestive discomfort.

“Good” bacteria wages war on the bad, and when in good supply, can bring your body into a better, more healthful balance. Probiotics can help relieve all sorts of digestive troubles including heartburn, gas and diarrhea.

Good Gut Health and Beyond
Numerous medical studies have demonstrated that the benefits of probiotics extend beyond the gut.

First, probiotics support the immune system, which results in a more robust defense against infections. Some studies have also shown that probiotics may help prevent common ailments like yeast infections. Other benefits of a diet rich in probiotics may include better skin health and weight loss.

Holistic Treatments for Gut Health
At Balanced Body Image, a functional medicine practice in Sugar Land, Dr. Julia Ward employs holistic strategies to help patients achieve optimal gut health.

In many cases, Dr. Ward prescribes probiotics to help restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract. She may also suggest lifestyle changes and better choices in food and beverages to promote better health.

Are you experiencing chronic digestive issues? Consider a holistic approach to your health. Contact Balanced Body Image at 281.710.3380.