Friday, June 30, 2017

The Surprising Benefits Of Seeing A Medical Resident

When it comes to health care, many patients opt for the experienced and tested provider over the latest medical resident. Perhaps this is because of the common misconceptions about medical residents, unfamiliarity with the term or fear they’ll be used as a teaching tool.

However, you may be surprised to learn there are many benefits that medical residents offer their patients. Before looking at these advantages, let’s take a closer look at what it means to be a medical resident.

What are medical residents?

After completing a rigorous and lengthy amount of education to graduate with a degree of either medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), graduates enter into their residency program to receive specialty training.

Most residents will spend between three to seven years, depending on the specialty, receiving on-the-job training. During this time they are working with patients, but they are working with the guidance of a fully-licensed physician and other residents.

5 Benefits of seeing a medical resident:

Your first encounter with a medical resident may have been one of apprehension. After all, having multiple people in white coats surrounding you can be slightly intimidating. However, the next time your doctor asks you if a resident can observe, there are several benefits you’ll want to keep in mind.

  1. You get extra time with the doctor. Unlike staff physicians, medical residents don’t have an established patient base, which means they don’t have the typical time constraints of many providers. Because of this, residents are able to spend more time with patients without the rush.

  2. You’re receiving state-of-the-art care. While in their residency, doctors are preparing to become board-certified and applying for their medical license, both of which require them to stay informed with the latest health information, practices and treatments. Not only is this true for the residents themselves, but the teaching doctors and other attending physicians are also driven to stay up-to-date.

  3. You get an extra pair of eyes. Oftentimes, because residents are working alongside teaching physicians, you receive care from two doctors. This means all the health information, diagnosis or treatments you receive have been backed by two highly-qualified doctors.

  4. You’re going to an academic medical center. In order to have a medical residency program, facilities must work diligently to meet and maintain certain qualifications. Teaching physicians and resident physicians are all dedicated to continually advancing and growing their medical knowledge and expertise.

  5. You’re more than just a patient. By seeing a resident physician you’re playing a vital role in the education process. You are supporting the future of medicine by seeing current doctors and the doctors of tomorrow.

Celebrating Academic Primary Care

Gwinnett Medical Centerestablished its Graduate Medical Education Programs in order to continue supporting and advancing the health of our community. We have several medical residency programs, including: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Transitional Year. Patients are able to see resident and teaching doctors at either of our Academic Primary Care practices.

We would also like to take a moment to recognize our first graduating class of Graduate Medical Education residents. Congratulations, and good luck!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Seasonal Superfoods: Summer Edition

As summer kicks into high gear, you’ve likely been enjoying the sunshine, the warm temperatures and the fresh air, but what about the fresh produce? While you may not think of summer as a season rich in fruits and veggies, there are a surprising number of nutritious favorites you can enjoy.

In fact, much of summer’s bounty includes some of the most popular fruits and veggies. And by enjoying them while they’re in season, you’ll get the added benefit of peak flavor and nutrition.

So with all of these delicious options in season, it’s the perfect time to replenish your body with heart-healthy foods. Whether it’s a healthy snack at the pool, a nutritious burger topper for your next barbecue or a sweet treat, these healthy options are sure to become a staple of your summer.

Avocados: With almost 20 different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, avocados are rich in nutrients your heart will love. This includes folate, monounsaturated fats and L-Carnitine, just to name a few.

Tomatoes:As one of the most versatile veggies out there, you can enjoy tomatoes of all shapes and sizes during the summer season. Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes that’s responsible for their bright color, is believed to reduce heart disease risk.

Salad greens: Whether it’s spinach, kale, arugula or romaine lettuce, all of these healthy greens are nutrient powerhouses. Each of these leafy greens is full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Chili peppers: As a spicy and flavorful addition to nearly any savory dish, chili peppers provide an impressive array of vitamins and nutrients. While they may be small, they are mighty, including nutrients such as vitamin K1, potassium and antioxidants.

Beets:This nutritious veggie has gotten a bad reputation for being bitter in taste, but with a little seasoning and either roasting, grilling or steaming, you’ll enjoy a milder, sweeter flavor. You’ll also enjoy the plant alkaloid, betaine, as well as folate, which promote the health of your arteries and heart.

Red bell peppers: The bright red color of bell peppers is not only pretty; it’s also an indication of the antioxidant, lycopene, which is also found in tomatoes. This nutrient, along with soluble fiber and vitamins A and C, makes them a summertime favorite.

Berries:As one of the season’s most beloved delights, berries of all kinds, from strawberries and blueberries to raspberries and blackberries are all filled with heart happiness. Blackberries provide polyphenols and high amounts of fiber, while blueberries are high in antioxidants and compounds that support arterial health. Let’s not forget about strawberries, which are high in vitamin C and folate and of course raspberries, which are high in manganese and polyphenols. When it comes to berries, you can’t go wrong.

Heart health is always in season.

Eating this season’s fresh fruits and veggies is a great way to support the health of your heart. However, you don’t want to overlook some of summertime’s heart health hazards either. Things like dehydration and heat exhaustion can spell trouble for your heart.

To ensure the health of your heart all season long, turn to the experts at the GMC Primary Care & Specialty Center-Suwanee. At this center, you’ll enjoy primary care, OB/GYN, cardiology, gastroenterology and imaging services provided in a comfortable, spa-like environment. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hot vs. Cold: Which Burns More Calories?

Whether you’re someone who enjoys working out on the elliptical, going for a swim or lifting weights, there are nearly endless options when it comes to getting a good sweat on. And with the addition of the summer heat, it’s easy to break a sweat before you even start your workout.

So amidst these high temperatures, you’re likely wondering, is there actually an advantage to enduring the grueling weather? Or should you opt for the air-conditioned gym instead? Well, as it turns it out, there is an advantage to exercising outdoors, whether it’s hot or cold. Depending on what your goals are, one may be better than the other.

What are the benefits of working out in the heat?

The bottom line is working out in the heat is likely to burn more calories. This is because your body has to work harder to cool itself than it does to heat itself. In an effort to cool down, your body produces sweat, which is the result of your heart pumping blood to your skin. Therefore, the hotter you get, the harder your heart has to pump.

Additionally, studies have found that training and exercising in the heat can help prepare and condition you for the cold. So exercising outdoors now, in the midst of the summer heat, may actually help prepare you for the winter months.

What are the benefits of working out in the cold?

On the other hand, exercising in the cold has been shown to burn more fat. This is because in the cold, your body has an easier time regulating its temperature, so you are able to exercise farther and/or longer.

Need another reason to conquer the cold? Studies have found that exercising in cold weather encourages your body to transform white fat into brown fat. While a different type of fat may not necessarily sound like a good thing, it is. Brown fat supports burning calories for energy and heat, rather than storing it as fat tissue.

Before you try to beat the heat…

While the promise of burning extra calories may make you want to lace up your athletic shoes and head out for an afternoon in the sun, it’s important to understand the dangers of exercising in the heat. Things like heat exhaustion, dehydration, even heat stroke are all too frequent.

Here’s what you need to know to stay safe:

 1.  Don't exercise outdoors during the hottest hours of the day, generally between noon and 3 p.m.

 2.  Drink extra water before, during and after exercise. Bring a water bottle to use while you exercise.

 3.  Make sure clothing fits loosely, is light in color, is lightweight and wicks away moisture. Protect against sunburn with sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.

 4.  Give your body time to adjust to higher temperatures, and don't push yourself as hard as usual when the weather first heats up. Take breaks when needed, and listen to your body.

 5.  Consult your doctor about the safety of exercising in hot weather.

 6.  Work out with an exercise buddy for safety.

 7.  Utilize the expertise of a licensed professional. With personal fitness training, you’ll be able to receive one-on-one attention, a customized exercise regimen and access to an extensive range of fitness and performance enhancement services.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

Posture Pointers For Computer Jockeys

Do you spend most of your day sitting at a computer? Chances are you’re like millions of people who sit hunched over your keyboard for hours on end. Unfortunately, those hours add up putting stress and strain on your whole body. For instance, poor posturecan lead to decreased energy, stress and tension headaches, just to name a few.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Computer Workstations eTool, focusing on sitting with neutral body positioning is one of the best things you can do.

So what exactly is neutral body positioning?

It’s a comfortable working posture, with your joints naturally aligned. Keep your head level or bent slightly forward, in line with your torso. Relax your shoulders, with your upper arms hanging naturally at your sides. Keep your elbows close to your body and bent at a 90- to 120-degree angle.

Your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Your knees should be level with your hips, with your feet slightly forward. You might need a footrest if you can't keep your feet flat on the floor without moving your thighs out of position.

Ergonomicsexperts recommend that your keyboard be placed below the level of your elbow and that its base gently slope away from you. This puts your hands in a neutral posture when you reach for the key tops.

What about your office chair?

Of course, your posture is only as good as your chair. Choose one that offers lumbar support when you're sitting upright or leaning back slightly. The seat should be well padded to support your hips and thighs. Your feet should be fully supported, too, either by the floor or with a footrest as mentioned before.

Work can be a pain, but don’t let it be a strain.

In addition to practicing good posture, another great way to avoid aches and pains is to get upfrom your desk for a few minutes at least a few times a day, if not every hour. Following these posture pointers will help you to guard against repetitive strain injuries and back pain, as well as feeling less fatigued at the end of your day.

Unfortunately, though, whether its long hours at the office, fun in the summer sun or a rough night’s sleep, back pain can be hard to avoid. The good news is there’s a one-stop care option with Gwinnett Medical Center’s Back Pain Center. You’ll have convenient access to an experienced team of specialists, up-do-date technology and an extensive range of resources and services, all in one location. The Back Pain Center is equipped to provide complete care tailored to suit your unique needs.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Many of my clients want to know why certain foods lower cholesterol levels. Well, researchers continue to study the ingredients in these foods. So far, this is what we know:

Oat cereal or any cereals containing flaxseed or psyllium (soluble fiber) or whole grain cereals (folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin B6)

Fruits: currants, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, including their seeds (vitamin C, carotenoids and ellagic acid); citrus fruits (vitamin C, folic acid and soluble fiber) and apples (vitamin C and soluble fiber)

Nuts: especially pecans and walnuts, and olives (mono-unsaturated fats); seeds (lignans) and soy nuts (genistein). All these fatty foods contain Vitamin E.

Legumes: dried beans, peas and lentils – in tasty and hearty soups, stews and salads (soluble fiber, folic acid, phytochemicals, vitamins A, C and E, beta carotene, carotenoids and isoflavonoids with a synergistic effect between vitamins C and E); add corn (soluble fiber and stanol esters).

Soybeans: (genistein, fiber, unsaturated fats, B vitamins and stanol esters). Look at the variety in your supermarket shelves. Many recipes are appearing in books, newspapers and magazines.

Whole wheat bread (stanol esters)

Vegetables: onion, watercress, cruciferous vegetables, leeks and garlic (allylic acid), dark colored (folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin C, carotenoids) and artichokes (cynarin). Cruciferous vegetables are members of the cabbage family – broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

Avocado (mono-unsaturated fats)

Margarine-like spreads (stanols, omega 3’s, unsaturated fats)

Lean meats and chicken (Vitamin B6, B12)

Fish: salmon, swordfish, tuna and trout (omega 3 fatty acids)

Oils: canola, olive and sunflower oils

Alcohol: 1 drink per day for woman and 2 drinks per day for men. One serving equals 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine or 1 ½ oz liquor (antioxidant polyphenols); red wine (catechin, quercetin, resveratrol)

Low fat dairy products (vitamin B12)

Tea: black, oolong or green (polyphenol flavonoids, catechins)

Dark chocolate (polyphenol flavonoids)

Hey, where are all the supplements? First change your lifestyle habits for three months and see your blood fat levels decrease. After that, discuss supplements with your dietitian.

Shop, prepare foods, enjoy the variety and aim for healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels for you and your family.

7 Tips For Weight Loss That Have Nothing To Do With Food

When you first begin your weight loss journey, feeling excited and motivated comes easily. However, once you’re a few months in, the newness begins to wear off. The strict diet and exercise routine you were following become stale and you’re ready for something new.

While diet and exercise are an essential part of any successful weight loss journey, they certainly aren’t everything. So, instead of trying yet another new exercise or the latest diet fad, Devin Vicknair, PhD, a Behavioral Health Coordinator at GMC’s Center for Weight Management, provides some helpful tips for weight loss that you may be overlooking.

1.Be mindful.“We are such as fast paced society that we are not even paying attention to how much and how fast we are eating,” notes Dr. Vicknair. It’s not uncommon for people to eat while sitting in front of the TV or driving and suddenly realize that there food is gone. “We go through the motions of putting food in our mouths instead of eating slowly and truly paying attention to each bite and monitoring how we feel.”

2. Minimize screen time. We’ve all been guilty of getting sucked into social media, or catching up on episodes of the latest TV show, but indulging in screen time often means less active time. It’s also important to remember that spending hours looking at images of what other people are doing, wearing and eating, may leave you feeling bad. Instead, opt for an activity that will leave you feeling refreshed and good about yourself.

3. Manage expectations. “If what you want and what you expect don’t align, this can actually sabotage your weight loss success,” says Dr. Vicknair. If you’re expecting this diet to go the same way as your previous diet attempts, you may be setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Instead of starting a new diet, hoping this one is more successful than all the rest, weight loss needs to be a lifestyle change that is pleasurable and approached with the expectation that it can be sustained.”

4. Stop all the negative self-talk. One of the most important aspects of a successful weight loss journey is utilizing support. This doesn’t just mean relying on the external support of friends and family, though. You are actually one of the most important sources of support for yourself. Pay attention to your daily mindset; what do you think when you eat? What about when you see yourself in the mirror? Are you offering yourself support and encouragement or being self-critical?

5. Don’t let a scale measure success. “You are greater than a number on a scale,” emphasizes Dr. Vicknair. “Weighing yourself on a daily basis only serves as a report card of your progress.” Instead, recognize your efforts and changes that are producing a healthier version of you. “Remember, the goal is to become healthier and recognize other ways of measuring success, such as blood pressure, increased energy and body shape.”

6. Utilize other stress-relief techniques. After a long day spent at the office, rewarding yourself with unhealthy, yummy foods may sound like the perfect way to unwind. However, indulging in unhealthy foods will only leave you feeling worse. Begin paying attention to when you’re coping with stress through food and try utilizing other, healthier techniques instead. For instance, try exercising, journaling, meditatingor meeting up with friends.

7. Don’t forget about sleep. If you’re not getting enough quality sleepeach night, you may be turning to food as an afternoon pick me up to boost your energy. Not only is this adding unnecessary calories, but depending on your snack choice, you may be left feeling even more tired and worn down. Even adding just 20 minutes of sleep will help support your overall health and give you a much needed energy boost.

When diet and exercise aren’t enough.
Navigating weight loss on your own can be exhausting and downright difficult. Not only do you have to consider diet and exercise, you have to consider many other factors to find truly lasting weight loss success.

With a comprehensive, personalized approach to weight loss, the experts at the Center for Weight Management can help. Whether you’re interested in their clinically proven medical weight loss programcomprehensive surgical weight loss options or the individualized aftercare program, you will receive the resources and support you need to make your weight loss journey a success. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

To Sit Or Squat, That Is The Question

When it comes to public restrooms, you’ve likely heard the debate over whether you should actually sit. According to some you’re better off squatting, while others insist that public toilet seats pose no health risk, so what’s the truth?

Well, it’s complicated. While you may not be at risk of contracting a deadly disease just by sitting on a public toilet seat, there are different germs you may pick up. But because there are number of factors that can impact the safety of toilet seats, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common health hazards in public restrooms.

Is it possible to get an STD?

The good news is that many organisms and germs that cause infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, the human papillomavirus or trichomonas can only survive for a very short time on the surface of the toilet seat.

On top of that, the germs would have to make it into your urethral or genital tract through a cut or sore within seconds of sitting on the seat. However, despite it being unlikely, it is still possible.

What if there is pee on the seat?

While there is no doubt that it’s simply gross, it’s unlikely that you will pick up anything from it. Though there are many types of infections that can be spread through pee, like trichomonas, it would have to enter into your urinary tract to cause any problems.

If you do have the unfortunate experience of sitting down and feeling unwanted wetness, wipe your bottom area with warm, soapy water. A good rule of thumb is to always check the seat before you sit down so you can wipe away any unwanted germs.

What about if you get toilet backsplash in your private areas?

Of all the restroom hazards we’ve looked at thus far, this one may just be the grossest. You are more likely to be exposed to bacteria found in fecal matter and bowel movements from previous restroom users. It’s important to note, though, that the backsplash would have to get into the genital area, not just the skin surrounding it.

Toilet seat vs. doorknob: Which one’s dirtier?

Depending on what public restroom you’re using, it can be difficult to say exactly which one is dirtier. Typically, door handles can be filled with a larger variety of bacteria than some toilet seats. And depending on the material of the doorknob, bacteria may be able to survive longer than it can on toilet seats. For instance, stainless steel in particular is more conducive to bacteria thriving.

Public restroom to-dos:

1. When you’re traveling or just out and about, make sure that you wear a scarf, a long shirt or have tissues on hand so that you can use one of them to open the door without touching the knob.

2. To practice the highest level of toilet-seat safety, it is best to squat; however, that can be an exhausting workout for your legs. Instead, flush the toilet before using it and wipe down the seat with toilet paper. If there are toilet seat liners available, even better. Don’t be afraid to use toilet paper to line the seat if you’d like.

3. It’s never a bad thing to have hand sanitizer on hand so that you can apply it after leaving the restroom to avoid spreading any unwanted germs.

4. In the event that you notice irregular symptoms after using a public restroom, make sure to see your doctor. Because there are such a wide variety of bacteria present in public restrooms, your primary care provider, the medical expert that knows you and your medical history best, will be able to help. With the new GMC Primary Care & Specialty Center-Suwanee, you will have convenient access to an extensive range of services, provided by experienced specialists, all in a spa-like environment. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Tips To Keep Your Summer Bug Bite Free

If you've spent any time outdoors recently, you may have found yourself swatting away a fly or mosquito -- and that means it's time to brush up on bug avoidance.

Although most bug bites are harmless, some can spread dangerous diseases like Zika virus, dengue, Lyme disease and malaria. This is particularly true if you're visiting areas with known insect-borne diseases. Plus, no one likes the irritation and itchiness of a bug bite.

Here easy ways to keep bugs at bay all summer long:

  • Your best defense against insect bites is to cover yourself -- with bug spray and clothes. Apply insect repellent with 20 to 30 percent DEET. If you're also wearing sunscreen, apply your sunscreen first, let it dry, and then apply the insect repellent.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and closed shoes. Pull your socks up over your pants and tuck your shirt into your pants. You can pretreat outer layers of clothing with insect repellent containing the active ingredient permethrin. Follow the directions and allow the clothes to dry for at least two hours before wearing them.
  • If you're sleeping outdoors, use bed nets to protect against mosquitoes. The best choice is one that has been pretreated with pyrethroid insecticide. If the bed net doesn't reach the floor, tuck it under the mattress.

  • It's also a good idea to check the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Travel Health Notices website for information about insect-related travel warnings and recommendations.
    Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, it can seem impossible to avoid a bug bite. If you’re nursing a painful bite or sting, start by taking an over-the-counter painkiller such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Always follow the directions on the label and use the correct dose.

    For itchy bites, apply an ice pack or an over-the-counter anti-itch cream, such as hydrocortisone, or take an over-the-counter oral antihistamine. If you have swelling, apply an ice pack to the area.

    Could it be more than just a bite?

    If you have any serious symptoms after a bug bite, such as a rash, fever or body aches, it’s important to see your doctorright away. Make sure you tell the doctor about your recent bite so that they can examine you for some of the most common transmitted disease.

    With two conveniently-located urgent care centers in Hamilton Mill and Sugar Hill, ChoiceOne Urgent Careoffers access to comprehensive care exactly when you need it. With experts available seven days a week, 8 A-M to 8 P-M, you can count on them for all of your summer health needs. 

    Wednesday, June 14, 2017

    6 Ways You're Making Your Sunburn Worse

    Hot weather + clear skies + lazy afternoons = soaking up the summer sun. And while ample time outdoors may sound like the perfect way to spend your day, if you don’t take steps to protect your skin, you’re asking for trouble.

    We’ve all been there. Whether it’s forgetting to reapply sunscreen, not wearing a hat or opting for the sunny spot instead of the shady spot, all of these things together add up to a painful sunburn at the end of the day.

    You’ve likely heard that sunscreen, sunglassesand hats are all key to preventing sunburns. However, you may be overlooking other surprising things that can make your sunburnworse. According to Erica Melling, PA, a specialist with ChoiceOne Urgent Care, here are 6 things your skin will want you to remember:

    1. Don’t get citrus on your skin

    Before reaching for a margarita, lemonade, or limeade, you’ll want to be sure you don’t get any citrus juice on your skin. Because of certain compounds in citrus fruits, it makes your skin become extra sensitive to sunlight, a condition known as phytophotodermatitis. Oftentimes this condition will cause symptoms beyond just the typical sunburn, such as an irregularly shaped rash, swelling, and blisters.

    2. Know if your medications are photosensitizers

    Some medications have chemicals that cause a reaction with sun exposure. That’s because these medications contain molecules that actually absorb the sun’s UV rays. There are a surprising number of medications that can cause this type of reaction. For instance, antibiotics, (NSAIDs), diuretics, acne medications and antihistamines can all increase the skin’s sun sensitivity.

    3. Avoid wearing certain colognes and perfumes

    If your cologne or perfume contains bergamot, sandalwood, or lavender, you may be at a higher risk of developing a sunburn. Because many of these perfumes and colognes contain the ingredients listed above, as well as many other chemicals, extended sun exposure can cause serious irritation. In fact, you are not only at a higher risk of developing a sunburn; you are also more likely to develop blistering and hyper-pigmentation.

    4. Know that all sunscreen is not created equal

    While it seems like all sunscreen, regardless of brand or price, should be able to prevent a sunburn, the truth is they can vary widely. “Thankfully, there are ratings that evaluate and rank different brands, so researching before you buy is a good idea,” adds Melling. Here are a few of the things I recommend you consider when deciding which sunscreen to buy:

        What is the SPF?

        What is the consistency of coverage?

        Is it water resistant?

        Is it free of harsh chemicals and perfumes?

    Once you find the right sunscreen for you and your summer needs, here are a few important tips to remember:

        Follow the shot glass rule: Every 2-3 hours, you should apply a shot glass full of sunscreen.

        Make sure to pay special attention to your feet and ears, some of the most commonly missed areas.

        Don’t skip your lips. SPF lip balm is a must!

    5. Make sure you stay hydrated

    If you’re trying to nurse a sunburn, one of the most important things you can do for your skin is avoid getting dehydrated. Because a sunburn causes inflammation and irritation to the outer layer of the skin, this can actually lead to a loss of hydration. To help your skin repair the damage and inflammation, staying hydrated is essential. Also, staying hydrated will help minimize accompanying sunburn symptoms like pain, itching, and burning.

    6. Steer clear of hot showers

    A nice, hot showercan be a great way to unwind after a long, fun day in the sun; however, it may not be doing your skin any favors. Not only will hot water feel painful against sunburnt skin, it may cause further irritation. This is because hot water naturally strips your skin of its essential oils, making it feel even drier. Furthermore, by taking a long, hot shower, you’re more likely to experience blistering and your sunburn may take longer to heal—which is the last thing you want.

    Your top choice for sunburn care

    Chances are you’ve experienced one or more sunburns and you know just how uncomfortable they can be. Thankfully, things like Aloe, ice packs, cold baths, and hydrating foods can help to provide some much needed relief. However, in the event that you’re battling a severe sunburn, the experts at ChoiceOne Urgent Carecan help. With care available seven days a week, 8 A-M to 8 P-M, they can provide comprehensive care for all of summer’s illnesses and injuries.

    Monday, June 12, 2017

    The Facts On Flax

    Though tiny in size, flax packs a big nutritional punch. Some may even call flaxseed one of the new wonder foods because of its ability to help prevent heart disease, cancer, stroke and even diabetes. And while the popularity surrounding flaxseed may be recent, it’s actually a plant that has been around since 3000 BC.

    These sesame-seed lookalikes are considered a functional food -- a food that goes beyond basic nutrients to provide numerous health benefits. Overall, these tiny seeds are great for heart and digestive health, as well as immune health.

    So what makes flaxseed so healthy?

    One of the key reasons flaxseed gets the nod is because it's high in omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are beneficial for your entire body, including brain function and heart health. And because your body can’t naturally make them, it’s important to make them a regular part of your diet. The good news is with flaxseed, you only need just 1 tablespoon to get the recommended daily amount.

    Plus they are rich in phytochemicals called lignans, which are estrogen-like nutrients that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants are well-known for their ability to help protect the body from free radicals.

    Finally, flaxseeds are also high in fiber, which is an important part of every balanced diet. Fiber is not only essential for digestive health, it also supports the health of your heart and skin.  

    With all that going for it, the question is how to get more flaxseed into your diet?

    First, to absorb all its nutrients, eat flaxseed in ground form, never whole. You can buy ground flax or, better still, buy whole seeds and grind them in a small coffee grinder right before you're going to use them. Keep flax in the fridge to extend its freshness.

    Flaxseed has a nutty taste, making it a great topping for hot or cold cereal, yogurt and cottage cheese, even fruit. Try mixing flax into salad dressings or into mayo or mashed avocado for a sandwich spread. Add it to the batter for pancakes, cookies, muffins, breads and other baked goods. You can even blend it into a smoothie.

    Start by adding 1 tablespoon a day to your diet and gradually work up to 5 for optimal health.

    Finally, a diet that’s just right for you.

    The foods we eat have the power to make us look and feel our very best, but they can also leave us feeling tired, sluggish and uncomfortable. Gwinnett Medical Center’s Nutrition and Weight Management program offers access to the experts and resources you need to make better food choices for your unique health needs. Their registered dietitians will help guide you through nutrition consultations, Diet by Design, as well as metabolism testing all of which will make a positive difference in your overall health.

    Friday, June 9, 2017

    Is It Just Back Pain Or Something More?

    At this very moment, it is estimated that nearly 31 million Americans are experiencing back pain of some kind. Whether it’s stiffness after a bad night’s sleep, or pulling a muscle after weekend activities, you’ve likely dealt with the annoyance of back pain at some point.

    However, because back pain can range from a mild, dull, annoying ache, to persistent, severe, disabling pain, it can be difficult to tell if your pain is just the result of a back problem, or if it’s masking a more serious health condition.  

    So before opting for the painkillers instead of seeking the care of a backpain specialist, Bethwel Raore, MD, a neurosurgeon with Gwinnett Medical Center, provides 4 signs that may indicate your pain isn’t just a back problem:

    1. Your pain radiates down one or both legs.

    If you’re experiencing pain in your lower back that radiates down into one or both of your legs, it’s likely the result of sciatica. This condition is usually caused by a bulging disk in your spine that is irritating the sciatic nerve, which is the main nerve in your leg.

    While sciatica can heal on its own with rest and time, it is important to seek the guidance of an expertto relieve pain and to ensure the safest recovery possible. Furthermore, if the pain evolves into weakness or numbness, this may indicate further damage to the nerve or spinal cord, which may be irreversible if urgent care is not pursued. 

    2. You have difficulty walking.

    If you have a hard time walking short distances in the upright position and are more comfortable leaning over, this may be an indication of spinal stenosis. This condition is usually a result of the natural aging process.

    It  is most common in adults over the age of 50. Wear and tear of the joints around the spinal cord can cause bone spurs and a tightening of the spinal canal.

    While there isn’t a specific way to prevent spinal stenosis, working with your doctor can help you manage the discomfort. 

    3. You have a change in urine output.

    Because of the location of your kidneys, there are a number of kidney conditions that can be mistakenly identified as nothing more than back pain. For instance, if you are experiencing lower back pain, especially below the rib cage or on your sides, this may be an indication of kidney disease. If you are experiencing these symptoms, as well as fatigue, loss of appetite and high blood pressure, it is best to work with your doctorto determine diagnosis and treatment.

    Similarly, kidney stonescan often cause sharp pain in the lower back, usually on just one side. The pain may also come and go in waves as the stone moves throughout your urinary tract. If you notice pain while urinating or an urge to go more often than usual, your back pain may be the result of a kidney stone. It is best to work with your doctor in order to safely pass the stone and prevent any infection.

    In the rare condition where you have a urination or bowel accident and not aware it's happening, you need to contact your doctor immediately. 

    4. Eating high-fat foods makes it worse.

    There are two organs that play an important role in the digestive processthe gallbladder and the pancreasboth of which are notorious for causing back pain. If you feel pain that radiates from the upper abdomen to the back, especially after eating foods that are high in fat, one of these organs may be to blame.

    Pancreatitis, as well an inflamed gallbladder, can be serious medical conditions. If you notice the symptoms listed above accompanied by fever, chills or nausea, it’s time to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

    Comprehensive back pain care under one roof.

    Whether you have questions about back pain, are in need of detailed diagnostics or are seeking the latest in treatment options, the experts at GMC’s Back Pain Center can help. With a dedicated team of specialists, up-to-date technology and an extensive range of resources and services, the Back Pain Center is equipped to provide complete care tailored to suit your unique needs.