Tag Archives: pregnancy


Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck that produces hormones which help control important bodily functions such as your metabolism, growth, appetite, heartbeat and reproductive health. More than 12% of the American population will develop some kind of a thyroid condition during their lifetimes; these conditions are more prevalent in females. There are many ways your thyroid can malfunction but the two main conditions are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.


People with hypothyroidism output abnormally low amounts of the proper hormones from the thyroid gland, resulting in a myriad of unpleasant symptoms and related health problems. Usually without proper medical treatment people with hypothyroidism cannot produce enough hormones to keep the body functioning efficiently. Some causes include underlying autoimmune diseases such as Lupus or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, certain medications, radiation treatment or an iodine imbalance.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Signs and symptoms of the disorder include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Weight gain even without increasing diet
  • Feelings of depression
  • Fatigue
  • Skin changes (pale or dry)
  • Hair loss
  • Slow heartrate
  • Puffiness in the face
  • Chronic constipation

While many of these symptoms are broad and can be related to many other illnesses, if you are experiencing several of these you should certainly talk to your doctor or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians. The doctor will order blood tests to determine if your thyroid is underactive. Severe hypothyroidism will need to be treated immediately, as in rare cases it can lead to a life-threatening myxedema coma.


Treatment for hypothyroidism includes thyroid medications such as levothyroxine; it may take a while to find the right balance with these medications. Too high of a dose can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as elevated or irregular heartbeat, tremors or insomnia. Follow-up blood tests will be conducted after a couple months to ensure your thyroid levels are healthy, and then about once a year as maintenance. These tests can help find the right medication balance by catching your levels if they rise or drop too much. People with heart disease will often start with a low dose of some of these medications as they have the unlikely potential to worsen some conditions.

Pregnancy And Hypothyroidism

It is particularly important for pregnant women suffering from hypothyroidism to get treatment right away as the condition can adversely affect the developing fetus. Pregnant women’s hormone levels will need to be closely monitored so the correct dose of medication is ensured. In some cases the condition may disappear after pregnancy, but sometimes it is a lifelong affliction. If you are pregnant and have some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, it can’t hurt to visit your doctor to make sure you don’t have the condition.

Stay tuned later today to read our next post on the thyroid, ‘Hyperthyroidism’.

What Do Food Cravings Tell Us?

We’ve all had the occasional, seemingly insatiable chocolate craving, strong desire for chips, or hankering for a parent’s famous mac and cheese, but what do these strong cravings really mean?

Do Cravings Signify Deficiencies?

For decades there have been theories circulating that cravings signify chemical and nutrient deficiencies or imbalances (for example chocolate craving symbolizing a magnesium shortage) however, research backing this claim is shaky. Studies have drawn parallels between excess cravings and a lack of dietary variety, but aside from a few exceptions science has yet to prove cravings have much to do with physical deficiencies.

Most Cravings Have Emotional Roots

One theory that has been backed by scientific research is that cravings are linked to certain areas of the brain, namely the emotional center. It seems even intense pregnancy cravings may have mostly to do with emotions. People seek the ‘feel good’ chemicals and hormones released by the brain when it is stimulated by certain foods.

Sweet Cravings

Most people associate sweets with positive childhood memories of cake at birthday parties or treats as rewards for good reports or special occasions. Research shows that positive feelings associated with these treats release the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is known as one of the main ‘feel good’ chemicals, and is also associated with addiction. Being that dopamine is at play, it is no wonder our bodies can become quite dependant on sugar. People often chase this feel good sensation if they are upset or stressed and wish to quickly feel better. Similarly, chocolate contains mood-boosting polyphenols, so it is the main craving for those with hormonal imbalances (such as menstruation) because it can actually lift and help temporarily stabilize a bad mood.

Savoury Cravings

Crunchy chips or pretzels can be a go-to when you’re angry, stressed or frustrated. Lab rat studies have shown that salty snacks peak oxytocin in the rats’ brains, effectively reducing their stress and calming them. Of course this relief is only short lived, consuming too much sodium can have all kinds of negative effects on the body, but it is clear salty treats do help temporarily calm stressed bodies. Carb-rich ‘comfort foods’ have similar effects, creating short-term energy boosts which trick the body into thinking it feels better after carbo-loading (before the crash, that is).

Are There Ever Medical Reasons For Cravings?

There have been certain cravings associated with specific medical conditions, such as sufferers of undetected anemia having strong cravings for ice, or other non-nutritional or non-food items such as paper or soil (this phenomenon is called Pica). There have also been documented cases of people with persistent meat cravings being iron deficient, but this is quite rare. Those with undiagnosed diabetes often crave water and drink it in excess.

Addison’s Disease

Another medical condition that seems to be associated with cravings is Addison’s disease. Those with Addison’s disease often continuously crave salt as one of the symptoms of the condition. If your salt craving is accompanied by hypotension, fatigue and stomach issues it may be time to check in with your doctor, or one of our qualified DocChat physicians. However, before you run to the doctor for the occasional salt craving, remember cravings do not always mean you have a corresponding disorder; most often cravings are simply cravings.

What Can You Do To Curb Cravings?

  • Sweets: Go for fruit and whipped cream instead! Or some homemade rice pudding that uses stevia for sweetening. Or if you are aware why you have these sweet cravings, you can try replacing the positive sensation with another activity like creating something, going for coffee with a good friend or opting for cuddles.
  • Savory: Try air-popped popcorn, roasted chickpeas or kale chips with sea salt! If you want to combat stress without salty snacks, go for a jog or hit the gym when you’re craving salt. It’s not a guarantee, but chances are your craving will be gone when you’re done your workout.
  • Chocolate: Try a serving size of dark chocolate. It will still satiate your cocoa craving but also has heart-healthy benefits. Or you can try hot chocolate made with pure cocoa and sweetened with stevia!

For additional healthy alternatives to cravings, check out our post “10 Healthier Treats To Keep The Sugar Monkey Off Your Back

Quick Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

Asian pregnant woman make heart shape with hand on her stomach

Luckily we live in a world where pregnancy and parenting resources abound, containing a vast amount of helpful information for a healthful pregnancy. Keep reading to see some of our favorite prenatal tidbits for expecting mommas!

Change Your Diet to Suit Your Baby

Contrary to the public opinion that pregnant women are “eating for two”, they really only need to consume between 300-500 additional calories a day. These calories should take the form of healthy meals and snacks to ensure baby is eating well in there too. Here are some suggested guidelines:

  1. Do eat flaxseed! This superfood is jam-packed with goodies such as omega-3 fatty acids and extra fiber. It also helps lower cholesterol levels which can be on the rise during pregnancy.   
  2. Don’t consume much caffeine. Most medical experts cap it at about 200mg (11oz) of caffeine daily.
  3. Do eat small meals throughout the day as opposed to big ones. This can help stave off lethargy, giving you little energy surges to replace caffeine.
  4. Don’t opt for sandwiches containing deli meats, as they can harbor listeria, a bacteria that can be very harmful to unborn babies.
  5. Do drink a surplus of fluids, water in particular (about 10 glasses a day), and be sure to avoid artificial colorings and additives.
  6. Don’t ingest much mercury – avoid foods high in mercury including swordfish, mackerel or dark tunas.
  7. Do eat certain types of low-mercury seafood that contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and shrimp.
  8. Don’t take any herbal or over the counter medicine without speaking to your doctor or pharmacist first.

Pregnancy Safety Tips

  • Quit smoking, and also avoid second hand smoke at all costs as the irritants can be detrimental to your little one.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals, such as those found in strong cleaning products.
  • Stop gardening and changing cat litter to avoid toxoplasmosis, a parasite strain commonly found in cats and soil that could be potentially fatal to a vulnerable unborn child.
  • When driving, wear your seat belt across your thighs as opposed to over your belly, and sit as far away from an air bag as possible to avoid the potentially tragic repercussions of its deployment.
  • Get plenty of sleep and rest. Pregnancy can be exhausting and come with heavy fatigue. It is important not to overwork yourself, as your baby can be in distress if you aren’t getting enough rest. Remember, you are resting for two!

Pregnancy Fitness

While you probably shouldn’t be participating in competitive gymnastics while pregnant, you definitely should be getting regular exercise. Exercise can bring a multitude of benefits to pregnancy, such as keeping your weight under control (if you gain too much, it will be harder to shed the pounds post-birth), switching up the routine for your tiny tenant (the movement can even be soothing for some babies), and helping prepare your body better for the tall task of giving birth. Some great pregnancy exercises include:

  1. Swimmingthis is one of the best exercises for pregnant women, as it is very easy on the joints and can help you keep fit without working too hard.
  2. Stretching – there are many stretching exercises such as pelvic tilts, that can help ready the body for birth, and avoid muscle cramps that sometimes come along with pregnancy.
  3. Walking – Walking is a safe form of exercise you can do all the way through your pregnancy. If you are a runner, you don’t necessarily have to give it up cold turkey when you are pregnant; there are certain guidelines you can follow to safely jog during certain times of your pregnancy – but only if you are an experienced runner, as it can be dangerous if not done properly. 
  4. Prenatal Yoga – tailored yoga activities can help strengthen your muscles so you are better able to carry around a baby and all of their accessories after you give birth.

Parenting Preparation

Educate yourself about what to expect during the labor and delivery, as well as premature labor warning signs to look out for. Pack a hospital bag in advance of your expected due date and remember to include important items such as your camera (with batteries and memory card!) and insurance information. If it is your first pregnancy, you can research different classes to take such as childbirth classes, breast-feeding classes or parenting classes with your partner or a close family member.

man is unable to close his pants because of gaining weight

Some Scary Facts about Obesity

Obesity is one the biggest problems that has the plagued 21st century. According to recent research, 34.5% or 7.6 million Americans are overweight and obese, yet it seems that these official statistics are underestimated. Certain interest groups are quite relieved that this issue is not discussed properly. Putting on a few pounds might not affect your physical appearance, but the health consequences can be much more severe and in some cases fatal. Let’s have a look at some of the major issues that can be caused by being overweight.

Heart Disease:

Obesity has much more to do with just appearance. It affects the internal organs and their functionality as well. Carrying around some extra fat puts a heavy stress on your heart and the fattening foods clog the arteries and boost up your cholesterol levels. Both of these changes put the heart at risk.

Kidney and Liver Diseases:

With high percentages of body fat, the organs need to work hard to function properly and satisfy the need of the body. Fat reserves in the liver can cause lifelong problems and also damage the liver itself. In the same way, these increased fats can jack down your kidney’s abilities to filter waste materials which is life threatening in most cases.

Muscles and Skeletal Disorders:

Excess fat means increased body weight. This places a heavy burden on your bones, joints and muscles which lead to pain and debilitating health conditions which will last your entire lifetime. This is caused by the wearing-away of tissue that is present at the joints.


Insulin regulation in the body is mostly affected by being overweight, which leads to diabetes. This is mostly caused by weight gain, so keep your pounds under control to prevent such disease. In many cases diabetes is hereditary; but being overweight increases your chances of being diagnosed with it in the future.


Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases known to man. Believe it or not, obesity can lead to different types of cancers including breast cancer, colon cancer, and endometrial cancer.

Pregnancy Difficulties:

Pregnancy is a very exhausting time, and if you are obese then it makes the pregnancy, labor and delivery even more difficult. Morning sickness, drowsiness, raging hormones and severe headaches are a common side effect of pregnancy. However, overweight pregnant women often complain of other issues as well particularly high or low blood pressures and increased sugar levels.

Fitness and following a healthy routine should be a top priority of each and every individual. As they say fitness is not about being better than someone else…. It’s about being better than you used to be!

How To Take Care of Yourself Post-Delivery

Mother In Nursery Suffering From Post Natal Depression

The postpartum period is a critical time for the mother and the baby. It is important for the mother to take good care of her own health as well as the baby’s. This phase begins immediately after delivery and lasts for about six to eight weeks. The mother goes through physical, mental, and emotional changes throughout this phase. The changes and adjustments prove to be a tough challenge for a new mother.

The best way to guarantee that you remain healthy enough to provide good care for the newborn is to learn how to take care of yourself during this important time. A mother should ensure that she rebuilds her strength, gets plenty of rest, good nutrition and asks for help from someone else if needed. A new mother needs to focus on the following aspects:

Get Adequate Rest

During the first eight weeks, a newborn does not sleep through the night; this results in an exhausting sleeping schedule for the parents. It is suggested that the mother get proper rest and should only be tasked with taking care of the baby and herself.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet will promote a speedy recovery during the postpartum stages. Adequate nutrition will help the body heal and become strong. After delivery, mothers need to eat well in order to remain active. A recommended diet consists of five major food groups that should be a part of every meal:

1. Grains–whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal

2. Vegetables–dark green, red, and orange vegetables, peas and starchy vegetables

3. Fruits–Fresh, canned, frozen, or dried

4. Dairy–fat-free or low-fat products, cheese, milk and those high in calcium

5. Protein–low-fat or lean meats and poultry, fish, nuts, seeds and beans

Low Intensity Exercise

If you have an uncomplicated delivery, it is safe to begin exercising whenever you feel up to it. Otherwise wait at least 6 weeks before starting any kind of workout. Light exercises during the postpartum period will help you stay active and alert. Drink plenty of fluids and include light activity to restore muscle tone. Join a post-natal exercise class, or swimming is an excellent option as well.

Get a Care Taker/Helper

Taking care of a baby is a challenging thing for new parents. If the pressure gets too much and you find it difficult to cope, then there are some excellent options available which will arrange a helper/caregiver.

It is often a relief to hire a professional to help out and provide guidance to the new mother. The mother should be relieved of chores such as shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry.