Add nutrients and flavor to your holiday meal with leafy greens.

There’s been a lot of talk about making cities, buildings and cards more “green.” But how about making your diet greener by enjoying a heaping helping of leafy green vegetables such as arugula, romaine lettuce, mesclun mix (or “spring mix”), spinach, kale, collard, turnip and mustard greens, watrecress, chard, broccoli rabe and Chinese broccoli. With so many options, it’s easy to make leafy greens a more prominent part of your plate — and there’s no better time to do so than the holiday season, when rich, sugary foods tend to dominate family meals, buffets and party menus.

green-vegetables

Green, leafy vegetables are a must-have this Thanksgiving since they give you a bigger ‘bang for your buck’: They are nutrient-dense but not energy-dense (higher in calories), so you get all the benefits of vitamins, minerals and fiber without all the calories.

How nutritious are they? For starters, they’re high in antioxidants such as vitamin A and vitamin C, and rich in vitamin K, potassium and iron. They also serve as a great source of fiber. These nutrients provide many benefits, such as boosting the immune system during those cold winter months and keeping the heart healthy. They may even work toward cancer prevention.

The natural fiber in leafy greens can help you feel satisfied longer because the nutrients remain in the stomach longer with the fiber. That satisfied feeling can also lead to decreased overall caloric consumption and, potentially, weight loss.

Do you want more energy?

Do you want to feel better, look better, and experience a longer, more active and more fulfilled life? Do you want to have more energy throughout the day and improve the quality of your life?

By working regular, moderate exercise into your daily routine, you can have all of that and more. And, your FirstLine Therapy® (FLT) healthcare provider or lifestyle educator can create a program that’s just right for you. This program incorporates an optimal food plan, supplements, exercise, and stress relief.

Use It or Lose It

Exercise is a crucial component of re-gaining your energy. Recent research has shown that physical deterioration and lack of function associated with aging is largely due to an inactive lifestyle. We’ve all heard, “Use it or lose it,” and while many of us are “losing” physical function because we don’t exercise, we are also increasing our chances of degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis.

Regular exercise not only gives you a better body shape, but it:

• Increases your body’s metabolic rate—you burn more calories even after you have stopped exercising
• Increases your body’s percent of lean muscle versus percent of body fat
• Improves your insulin sensitivity
• Lowers your cholesterol levels
• Lowers your risk of chronic disease
• Increases your energy and vitality
• Improves your quality of sleep
• Reduces stress and tension
• Elevates your mood
• Increases your mental performance

 Start at Your Own Pace and Have Fun

Go for a walk in nature or join the local gym. Choose a satisfying activity—like yoga—that’ll include all three aspects of fitness: aerobic, strength, and flexibility. Whatever type of fitness program you and your FLT healthcare provider create, incorporate what you enjoy. Have fun in the sun or hike the hills—dive into a deep pool or jog with your dog!

Contact Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine today at 773.435.1150 to start the FLT journey, so you can feel the benefits of being fit—and live a long, healthy life!

Low Glycemic Summer Drink Recipe

Mango Lassi
(serves 4)

100 calories, 21 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 1 g fat

2 mangos, partially frozen
1 cup plain yogurt

Peel and dice mangos. Place in freezer to partially freeze for about 30-45 minutes (or use frozen mangos, partially thawed). Puree in food processor. Add plain yogurt slowly to the desired consistency (approximately 1 cup) and puree. Serve at once in chilled glasses.

Belly fat can be hazardous to health

That spare tire is nothing to hold onto because it can put you at greater risk to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, especially for middle age men and women. It’s never too late to take action. Help your body get back in healthy shape.

Our FirstLine Therapy (FLT) program will help you break the cycle that’s breaking you. FLT addresses underlying factors to improve your health in subtle ways that collectively make a big difference. Learn how to enjoy the foods you already love to help your body perform the way it should, and how just minutes of simple exercise can work wonders.

FirstLine Therapy medical food UltraMeal Plus 360° is formulated to complement a scientifically designed food plan, targeting multiple pathways in the body’s blood sugar and inflammatory processes linked to metabolic syndrome and other cardiovascular-related illnesses. So you can manage current conditions and reduce your risk to developing more serious ones. The FLT Program demonstrated greater effectiveness than diet and exercise alone.

In two landmark clinical studies, the FirstLine Therapy Program showed significant improvements in recognized risk markers for heart and blood sugar related disorders in just 12 weeks. Unlike many conventional approaches that carry greater risk of serious adverse effects, no such events have been reported with FLT. Why? Because the FirstLine Therapy therapeutic lifestyle program is research-based and the medical food contains only natural ingredients manufactured to higher quality standards.

Soon after starting the FLT program, people often report increased energy and the ability to do more of the things they enjoy. Don’t let your belly fat get in your way any longer.

Manage your health risks by taking action now. The FirstLine Therapy Program has been clinically shown to:

• Reduce weight
• Improve blood pressure
• Improve cholesterol & triglycerides
• Improve other heart disease risks

If you want to take control of your life, contact Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine at 773.435.1150 or email us at info@fltchicago.com

Change Your Health with our FirstLine Therapy Metabolic Syndrome Program

The FirstLine Therapy Program is a professionally supervised, personalized lifestyle modification plan for Metabolic Syndrome. Designed by healthcare professionals, this program has been shown remarkably successful in helping individuals like you return to a path of extended health.

This is not a weight reduction program — it’s a disease reduction program. While weight loss often occurs, it’s only secondary to the primary goal helping you achieve and maintain a healthy body composition (lean-muscle-to-fat ratio) to improve health, manage disease, feel better, and reduce your risk of more serious conditions.

The Support You Need to Succeed  

FirstLine Therapy Is different. It’s structured with professional supervision to help you:
• Establish realistic, personalized goals to improve health
• Monitor your progress and help you stay on track
• Learn how to eat and shop for healthy, nutritious foods that manage food cravings
• Exercise in a way that builds muscle and gets rid of unwanted fat
• Relax and manage unhealthy stress
• Feel better and do more!

An Apple a Day is Good for the Heart

A recent study from the Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center found that eating one apple a day for four weeks significantly lowered oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, which has been linked with atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart disease.

Researchers credit the might of the apple to its powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants have been found to reduce inflammation, promote healthy arteries and help fight aging by preventing and repairing cellular damage. A diet high in fiber, found in fresh fruits and vegetables, can help prevent the development of chronic illness.

Body Composition and Your Health

More than 60% of the U.S. adult population is overweight and over 25% are considered obese. One out of four children and adolescents are now considered overweight or obese and are quickly headed for a lifetime of chronic disease. We are fatter than ever and the numbers continue to rise at a dreadfully high rate! Even more alarming is the fact that approximately 20% of overweight Americans may not realize they need to lose excess body fat—because they physically “appear” to be of normal weight. Despite looking thin and having a normal weight, they have altered or unhealthy body composition. What is unhealthy body composition? Generally speaking, it refers to carrying too much fat in comparison to lean tissue (e.g., muscle). It is clear that achieving healthy body composition is critically important to experiencing the joy that optimal health can bring.

The Consequences of Unhealthy Body Composition

Unhealthy body composition and excess body weight often lead to obesity, which is associated with serious health consequences including:
• Heart disease
• Stroke
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Metabolic syndrome
• Diabetes
• Back pain
• Respiratory problems
• Certain types of cancer
• Kidney disorders
• Estrogen-related problems
• Gallbladder disorders
• Excess fatigue
• Osteoarthritis
• Sleep apnea
• Urinary incontinence

Metabolic syndrome (also known as syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome) affects approximately 46% of Americans, and is characterized by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood insulin and glucose levels. People with metabolic syndrome are at greater risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. As a rule, a waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men and greater than 35 inches for women significantly increases the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Even hormone balance can be affected by unhealthy body composition, because estrogen can be produced in fat tissue. An increase in fat-to-muscle mass could therefore lead to an imbalance in estrogen. Estrogen imbalance has been associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), uterine fibroid tumors, fibrocystic or painful breasts, cervical dysplasia, endometriosis, systemic lupus erythematosis and breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.

Body Composition is More Than Just Your Weight

Body weight alone (what the scale says) is not a definitive assessment of body composition. Even after losing weight, you might still be considered over-fat. This occurs when the weight you lose comes predominantly from muscle and not from fat—producing unhealthy body composition. Having excess fat on the inside but looking normal on the outside may result in disease risks that are similar to those who appear overtly overweight. Where fat accumulates also impacts the degree of risk. Excess fat that is concentrated near the waist—a condition generally referred to as central adiposity or an “apple” shape—greatly increases the risk of disease. The illustration on the reverse side of this sheet outlines the problems associated with this type of unhealthy body composition—just because you look thin doesn’t mean you are healthy!

Several simple, non-invasive methods are available that can estimate body composition. These include waist-to-hip ratio, skin-fold thickness, and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA).

Factors That Lead to Unhealthy Body Composition

There is no single cause of unhealthy body composition. Excessive fat accumulation can result from an imbalance between the calories you take in and the calories you burn; lack of physical activity; lifestyle influences such as a high-fat, high-sugar diet; overeating; excess alcohol intake; chronic use of corticosteroids; hormone imbalance; and other metabolic factors.

Achieving a Healthy Body Composition

As the illustration on the reverse side of this sheet outlines, a healthy body composition program helps a person lose weight and look thinner by targeting fat and preserving muscle. This is in contrast to an unhealthy body composition program, which may help a person lose weight, but can result in muscle loss without as much fat loss. By preserving lean muscle mass, a healthy body composition program reduces the risk of disease and may decrease the likelihood that fat will return after the program is complete. This is because a higher ratio of muscle-to-fat may increase the body’s metabolic rate, enabling the body to more effectively burn calories each day.

A traditional approach to improving body composition includes exercise and reduced caloric intake, but nutritional supplementation may also offer additional, significant benefits. For example, one study comparing a doctor-supervised, nutrition-based body composition program to a popular, over-the-counter diet drink showed dramatically different results. Patients on the doctor-supervised program achieved 11 pounds of weight loss from fat and they actually increased their muscle mass. The patients on the over-the-counter diet drink lost the majority of their weight from muscle rather than body fat—despite being prescribed the same foods and exercise routine as those on the doctor-supervised program. Our body composition program incorporates the nutritional support necessary to achieve fat loss and preserve muscle. It is comprehensive, yet tailored to meet your individual needs.

You have the power to shape your body for better health. Take the first step to achieving healthy body composition. Contact Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine at 773.435.1150 and ask about our FirstLine Therapy program.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of interrelated clinical symptoms that increase an individual’s risk for many chronic diseases including atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes. In addition to increasing susceptibility to cardiac disease, Metabolic Syndrome confers increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that is rising and is associated with an increased risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. Incidence of certain malignancies, including colorectal and prostate cancer, increases with the presence of Metabolic Syndrome. Polycystic ovary syndrome, the most common endocrinopathy of reproductive age women, is strongly associated with Metabolic Syndrome. Furthermore, sexual dysfunction, gout, chronic renal disease, and microalbuminuria have each been associated with Metabolic Syndrome.

Approximately 34% of adults in the US meet criteria for Metabolic Syndrome diagnosis, and individual propensity for developing Metabolic Syndrome increases dramatically with age. Due to the prevalence of obesity and the aging population, and given the relationship among Metabolic Syndrome, and cardiovascular disease, a long-term solution is urgently needed.

Although pharmaceutical treatment options are available for managing symptoms related to Metabolic Syndrome, lifestyle change programs are the recommended first line of therapy for the prevention or management of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic Syndrome Diagnosis

Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes and is diagnosed when at least 3 of the following are present: 1) Elevated waist circumference:
Men — Equal to or greater than 40 inches (102 cm)
Women — Equal to or greater than 35 inches (88 cm)

2) Elevated triglycerides:
Equal to or greater than 150 mg/dL

3) Reduced HDL (“good”) cholesterol:
Men — Less than 40 mg/dL
Women — Less than 50 mg/dL

4) Elevated blood pressure:
Equal to or greater than 130/85

At Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine, we offer a 12 week lifestyle program – FirstLine Therapy to help combat Metabolic Syndrome. Your initial will begin by meeting with one of our physicians who are board certified internists. Weekly sessions with CCWM health coaches will counsel patients regarding our Therapeutic Lifestyle Program. Our Lifestyle educators work as a team with our physicians, providing hands-on support to patients. You will have a Stress and Cardiovascular Risk Assessment. We will review your findings and determine your health goals in order to establish your course of lifestyle therapy.

Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine provides formulas that promote healthy blood lipid levels, circulatory and blood vessel function and support, and overall heart health. Body composition analysis will be given by one of our health coaches. This is the clinical assessment of tissue and fluid distribution in the human body. The body is modeled as a series of tissue and fluid compartments. It is an integral part of a health and nutrition assessment. A BIA (Bio-Impedance Analysis) will be conducted on patients throughout the weeks to determine your body fat, water content, and muscle mass. The body composition information is indicative of one’s current state of well-being.

Patients have seen tremendous results from our FrirstLine Therapy program – lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, loose body fat and weight, have more energy and improving their overall health.

Contact one of our healthcare providers at Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine at 773.435.1150 or email us at info@fltchicago.com for more information on our FirstLine Therapy program.

Cold and Flu Season

With Fall just around the corner, it’s time to start winterizing your immune system. FirstLine Therapy isn’t just about the numbers on a scale, it’s a program to change your lifestyle habits and improve your comprehensive health. Talk to us about how we can proactively work together to boost your immune system and get you through the cold and flu season!

Call one of our Certified Lifestyle Educators at Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine at 773.435.1150, or contact us by email at info@fltchicago.com.

Surprising Reasons for Gaining Weight

If you started taking in more calories than usual or cutting back on exercise, you wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers on the scale crept higher. But what if you’re doing everything the same as you always do and your weight still goes up?

Here are a few surprising reasons for gaining weight

1. Lack of Sleep: If you’re up late, the odds are greater that you’re doing some late-night snacking, which will increase your calorie intake. The other reason involves what’s going on biochemically when you’re sleep deprived. Changes in hormone levels increase hunger and appetite and also make you feel not as full after eating.

2. Stress: When life’s demands get too intense, our bodies go into survival mode: Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” is secreted, which causes an increase in appetite. And then of course, we may reach for high-calorie comfort foods in times of stress.

3. Menopause: Most women do gain some weight around the time of menopause, but hormones probably aren’t the only cause. Aging slows the metabolism, so you burn fewer calories, and changes in lifestyle (such as exercising less) play a role. But where you gain weight also may be related to menopause, with fat accumulating around your waist, not your hips and thighs.

4. Hypothyroidism: If your thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormone, you’re probably feeling tired, weak, cold, and gaining weight. Without enough thyroid hormone, the metabolism slows, making weight gain more likely. Even a thyroid functioning at the lower end of the normal range might cause weight gain. Treating hypothyroidism with medication may reverse some of the weight gain.

5. Cushing’s Syndrome: Weight gain is a common symptom of Cushing’s syndrome, a condition in which you are exposed to too much of the hormone cortisol, which in turn causes weight gain and other abnormalities. Cushing’s syndrome can occur if you take steroids for asthma, arthritis, or lupus. It can also occur when your adrenal glands produce too much of the hormone, or be related to a tumor. The weight gain may be most prominent around the face, neck or upper back, or waist.

6. Quitting Smoking: On average, people who stop smoking gain less than 10 pounds.

7. Antidepressants: An unfortunate side effect from some antidepressants is weight gain. Talk to your doctor about making changes to your treatment plan if you think your antidepressant is causing weight gain. But never stop or change your medication on your own. Realize that some people experience weight gain after beginning drug treatment simply because they’re feeling better, which leads to a better appetite. Also, depression itself can cause changes in weight.

8. Steroids: Anti-inflammatory steroid medications are notorious for causing weight gain. Fluid retention and increased appetite are the main reasons. Although weight gain is common, the severity of this side effect depends on the strength of the dose and length of time on the drug. Some people may also see a temporary redistribution of fat while taking the drug — to places like the face, back of the neck, or the abdomen.

If you are gaining weight … Don’t stop taking any medications without first consulting your doctor. Recognize the importance of the drug you’re taking. It may be critical to your health.

Under the direction of Vesna V. Skul, MD, FACP, Medical Director at Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine, the FirstLine Therapy (FLT) program addresses all these issues and helps get you body back on track. During the FLT program, you will be taught stress management skills, learn what to eat and not to eat, have your “body composition” assessed — the measurement of body fat in relation to lean body mass, and much more.

Dr. Skul has spoken on a wide range of topics to professional and lay audiences around the country. Her areas of expertise within women’s health include menopause management and integration of alternative and complementary medicine into mainstream medical practice.

Recognized by her peers, Dr. Skul has been among Chicago’s top doctors as reported by Chicago Magazine, for nearly a decade. She was also nationally ranked in 11 specialties by U.S. News. Dr. Skul was listed in U.S. News Top Doctors – the top 1% in the nation in his or her specialty.

She is a founder and the Medical Director of the Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine, a multispecialty holistic medical practice for women, where she enjoys empowering her many patients through education and teaches medical students and residents.

For more information on women’s health issues, contact Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine at 773.435.1150, or visit their website at www.ccwm.com