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.

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.

surgical weight loss

Surgical Weight Loss Options at MSCI

The Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving recently welcomed Dr. Melanie Hafford to our team. An experienced surgeon, Dr. Hafford specializes in bariatric surgery and helps patients achieve their weight loss goals. Losing weight can have major health benefits; in fact, research has shown that losing as little as 10 pounds can significantly improve a person’s life. Surgical weight loss might be the option for some patients, and MSCI now offers a number of surgical weight loss options for patients to consider.

The first surgical weight loss option is a sleeve gastrectomy, or sometimes called a gastric sleeve. On average, patients who receive a sleeve gastrectomy can expect to lose between 50-60% of their excess body weight. This procedure involves removing a part of the stomach and creating a sleeve. In total, around 75% of the stomach will be removed, causing the patient to eat less food and have a decrease in hunger. However, your stomach will continue to process food and absorb food as it had before.

The next surgical weight loss procedure is a gastric bypass. One of the most common bariatric surgery procedures, a gastric bypass can help patients lose (on average) between 60 and 80% of their excess body weight. This procedure makes food take a bit of a detour through the stomach. A gastric bypass creates a “pouch” in the stomach that then connects to the rest of the digestive tract. Because the food bypasses such an extensive part of the body, patients can expect rapid weight loss.

The final procedure we offer at MSCI is lap band surgery. Comparatively speaking, lap band is very straightforward and is minimally invasive. In a lap band surgery, a band is placed around the top part of a stomach. This band limits the amount of food a person can eat. Lap band procedures can be reversed, although patients will have to also get the lap band adjusted from time to time, as well as have their physician check on the status of the band. Patients on average lose around 40% of their excess body weight.

With any of these procedures, it’s important to talk to a physician. Surgical weight loss is an option for some individuals, and there are many misconceptions about gastric surgeries. Fortunately, Dr. Hafford offers a free information session on a regular basis. If you’re interested in bariatric surgeries, contact Dr. Hafford directly by calling 972-823-3230.

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3 Healthy Changes to Make in 2016

We are a few weeks into 2016, and with the majority of the year left to go, it’s time to start thinking about how you can make 2016 your healthiest year yet. The mistake that most people make when trying to make healthy changes is that they think too big. Many of us can benefit from small changes. Over time these small changes may add up to produce big changes to your lifestyle.

Here are three healthy changes that you can make to make 2016 your best year yet:

1) Clean out your pantry

For this first suggestion, we’re not talking about getting rid of food that has expired or spoiled. Instead, we’re talking about food that is simply unhealthy for you. More and more science points to a high-carbohydrate diet being unhealthy. Most of us want to start something diet-related at the beginning of the year, but leaving the unhealthy junk in your pantry and fridge leads to temptation that many of us cannot resist. By getting rid or donating the food, you remove temptation and are far more likely to succeed at your new diet.

Speaking of diets, if you’re looking for a diet that will produce noticeable results, consider Ideal Protein. Our doctor-assisted diet program works by cutting out the excess carbohydrates in your diet and focusing on good, nutritious food. Doing so will boost your body’s natural ability to process fat, leading to rapid weight loss. If you’re interested in Ideal Protein, talk to your doctor or read more about Ideal Protein on our website.

2) Work Harder and Smarter

Stress contributes to bad health, and one of our biggest sources of stress comes from our jobs. In 2016, focus on de-stressing by working smarter in the work place. One of the best ways to work smarter is to delegate and plan ahead. For example, if you have a big project coming up soon, plan which steps you want to tackle first so that you don’t have to finish a project in one sitting. Delegation works the same way: ask for help when you feel like you need it and don’t try and take on the world.

The other way to improve your work life: work harder physically. If you work in an office building, don’t take the elevator or escalator. Instead, take the stairs! Something even as small as taking the stairs can make a huge difference in your physical activity. Also, when planning your meals, consider packing a meal ahead of time. Most packed meals are far more nutritious and balanced than meals you can get at a fast food restaurant.

3) Get More Sleep

While it varies from person to person, most adults need 7 hours of sleep every night. Some people might require more sleep and some can operate on less sleep, but 7 hours is a good baseline to aim for. Getting enough sleep allows you to feel more rested and more prepared for your upcoming day. It’s also important to get the right kind of sleep. Staying up too late and sleeping in too late is not as beneficial as going to bed at a reasonable time and waking up in the morning. Set an alarm and wake up when it goes off. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep!

These are just three small healthy changes that you can make to start 2016. If you’re interested in improving your health, schedule an appointment with one of our doctors and talk to them about ways you can live healthier. They will have suggestions to make you feel better and live a healthier, longer life.

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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!

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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?

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Putting the Diabetes Problem in Perspective

It is likely that each one of us knows at least one person with diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in America, and while our methods of managing the disease have improved over the years, it is still a serious condition that can affect lifestyles. However, it is also a disease that has been with us for centuries now, which means we often overlook how serious the diabetes problem has become in America.

The Center for Disease Control and Emory University in Atlanta estimate that 2 in 5 Americans will develop diabetes, more than likely type 2 diabetes, sometime in their life. Additionally, over 50% of some ethnicities will also develop some type of diabetes.

Part of this alarming statistic comes from the fact that people are living longer lives, meaning that there are simply more years where they can develop diabetes. However, researchers also point to dietary changes in American eating habits, including eating at restaurants more often, eating larger amounts of food than recommended, and increasing the amount of refined sugar in diets.

If this isn’t alarming enough, the National Health Interview Survey showed that the lifetime risk of diabetes developing in women rose from 26.6% to 39.6% and 20.2% to 40.2% for men compared to risk measured in 1985-1989.

  • So what can you do to minimize your risk of diabetes?
  • Maintain a healthy weight. This means keeping your body mass index (BMI) less than 25.
  • Exercise. It has been shown that 30 minutes of exercise a day can significantly reduce the chances of developing diabetes.
  • Eat a healthy diet. This includes not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, smoking, or fatty foods.

If you follow these steps, you can reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes and help you enjoy a long, healthy, and happy life. If you feel like you may be at risk of developing diabetes, consider setting up an appointment with the doctors at MSCI and discuss the factors in your life that you can change to help you minimize risk.

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White Bread: Two Slices You Could Cut

Who remembers growing up and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch at school? Or a ham and cheese sandwich? You probably cared more about what was between the two slices of bread than the bread itself, but nutritionists now caution that white bread may be more than just a means to transport filling: it may bring about unwanted calories and carbohydrates.

In a presentation given to the European Congress on Obesity, Professor Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez made the case against white bread. A single serving of white bread (two slices) contains about 190 calories by itself, two grams of fat, 37 grams of carbohydrates, and three grams of sugar. Conversely, 100% whole grain bread contains 30 fewer calories, 30 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of sugar.

Of course, Professor Martinez-Gonzalez was quick to point out that eating white bread will not necessarily make you unhealthy. In fact, all studies conducted on the matter have shown that eating white bread and gaining weight only have a loose association. And in 2012, a study conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation showed that most health concerns about white bread were exaggerated. However, nutritionists point out that cutting a serving size of bread in half can help with your daily nutrition. Sometimes, every little bit helps when you’re considering your diet!

If you’ve ever considered changing your diet, consider talking to one of the coaches at MSCI’s Ideal Protein clinic. Our experienced coaches will help you get back on track to health by helping you make smart changes to your diet. Consider making an appointment today and discover a new way to look at your health.

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Dr. Edelman and His Book Featured on Fox 4

The over-usage of sugar in our society is a serious problem, and Dr. Edelman is trying to spread the word about this oversaturation of the sweet stuff. Recently, Dr. Edelman went on Fox 4 to talk about his book Sugar Rehab and the dangers of consuming too much sugar.

Watch Dr. Edelman on Fox 4 here: http://www.myfoxdfw.com/clip/10294396/fox-4ward-sugar-rehab

Sugar Rehab utilizes the latest research to show how people consume more sugar than they actually realize. Many seemingly innocent foods, like bread and even fruit, can contain a surprisingly large amount of sugar, which can easily disrupt diets and affect your body’s natural equilibrium.

The book does not try to be a dieting guide but rather as a handbook to reevaluate your lifestyle and improve your overall living by making you more conscious of the decisions you make related to sugar-loaded foods. In fact, Dr. Edelman is clear from the start that he is not trying to take away your sweets; instead, he hopes to educate how you choose your foods so that if you choose to enjoy a dessert or sweet treat, your body hasn’t already been inundated with excessive sugar.

Too much sugar has been linked to obesity, premature aging, heart disease, and other serious conditions. Sugar is also an addictive substance, so the more sugar you consume, the more sugar your body craves. Dr. Edelman hopes that by shedding light on the amount of sugar we consume, we can minimize our dependency on sugar and lead healthier lifestyles.

If you are interested in Dr. Edelman’s book, you can order it either as an eBook or as a paperback by visiting http://sugarrehabbook.com/index.html.