fruit and vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables: Making a Difference in Your Diet

Fruits and vegetables make up a core part of a healthy diet. Packed with nutrition and essential vitamins, fruits and vegetables should be a large part of every meal; the food pyramid recommends you eat at least four servings of both per day. Of course, not every vegetable or piece of fruit is made equal, and some are certainly better for you than others. In today’s blog post, we explore which vegetables and fruits you should choose as well as debunking a few myths about these natural goodies.

In regards to vegetables, you should focus on eating leafy greens instead of starchy vegetables like potatoes. While potatoes have a long history of sustaining whole populations, nowadays with a plethora of vegetables available at any given time, you should consider grabbing a vegetable that will provide a bit more impact for your diet. Kale, broccoli, spinach, Brussel sprouts, peas and asparagus are all great choices. As an added bonus, you can prepare these vegetables in a number of ways, giving you plenty of options on how you want to enjoy these vegetables.

In regards to fruit, one key thing to keep in mind is that fruit contains sugar. While this sugar isn’t processed or added like you’ll find in candy bars, you should consider this when deciding on what to eat. Another thing to keep in mind: most of the nutritional benefits of fruit is found in the skin and pulp. Be wary of thinking that fruit juice is a sufficient substitute for biting into a nice piece of fruit. Checking the nutritional labels of fruit juice confirms that most juices contain as much sugar as a soda! Dried fruit is another instance of something that looks healthy but can be deceptively bad for you. A lot of manufacturers of dried fruit add sugar to make it taste sweeter. Be sure to look out for dried fruit that states no added sugar (but check the nutritional label just to confirm!).

A few tips on getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet:

  • If you’re looking for something sweet to eat after your meal, turn to a piece of fruit. You can enjoy grilled peaches, poached pears, and other treats instead of sugary ice cream or pie.
  • Instead of eating rice, try cauliflower rice. It tastes similar, has the same consistency, but is much healthier for you!
  • Some vegetables release sugars when they are cooked. Raw vegetables offer the most nutrition.
  • Be careful about getting vegetables at restaurants. Ask how they are prepared. Oftentimes, they are covered in butter (although buttery vegetables are probably still healthier for you than a side of French fries!)

The Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving proudly offers the Ideal Protein weight loss system, which helps you eat healthier and cut out unhealthy carbohydrates. Find out more about this program here!

childhood obesity

Childhood Obesity and How You Can Help

Childhood obesity is a problem that has grown in America over the years, and now experts estimate that one in three children are either overweight or obese. The factors that influence obesity include diet, activity, family history, and more. While many people are aware of the causes of obesity, they are unsure as to what can be done to prevent or reverse childhood obesity. In today’s post, we want to explore what children can do to avoid childhood obesity or to combat this condition if they already are obese.

One of the most important things a child can do is eat a healthy diet. What a child eats is often the responsibility of a parent, yet there are plenty of situations where a child might have to choose for themselves what they are eating, such as at a school cafeteria. Teaching your child about the important of proper nutrition informs them to make good decisions for their health, both now and in the future. A few key points:

-Go light on the sweets

-Skip the soda and juice, choose water

-Fill up your plate with vegetables

-Choose healthy proteins like chicken, lean pork, or fish

While a diet will go a long way in preventing obesity and excess weight, it is only part of the solution. The other major factor to consider is activity. Children these days are much more inactive then previous generations. This is not a condemnation as much as it is facts: children these days have access to television, tablets, computers, and video games. With so many options, children have become much more sedentary.

As a rule of thumb, encourage your child to spend at least 60 minutes each day of semi-intense activity. While many adults turn to the gym for their activity, for a child, this activity can come in the form of games, such as playing tag, jumping rope, playing an aerobic sport like basketball or soccer, or swimming. All of these activities can result in maintaining a healthy body weight.

Fighting childhood obesity is important to help your child get the best start possible. Childhood obesity can increase the risk of serious diseases later in life. Overcoming obesity can be difficult, so encourage your child to maintain a healthy body mass index.

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!

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!


Carbs on the Brain

Carbohydrates are the source of much concern for researchers and dietitians. Carbohydrates themselves are not necessarily bad or good for the body; in fact, they are often treated as long term storage of energy that the body can tap into later on. The cause for concern is often that we eat too many carbohydrates than our body needs, so we store the extra carbs as weight. For a long time, scientists and researchers thought that this is the extent of damage that carbohydrates did to our bodies.

However, new research points to an even more dangerous side effect of over eating carbs, particularly in the elderly. When elderly patients began expressing cravings for sweets, researchers wondered about the possible link. It turns out they might have found a possible link between dementia and carbohydrates.

Please note that these are just early results and will need to be studied further; however, what researchers found is, that as we get older, our brain craves certain foods, and the cravings can be indicative of problems in the brain. For a long time, researchers have used changes in eating behaviors as a red flag for signs of frontotemporal dementia (or FTD) but they never considered why.

This first study looked at 75 patients with dementia. Caregivers observed those suffering from variations of FTD and tracked their patients’ eating habits. They reported that those suffering from “behavior [variants]…[focused] more on sweet foods.” Furthermore, and perhaps more alarmingly, the patients didn’t “eat because they [felt] full,” but instead ate because “the food is there and they eat it,” according to Dr. Olivier Piguet, who authored the report.

Of course, more research will have to be conducted into this topic, as the original study was a small sample size. Researchers will also have to look more into the correlation between sweets and mental changes. In the meantime, we would recommend just simply cutting back on carbohydrates if at all possible! In general, Americans eat far more carbohydrates than they need.

Sources of carbohydrates can include:

  • Pasta
  • Candy
  • Sodas
  • Breads

No one is suggesting that you cut carbohydrates out of your diet completely; however, carefully consider how many carbohydrates you consume. Consult your general practitioner or consider signing up for our Ideal Protein program, which focuses on cutting back on carbohydrates and helping your body find its ideal weight. Learn more by visiting our Ideal Protein website or by contacting your general practitioner.


Talking to Your Doctor About Weight Loss

Americans are struggling with weight. So many studies have shown consistently over the years that the weight problem in America is becoming more and more of an issue. Many Americans, however, have started doing something about it, whether they have changed their diets, exercising more, or talking to their doctors. And, in fact, talking about weight loss seems to have an incredibly positive effect.

A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania shows that counseling with your primary care physician might be a very effective way to bring about weight loss. The study looked at Medicaid and Medicare services’ guidelines for behavioral counseling and surveyed 3893 participants.

What did researchers find? When primary care physicians and counselors named specific goals for weight loss, participants were far more likely to lose weight. Doctors understand acutely what you need to do to lose weight, whether it’s changing your behavior, increasing exercise, or eating properly (or some combination thereof). Getting a physician or a trained professional to create a plan for you allows you to meet your goals much more effectively.

The Ideal Protein clinic at MSCI works with individuals to help them lose weight. A carefully developed program has helped a countless number of people meet their weight goals. The program is segmented into different phases, each with specific goals that clients set with their coaches. Even better, this program has been developed with input from nutritionists and physicians, ensuring that individuals will shed pounds.

If you are interested in losing weight, talk to your doctor. Ask them specific questions: what should I do to lose weight? What do I need to change? What am I doing right currently? Ask about Ideal Protein and how it might help you, or discuss other weight loss strategies. Whatever you do, just make sure that you leave knowing exactly what you need to do.

Learn more about Ideal Protein and the weight loss solution by visiting our Ideal Protein page and clinic’s website.


A Healthy Thanksgiving: How to Make Your Big Meals More Nutritional

It’s our favorite time of year; a time to come together as family and friends and to celebrate the things that matter most, giving thanks and toasting great memories and food. And of course, the food is a huge part of the holidays. Delicious turkeys, hams, potatoes, and other seasonal staples come together to create an amazing spread of delicious temptations, not to mention the desserts and sweets that follow.

However, the holidays can also be pitfalls for those trying to stick to diets. Butter is commonplace, excessive amounts of sodium abounds, and desserts provide a sweet way to completely ruin your diet. But don’t despair! Before you pass the plate on all the good food, here are some tips to make Thanksgiving meals healthy.

  • Skip the pads of butter

If you’re going to enjoy a baked potato (or mashed potato) for a meal, make sure you’re not adding any butter. Chances are, butter went into mashed potatoes already, and adding anything more increases the unhealthiness of the side.

  • Wait a bit for seconds

Your table is filled with food, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat it all right away! After you finish your plate of food, wait a while. Talk to your friends and family. Oftentimes you’ll find that you are actually full and do not need any more food. And besides: Thanksgiving leftovers are always delicious.

  • Try making an “untraditional” side

Instead of casseroles smothered in gravies or carb-loaded biscuits, try something new this year, like maple roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted asparagus or vegetarian friendly stuffing. While it might take a little getting used to, switching some of the heavier side items will allow you to enjoy a more nutritional Thanksgiving meal.

  • Limit the amount of alcohol

Typically at celebrations like these, you’ll toast with a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage. It is not uncommon to have a few glasses of wine, but try to remember that drinking too much is bad for your liver, and while it is a holiday, your body will thank you in the long run!

What are some of the ways that you can make Thanksgiving healthier this year? Do you have a favorite recipe that is health-conscious and delicious? Often it’s simply about finding a balance between healthy food and the occasional treat. We hope you have a great holiday season and enjoy your time with your friends and family.


Cruising the Mediterranean for a Healthy Diet

If you have ever been to the Mediterranean countries, you have an idea about the rich history and abundance of healthy, delicious food that is served nearly for every meal. It should come as no surprise, then, that this area of the world is also one of the healthiest, due in part to the diet those living in the area mostly adhere to. Scientists have long examined what makes this diet so effective at warding off bad health*.

The cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet is a strong focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes. These are found in nearly every meal in some shape or fashion. Also commonly found in Mediterranean food is the ubiquitous olive oil, as well as grains, herbs, seeds, and spices.

After that, fish and seafood are most often found. It makes sense, too, as the Mediterranean civilizations have long since turned to the abundance of seafood found in the area. From shellfish like mussels and shrimp to fresh fish like cod, seafood plays an important role in the Mediterranean diet, and more often than not, it is the protein that appears on the plate. If not seafood, then more than likely poultry, eggs, cheese or yogurt.

Compare that to Western diets, which typically have a greater focus on starches, carbohydrates and red meats, and researchers begin to see a pattern as to why more people in the Mediterranean live healthy and happy lives. In fact, the latest research from PREDIMED indicates that the Mediterranean diet, when adopted wholly, has promise to help manage metabolic syndromes especially among those with high cardiovascular risk, central obesity, and hyperglycemia. Researchers pointed to the Mediterranean diet’s high content of “minerals, polyphenols, and other phytochemicals that combat oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance,” according to Dr. Salas-Salvado, who conducted the study.

Research is beginning to show the importance of dieting. In fact, meeting with a doctor to discuss certain conditions, your diet might be brought up. What does your usual meal schedule look like? What kind of foods do you eat the most? Do you think you would enjoy the Mediterranean diet?

*Note: there are many other factors that go into the health of Mediterranean people other than simply their diet. This blog post is in no way claiming that switching to the Mediterranean will improve your health, merely stating results shown in clinical studies.


Diet Sodas May Not Be Diet Friendly After All

Scientists have gone back and forth on studies about diet soda. Some studies say that drinking diet sodas helps keep weight off, while other studies claim that they are linked to obesity and overeating. The conflicting results of studies can make it difficult for the average dieter to decide whether switching to diet drinks or taking sodas out of their diet altogether is the better choice.

The latest study on the matter helps to explain why results on other studies have been so confusing. Focusing on how the body digests diet sodas and the artificial sweeteners, the study revealed that the substitute sweeteners in these drinks may alter the way the stomach’s natural bacteria processes food. The study specifically used mice to test the changes of the bacteria to sweeteners commonly found in diet sodas, like saccharine and sucralose, and then tested on people. Very few people reacted to the sweeteners, but enough did to make this a possible avenue for future research.

Researchers fed the mice large amounts of the artificial sweeteners and then compared the results to mice fed regular sugar. The mice were able to process the sugar regularly, but the artificial sweeteners changed both their gut’s bacteria and their overall metabolism. Mice were used in the trials because, like humans, mice have specific bacteria that are used to help digest food that other creatures cannot.

The artificial sweeteners changed the mice’s bacteria, killing off one group called Bacteroides and promoting the growth of another type of bacteria called Clostridiales. This same change in bacteria type has also been observed in individuals with diabetes. However, the study of digestive bacteria is still in its infancy and researchers caution making definite conclusions.

Still, when scientists tested the effects of artificial sweeteners on a small group of people, 4 out of the 7 individuals showed elevated blood sugar and metabolic change that is often associated with weight gain and pre-diabetes.

So while no definite conclusions can be drawn yet from the study, it might be worth noting that if you’re struggling with your diet and still drinking diet sodas, it might be worth cutting them out of your everyday life and see if that helps. And if you need any further help with your dieting, ourIdeal Protein clinic can help you change your lifestyle and lose weight in a healthy and consistent way!


How You Can Fight Childhood Obesity

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 1 in 3 children are either overweight or obese. Fortunately, children also have the capacity to overcome or avoid the perils of obesity. Children have not developed habits, or if they have, their routine isn’t as ingrained as an adult.

Obesity has been linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In the past, these diseases were seen almost exclusively in adults, but now due to the increased instances of childhood obesity, researchers view children at a much higher risk to develop these conditions.

As adults, we can help guide children to better health and set them up for future wellness by implementing some small changes to our everyday routine. Here are a few ideas on how to raise awareness about and reduce the risk of childhood obesity:

  • Planning Healthy Meals. Obviously eating healthier will help improve your child’s health, but most researchers also believe that involving your child in planning meals will raise awareness on what is healthy and what isn’t, as well as balancing their diet. Limiting the number of sweets and overly-processed foods will also help your child learn better eating habits.
  • Encourage Physical Activity. We’re not blaming kids: these days, there are so many fun distractions like computers, smart phones and tablets. However, this means that kids aren’t moving around as much as they used to. Adults should limit time sitting still and promote at least 60 minutes of activity each day.
  • Change The Way We Snack. Everyone snacks, but it’s time to get smarter about snacking. Instead of carbohydrate-heavy chips or crackers, stock up on fresh fruit and veggies. And remember: vegetables don’t have to be presented as bland or necessary. Spice things up and make things fun, like freezing grapes to make healthy-alternative popsicles, or use some peanut butter and celery and add raisins to make the classic ants-on-a-log.

Childhood obesity is a serious problem in our country, but following these tips and encouraging a positive and healthy lifestyle can put your child on the right track to success. What do you do to promote healthy living with your child?