Monday, October 18, 2021

Parkway Family Physicians

A vegan is someone who does not eat any animal by-products, including meat, poultry, game, fish or shellfish. While a vegan diet is generally viewed as the strictest form of vegetarianism,  there are several other types of vegetarians. For example,  some may avoid all animal flesh, but may consume dairy and egg products (lacto-ovo vegetarians). Others may exclude all animal products except for fish (pescatarians).

According to a 2018 Gallup poll, the number of Americans who say they are vegetarian has grown to 5% in reent years. As part of this trend, and to meet the growing demand for plant-based meals, the fast food giants have begun offering meatless version of their burgers.

For many people the move to reduce or eliminate meat from their diet is done for health reasons. Research has shown that eating more plant-based foods can lower the risk of many chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. A vegetarian diet has also been show to reduce rates of obesity.

Nutritional Factors To Consider

Plant-based diets are cholesterol free and tend to be low in saturated fat. Eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and soy products can naturally provide a high degree of important vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, when removing animal products from the menu it's important to plan carefully to avoid lowering the intake of some important nutrients. A poorly planned vegetarian diet may lack sufficient iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin D. An insufficient intake of these nutrients as well as omega-3 fatty acids and B12, can have a negative impact on your health, including mental and physical health.

If you have made the switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet,  consider having your blood nutrient levels measured. It may be necessary to eat fortified foods and supplements to ensure you are consuming sufficient levels of iron, calcium, omega-3 and vitamins D and B12.

Whether you are switching to a vegan diet or looking to restrict your consumption of meat and animal by products, careful planning is important to ensure you are receiving the right amount of essential nutrients to help you avoid any potential health problems over the long term.

While there is no magic food or pill that that will protect you against coronavirus, there are steps you can take to keep your immune system as healthy as possible.

Maintain Good Nutrition

Healthy Immune System

One of the most important ways to protect and strengthen your immune system is to eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Our immune system relies on the right mix of vitamins and minerals to protect our blood cells from infection and to aid our bodies when recovering from illness.

Vitamin C increases antibodies in the blood, so aim to increase your intake of fruit such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and strawberries. Certain vegetables are also high in vitamin C, include brussels sprouts, red and green peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Vitamin D is another important nutrient that research suggests can help the body fight infections. Foods that are a good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon and sardines; eggs, fortified milk; cheese, fortified juice, tofu and mushrooms.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can stress the body and lower immunity. Most people should aim to drink 8, 8-ounce glasses of water a day.  Eating fruit, vegetables and soup are another good way to stay hydrated.

Maintain Physical Activity

Maintaining regular physical activity is a one of the best way to strengthen your immune system and manage stress. Those who engage in regular exercise have a lower incidence of infection compared to inactive individuals.

If you're just starting an exercise program it's important to begin slowly and to take a day off occasionally to give your body enough time to recover.

Get Enough Sleep

To keep your immune system strong, the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping for the recommended time, making up time with short naps during the day can be beneficial.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020 17:35

Preventing Back Pain

According to the Mayo Clinic, back pain sends more Americans to the doctor than nearly any other medical condition. In some cases, back pain can be debilitating, preventing people from working or performing the basic functions of daily life.

Preventing Back Pain

What Causes Back Pain?

The back area is composed of many muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones that support the body and provide for a wide range of movement. While medical conditions like osteoporosis and trauma are well-known causes of back pain, for many people back pain and muscle spasms can strike suddenly and without warming.

There are several contributing factors that can increase the likelihood of experiencing back pain, including obesity, inactivity and a poor diet. Because being overweight or obese contributes to a loss of core strength and poor posture. Getting weight under control is often the best way to relive back pain symptoms and reduce the occurrence of future back problems.

Maintaining a healthy diet is also important for preventing muscle pain. Processed foods containing high amounts of fat and suger can increase inflammation in muscles, which can cause weakness, swelling and pain. A healthy, balanced diet made up mostly of healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables can reduce inflammation while also making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.

Technology is also increasing rate of back and neck pain. Looking down at a phone screen for extended periods of time can cause muscle strain and discomfort. Making a conscious effort to keep your posture upright when looking at screens and limiting screen time to short intervals can reduce muscle strain.

Back Exercises

If you are experiencing back pain it's important to maintain moderate activity to any extent possible, since inactivity will weaken muscles, worsening the condition over time.

One of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of back pain is to have a daily routine to stretch and strengthen your back and supporting muscles. We recommend the Mayo Clinic's 15 minute daily back exercise routine.

Thursday, 28 November 2019 20:16

Kids and Screen Time, How Much Is Too Much?

Kids and Screen Time, How Much Is Too Much?

A study published in the The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the average time that a child spends watching TV, using a computer or mobile device each day increased from 53 minutes at 12 months of age to more than 150 minutes by age 3.
The finds suggests that efforts to reduce screen time may have a better chance of success if started early.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 18 months of age. After 18 months of age screen time should be introduced slowly and limited to an hour a day for children from 2 to 5 years of age. Research has found that 87% of the children had screen time exceeding these recommendations. However, by age 7 and 8, screen time fell to under 1.5 hours per day – a decrease researchers attribute to children starting school. Children of first time mothers and children in home-based care were twice as likely to  have high screen time.

Not surprisingly as children enter their pre-teen and teen years, screen time continues to rise, with tweens logging nealy five hours of screen time per day and teens spending an average of six hours and 40 minutes in front of a screen. According to Common Sense Media (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/technology-addiction-concern-controversy-and-finding-balance-infographic), 59 percent say their kids are “addicted” to their screens, while 66 percent say their kids spend too much time on screens.

Managing Kids Screen Time

First, it's important for parents to take into account their own screen usage. It's easier to get kids to follow the rules by setting a good example. Also, understanding the side effects to too much screen time can also help find good alternatives. For example, to avoid poor sleep habits, don't allow children to have screens in the bedroom, or enforce a strict screens off time. Inactivity and obesity are also problems related to too much screen time. Involving kids in extracurricular activities like team sports can provide a healthy balance.

As screens continue to dominate our work and home lives, the line between healthy screen usage and over usage will only become more blurred. By starting kids on the right path and setting a good example we help them become healthier and happier media consumers.

Tuesday, 05 November 2019 22:52

Tips For Staying Healthy While Traveling

Tips For Staying Healthy While Traveling

For many people the holiday season is prime travel season. Whether you're traveling to the next state or overseas, you can make your time away from home healthier and more enjoyable by following a few simple steps.

1. Get Sufficient Sleep
Crossing time zones, walking long distances through airports, waiting in line and carrying luggage, traveling can be grueling. Make getting a good nights sleep a priority. Most healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

2. Eat Breakfast
Skipping breakfast can leave you feeling tired and less alert. Always start the day with at least a light breakfast, such as a bagel and glass of juice.

3. Stay Hydrated
Make it habit to carry a bottle of water when traveling. Eating fruit is also a great way to stay hydrated. Alcohol and caffeine can leave you dehydrated and also affect your quality of sleep, so they should be enjoyed in moderation.

4. Use Hand Sanitizer
By using wipes and hand sanitizer you'll prevent the spread of germs and bacteria from your hands. Use alcohol-based sanitizer before eating and after coming in contact with doors, railings, etc.

5. Get Vaccinated
Being up to date on vaccinations is especially important when traveling abroad. Check with your doctor, they will tell you which shots you need based on your destination. Because they take time to protect your immune system, it's important to plan ahead and visit the doctor at least a month before traveling.

Who Should Be Screened For Colorectal Cancer?

Of all the cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Because colorectal cancer almost always begins as a precancerous polyp, regular screening is important for early detection. If a screening finds abnormal growths, they can be removed before they become cancerous. If cancerous growths are found, early treatment can improve long-term recovery rates.

Because your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases as you get older and more than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older, regular screening for colon cancer should begin at age 50 for most people. However, there are exceptions, including:

Having a family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
Having a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)

There are several tests that your doctor may perform to screen for colorectal cancers, including stool tests, colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and CT colonography. Adults aged 76 to 85 should ask their doctor if they should be screened.

What are the Risk Factors For Colorectal Cancer?

In addition to a family history, lifestyle factors may increase the risk of colorectal cancer, including:
  •   Low rates of physical activity
  •   A diet low in fruit and vegetables.
  •   A diet that is high in fat and low in fiber diet, or high in processed meats
  •   Being overweight or obese
  •   Drinking alcohol
  •   Smoking
Have questions about screening for colorectal cancer? Your doctor can help answer questions such as when to begin screening, which test is right for you, and how often to get tested. Most insurance plans and Medicare will help pay for colorectal cancer screening for people who are 50 years old or older.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019 16:14

The Health Risks of Vaping

The Health Risks of Vaping

With several deaths and an outbreak of severe lung disease reported to be linked to the use of electronic-cigarettes, or vaping devices, health professionals are recommending caution to individuals using e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The Center for Diseases Control and Prevention does not know the cause other recent illnesses but advises, "E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products."

How Vaping Devices Work

Vaping devices work by heating a liquid containing nicotine or THC (found in marijuana). Many of the products also contain flavorings like cinnamon in a vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol solution. While these flavorings are considered safe to eat, when heated at high temperatures they undergo chemical changes that can make them harmful when inhaled.

When the heated vapor is inhaled, the nicotine or THC is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, similar to the way smoking works as a drug delivery mechanism. While the vapor from the devices may look like harmless water vapor, it contains a wide range of chemical compounds. The health effects of these chemical compounds is not yet fully understood.

Are Vaping Products Harmful?

While there has been no link with e-cigarettes and cancer, the potential is there, and the recent outbreak of lung-related diseases that may be linked to vaping devices are reason to be cautious.

It's important to let your children know that while e-cigarettes are probably safer than cigarettes, the nicotine they contain is just as addictive and has not been proven to be a safer alternative. The best advice you can give them is to never inhale anything but air.


Tuesday, 09 July 2019 00:50

10 Steps To Improve Weight Loss Success

10 Steps To Improve Weight Loss Success

As life gets busier and work and family put more demands on our time, it's easy to become less physically active, consume more calories and in turn gain weight. Here are some tips to help ensure your diet stays on track.

1. Reduce portion sizes

To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you're taking in. The trick is to eat enough quality calories to fuel your exercise by paying attention to the serving size and eating the right portions of foods.

2. Track Your Progress

By setting a calorie target for each day you can ensure that you don't consume more that your body can burn off each day. Many health and fitness apps offer tracking features to make ot easier to count calories in a wide range of foods, making meal planning easier.

3. Don't Skip Meals

Skipping meals can lead to excessive hunger and over-indulgence at your next meal. Spread your caloric intake throughout the day to ensure you have enough energy to keep cravings at bay.

4. Squeeze in Movement

If you can't set aside the recommended 30 minutes of exercise each day, try getting three-10 minute burst of activity. Whatever increases your heart rate is good, whether it's climbing stairs or taking a brisk walk around the block.

5. Swap Out foods

You don't need to eliminate snacks entirely. Simply find snacks that satisfy without adding a lot of calories. For example, try replacing potato chips with popcorn and soft drinks with seltzer water.

6. Stand More Often

Standing rather than sitting while doing tasks is a good way to burn a few extra calories while also improving your blood flow.

7. Get Enough Sleep

Weight loss is a combination of healthy eating, exercise, and recovery. Sleep helps your body balance the hormones that regulate hunger. Without enough sleep these hormones can get thrown off, increasing cravings and leading to weight gain. To allow for recovery, adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep every day.

8. Be Active With Others

Hiking with your family or walking with friends or co-workers is a great way to keep motivated and make exercise more enjoyable.

9. Switch to a High-intensity Workout.

Replace a low-intensity 45 minute workout with a higher intensity workout. Gyms that offer high intensity workouts like Cross-fit can pack in resistance training and a cardio workout into as little as 20 minutes.

10. Workout At Home

Going to the gym takes time and money. Resistance exercises using your body's own weight or using a few free weights, combined with a bike ride or jog around your neighborhood park can be a more convenient and time-saving way to stick to your exercise plan.

31 percent of U.S. adults have high blood pressure (hypertension), or roughly 1 out of every 3 adults. Of those with high blood pressure fewer than half have their condition under control.

High blood pressure is a serious condition that can increase the risk of several dangerous health conditions, including:
  •     Heart Attack
  •     Stroke
  •     Chronic Heart Failure
While many of the risk factors for high blood pressure are beyond our control – such as increased age, ethnicity and a family history – there are steps you can take to limit your risk and keep your blood pressure under control and prevent it's complications.
  •     Get Screened. 1 in 5 adults does not know they have high blood pressure.
  •     Keep Your Weight Under Control - being overweight increases the risk of high blood pressure.
  •     Get Regular Aerobic Exercise - At least 30 to 60 minutes a day.
  •     Eat a Healthy Diet - This includes a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
  •     Reduce Sodium Consumption - Limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams a day or less.
  •     Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption - Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure and reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications.
Monday, 24 June 2019 18:56

5 Benefits of Daily Walking

5 Benefits of Daily Walking

The benefits of walkingOne of the simplest forms of exercise that almost anyone can do is taking a daily walk. Whether you take a walk durning your lunch break or walk around the neighborhood, the benefits of walking 30 minutes a day most days of the week include:

1. Weight Control

Walking is one of the best ways to keep your weight in check. You'll increase your metabolism and prevent muscle loss, which makes walking particularly helpful as we age.
Taking a daily walk can also help reduce belly fat by improving your body's response to insulin.

2. Improved Mood

Research shows that regular walking can alter your nervous system, resulting in less  stress and greater sense of wellbeing. For added benefits, walk with a neighbor or friends and get away from the bustle of the city and into nature.

3. Improved Cardiovascular Health

A well-known study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that those who walked 30 or more minutes 5 or more days per week had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Walking also lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of diabetes.

4. Increased Creativity

Along with improving mood, walking can benefit creative and problem solving skills. So the next time your looking for inspiration get up and take a walk!

5. Improved Digestion

Walking utilizes core and abdominal muscles, which encourages movement in our gastrointestinal tract and the digestion process.

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