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  • Listen to your Gut: a Comprehensive Guide for Gut Health in Austin

    The Human Gut is the home of trillions of microbes. In fact, the number of microbes in the gut outnumbers human cells by two to three times. A whole ecosystem developing in a symbiotic relationship with our body cannot be underestimated when addressing health issues. In recent years, this research field has gained notorious attention, due to the connections made between Gut Health and metabolic and inflammatory disorders, cancer, mental health, as well as infant health and Longevity. According to studies performed over the past few decades, there is an important link between the diversity of Gut Microbiome and the immune system, mental health, endocrine system, and cardiovascular system. Therefore, maintaining a diverse and healthy Microbiome is essential to achieve optimal Health & Wellness. A healthy Gut Microbiome is crucial to maintain the intestinal barrier integrity and avoid “leak” of toxins and undesirable antigens (in what is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome). Beneficial probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, have the ability to promote the expression of tight junction cell proteins and prevent the colonization of the mucosa layer, and thus keeping the intestinal barrier impermeable to those substances. Another research field that has gained strength in the last decade is Neurogastroenterology, which studies the relationship between Gut and Brain in what is called the Gut-Brain Axis. There is an entire neural network called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) that functions as a “second brain” integrating complex functions independently but in permanent communication with the brain. This bidirectional communication between the brain and the ENS, allows linking emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions. Common causes of Unhealthy Gut There are many aspects of modern life that can affect your Microbiome, such as stress, diet, quality of sleep, antibiotics and other medications that can alter your inner ecosystem. Being aware and acting over these causes when possible, is a good measure to prevent health problems. Mental and physical stress is one of the main causes of Unhealthy Gut. The mental stress has a proven impact on Gut Health as a result of interactions within the ENS and affects the environment in which the Microbiome develops. On the other hand, we are constantly exposed to food and medications that irritate our Gut. Some examples of these are: Food: Caffeine Alcohol Processed food Fatty food Fried food Refined Sugar Foods that cause inflammation in susceptible people (such as dairy in lactose intolerants) Medications/Supplements NSAIDs: Non-Steroid Anti Inflammatory Drugs inhibit the production of mucus by the GI cells, specially in the stomach. The mucus comprehends a physical barrier that covers the GI tract and it is essential for Gut Health and appropriate microbiome development. Compulsory use of NSAIDs can lead to damage of the GI tract lining and microbiome disbalances. PPIs: Although Proton-pump inhibitors play a key role in the treatment of heartburn & GERD, and H. Pylori treatment, compulsory usage has been demonstrated to reduce mucus viscosity, bacterial load and bacterial translocation. Risk-benefit of PPI usage should be measured before removing. Excessive Vitamin A intake Taking Narrow Spectrum Probiotics: selective probiotics, in opposition to broad spectrum probiotics, can produce selective bacterial overgrowth and lead to dysbiosis. Symptoms and conditions associated with an Unhealthy Gut Abdominal discomfort Frequent discomfort with Gas, Bloating, Constipation or Diarrhea (or a cyclic combination of both) and Heartburn can be symptoms of disbalances in Gut Microbiome that might be affecting its function. Chronic fatigue People that feel tired more often than not, can have imbalances in their Gut. Studies have shown that people with Chronic Fatigue also had Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Food Intolerances While some food intolerances can be the cause of Unhealthy Gut, they can also be a consequence of it. People can struggle to digest certain foods for as long as the imbalances in Gut health remains. Unintentional weight loss or gain An Unhealthy Gut can have a hard time absorbing nutrients, storing fat and regulating blood sugar. This can be reflected in weight loss or gain, and can lead to some serious deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. Frequent mood changes As stated before, the Gut and the brain are deeply intertwined. An Unhealthy Gut can lead to inflammation in the nervous system and a disbalance in neuromodulators leading to mood changes, Anxiety and Depression. Autoimmunity According to several studies, there is a relationship between disbalances in Gut Microbiota, leading to Leaky Gut Syndrome and, furthermore, the development of autoimmune diseases like Lupus, Autoimmune Thyroid diseases, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Multiple Sclerosis. Skin problems Following a similar path than the autoimmune diseases, some skin reactions like acne, eczema and psoriasis, are often linked to an Unhealthy Gut, and food intolerances. As you can see, maintaining a diverse and healthy Gut Microbiome is essential for optimal health, as it is linked to the immune system, mental health, endocrine system, and cardiovascular system. Factors such as stress, diet, sleep quality, and medications can negatively impact gut health, highlighting the importance of addressing these causes. Recognizing these factors, and the symptoms associated with an Unhealthy Gut is crucial for early intervention and management. We encourage you to consult with a Healthcare Professional for a personalized approach if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. At METSI Care, we have developed a comprehensive Gut Health Protocol that can provide valuable insights and aid in developing targeted treatment plans. With our help, patients can take proactive steps towards improving their overall well-being, and prevent major illness. Keep an eye on our next article on Gut Health, where we will discuss how Probiotics, Prebiotics and other supplements can help you reach optimal Gut Health.

  • 10 Supplements that helps reducing Blood Sugar and Weight Loss in Austin

    Overweight is a chronic disease characterized by the excessive accumulation of fat in the body, which can have adverse effects on health. When speaking about weight management we need to take in notice several factors, it is not as simple as just looking at a person's weight. It involves considering many things, like how your body is made up, your overall health, and your unique situation. Medical experts use different methods to measure the body and it's composition: BMI (Body Mass Index): BMI is a common tool, but it's not the only one. If someone's BMI is 30 or higher, they're often considered obese. However, BMI doesn't consider muscle or where fat is in the body. Waist Size: Having a big waist can also show that someone might have health issues linked to obesity. The exact waist size that's a concern can differ by gender and group of people. Body Fat Percentage: Measuring how much fat someone has using special scans or measurements can give a more detailed picture of obesity. Having too much fat is a big part of obesity. The reasons for weight problems can be different for each person. Understanding this wide range of influences on weight is really important because it helps us create good ways to help and take care of our bodies. Let's explore some of the main causes and risk factors that play a part in how our bodies feel and look: Unhealthy diet: Eating foods high in calories, saturated fat, refined sugar, and processed foods can lead to weight gain. Lack of physical activity: Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle are significant risk factors for this condition. Inactivity reduces calorie burn and contributes to weight gain. Genetics: Genetic predisposition plays a role. If you have close relatives who are overweight, you may be at an increased risk. Psychological factors: Emotions and mental health can play a role in overeating. Stress, depression, and anxiety are often associated with weight problems. Medications: Some medications, such as steroids and certain antidepressants, can cause weight gain. Socioeconomic factors: Economic disparities can limit access to healthy foods and opportunities for exercise, which can contribute to overweight. Environmental factors: The environment in which a person lives can also influence their eating habits and activity levels. The availability of unhealthy foods and the lack of areas for physical activity can be challenges. Hormonal problems: Some hormonal disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism, can contribute to gain easily weight. Lack of sleep: Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to it. Lifestyle changes: Major life transitions, such as marriage, pregnancy, divorce, or retirement, can lead to changes in routine and weight gain. Overweight in Texas and USA The prevalence of a higher BMI in the United States is notable across all age categories.In 2017-2018, 42.4% of adults were overweight. Prevalence was lowest among non-Hispanic Asian adults (17.4%) as compared to non-Hispanic black (49.6%), Hispanic (44.8%), and non-Hispanic white (42.2%) adults. More particularly in the state of Texas, this condition is a major public health problem. According to data, 28.1% of adults in Texas have weight related problems. This suggests that one in every three adults in Texas suffers from this medical condition. It is associated with an increased risk of developing a number of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. It is also associated with an increased risk of premature death. Major problems related to overweight It is linked to several metabolic changes that contribute to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). These include insulin resistance, chronic low-grade inflammation, dysfunction of pancreatic beta cells, and the buildup of fats in tissues like the liver and muscles. These mechanisms interact in a complex way to raise blood sugar levels in obese individuals. Uncontrolled high blood sugar is associated with serious complications such as neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy, cardiovascular diseases, and erectile dysfunction. It can also increase the risk of infections and slow down wound healing. What are the symptoms of hyperglycemia? The symptoms of hyperglycemia include: Feeling thirsty Feeling tired or weak Urinating (peeing) often Blurred vision Natural Supplements for Weight Loss There is a wide variety of weight loss supplements available. However, we've prepared a detailed list of supplements to help you choose the one that best suits your needs. Spirulina In addition to being highly nutritious, spirulina reduces hunger. It is widely available and can be consumed in a variety of forms, including tablets, shakes, and even powder. L-Carnitine This is one of the most popular and widely used supplements for weight loss in the fitness world. It allows fat to be burned more quickly during exercise and helps transform stored fats into an additional source of energy for workouts. CLA These natural pills block the transfer of fats and help eliminate them, preventing them from being stored. It works similarly to L-Carnitine, aiding in the use of fats as the primary energy source. Garcinia Cambogia This supplement is used to reduce appetite, helping you stick to your diet and improve fat metabolism. Garlic in Pills Garlic pills are not only used to avoid the effects of consuming garlic, such as bad breath or indigestion, but also as an option for weight loss. Garlic facilitates fat burning and regulates metabolism. Additionally, it has properties beneficial for our health, such as regulating blood pressure, boosting the immune system, and having antimicrobial properties. Glucomannan This is another supplement commonly seen in most gyms. It's a dietary and soluble fiber that aids in weight loss. One of its primary functions is the ability to curb hunger without adding extra calories. Additionally, it helps reduce cholesterol and balance sugar levels. Green Tea One of the best solutions for weight loss is herbs, specifically green tea. It's a natural stimulant that speeds up metabolism and contains properties that aid in weight loss, backed by scientific research. This is due to its high level of antioxidants and the increase in body temperature, which benefits reducing body fat. Ginger Ginger contains several medical qualities such as weigth managment and blood sugar control. It has been used as a natural treatment for ages due to its numerous benefits. One of its added benefits is that it is a high-fiber diet, so eating it helps improve digestion and even eliminates toxins that aren't needed by the body. This root lowers cholesterol levels and controls blood pressure. Chromium Chromium is a necessary element for humans and animals because it plays an important role in insulin metabolism as a glucose tolerance factor (GTF). A chromium deficit causes a decline in glucose metabolism due to poor insulin efficiency. Where can we find it? Some foods that can provide high concentrations of chromium in the blood are whole grains, broccoli, and beans. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Acetic acid is the major ingredient in ACV and is thought to be responsible for many of its health benefits. There are several evidence-based methods for utilizing ACV. Taking 2 teaspoons before night might help lower your fasting sugar levels in the morning. Even better, taking 1-2 tablespoons of ACV with meals helps lower the glycemic load of a carbohydrate-heavy diet. I usually advise patients to take ACV on its own before meals, or to incorporate it with salad dressings or teas. Overweight and high blood sugar are two health conditions that are connected and need special attention because they can greatly affect your quality of life and increase the risk of serious problems. Preventing and managing obesity is a key way to lower the risk of hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes. While natural supplements might help in this process, it's important that you only use them under the guidance of a healthcare professional, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. It's also important to remember that your genes, your surroundings, how you live, and other things can affect your chances of becoming obese or having high blood sugar. So, any plan to prevent or treat these conditions should be customized to fit your specific needs. Ultimately, educating people about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and eating a balanced diet is still the most important way to prevent obesity and high blood sugar in today's society.

  • Decoding Wellness: Genetic Testing in Austin is transforming Healthcare

    Preventative medicine has emerged since the past century as a fundamental pillar for maintaining an optimal state of health and preventing the development of diseases. In this context, the recent advances in genetics allowed new paradigms in medicine, offering great potential in both disease prevention and treatment. One of the standout tools in this domain is genetic testing or DNA tests, which allow the analysis of the information contained in our genetic material, providing valuable insights into our individual characteristics and genetic predisposition to various pathologies What Are Genetic Tests? Genetic Tests are specialized analyses that enable the study of our DNA, RNA, chromosomes, proteins, and metabolites. These tests aim to detect variations of the DNA for clinical purposes. They can be used for different purposes like: Planning exercise and diet, assessing metabolism, preventing hereditary conditions and assessing risk for certain diseases. These tests provide crucial information for the prevention, diagnosis, and early treatment of various diseases. Prevention and early disease identification In recent years, genetics has shifted, transitioning from a specialized field to a fundamental one in the medical spectrum. With the complete decoding of the human genome, a window to a vast treasure trove of genetic information has opened. This explosion of knowledge has laid the foundation for precision personalized medicine, where treatments and prevention are tailored to our unique genetic profile. One of the most significant achievements of Genetic Tests is the ability to prevent diseases or identify them in their early stages. With these tests, we can anticipate the risk of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disorders, neurological disorders, metabolic diseases, and hereditary conditions. This anticipation enables the implementation of preventative measures, lifestyle changes, and early detection, all of which can make a significant difference in the prognosis and quality of life for individuals. These advancements not only transform the perspective of patients but also medical practice. As healthcare professionals, we can now personalize our approach to prevention and treatment based on the genetic predisposition of our patients. This means that we not only address the disease when it appears, but also work proactively to prevent its manifestation or to detect it in its early stages, where interventions can be more effective. Types of Genetic Tests and Their Purposes At METSI Care, we take pride in being at the forefront of medical advances, especially in the field of genetic testing. Our commitment to our patients' health and well-being drives us to offer the most advanced and comprehensive genetic testing available. This allows us not only to provide personalized and appropriate solutions but also precise recommendations, ultimately leading to better health outcomes. Here is a list of some of the tests that METSI Care offers for our patients: Performance & Exercise tests: this tool can measure and assess an individual's ability and efficiency in performing specific tasks related to sports, physical activity, or exercise. These tests provide valuable information about physical capacity, skills, strength, endurance, power, agility, and other relevant aspects that may be important for optimizing performance in a specific discipline. The results obtained in a performance test can help design personalized training programs, identify areas for improvement, set realistic goals, and evaluate progress over time. Metabolism Assessment : genetic testing service designed to provide insights into various critical factors that influence weight management. By analyzing an individual's genetic makeup, it offers personalized recommendations for diet and exercise to enhance outcomes. Overweight and obesity are linked to various chronic diseases. Precision nutrition, considering an individual's genetic code, age, sex, and health status, is crucial for effective weight management. The Metabolism Assessment offers vital insights to tailor recommendations, enhancing the potential for successful and sustained weight management outcomes.Key Areas Addressed by these test: Saturated Fats:Genetic insights regarding the body's response to saturated fats. Understanding genetic predispositions related to sweet cravings. Eating Behaviors:Insights into genetic factors influencing eating patterns and behaviors. Obesity Risk: Genetic assessment of susceptibility to obesity. Carbohydrates: Understanding genetic responses to carbohydrate consumption. Exercise Requirements:Recommendations for exercise based on genetic makeup. Test for Optimal Health:The analysis primarily focuses on identifying unique DNA sequences within specific genes. The goal is to pinpoint certain genetic changes, known as polymorphisms, within these genes. These polymorphisms have been extensively studied and correlated with an individual's risk of developing particular chronic diseases or experiencing altered metabolic processes. By detecting and assessing the presence or absence of these polymorphisms, the test can qualitatively evaluate specific areas of health risk associated with the identified genes. However, to achieve a comprehensive assessment of health risks, the test also takes into account environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle. The interaction between genetic factors and environmental influences is crucial in understanding an individual's overall health risks and potential strategies for optimizing their health. Cancer Risk Assessment : It can identify genetic mutations that can increase the risk of developing cancer. These mutations can be inherited, meaning they are passed down from parents to children, or they can occur spontaneously. There are many different types of Cancer Risk Assessment Genetic Tests, and each one focuses on a specific genetic mutation or group of mutations. Some of the most common Cancer Risk Assessment Genetic Tests include: Tests to detect mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which increase the risk of breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Tests to detect mutations in the APC, MUTYH, and Lynch genes, which increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Tests to detect mutations in the TP53, Li-Fraumeni, and Cowden genes, which increase the risk of several types of cancer, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancer. Alzheimer’s Risk Assessment: involves a genetic test focused on the APOE gene to determine an individual's risk for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). The APOE gene has different variants, including E2, E3, and E4 alleles. This test specifically identifies and interprets the presence or absence of these alleles in an individual's DNA.The Alzheimer's Risk Assessment provides valuable information about an individual's genetic predisposition to late-onset Alzheimer's disease, allowing for potential risk assessment and informed decision-making regarding their health and lifestyle. Genetic Tests represent a revolution in preventative medicine, providing vital information for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. Identifying the genetic predisposition to certain diseases allows for preventative measures and an improved quality of life. We invite you to consider Genetic Tests as a valuable tool in your pursuit of a healthy future. Feel free to contact us at METSI Care for more information and personalized guidance. Your health is our priority!

  • Dealing with Seasonal Allergies in Austin, TX? A Detailed Look into Allergies and How to Improve Your Symptoms

    Fall is here, and if you are anything like us, you are probably enjoying pumpkin spice lattes, cozy sweaters and the breathtaking fall colors in parks. It’s that magical time of the year when nature paints a masterpiece with its fiery reds, burnt oranges and golden yellows. But among all the pumpkin-themed foods & drinks and colorful landscapes, there is one thing that might be hidden in the background ready to jump on you: seasonal allergies. As much as we love the charm of this season, we know it can also mean sneezing or itchy eyes for those with allergies. Fall has its own set of allergens, whether it's the crisp air, the abundance of fallen leaves, or the hidden pollen in the breeze. And if you live here in Texas you might be familiar with the not so welcome “Cedar Season” or "Cedar Fever". In this blog post, we will take a look at seasonal allergies, what they are and their symptoms and what can be done to fight them. What Allergens are? Allergens are substances that can trigger allergic reactions in individuals who are sensitive or allergic to them. These reactions occur because the immune system of these individuals mistakenly identifies the allergen as a harmful invader, such as a virus or bacteria. To protect the body, the immune system produces antibodies, specifically immunoglobulin E (IgE), in response to the allergen. When the individual is exposed to the same allergen again, these IgE antibodies recognize it and signal the release of various chemicals, including histamines. Histamines are responsible for the classic allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes. The specific symptoms and severity of an allergic reaction can vary depending on the type of allergen and the individual's sensitivity. What Allergy Season is? Allergy season is that time of the year when people with allergies to environmental allergens such as pollen, mold, and dust mites experience allergic symptoms more often than the rest of the year. The most common symptoms of seasonal allergies include: Sneezing Runny nose Nasal congestion Itchy nose, eyes, and throat Watery, bloodshot eyes Coughing Difficulty breathing The timing of allergy season varies depending on geographical location and the type of allergen. If we talk specifically about the state of Texas it experiences distinct allergy seasons throughout the year. In spring (March - May), tree pollen counts surge, causing particular concern for individuals with tree pollen allergies. Additionally, some grass and weed pollens emerge during spring, although their symptoms tend to be less severe. With the onset of summer (June - mid-September), grass pollen becomes the predominant source of allergies. The duration of high grass pollen levels varies by region within Texas. Weeds also become more active during the summer season, but a decline in tree pollen counts leads to an overall improvement in pollen counts. In Fall (late September - mid-November), pollen counts significantly decrease. While weed pollen persists, the activity of trees and grasses subsides. This time of the year is dominated by Ragweed pollen. During the winter months (mid-December - mid-February), 'Cedar Season' starts here in Texas. Cedar trees release an extensive quantity of pollen grains, estimated at around a billion, often dispersing over vast distances, especially on windy days. Allergy season can have a significant impact on the lives of Austin residents. Allergic symptoms can interfere with daily activities, such as work, school, and leisure. They can also lead to sleep problems, fatigue, and decreased quality of life. In some cases, allergies can also lead to serious health problems, such as asthma attacks and anaphylaxis. What are the symptoms and how can they impact daily life? Seasonal allergies can be much more than just a minor problem. Early on this blog post we listed some of the symptoms. Here you have a more detailed list: Itchy, watery or red eyes Circles under eyes Itchy mouth, nose or throat Runny or stuffy nose Drainage from the nose down the back of the throat (postnasal drip) Temporary loss of smell Headache Sneezing Dry cough Tiredness (due to difficulty sleeping from other symptoms) Scratchy or sore throat Snoring (due to congestion) All of these symptoms can affect our life, from work and school to our night’s sleep. Constant sneezing, itchy eyes, and congestion can make simple pleasures, like outdoor activities or enjoying a meal, less enjoyable. The physical and emotional burden of chronic allergy symptoms can lead to increased stress and frustration, which can affect relationships and mental health. How to diagnose seasonal allergies? Diagnosing these allergies is a critical step in managing our symptoms effectively. Consulting with your doctor is essential. As we discussed in our previous blog post, DPC allows our patients easy access to a healthcare provider, creating a strong and high quality doctor-patient relationship. The 1st step in diagnosing seasonal allergies is recognizing the pattern of the symptoms. After consulting with your doctor, they may recommend allergy testing. There are 2 primary types of allergy test: Blood tests: These tests measure the levels of specific antibodies, like IgE, in your blood. At METSI Care we offer this particular test to our patients, helping them know the allergens that are causing their symptoms. Skin prick test: This test involves applying the allergen extract to the skin via a tiny prick or scratch. If the person is allergic to the substance, it will develop a small, itchy bump at the site within about 15-25 min. This test is usually available at the Allergy Specialist office. Keeping a detailed diary of your symptoms can be an important part too. Record when they occur, their severity and any potential triggers or environmental factors. Once we recognize symptoms and after we perform tests, we can tailor a personalized plan to manage this condition. How to reduce Exposure to Allergens? To minimize exposure to allergy triggers, particularly during this challenging allergy season, it’s important to consider implementing the following strategies: Use Indoor Air Filters: Invest in indoor air filters for your home, and replace them periodically (every 3 months). These filters can help capture allergens, including pollen, dust mites, and mold spores, providing cleaner air and reducing the risk of allergy symptoms. For those with severe allergies, it is recommended using a HEPA Filter and replace every one to three months Medical Treatments: When it comes to medical treatments for allergies, there are several options to consider, including: Allergy Drops: At METSI Care we offer Customized Sublingual Steroid Drops that are an effective solution for managing allergies. These drops work by desensitizing your immune system to specific allergens over time, reducing your body's overreactive response. Allergy Shots: For acute flare ups, we also offer steroid shots for allergies. Working the same way as the drops, their effect can last as long as the allergy season last. Antihistamine Medications: Antihistamines are readily available over the counter and can help relieve common allergy symptoms like sneezing, itching, congestion, and watery eyes. Examples include cetirizine, fexofenadine, and loratadine. Always consult your doctor for guidance on the best antihistamine for your specific needs. Personal Care Recommendations During Allergy Season: In addition to using indoor air filters and considering medical treatments, taking personal care precautions can make a significant difference in managing allergy symptoms during the challenging allergy season. Here are some recommendations: Stay Informed: Keep an eye on local pollen forecasts and current pollen levels through TV, radio, newspapers, or online sources. This will help you plan your outdoor activities during times of lower pollen exposure. Limit Outdoor Activity: Avoid outdoor activities in the early morning when pollen counts tend to be at their highest. If you need to venture outdoors during peak pollen times, consider wearing a face mask to reduce direct exposure. Shower After Being Outdoors: After spending time outside, remove the clothes you've worn and take a shower to wash away any pollen that might have attached to your skin and hair. This practice can help reduce the risk of bringing allergens indoors. By combining these personal care recommendations with the use of indoor air filters and, when necessary, seeking medical treatments like allergy shots and antihistamines, we can better manage our allergies. Other Helpfull Approaches Many individuals seek natural remedies or recipes to reduce allergy symptoms. It’s essential to approach them with caution and always under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Let’s take a look on some of these options: Honey: Some people believe that consuming local honey can help desensitize the immune system to allergens. But scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness is quite low. Probiotics: As we discussed in our previous blog post, studies suggest that probiotics promote healthy gut bacteria enhancing our immune response. This can reduce allergy symptoms. Nasal Irrigation: Rinsing your nasal passages with saline solution can help flush out allergens and ease congestion. This is a safe and widely recommended method, often used alongside other treatments. Wear mask outdoors: using a mask when outdoors around your triggers is like having your own personal filter wherever you go. This can cut down your allergy symptoms. Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish, can help reduce overall inflammation in the body, which might mitigate allergy symptoms. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like flaxseeds and walnuts, may have anti-allergenic properties and could potentially help alleviate allergic reactions. Avoiding Trigger Foods: Some individuals experience cross-reactivity between certain foods and allergens. For example, if you're allergic to birch pollen, you might also react to certain fruits like apples or cherries. Identifying and avoiding these trigger foods can be helpful. Processed Foods: Processed and high-sugar foods can contribute to inflammation and worsen allergy symptoms. Reducing or eliminating processed foods from your diet can be beneficial. It's important to remember that these options may offer a relief, they are not substitutes for medical treatments. Allergy season in Austin, Texas, can be quite challenging, with varying allergen triggers throughout the year. At METSI Care we offer allergy shots, a highly effective medical treatment for managing allergies. Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, can desensitize your immune system to specific allergens, reducing your body's overreactive response. It is important to be prepared for Allergy Season. Allergic symptoms can disrupt daily life, lead to sleep problems and fatigue, and even cause other severe health issues. By taking proactive measures and following personal care recommendations, you can enjoy a more comfortable and symptom-free allergy season.

  • Holistic Nutrition in Austin for Plant-Based Lifestyles: 8 Essential Supplements for Vegans and Vegetarians

    Adopting a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle offers numerous health benefits, but keeping up with meeting the nutritional needs can be challenging. While plant-based diets are rich in various nutrients, there are specific vitamins and minerals that may require supplementation, either because they cannot be found in vegetables or the plant-based version is less absorbable. In this blog post, we'll explore eight essential supplements for vegans and vegetarians, based on insights from Healthline's informative guide. 1. Vitamin B12: Essential for Brain Health & Red Blood Cells Vitamin B12 is a cornerstone supplement for those on plant-based diets. B12 is essential in different body processes like maintenance of nerves’ myelin coating, and maturation of red cells in the bone marrow. Plants do not need B12 for these processes, so plants are not a good source of this vitamin. Vegans and vegetarians can maintain a healthy nervous system and an optimum red cell count by incorporating a vegan B12 supplement into their routine. 2. Iron: Key for blood and energy levels Iron plays a key role in oxygen transport as an essential component of hemoglobin, the protein in charge of transporting oxygen through the bloodstream. Critical for oxygen transport and preventing anemia, iron is essential for overall well-being. Although plant-based sources like lentils and spinach offer iron, its absorption may be less efficient. A carefully chosen iron supplement can help vegans and vegetarians combat fatigue and maintain optimal iron levels. 3. Calcium: Fortifying Bone Health While dairy products are commonly associated with calcium, plant-based sources such as fortified plant milk and tofu offer alternatives. However, for additional support, a calcium supplement can contribute to strong and healthy bones, especially for those on vegan or vegetarian diets. 4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Support Brain and Heart Health Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, are crucial for Brain and Heart health. While ALA is found in plant sources, its conversion may be limited. Vegans and vegetarians can turn to omega-3 supplements derived from algae oil for a plant-friendly option, taking advantage of its benefits without relying on fish-based sources. 5. Vitamin D: An essential nutrient that is not at optimal levels in most people even with adequate sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for body function, participating in calcium absorption, supporting immune health, muscle function and brain cell activity. Although this vitamin can be synthesized by skin cells in the presence of sunlight, modern life limits sunlight exposure. That's why Vitamin D3 deficiency is becoming increasingly prevalent. Vitamin D can help boost your mood & immune system, helps with your teeth and bone health, and helps with your balance! 6. Zinc: Boosting the Immune System Zinc is vital for the immune system, supporting growth and normal function of immune cells. This mineral is present in plants, phytates can reduce its absorption. A Zinc supplement is a wise choice to support immune health and overall well-being for those following plant-based diets. 7. Iodine: A Thyroid Health Essential Iodine is a key component in Thyroid hormones. It is more commonly sourced from seafood and iodized salt. Vegan and vegetarians can source iodine from table salt, but for those who also seek to reduce the sodium intake, there are vegan Iodine supplements available. 8. Creatine: Enhance Physical Performance Adding to the list is Creatine, a naturally occurring compound important for energy production in muscles. While creatine is found in small amounts in plant foods, supplementing can enhance physical performance, making it an excellent addition for active individuals following vegan or vegetarian lifestyles. By combining nutrient-rich plant-based foods with carefully chosen supplements, individuals embracing vegan or vegetarian lifestyles can thrive healthily. These eight supplements can help you meet your nutritional needs when adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet. At METSI Care, we offer discounted supplements through our Vitamin Shoppe. With METSI Care, receive personalized supplement recommendations based on your own nutritional blood results so you can boost the positive health benefits while on your plant-powered journey. Don’t hesitate to contact us and start living healthy!

  • 8 Simple Ways to Boost Your Mental Health Today. Mental Healthcare in Austin

    In the fast-paced world we live in, taking care of our mental health is more important than ever. With the continuous stress of modern life, and the necessity of quick reliefs, Mental Health usually is relegated to a secondary place. However, at METSI Care, we believe that a healthy mind is the foundation of a healthy person, that’s why we take Mental Health very seriously. Sometimes people tend to think that taking care of Mental Health demands much effort, time and money. Fortunately, there are simple yet effective ways to promote mental well-being in our daily lives. Here are eight things you can do today to enhance your mental health and foster a positive mindset. 1. Look for a time to relax and reduce stress: Stress is an inevitable part of life, but managing it is crucial for mental health. Spare at least a brief moment of your day to unwind and relax. Whether it's through deep breathing exercises, meditation, or a short break, finding ways to alleviate stress makes a significant difference in your overall mental well-being. 2. Find Ways to Learn and Be Creative: Engaging your mind in learning and creativity can be therapeutic. Start a new hobby, explore a subject you're curious about, or express yourself through art or writing. Learning and creativity not only stimulate your brain but also provide a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. 3. Connect with Nature: Nature has a profound impact on mental health. Studies have shown that walking barefoot on grass helps reduce stress and improves sleep. You can take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life by spending time outdoors. Whether it's a stroll in the park, a hike in the mountains, or simply sitting in a garden, connecting with nature can help reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being. 4. Socialize with People Human connection is a fundamental aspect of mental health. Research shows that social ties interrelated health outcomes, including health behaviors, mental health, physical health, and mortality risk. Reach out to friends, family, or colleagues for a chat or spend quality time together. Social interactions provide support, foster a sense of belonging, and contribute to a positive mindset. 5. Look After Your Physical Health: Physical and mental health are closely intertwined. Physical activity helps increase the production of endorphins, which makes us feel good. Make sure to prioritize regular physical activity, maintain a balanced diet, and stay hydrated. Exercise releases endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters, and contributes to overall well-being. 6. Try to Improve Your Sleep: Quality sleep is essential for mental health. Establish a consistent sleep routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, and avoid stimulants before bedtime. Try to avoid working, studying or using your bedroom for other activities than resting. Prioritizing good sleep hygiene leads to improved mood, increased energy levels, and better cognitive function. 7. Practice Gratitude: Focusing on the positive aspects of life can significantly impact mental well-being. Take a moment each day to reflect on things you're grateful for. Whether it's small achievements, supportive relationships, or moments of joy, practicing gratitude can shift your perspective and promote a positive mindset. 8. Use Mental Health Exercises: Incorporate mental health exercises into your daily routine. Mindful meditation, deep breathing, stretching, laughing, and even dancing to your favorite music are effective ways to release tension, improve focus, and boost mood. Experiment with different exercises to find what works best for you. Ask for help We all have times when we feel overwhelmed, but it is important to remember that it’s normal to need help before our situation is out of our control. Reach out to a friend, family member or your doctor and talk about what’s going on. By putting our feelings in words, we can take some distance and see our situation from a different perspective. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Incorporating these simple practices into your daily life can contribute to a more resilient and positive mental state. Remember that small, consistent actions can lead to significant improvements in your mental health over time. Taking care of your mind is an ongoing process, and these eight steps are a great starting point for a healthier and happier you. At METSI Care we listen to our patients, and generate a safe space for them to open and share their concerns. With METSI Care, Mental Health is made easier and you can count on us to support you in your Health journey.

  • Why are Labs so Expensive with Insurance? How to save money and get the labs you need in Austin

    In recent years, there has been a trend in the world of healthcare: the increasing costs of lab work and the simultaneous decrease in preventive care lab recommendations. This is especially concerning, as it impacts both the financial burden on patients and the quality of healthcare services. The out-of-pocket costs for labs vary significantly depending on the Insurance policy and where it is performed. Patients can expect to pay an average of $500 in cost-sharing fees even when paying high monthly premiums. And this sky-rockets to thousands of dollars in larger health systems and hospitals. Doctors are forced to order labs in the terms of what a patient’s insurance will cover so they are often not ordering all the labs they would like to order including labs that focus on wellness and prevention of disease as they would ideally be able to order. Most insurance plans also limit the frequency of preventative visits to once a year, and not all tests are covered. Then, they’re pushed into a complex system of billing and coding that makes doctors less likely to order preventative and wellness focused lab work just to avoid the administrative burden, and creating expensive out of pocket expenses for their patients which can lead to decreased patient satisfaction scores through Press Ganey which then leads to lower reimbursements. In this post, we will discuss more about our current insurance-driven healthcare system’s flaws, and educate you on how METSI Care can be 3 to 10 times less expensive than the traditional system and at the same time increase your health and wellness. Why is the cost of lab work so high? Over the past years the cost of routine lab work has seen significant increases in costs. This problem is a major concern as it directly impacts patients' lives and their access to quality health care. A range of factors contribute to this increase, as seen below: The power of Negotiation of Big Companies: Large healthcare providers and their power of negotiation have a big influence on lab work cost. They tend to demand higher reimbursement rates for lab services. That’s why the same lab test can cost up to 10 times more in a large hospital system than in a smaller independent lab. This creates a “cascade like” effect on the system, leading to inflated costs that affect patients. Inefficient Billing Practices: Insurance companies require arbitrary and complex billing practices, severing a doctor’s ability to order the desired preventive and wellness labs unless they falsely code the patients chart with diseases the patient doesn’t have just to get the labs covered. This leads to doctors ordering less focused on true health and wellness and only ordering labs focused on managing the patients diseases, hence merely treating disease but not preventing it. Insurance companies and hospitals alike prefer this as it leads to more money in their pockets. Lack of Price Transparency: Patients usually are unaware about the actual cost of lab tests when paid by their insurance, making it challenging for them to make informed decisions about what labs are ordered. Unfortunately, once the labs are ordered, patients are often stuck with expensive bills, paying for both “covered” and non-covered labs. This leads to patients choosing to delay or avoid getting labs at all to avoid the burden of large shared healthcare costs when using their insurance. Complex Insurance System: As we explained in our previous post, the complexity of the cost-sharing structures with insurance companies makes patients pay up to thousands of dollars between their co-pays and co-insurance. Geographical Location: Where you live can have a substantial impact on cost of lab work. Cost of living and differences in healthcare market competition can contribute to these geographical variations. Regulations and Public Health Policies: Government regulations and public health policies can affect lab work prices. Some researchers note the effects of ACA on increased healthcare cost prices, especially after 2013. (Graphic taken from New York Time's arcticle: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/30/upshot/health-care-huge-price-discrepancies.html) Why can't I get preventive labs? Diving deeper into this discussion, we should highlight the rising concern about the insurance industry and their coverage for preventative labs. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that certain preventative measures should be covered by insurance, the list of covered services is limited, and many services are not covered early enough to prevent disease in most cases. For example: type 2 Diabetes screening is covered for adults aged 40+ who are overweight, but according to studies[1] blood sugar dysregulation precedes diagnosis of diabetes for at least 20 years. Cost-sharing models lead to people paying significant amounts for necessary lab work that should ideally be the most accessible medical services. This discourages individuals from seeking essential preventative care. Doctor’s often see themselves asking for lab work only when the patient’s health is really compromised, or when the health problem is advanced when the ideal approach would be more proactive focused on prevention of disease. The treatment of otherwise preventable disease generates a greater expense for patients, which could have been avoided with a preventive medicine model, as hospitals and insurance companies are focused on profit. As the saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and this is becoming less and less possible in the insurance model of healthcare. How can I pay less for labs? At METSI Care, we have changed the incentives of Care back to having a quality doctor-patient relationship and providing personalized care all for an affordable monthly membership fee. Included in the membership is access to discounted, transparent lab fees that are about 60-80% less than when ordered and paid for by insurance. This allows us to order all those preventative and wellness labs without worrying about expensive fees from the insurance company when trying to keep our patients health. No longer to patients have to worry about the interference of their Insurance company in the way of their health. As mentioned before, traditional insurance models often result in inflated prices for lab tests, leaving patients with large out of pocket expenses. At METSI Care, we help alleviate this financial burden by negotiating our own discounted rates directly with labs, cutting out the unnecessary middlemen, and reducing administrative costs putting our patients' health and financial wellness as our highest priority. METSI Care empowers patients to take back the control of their health through preventive care by offering transparent, affordable labs to our patients. Preventative labs play a crucial role in identifying potential health issues before they escalate into symptoms and more serious conditions. Regular screenings can detect early signs of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammation that can lead to strokes or cancer, and many others. When you have a membership with METSI Care, our patients have access to the most advanced tests all at an affordable rate. This allows our patients to have a proactive approach to their health and get these labs regularly to ensure their bodies are still healthy. This helps reduce overall healthcare costs in the long run by addressing potential health concerns early on. METSI Care's commitment to providing discounted labs and promoting preventive care is transforming how patients approach their healthcare journey. Would you like to join this revolution of improving your health at a fraction of the cost? Please visit our website at www.metsicare.com. We are currently accepting new patients and welcome you to join!

  • How Forgiveness Can Improve Your Mental & Physical Health. Mental Healthcare in Austin

    Big or small, unsolved conflict with others (especially with those who we love) has a deep impact on our mental and physical health. Forgiving someone who has wronged us is not merely an act of mercy but a transformative process that encompasses the release of anger, the cultivation of empathy, and the nurturing of compassion. Chronic anger puts us in a fight-or-flight mode, resulting in a sustained increase in cortisol (a stress hormone), activating mechanisms that lead to heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, obesity and potentially even cancer. Studies have shown that forgiveness can reverse the risk of these by reducing blood pressure & heart rate, improving pain perception, anxiety, depression, stress, and inflammatory markers. In this article we will discuss what it looks like to forgive, take a look at its different aspects, and discuss the substantial impact it can have on our physical & mental health. Understanding the True Meaning of Forgiveness: The American Psychological Association defines forgiveness as the intentional decision to release anger and resentment while fostering empathy and compassion for the wrongdoer. Contrary to common misconceptions, forgiveness does not require reconciliation; it primarily focuses on personal healing and growth. Forgiving does not necessarily require the wrongdoer to acknowledge the forgiveness, it can be done by oneself. There are three pivotal aspects of forgiveness involve forgiving another person, forgiving oneself, and forgiving the situation or circumstance. The Three Aspects of Forgiveness: 1. Forgiving Another Person(s): Interpersonal forgiveness addresses issues such as betrayal, insensitivity, aggression, infidelity, or physical altercations. The nature of the relationship, the likelihood of harm happening again, and the severity of the offense are some of the main factors that influence the possibility of forgiveness. As said before, forgiveness does not mean reconciliation,  but personal growth. 2. Forgiving Oneself: Self-forgiveness can be very difficult for some. It requires a conscientious effort to overcome feelings of shame and/or guilt, and this process can sometimes rekindle those feelings. Situations in which one has to forgive oneself also tend to be the most difficult ones, and people who cannot forgive themselves have more risk of developing depression and other serious mental health conditions. 3. Forgiving the Situation or Circumstance: This aspect involves events beyond personal control, such as natural disasters or the death of a loved one. Inability to forgive in these situations may generate a negative view of the world around us. Ways Forgiveness Affects Mental Health: 1. Improves Mental Health: Studies show that forgiveness is associated with better psychosocial well-being and reduced depressive symptoms. Self-compassion plays a crucial role in moderating the relationship between lack of forgiveness and depression. 2. Decreases Stress Levels: Forgiveness breaks the vicious cycle of overthinking over past wrongs, reducing chronic stress. Research suggests a reciprocal relationship between forgiveness and stress, indicating that forgiveness can serve as a coping mechanism. 3. Helps Relieve Anger: Constantly accumulating anger over past injustices can be toxic to mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Teaching forgiveness to youth has demonstrated a reduction in aggressive behaviors and an improvement in social competence. 4. Improves Self-Esteem: Forgiving someone, even in the face of severe harm, can positively impact self-esteem by transforming one's perception of how they feel about themselves.. Tips for Forgiveness: Forgiveness can be a difficult process, and requires time and concerted effort. Practical tips include practicing empathy, embracing self-compassion, reminding oneself of the benefits of forgiveness, engaging in open communication, and expressing one's feelings through writing. Keeping a gratitude journal can be very helpful to get a different perspective on the things that hurt us. Practicing Small Acts of Forgiveness: Incorporating small acts of forgiveness into everyday life can serve as a valuable stepping stone. Recognizing and forgiving minor transgressions can gradually pave the way for more significant acts of forgiveness, fostering a mindset of compassion and understanding. The REACH Method: The REACH method was developed by Dr. Everett Worthington, PhD while he was a Psychology Professor of  the Virginia Commonwealth University. This method offers a structured approach to forgiveness, and involves 5 steps: Recall: The first step in the REACH method involves recalling the wrongdoing in an objective and mindful manner. It's not about focusing on the negative aspects or feelings of resentment; instead, it encourages a clear understanding of the wrong that was done. The goal is not to resent the wrongdoer but to gain a balanced perspective on what may have led to the past events. Empathize: The second step is to empathize with the wrongdoer. Attempting to understand the other person's point of view regarding why they may have caused harm without minimizing or downplaying the severity of the wrongdoing. Recognizing that people may act out of fear, worry, or hurt, the process of empathizing allows us to understand the multifaceted nature of human experiences and motivations. Altruistic Gift: The third step introduces the concept of an altruistic gift. This step invites us to remember a time when we, too, were forgiven for our own shortcomings. This self-reflection serves as a powerful tool for recognizing forgiveness as a reciprocal and altruistic act. It creates an awareness that forgiveness is not just a personal benefit but a gift that individuals can offer to others. By understanding how liberating it is to be forgiven, we can appreciate forgiveness as a shared human experience that transcends personal grievances. Commit: The commitment to forgiveness is a key aspect of the REACH method. This step encourages us to make a conscious decision to forgive. Whether through writing a journal or a letter (even if unsent), or confiding in a trusted friend, the act of commitment reinforces the decision to forgive. It's a declaration to oneself and to the universe, that the path of forgiveness is chosen deliberately. This commitment can serve as a guiding light during moments of doubt or when memories of the harm return. Hold: The final step in the REACH method is holding onto forgiveness. This acknowledges the reality that forgiveness is not erasure; it doesn't wipe away memories of past wrongs. Instead, it's about changing one's reaction to those memories. When negative feelings arise, we are encouraged to remind ourselves of the forgiveness we have granted. This may involve revisiting journal entries, letters, or recalling conversations with trusted confidants. The act of holding onto forgiveness reinforces the commitment made and helps in overcoming the emotions associated with the forgiven event. Forgiveness is a transformative journey that not only helps heal past wounds but also positively impacts mental health by reducing stress, decreasing anger, and increased sense of overall well-being. By understanding what it means to forgive and adopting the methods described in detail above, we as humans can be released of those internal negative feelings and embark on a journey of personal growth and healing leading to a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life. At METSI Care, we’ve created a dedicated healing room for our patients to open up and get support for their mental health, including when angry and resistant to forgiveness. Dr. Garrick is here to listen to and support you in your time of need in our dedicated safe space or from the comfort of your home. our patients ouBy understanding and incorporating this process into our Mental Health approach. If you would like to learn more about our Mental Health Services at METSI Care, you can call us at 512-729-5575 to set up a FREE Discovery Call with Dr. Garrick. We look forward to hearing from you!

  • 5 Myths About Hormone Imbalances. Women's Primary Care in Austin explained

    Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body, and the endocrine system is the network that sends these messages. The glands that make up the endocrine system -like the brain, pancreas, gut, thyroid, ovaries, and others- produce hormones that regulate almost everything, from your mood, appetite, and energy levels, to your reproductive cycle and immune system. The endocrine system and its interactions with other systems are highly complex. Since hormones usually have a wide range of functions and effects on the body, it’s easy to blame them for almost everything when you feel “off.” Unfortunately, in our current profit driven healthcare system, there are many companies across the country that are creating a great business for themselves by falsely creating unfounded fear that every woman's woe is related to her “hormones.” In my opinion, this is a failure of our system and leading to unnecessary fear, testing and treatments. I am writing this article today to help debunk some myths and educate women on the true facts about their hormones. Checking a woman’s hormones is not as easy as it sounds. First off, there is a large variability of what is considered normal, from one woman to the next. Some factors that play a role are the time of day they are checked, the stage of her menstrual period, her current level of stress, and her baseline level. Secondly, the value in the blood is not telling us how that hormone is actually interacting with the receptor in which it has to bind to have an effect. This is why checking hormone metabolites in the urine has become so en vogue recently but it is expensive. And that leads to the third issue, often times insurance companies will not want to pay for these hormones and the patient ends up getting a large bill from her insurance company for these “uncovered” labs. They often deny to pay for the labs because they deem them “medically unnecessary.” The way for a physician to know if your hormones are in balance is based on getting a full personal medical history, family history, a full assessment of all your symptoms, questioning about the regularity and heaviness of your periods, and a full physical exam. Once these questions and exam have been completed, your doctor should then have the information to come up with a diagnosis at that time, or know what labs and/or imaging studies are necessary to confirm the diagnosis. While checking labs, it is important to know that some vitamins and other essential nutrients should also be checked at that time because they are involved with how effectively your body interacts with your hormones. Myth 1: “Hormone imbalances are the most common cause for feeling depressed, tired, and for gaining weight.” Fact: Although hormones have an impact on mood and energy levels, hormonal imbalances are not a common cause of these symptoms. Instead, they are an underlying symptom of the real root cause. Sleep disorders, depression, and excessive psychosocial stress are the most common causes of chronic fatigue. Depression makes up 18.5% of chronic fatigue. The most common causes of weight gain are related to one's lifestyle including eating an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, high stress, and poor sleep. An unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and high stress can also affect your hormone levels causing fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight gain, change in your periods, poor concentration, change in your appetite, poor sleep, and many other symptoms. This does not mean you have a problem with your hormones as this is not getting to the root cause. The hormone changes are a reaction to something else, not the cause. Unfortunately, there are a lot of quacks across the country that don’t get to the root of the problem but rather try to control your hormones with hormone pills, injections, and beads that are only band-aids but not a healthy long term solution. To help make this point more clear, I’d like to give you an example: When you are facing a stressful situation, your cortisol levels can go up by 9 times their normal. This is a normal response to a stressful situation but doesn’t mean there is a problem with their cortisol hormone. The high cortisol can then lead to other hormone imbalances but the root cause is stress and that is what should be addressed, not treatment with more “hormones.” Getting to the root cause of a women’s hormone imbalances is often not done as there is more money in the treatment than the cure. Myth 2: “Hormonal imbalances are because you have problems in the glands that produce your hormones” Fact: No! The most common causes of hormonal imbalances are due to your lifestyle and how you manage stress. Disorders with your endocrine glands, the glands that produce your hormones, only represent 5% of the hormonal imbalances. Below we will discuss the most common endocrine causes of hormonal imbalances: Perimenopause: When estrogen levels start to decline, women can face hot flashes, night sweats and anxiety. However, estrogen levels are not necessarily linked to the intensity of symptoms. Women can still suffer from severe symptoms even with “normal” estrogen levels; it just may not be “normal” for her. That is why it is essential, in my professional medical opinion, to have a baseline of your hormones when you are felling well and healthy so they can be used as your healthy baseline to compare to when you are feeling sick. Unfortunately, insurance companies usually will not pay for checking hormones when you are well. Insurance companies usually only pay for labs when you are sick and they can link each lab to a specific disease. To get labs when you are feeling well, you will likely have to either order online through a direct to consumer lab or through a Holistic, Preventative doctor who may have discounted lab prices, especially if you chose a Direct Primary Care doctor’s office like METSI Care. Pre-diabetes: Obesity causing impaired fasting glucose and insulin resistance is the root cause of prediabetes. The more the weight gain, the larger the increase in insulin levels due to increased insulin resistance. This leads to an increase in blood sugars leading to Type 2 Diabetes. So in summary, insulin is a hormone that can be imbalanced but the root is the weight gain, not the insulin hormone. Thyroid Goiter: A thyroid goiter is a condition where your thyroid gland is visibly enlarged. A goiter can occur regardless of whether your thyroid hormones are normal (euthyroid), are overactive (hyperthyroid), or underactive (hypothyroid). It can cause the entire thyroid gland to enlarge or develop lumps called thyroid nodules. The root cause of the goiter is usually not the thyroid hormone levels, but actually your iodine levels. Goiter is present in 5% of the American population. Myth 3: I have a decreased sex drive because of my “hormones.” Fact: One of the most common reasons woman want to get their hormones checked is because of having a decreased sex drive (libido). Other common causes are a change in periods, problems getting pregnant, and feeling fatigued. Unfortunately, the most common cause of a decreased sex drive are not related to your hormones. The root cause of decreased libido is usually due to physical or psychological causes. There have been multiple surveys to show that the health of your sexual relationship is more important than your sex related hormones determinants of sexual function for midlife females. Depression, stress and anxiety are also common causes of reduced sex drive, and treatment for some of these conditions (especially depression) can also decrease libido. Physiological causes for reduced sex drive are not as common, but they are responsible in the cases of perimenopause or menopause, hormonal contraception (in some cases), endometriosis, or with some antipsychotic medications. There’s no “normal” amount of sex drive, as it varies from person to person, but what’s important for most is having a healthy sex drive. When dealing with a reduction in your sex drive, it is important to open up and discuss with your partner, doctor or therapist, to help figure out the root cause and come up with a plan, usually through lifestyle change, to help. Exercise, healthy eating, reducing stress, and reducing alcohol/drugs can all help improve libido and should be considered before initiating hormone therapy. Also vitamins and nutrient levels should be checked as they can interfere with your sex drive hormones. Communicating your feelings with your partner or seeing a therapist may be some of the best ways to get your sex drive back on track. Myth 4: “Adrenal fatigue is due to a problem with my hormones.” Fact: The term “adrenal fatigue” has been used in non-scientific groups to explain a hallmark of symptoms that occur in people who are dealing with mental, emotional, and/or physical stress. The idea of “adrenal fatigue” is that during periods of prolonged stress, the adrenal glands that produce both cortisol and adrenaline (epinephrine) start to decrease production of those hormones via a process called negative feedback inhibition, with the resulting symptom of fatigue. “Adrenal fatigue” can occur when someone has been undergoing long-term treatment with  steroids, where the external cortisol-like drug signals the brain to decrease production as it believes that there’s enough adrenal hormones already circulating in the body. If the external source of steroids is removed abruptly, the adrenal gland cannot keep up with the hormone production, triggering adrenal insufficiency. True adrenal insufficiency is very rare, and often associated with immunotherapy, or serious conditions like Addison’s disease, cancer, infections or untreated autoimmune diseases. There is no scientific evidence of the existence of adrenal fatigue, and the general scientific consensus is that “adrenal fatigue” is a stress-related response leading to a changes in brain chemistry, causing the fatigue or mood related symptoms. Myth 5: “My hormone imbalance needs to be treated with medication” Fact: In the majority of cases, medication is not necessary to achieve hormonal balance. Following a healthy diet, regular exercise, practicing stress relieving activities and maintaining a healthy weight are keys to maintaining a healthy hormone profile. Avoiding phytoestrogens and excess sugar, and processed or inflammatory foods can help improve your symptoms related to your hormonal imbalance, including your weight, mental health, menstrual cycle and sex drive. An important part of having a healthy balance of hormones is related to your nutrition including fats. Not all fats are bad. Eating a diet with healthy plant based fats like olive, sunflower, coconut and avocado oils, nuts, seeds, avocado and fish can help your body in its production hormones to keep your body in balance. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has emerged in the past two decades as an option for women in perimenopause or menopause. It not only helps with the reduction or prevention of menopausal symptoms, but also protects against osteoporosis and heart disease. However, it is very important to note that HRT may increase the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and  uterine cancer in certain situations, especially if there is already a family history of such cancers. Hormones are complex, and they are very much interconnected where when one hormone is off, it can negatively affect the other hormones. Getting to the root cause of your hormone imbalance of tantamount in helping restore a normal hormone balance without the risk of negative side effects or an increase in the risk of cancer. It’s always important to consult your doctor to discuss your hormone concerns to help get you back on track. Many times this can be achieved without expensive tests or medications. At METSI Care, we practice a science-based holistic approach to women’s health that aims to get to the root cause, without making you spend lots of money on things that likely won’t help you long-term. We are able to do this because we give you the time to share with us all your concerns, review your personal medical and family history, and provide you with a personalized plan to help you feel like you again! If you are interested in our holistic, integrative approach to health, please call us at 512-729-5575 to learn more or set up a free Meet & Greet with Dr. Garrick. We are accepting new patients, and welcome you to join the METSI Care family!

  • How low Testosterone can affect men's health. Men's Primary Care in Austin guide

    What is Testosterone and why is it so important? Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone produced in the testicles and, to a lesser amount, the ovaries. It plays a crucial role in the development and healthy functioning of the male reproductive system, and in secondary characteristics such as muscle and bone mass and body hair growth. Additionally, testosterone is essential for sperm production, making it a vital component of a man's overall well-being. Although testosterone levels typically decline with age, some men have earlier low levels of this hormone. This condition is known as testosterone deficiency syndrome (TDS) or low testosterone. According to the American Urology Association , low testosterone levels in the blood is less than 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Low testosterone in males can lead to various conditions that may affect daily activities, such as a decrease in sexual desire, fatigue, reduced muscle mass, irritability, erectile dysfunction, and even depression. What makes low testosterone in men such a common occurrence? Recent studies have shown that 2 out of 100 men suffer from low testosterone. According to estimates, just 1% of men under the age of 80 have TDS, compared to about 50% of men over the age of 80. The TDS is more frequent in men with diabetes or obesity. Studies show that 30% of men who are overweight have low levels of testosterone, but this percentage drops to 6.4% in men with normal weight. This also applies to diabetes, where men with diabetes were more likely to have low levels of testosterone than those without the disease—24,5% vs 12,6%. What are the signs and symptoms of Testosterone Deficiency? Recognizing the symptoms of TD is crucial for early detection and intervention. Some symptoms are directly associated with low testosterone, such as reduced sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, and loss of body hair and muscle mass. However, other signs might not be unique to TD but could still be connected to it, like low energy levels, memory loss, difficulty finding words, and poor performance at work. Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome (TD) can cause a variety of symptoms, both physical and emotional. The most common symptoms include lack of sexual desire, reduced erectile function, loss of body hair, reduced beard growth, loss of muscle mass, fatigue, obesity, and symptoms of depression. Other, less specific symptoms may also occur, such as low energy level, stamina and physical strength, memory loss, difficulty finding words, low concentration, and poor performance at work. It is important to note that not everyone with TD will experience all of these symptoms. The severity of the symptoms can also vary from person to person. If you are concerned that you may have TD, it is important to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. What are the causes of Testosterone Deficiency ? There are various reasons why a man might experience testosterone deficiency. Some individuals may have conditions from birth, like Klinefelter syndrome, Noonan syndrome, or ambiguous genitalia, leading to low testosterone levels. Others may experience it due to accidents causing damage to the testicles, testicle removal for cancer treatment, pituitary gland disease with hormone deficiency, infections, or autoimmune diseases that attack the body's own cells. Lifestyle and health factors can also contribute to low testosterone levels. Aging is a natural factor that leads to a decrease in testosterone production. Obesity and metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, harmful cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat, can also be associated with low testosterone. Certain medications, such as antidepressants and narcotics for pain, can affect testosterone levels as well. Additionally, men with specific health issues like HIV or AIDS may also experience low testosterone levels. How can Testosterone Deficiency be diagnosed? Diagnosing testosterone deficiency involves measuring the blood testosterone levels. Then, after considering various symptoms and using specific warning signs in addition to the blood test results an accurate diagnosis can be made. However, sometimes the symptoms are not evident and the testosterone imbalances aren’t suspected. This is why adding Testosterone levels to the routine check-up is very important to get a comprehensive wellness check. What is the treatment for low testosterone? Treatment for testosterone deficiency aims to restore hormonal balance and alleviate the symptoms that affect a man's quality of life. Testosterone therapy (TT) is a common approach used to increase testosterone levels and address the effects of low testosterone. However, not all men with low testosterone require or qualify for TT. The decision to undergo TT should be based on a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional. Your primary care doctor will consider various factors, including your symptoms, medical history, current health status, and the results of blood tests measuring your testosterone levels. Before starting TT, your doctor will discuss the potential benefits, risks, and side effects associated with the treatment. While TT can lead to significant improvements in energy levels, sexual function, mood, and muscle mass, it may not be suitable for everyone. In addition to TT, lifestyle changes can play a significant role in managing testosterone deficiency. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can positively impact testosterone levels. Reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and avoiding excessive alcohol and tobacco use can also be beneficial. METSI Care is dedicated to helping you regain your vitality and improve your overall well-being. If you suspect you may have testosterone deficiency or are experiencing any related symptoms, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Garrick. We are here to partner with you on your journey to better health, providing compassionate care and personalized solutions to help you thrive. Rediscover your energy and vitality with the support of our dedicated healthcare professionals. Take charge of your health and start living life to the fullest today!

  • Why is Direct Primary Care a great addition to your current Insurance plan if you live in Austin, TX?

    What is DPC? Direct Primary Care is a growing healthcare model that offers patients an alternative to traditional fee-for-service medicine. In this model, patients pay a membership fee to have more personalized and convenient care. DPC practices have become increasingly popular in recent years, and it's not hard to see why. METSI Care, a leading provider of DPC services in Austin, TX, is dedicated to offering patients a higher level of care and convenience. One of the main drivers of this change of mindset is the need of a Value-Based Care Model that incentivizes physicians to assist patients in reducing the effects of chronic illness and promote longterm Health & Wellness. In Direct Primary Care, doctors are able to work in the best interests of their patients, incentivized to keep them healthy and heal them from chronic disease. In the traditional insurance based model, doctors are faced with insurance bureaucracy and red tape that prevents them from providing the best care they would like to due to the insurance companies incentivized to maximize profit. Let’s take a look at the benefits of Direct Primary Care and why it may be an excellent addition to your current health insurance. What are the benefits of having Direct Primary Care services on top of my current Insurance plan? Convenience is one of the main benefits of DPC. Patients can get same-day appointments and spend less time waiting in a doctor's office. With DPC, you have immediate and constant access to your physician, which means you can contact them by phone, or text at any time. This level of access ensures that you get the care you need when you need it, instead of waiting an average of 25 days for an appointment with traditional, insurance-based doctors. Another benefit of DPC is the opportunity for a better patient-physician relationship. Insurance-based doctors have an average of 2500 patients, and they need to see 24 to 32 patients to be profitable. This means the average visit time is about 8 minutes. Since DPC physicians have fewer patients than the traditional model, they are able to spend more time (30 to 60 minutes) with each patient and provide more personalized care. This means you can have more meaningful conversations with your physician and build stronger rapport. Additionally, some Concierge doctors like METSI Care, offers home-visits included in their plans. DPC offers a full range of care. Unlike traditional healthcare, which can be limited to certain specialties or procedures, DPC physicians can provide a broad range of services, including Preventive Care, Chronic Disease Management, and Mental Health Care. This means you can get 80-90% of your healthcare needs met by your primary care physician without having to see multiple specialists or navigate a complex healthcare system. DPC doctors are not restricted by Insurance Companies In their efforts to reduce costs and drive profits, Insurance companies often limit doctors' decisions and patients' choices, even when it goes against the patients' best interests. Insurance-based systems can discourage the use of screenings and testing, which, if done early, could prevent or mitigate the effects of major chronic illnesses including cancer. In a Value-Based Care Model like DPC, decisions are made with a focus on the patients' best interests and wishes. With DPC, patients can access high-value testing and screenings, which allow them and their doctors to design personalized action plans to prevent illnesses before they occur. In contrast to traditional insurance-based care, which takes a reactive approach to treating illness, DPC offers a proactive approach where preventative measures are at the core of the model. While traditional doctors are often bound by outdated practice guidelines, DPC offers practitioners the freedom to innovate, allowing patients access to cutting-edge, advanced testing. This new horizon of novel testing grants patients a holistic view of their health, encompassing every aspect of their health status. From DNA testing to micronutrient cellular testing, DPC practices only limit their recommendations based on what is in the patient's best interest. Can I save money with DPC on top of my Insurance? Although it may seem counterintuitive, DPC offers patients a great opportunity to save money on their daily health needs. The insurance model has been driving up practice and medication prices for years, leading people to pay more in out-of-pocket expenses. Traditionally, people would make a cost-benefit comparison between paying more premiums and less out-of-pocket costs and vice versa. However, in recent years, average out-of-pocket expenses have skyrocketed to more than $12,500 per year; over 20% more than 5 years ago. DPC can save you out-of-pocket expenses in several ways. The first and most obvious way DPC reduces cost is by eliminating the cost of doctors visits and copays. Once you pay your membership, you have access to unlimited visits without copays. Another major cost driver is reduced by diminishing the need for urgent care, ER visits, specialist visits, and hospitalizations, as DPC can take care of 80 to 90% of your healthcare needs. For example, a visit for a urinary tract infection (UTI) can cost $200 to $300 at a UC service and $2200 at an ER; these types of visits are included in your DPC membership, meaning you can save $200 to $2200, per occurrence. Medications and imaging studies (X-ray, CT, MRI, etc) are other major cost drivers for insured people. While insurance companies dictate which medications are prescribed, how they are dispensed, and how much you have to pay as a copay and coinsurance, DPC offers patients the freedom to choose where they get their medications. The same thing happens with imaging where people can access prices 5 to 10 times lower than the cost through their insurance plan, saving them 50 to 75% on their out-of-pocket expenses. How can I access these services? With METSI Care, you can enjoy immediate and constant access to your physician, little to no wait time to schedule an appointment, and more time with your physician to ensure that your healthcare needs are met. Whether you're looking for preventive care, chronic disease management, or mental health service, METSI Care offers a full range of services to help you live a healthy and fulfilling life. Discover the ultimate healthcare experience with METSI Care and see why it may be an excellent addition to your health insurance. Check our services at www.metsicare.com/services, and find a plan that is tailored for you.

  • Do you know how your Insurance works? Learn the small print of Insurances in Austin

    Getting sick or injured can be costly in America and that was the original reason the American Health Insurance System was created. The Insurance System is complex and often confusing, with various types of plans, deductibles, copayments and coinsurances. While having insurance can help mitigate the financial burden of healthcare expenses, navigating the system can be challenging. In this article, we will show you what you need to know about how your Health Insurance works. Health Insurance basically covers part of the medical and surgical expenses incurred by the insured person. These covered expenses are usually paid directly to the health care provider once the deductible has been met. However, depending on the policy and type of plan, there are several factors that can affect the coverage and how much you end up paying. How do I get Health Insurance There are several ways a person can access a Health Insurance plan. The most common ways to access an insurance plan are: As a group by joining an organization that offers insurance (work, college, association, union, church) As an individual, buying directly from the Insurance company or marketplace As a family member by addition to a group or individual plan, usually paying a higher premium How much does a Health Plan cost? Well, that depends on different factors. First you have to pay a monthly fee to keep your insurance, this fee is called premium. The price of the premium will depend on the type of plan, your age, where you live, if you use tobacco, and the number of family-members you want to add. In case you access your Insurance plan through work, the expenses might be shared with your employer. However, besides the premium, the costs of healthcare are shared between you and the Insurance. In addition to premiums, you usually must meet a deductible and pay copayments and coinsurance. Deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximums Let’s think of the Insurance healthcare system as a three-story building. The first floor is what you have to pay; the second floor is what you share with your insurance; and the third floor is what the insurance has to pay for. The first floor -what you have to pay- is as high as the deductible. The deductible is the amount you must pay before insurance starts covering medical expenses. For instance, with a $4,000 deductible, you have to pay out-of-pocket until you reach that amount, after which the insurance will pay. If you have a $7,000 bill, insurance will then “help” cover the remaining $3,000 after you pay the deductible. Plans with low deductibles often have higher premiums, while high deductible plans have lower premiums, which is a trade-off to consider. The second floor -what you share- is where copays and coinsurance are. A copay is a set amount you must pay for covered healthcare services. For example, if you go to a doctor’s office that charges $250 for a visit, and your insurance has a copay of $50, you have to pay $50 and the insurance pays $200. Typically, copays do not count towards deductibles. Copays have a neighbor called coinsurance. Coinsurance is the percentage that is shared between you and the Insurance after the deductible is met. Let’s say you have a $7000 hospital bill and your coinsurance is 20-80 (20% on you and 80% on the insurance), then you have to pay the $4000 deductible, and the 20% of the remaining $3000. On the third floor -what the insurance pays- is the out-of-pocket maximum. It is your plan’s cap on how much you have to personally pay for covered medical expenses in a given year. After you hit that maximum, the insurance covers 100% of the expenses. It’s important to note that if you have full insurance (non-limited), the insurance can not limit on your total medical expenses that they pay. What types of Plans there are There are four major types of Healthcare Plans in Texas: HMO plans. Exclusive provider (EPO) plans. Preferred provider (PPO) plans. Point-of-service plans. These plans are known as “managed plans”, as they limit the providers you can access at a discounted rate in the plan’s network. HMO Plans In these plans, only in-network providers are covered. Which means that you have to pay out-of-pocket for providers outside the plan’s network. Also, you need an in-network primary care physician (PCP) to oversee your health. To access covered specialists, you need the referral of your PCP first (with some exceptions like OB/GYN for women). EPO Plans You must use providers in the network. If you don’t, you might have to pay the full cost of your care. There are exceptions for emergencies and if you need care that isn’t available in the network. These plans usually don’t require you to have a primary care physician. You also don’t need a referral to go to a specialist. PPO Plans You can go to any doctor you choose, but your out-of-pocket costs will be lower if you use doctors in the PPO’s network. You don’t have to choose a primary care physician, and you don’t need a referral to go to a specialist. Point-of-service plans Like PPO plans, point-of-service plans let you go to any doctor you choose. But your out-of-pocket costs will be lower if you use doctors in the plan’s network. Like HMO plans, you usually must have a primary care physician and get referrals to specialists. As you can see, navigating the Insurance based system can be difficult since it is filled with barriers that prevent you from getting the healthcare you need. Direct Primary Care (DPC) is improving how Americans access their health and it’s restoring the doctor-patient relationship to its original model like the old days, where the doctor felt like part of the family. In our next post on How the Insurance-Based System works, we will explore the main problems with the Traditional Insurance-Based system for Primary Care and how DPC can solve them.

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