tips for healthy grilling

Tips for Healthy Grilling

Texas didn’t invent grilling, but we almost perfected it. From steaks to BBQ, our state loves to throw things on the grill. For good reasons, too: grilling imbues food with a delicious, smoky flavor. Yet grilling can also be intimidating to those inexperienced. Fear not! We have put together a few tips for healthy grilling to ensure that you cook food properly and you remain safe yourself!

1. Rely on a meat thermometer

There are a lot of urban legends when it comes to cooking on the grill. Ignore them, however, and rely on this tip for healthy grilling: the most important tool for a grill master is a meat thermometer. A meat thermometer is the only way to ensure that food is cooked properly.

Some people will tell you that you can tell if meat has been cooked enough by the color of the juices when you cut into it. However, this is not a reliable indicator. In order to ensure that meat has been cooked enough, you need to rely on the thermometer. Here are the recommended temperatures depending on the protein:

  • 160o F for raw ham and medium-cooked beef/lamb/veal
  • 165o F for whole poultry, ground beef/pork, poultry breast
  • 170o F for pork roast and well-done beef/lamb/veal

 

2. Have a fire extinguisher nearby

Even the most experienced grill masters should adhere to this tip for healthy grilling. You should always keep a fire extinguisher nearby just in case of emergencies. Particularly if you use charcoal, an errant ember can cause a fire. Related, you should also take care to clear the area around the grill of anything flammable. Most grill areas in parks are on a concrete slab to help prevent foliage from catching fire. Very hot grills can also lead to flare ups. A fire extinguisher is always a smart idea. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

 

3. Be careful of backdraft

If you’ve ever cooked using an oven before (and we’re guessing you have if you’re grilling), you know that opening the oven door too quickly can cause backdraft—sudden, intense heat shooting out through the opening. Heat wants to escape, and when you open a cooking instrument slightly, heat rushes out.

When it comes to grilling, backdraft can be even worse. The sudden exposure of oxygen can cause flames and dangerous heat. To prevent this from happening, make sure that the grill has ample flow of oxygen while cooking so the flame does not choke. When you’re done grilling, close the air intake and do not open the lid for at least a few hours to make sure the embers are completely cooled off.

 

4. Grill more than just meat!

This isn’t necessarily a safety tip as much as a health tip: grills are for more than just cooking meat. Consider adding some vegetables to your meals by grilling them. Grilled vegetables can be prepared directly on the grill grate or in a grill-ready container, like a cast iron skillet. If you plan on grilling the vegetable directly on the grating, make sure it is a sturdy vegetable that can withstand the heat. Oftentimes, you may have to prepare the vegetable to ensure that it doesn’t just burn to a crisp, so find a recipe that you like and bon appetite!

 

Grilling and summertime go together like ice cream and apple pie. Regardless if you’re an experienced grill master or just getting started, rely on these tips for healthy grilling to get the most out of your summer. Pretty soon, you’ll be enjoying delicious foods prepared to perfection!

stroke awareness

American Stroke Awareness Month

Every year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke. Of these strokes, nearly ¾ of them occurred in people over the age of 65. Strokes are so common and so serious that strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability in the US. May is Stroke Awareness month, and we wanted to spread information on what exactly happens during a stroke and what to do to prevent strokes from occurring.

First of all, it is important to understand a stroke. Your brain has a number of blood vessels called arteries that carry oxygen and other nutrients to various parts of the brain. Your brain relies on arteries for a constant supply of fresh blood to keep functioning. A stroke happens when one of these arteries either is blocked or bursts. Because an artery stops working, that part of the brain can actually die. Temporary blockage might not cause permanent damage but temporary malfunctions. This is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA): the blood supply is stopped only for a short period of time.

What causes these blockages or bursts of arteries? Occasionally, a blood clot or plaque forms near the heart or near a large artery that leads to the brain. This plaque eventually moves through the arteries until it reaches the brain, and this causes a stroke. Alternatively, clots can form inside the artery in the brain and interrupts the blood flow. A burst artery, on the other hand, is caused due to high blood pressure and aneurysms. High blood pressure weakens the arteries over time since the body has to work harder to pump the same amount of blood through the body. An aneurysm, on the other hand, is simply an arterial weak spot that gets weaker and begins to bulge. Over time, the blood vessel may burst, causing a stroke.

There are a few ways to spot someone having a stroke. Signs of a stroke include:

  • Drooping side of the face
  • Speech difficulties
  • Muscle weakness on one side of the body
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Pins and needles-feeling
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or vertigo

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, call 911 immediately. Calling emergency services could actually save someone’s life if they are having a stroke. If your doctor has indicated that you are at risk for a stroke, they might recommend certain medications or even surgery. Of course, the best care is preventative, and staying healthy will reduce your likelihood of having a stroke. This includes plenty of physical exercise and quitting smoking.

Talk to your physician if you have a family history of strokes. A stroke is not necessarily the primary disease, but is often caused by other health factors. Listing all your family history and helping your physician identify which diseases you are most at risk for can minimize your risk of having a stroke. If you are looking for a doctor in Irving, TX, MSCI can help. Contact us today and schedule an appointment with one of our medical providers.

air quality awareness

Air Quality Awareness Week

Spring in North Texas is one of the best times of year, with the weather not quite too hot and not too cold. Unfortunately, North Texas also has to deal with air quality problems. As part of Air Quality Awareness Week, which takes place the last week of April, we wanted to talk about air quality, how to identify bad air quality days, and what to do about it.

Air quality is measured in an air quality index (AQI). The Environmental Protection Agency measures a number of different air pollutants. These pollutants can be dangerous to your health in high levels. The primary pollutants measured by the AQI are:

  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Ground-level ozone
  • Particle Pollution
  • Nitrogen dioxide

After measuring these various pollutants, the EPA assigns a value between 0 and 500. The higher the number, the more dangerous the pollution is outside. There are 6 tiers of AQI values. Good means air quality between 0 and 50. Moderate air quality is anything between 51 and 100. Between 101-150, the air quality is unhealthy for at-risk groups. 151-200 is unhealthy for the entire population. 201-300 is considered very unhealthy, and 301-500 is hazardous. Anything below 100 is considered typical and satisfactory by the EPA.

Overall, when the air quality becomes poor, most people experience watery eyes, coughing, or even wheezing. Even if you have healthy lungs, as the air becomes more polluted, you might have a harder time breathing and have respiratory irritation when you work outdoors. Pregnant women, those suffering from lung disease, people who work outdoors for a living, and children under the age of 14 are all at risk when the air quality becomes bad.

If it is a bad air day, there are a few things that you can do to deal with the pollution. The best thing you can do is to remain indoors as much as possible. If you have allergies, staying indoors can reduce the irritation. This means staying indoors with the windows closed and the air conditioning on. Asthmatics should have their inhaler or controller medication close at hand throughout the day. Additionally, some over-the-counter antihistamines can also deal with symptoms from allergens in the air.

Treat bad air quality days with care. Pollution in the air can be hazardous. Remember that not all pollution is man made, as well. Natural events like forest fires can make the air particularly dangerous. Always take a look at the AQI if you have any kind of respiratory condition or if your doctor has indicated that you are at risk for bad air quality.

dangers of alcohol

Understanding Alcohol: Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. While every adult over the age of 21 has the right to purchase and consume alcohol, it is important to understand what alcohol does to the body. After all, even though alcohol is common, it is still a drug and can be a dangerous depressant when consumed in excess. Drinking too much too frequently can even lead to alcoholism, which is an addiction to alcohol that causes you to be physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol.

If you decide to consume alcohol, keep track of your consumption. A standard serving size has a number of measurements due to the fact that alcohol can appear in different forms. Serving sizes include:

  • a 4 oz glass of wine
  • a 12 oz can of beer
  • or a 1.5 oz shot of distilled spirit or liquor

Many professionals and studies have concluded that one or two servings of alcohol a day might even have beneficial effects in fighting cardiovascular disease and dementia. However, the latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that a pregnant woman should not consume any alcohol, just in case there may be adverse effects on the fetus. There are also conflicting studies that state that alcohol may not have positive effects on the body.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) warn against the dangers of heavy drinking. Heavy drinking depends on whether or not you are male or female. Heavy drinking for men means drinking more than 4 drinks on any one day or more than 14 drinks per week; for women, it means more than 3 drinks any day or more than 7 drinks per week. When you drink this much, you increase your risk of injuries and health problems.

An alarming number of injuries take place while drinking too much. For instance, when looking at fatal burns, alcohol is involved in nearly 60% of instances. This alarming correlation applies for drownings and homicides as well. Sexual assaults involve alcohol nearly 50% of the time, and 40% of fatal car accidents are caused because of intoxication. Alcohol does not just contribute to accidents and violence, however. Drinking excessively nullifies any potential benefit of light drinking. When you drink heavily, you increase your risk of liver disease, heart disease, sleep disorders, stroke, and depression. Drinking excessively can also make managing diabetes and blood pressure more difficult.

Currently, there are around 17 million people with an alcohol use disorder. If you are worried that you are suffering from an alcohol use disorder, talk to your physician. Alcoholism can lead to serious health problems and recovering from alcoholism can be difficult. If you see anyone who has passed out or lost consciousness after consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, be sure to call 911 as this can lead to coma or death. If you wish to consume alcohol responsibility but take regular medications, always consult your doctor. If you are looking for a doctor in Irving, TX, contact us today!

If you choose to consume alcohol, always do so responsibly. If you drink away from your home, choose a designated driver or have a plan for getting home safely via cab or car ride service. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

health and hygiene

Why Hygiene is Important to Health

Parents often teach their children how to clean themselves as one of the major developmental steps towards independence. While most of us understand that bathing, personal hygiene, and cleanliness are important, fewer understand why hygiene is important to health. Today’s blog post explores the relationship between health and hygiene and why you should maybe reconsider skipping that shower.

The most obvious benefit to personal health is the reduction of body odor. A good shower washes off the dirt and sweat that has accumulated on your skin and hair. However, what some people don’t realize is that body odor is also caused by bacteria. When you wash with soap, you reduce the amount of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that have grown on your skin. Don’t get too grossed out, since viruses, bacteria, and fungi naturally grow everywhere, but our skin forms a protective layer that does a good job keeping the bad stuff out. By washing regularly, you reduce the chances of infection. Washing regularly also keeps your skin healthy and reduces the chance of you getting skin infections like staph and MRSA, as well as athlete’s foot and certain parasites, like ringworm, pinworms and roundworms.

The link between health and hygiene doesn’t end there! Oral health is another major focus point. A clean mouth is a healthy mouth, and regular brushing and flossing will keep your teeth healthy and strong. Researchers have also uncovered a link between oral health and your overall health. Individuals with periodontal (gum) disease have an increased chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Make sure you make regular appointments with your dentist in order to keep your mouth healthy.

So what exactly should you do to stay clean and healthy? Here are three habits to do regularly:

  • Bathe: shower or take a bath at regular intervals. Most experts agree that you do not need to bathe every day, but make sure you clean your body regularly to reduce the buildup of shedding skin, dirt, and other particles
  • Brush and floss: brushing and flossing should be something you do every day. Good dental habits can go a long way in keeping your mouth fresh and strong for the rest of your life.
  • Trim fingernails and toenails: Keeping your toenails and fingernails trim will reduce your chance of hangnails that might lead to infections.
  • Wash your hands: make sure you wash your hands after handling raw food, taking out the trash, sneezing, or coughing. Washing your hands can reduce the chance of infection for you and others.

Taking care of your personal hygiene can have a positive effect on your health. Work regular habits into your daily life to ensure you stay clean and healthy!

healthy spring

5 Tips for a Healthy Spring

Spring is officially here, and with the warmer weather comes plenty of opportunities to improve your health. We have put together a few tips for a healthy spring season that you can follow. If you are experiencing any serious medical conditions, be sure to consult a doctor first and foremost. Be aware of your surroundings and your own personal limits as well!

1)      Take a Walk

Spring is an ideal time in Texas to go for a walk. While occasionally there will be errant days that are unseasonably hot, for the most part the weather is cool enough to enjoy the outdoors. One of the greatest problems facing Americans is not enough exercise. Taking a walk can provide light exercise and get muscles moving. Furthermore, you can enjoy the outdoors and the blooming landscape. Find an attractive place to walk, like around a lake or park, and take in the beauty of nature!

2)      See an Allergist

Allergy season does not necessarily start in spring, but take time to go see an allergist now to save you some discomfort later. If you have never been to an allergist, these specialists can identify specific allergens that trigger reactions. Depending on the treatment, allergists can help alleviate some of the discomfort you experience from these particular allergens. Getting a jump on allergy season can have your body ready so you can breathe easier once the pollen, pollution, and other allergens really enter the air.

Looking for an allergist in Irving? MSCI can help! Contact our allergist today and schedule an appointment.

3)      Incorporate fresh veggies

Spring is all about bloom and rebirth after the cold of winter, and what better way to celebrate the spirit of the season than to incorporate fresh vegetables in your diet? Bringing fresh veggies into your diet is an excellent way to have a healthy spring, as fresh vegetables bring plenty of nutrients and vitamins that the average American diet can lack. Vegetables in season in spring include asparagus, peas, leeks, shallot and onions.

4)      Plant a garden

Don’t just eat vegetables this spring; consider planting some as well! Not only do gardens provide a nice, natural feature to a landscape, they also make you healthy. By most estimates, planting a garden will burn between 250 and 300 calories per hour spent gardening. This might seem like hard work, but in a few weeks, you will harvest fresh vegetables of your own. Not only will you be doing some light exercise and getting some fresh air, but you will also save some money and improve your diet! Of course, you could always plant some flowers and turn an ordinary patch of your yard into a peaceful garden.

5)      Do some spring cleaning

After hibernating for the winter, you might find yourself surrounded by unnecessary clutter. Spring is the perfect time to go through what you want, what you need, and what you can get rid of. Make donations with unwanted goods or sell them at a yard sale. Many communities have neighborhood yard sales, which represent a great time to get rid of things you don’t need any longer. Making room in your house is a great way to de-clutter your space, which can provide a psychological benefit. Tidy spaces often have a positive impact on mental health!

Make this spring your healthiest season yet. Try some of these tips! If you haven’t seen a doctor in a while, spring is also a great time to check in with your GP. Contact one of our physicians and schedule an appointment today.

ct scanner

How does a CT Scanner Work?

One of the benefits of being a patient at the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving is access to our extensive network of specialty providers and other services. Because of this network, patients can quickly get the care they need. Your doctor may assign various tests, including CT scans, depending on your health needs. If your doctor requests a CT scan, you might be wondering what exactly is a CT scan? You might know what a CT scanner does, but you don’t know how it works. We’re here to explain the basics of how a CT scanner works.

A CT scanner is a complicated piece of technology, but it does an amazing job identifying potential maladies in the body by using x-ray imaging and computer imaging. Unlike a traditional x-ray, which only uses one beam, a CT scanner sends out countless beams. Another difference between an x-ray and CT scanner is how the machine sees into the body. Using the multiple beams, the CT scanner uses an x-ray detector that reads different levels of densities. This is another difference between an x-ray scanner and CT scanner: unlike an x-ray, which is great at seeing one density, a CT scanner uses its wider spectrum to create 3D cross-sections of whatever part of your body that needs to be scanned.

Depending on your needs, a doctor might use contrast dye, as this helps the CT scanner get a much clearer image. Additionally, if your doctor needs to see into your abdomen, they might request you use barium. This is usually ingested, typically the night before, to allow the substance to reach your stomach and intestines. If the scan is looking at your blood vessels, the barium might be injected. This might cause a tingling sensation.

Our CT scan allows patients to lay down on a table. The table slides through the x-ray detector. You will usually be asked to hold your breath as the CT scanner works to keep the image focused and still. This may be repeated a few times in order to get the proper image. This process should be comfortable for you, but if you have any discomfort or if you feel anxious at all, please inform the technician.

A CT scanner is a powerful tool for doctors to help find problems and make sure your body is functioning correctly. If your doctor has requested a CT scan, you now know how a CT scanner works and can feel a bit more relaxed as you undergo this diagnostic procedure.

good blood pressure

Importance of Good Blood Pressure

Unlike some diagnostic tests conducted by doctors, blood pressure can be done on your own. Most grocery and drug stores have a blood pressure machine that allows you to see your current blood pressure. Of course, getting a number doesn’t mean much if you don’t understand the importance of what it means. Do you know what good blood pressure means? What does blood pressure even measure?

Before you can find out what good blood pressure means and what to aim for, you first need to understand how to interpret a blood pressure reading. Blood pressure shows up as two numbers. Doctors refer to these numbers as systolic and diastolic numbers. The systolic number is the top number on the readout, and the diastolic is the bottom number. Both numbers measure a different aspect of your blood pressure. The systolic (top) number measures the pressure of your blood against your artery walls when your heart beats. The diastolic (bottom) number measures the pressure when your heart rests between beats.

Why does blood pressure matter? The more pressure your blood puts on the arterial walls, the harder your heart has to work to pump blood through your body. As your heart works harder and harder, it can cause damage to itself and to your arteries. High blood pressure also increases your chance of having a stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, damage to your eyes, and more. A number of factors contribute to high blood pressure, including:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Too much sodium in your diet
  • Too much alcohol
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Gender

So what do doctors consider to be good blood pressure? Good blood pressure measures at less than 120 over 80. This means that the systolic number should be anywhere below 120, while the diastolic number should be less than 80. Anything higher indicates high blood pressure or pre-high blood pressure (called hypertension).

Since February is National Heart Health Month, it is important to remind you to take care of your health. High blood pressure is something that many Americans have to deal with, and you can lower your blood pressure over time with exercise, changes in diet, and talking to your doctor. If you haven’t talked to your doctor recently, be sure to schedule an appointment at the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving. Doctors typically take your blood pressure before most examinations, including a physical. Keeping good care of your heart by maintaining good blood pressure will help ensure that both you and your heart enjoy a long, healthy life.

physical

Three Medical Appointments to Make in 2017

2017 is just getting started. A new year is always a great time to start fresh and do the things that you have been putting off doing. Because your health is the most important thing, the beginning of the year is a perfect time to schedule medical appointments. At the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving, we offer over 20 specialties to help you achieve better health.

Here are three appointments you should consider making in 2017 to start your year off with a clean bill of health!

  • Schedule a physical

A physical exam is a general examination that your general care physician performs. A physical exam is designed to screen for certain diseases, look for potential problems in your future, check on your vaccinations, and give you a general sense of the healthiness of your current lifestyle. Getting regular physicals helps you in the long run by detecting potential problems early enough to do something. Because of a physical’s importance, insurance provided through the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) cover a physical every year. There’s no reason not to get a physical at that point!

  • Visit an Ophthalmologist

Are you having problems with your eyes? Even if you can see clearly and feel like you have no problem with your eyes, experts recommend that you visit the eye doctor every or every other year, depending on your age and family history with eye problems. Particular groups that should see an ophthalmologist regularly are elderly and schoolchildren. In fact, you should take your child to the eye doctor by the time they turn 6 months, as recommended by the American Optometric Association (AOA). You might even take your child for their first visit earlier if they have any risk factors, such as a premature birth, developmental delays, or other birth complications. The AOA also recommends that adults over the age of 61 visit the ophthalmologist every year.

  • Reduce the discomfort by seeing an allergist

If you have problems with allergies, seeing an allergist can make a huge difference in your life. After being referred to an allergist by your doctor, your Irving specialist will most likely recommend an allergy test to identify specific allergens that cause you discomfort. Depending on the results of the test, your doctor may recommend allergy shots. Allergy shots do not “cure” allergic reactions, as there is no cure for allergies; however, allergy shots allow your body to get used to allergens and reduce the symptoms. If you are suffering from allergies and over-the-counter medicine does not provide relief, consider talking to your doctor today about it.

 

Seeing the right specialist regularly can make all the difference in detecting disease, improve your health, and ultimately better your quality of life. Additional procedures you should consider include:

  • Annual Well Women exams at the OB/GYN or your primary care physician.
  • Colonoscopies for adults and individuals at risk for colon cancer with your gastroenterologist
  • Mammograms for women
  • Bone Density testing for osteoporosis
  • Dental cleanings
  • Hearing tests
  • Dermatologist visits to check for skin cancer

If you are searching for an Irving specialist, you can turn to the team at the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving. Our team of professionals offer over 20 different types of medical specialties. At the very least, if you haven’t seen the doctor in a while, consider scheduling a routine check-up and getting a physical. Get to know our doctors by clicking here.

successful new years resolution

How to Make a Successful New Year’s Resolution

2016 is coming to a close, and everyone is writing his or her list of New Year’s Resolutions. Many people fail at achieving their New Year’s Resolutions—in fact, some studies show that just 8% of people achieve their goals. We wanted to take a look at how to make a successful New Year’s Resolution, and because our Irving clinic cares about your health, we then want to look at how New Year’s Resolutions can be used to improve your health!

One of the most important steps in creating a successful New Year’s Resolution is to change only one thing at a time, and to break that goal down into manageable steps. Humans are very resistant to change. Our bodies are designed to achieve homeostasis in more ways than one! By breaking down your resolutions into simple, one-item changes, it is much easier to achieve success. For example, if your resolution is to work out more, you should consider all the questions that accompany that goal. Where do you work out? What routine are you going to follow? How many times a week are you going to work out? How long will it take you to work out?

Another key difference between a successful New Year’s Resolution and unsuccessful ones is defining the right goal. Saying that you want to lose 20 pounds in a month looks good on paper, but it does little to help you formulate an actual plan. A better resolution would be to exercise three days a week, eat healthier, or start a diet, like our Ideal Protein plan.

See how Ideal Protein, our medically assisted weight loss program, can help you achieve better health in 2017!

Finally, our third tip to help you make a successful New Year’s Resolution is to understand your own willpower. Saying you want to lose 50 pounds or cutting out sugary sodas that you drink on a daily basis are great goals. However, you know yourself better than anyone does. Are your goals reasonable? The saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that’s also true for self-improvement. Sometimes the smallest changes can have the biggest impacts, like taking the stairs instead of elevator when you get to the office.

New Year’s is a time to look ahead and make a better future. At the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving, we want to help you achieve your goals and live your healthiest year yet! Share with us your New Year’s Resolutions on our Facebook page and let us know how you plan on making 2017 your best year yet!