Home Archives for December 2017
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Monday, December 25, 2017
Friday, December 22, 2017
With the countdown to Christmas officially underway, your only focus should be on having fun. Holiday cheer comes in all shapes and sizes. For some, this may mean doing some last minute shopping, traveling to see friends and family or attending that annual holiday party. Oh—and who can forget baking some cookies, too?
And with only a few days to go until the big 2-5 (can you believe it’s already here?) it’s hard to keep all that seasonal stress under wraps. That’s why we’ve created a Santa-approved survival guide to help make all of your upcoming holiday parties the best—and healthiest—yet.
Crunch your calories. Before heading to the party, which likely has some irresistible treats, help yourself to some healthy helpings of lean protein, whole grains and fresh produce. Maybe those freshly-baked treats won’t look so delicious with a full tummy—right?
Make a plan. And stick to it. Before heading to a party, decide what foods you’re willing to splurge on—whatever you think you’ll enjoy the most—and avoid those other high-calorie treats. By deciding on the splurge upfront, you’ll be able to savor every bite.
Be the life of the party. And we’re not talking about having an extra glass of eggnog. Instead, focus on socializing and talking up a storm with everyone you can. After all, it’s hard to eat nonstop when you’re busy talking. And, if you hear your favorite carol playing, a little dancing can burn extra calories.
Take a load off. While it’s great to be up and moving around during the party, you’ll want to be sure to wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Take advantage of sitting when you can and try this simple foot stretch: Raise, point and curl your toes throughout the night.
Give yourself a timeout. There’s no denying that catching up with family and friends can be delightful, but it can also be exhausting. To avoid festivity fatigue, give yourself a break. This may mean stepping outdoors for some fresh air, going on a short walk or offering to help the host with something so you’ll be occupied.
Avoid holiday road hazards. While snow may not be in the forecast, safety should still be a top priority while you’re driving. Between dense traffic, distracted drivers and chilly weather, you’ll want to be sure you’re prepared. Make sure that seatbelts are fastened; your vehicle is cleared off (if there is frost or winter weather) and that you stay alert.
Get some sleep for goodness sake. Staying well-rested isn’t just important for heart health, concentration, mood and digestion, it will also help you look and feel your best for all of the festivities.
Have peace of mind. To keep you focused on the things that really matter this holiday season ChoiceOne Urgent Care is available seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (holiday hours may vary). Whether it’s an allergic reaction, a broken bone or a flu bug, the experts at ChoiceOne keep the health of you and your family as their top priority.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
In a season where we’re surrounded by baked goods and sweet treats—not that anyone’s complaining—healthy holiday traditions can be hard to come by (if not impossible).
And when you have your eyes set on January for New Year’s resolutions and new diets, it’s easy to spend the better part of December enjoying your few remaining cheat days. But instead of sacrificing good health in the name of being festive, try these easy holiday recipes—not only are they delicious, they’re also nutritious.
You don’t have to use an open fire to enjoy these holiday favorites. After all, who has time for that—right? So, skip the fire and enjoy the nutrients that Chestnuts offer—like fiber, vitamin C and manganese. Break out the festive attire, play some Nat King Cole and follow these easy steps:
Ingredients: Shelled chestnuts
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut and “X” shape into the flat side of each chestnut (leave the shells on).
3. Place the chestnuts on a baking sheet so they don’t overlap.
4. Roast 10 minutes and turn; roast for additional 10 minutes.
5. Peel off shells and enjoy!
Potato latkes, otherwise known as potato pancakes, are a traditional dish commonly served during Hanukkah. While potato latkes aren’t particularly nutritious—unfortunately—you can try substituting other veggies in place of the potatoes. Or better yet, fry them in healthier alternatives like olive oil instead of high-fat vegetable oils.
Make your health-conscious substitutions and follow this traditional recipe:
Ingredients: 2 large Russet potatoes; 1 large onion; 2 large eggs; ½ cup all-purpose flour; 2 tsp course kosher salt; 1 tsp baking powder; ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper; oil for frying
1. Grate potatoes and onions, and wring out as much liquid as possible.
2. Transfer mixture into a large bowl and add eggs, flour, salt, baking powder and pepper. Mix until the flour is absorbed.
3. Heat oil and use a heaping tablespoon to drop the batter into the pan, cooking in batches.
4. Use spatula to flatten into discs and flip after latkes are brown and crispy. Cook until second side is done and sprinkle with salt before serving.
Healthy Hot Chocolate
There’s nothing better than a mug of hot chocolate to warm you up during the holidays, both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, many pre-packaged hot chocolate mixes are high in sugar and empty calories. In exchange for just a few extra minutes, you can have a healthier, home-made version by following these steps:
Ingredients: 2 tbsp sugar; 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder; 1 cup of 1% milk; ¼ tsp vanilla extract, pinch of ground cinnamon
1. Mix sugar, cocoa and two tablespoons of cold milk in a mug until smooth.
2. Heat the remaining milk in a small saucepan until hot.
3. Stir in cocoa mixture from mug and vanilla extract.
4. Pour back into mug and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Christmas Sugar Cookies
Would it even be Christmas without the sugar cookies? While they are tasty, they can add up before you know it. So, instead of store-bought cookies, try this easy, from-scratch recipe for a delicious, low-sugar alternative:
Ingredients: ½ cup butter; ½ cup shortening, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cream of tartar, 1/8 tsp salt, 3 egg yolks, ½ tsp vanilla, 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat mixture until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, and flour.
3. Shape dough into balls or cut into Christmas shapes. Place dough two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake in the oven for 12 – 14 minutes or until edges are set; do not let edges brown! Cool, decorate, and enjoy!
A happy holiday season starts with good health.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
The struggle is real. After all, it’s the busiest time of the year and routine things, like your period, don’t get the memo. While it may be the last thing you want to deal with in the midst of the holiday season, there may be some unexpected reasons to love your period.
Of course, this doesn’t make the bloating, cramping and discomfort any easier. But exercise, calcium-rich foods, fiber may do the trick. So, with all of that being said, what are the period positives? Here’s why you should go with the flow:
1. You get a snapshot of your overall health.
For starters, the fact that you even have a period is an indication that everything is running smoothly. After all, everything from weight and stress to exercise and thyroid health can impact your regularity. The heaviness of your flow can also say a lot. For instance, it may signal that you have PCOS, uterine fibroids or pelvic inflammatory disease.
2. You may be burning more calories.
Your basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which you burn calories when you are at rest, fluctuates throughout the month. The good news is, it reaches its high point right before your period starts. So, what does this mean for you? On average, you’ll burn about 4% more calories a day.
3. Your body is gym-ready.
That is if you can manage to swap those comfy sweats for workout clothes. Right before you start your period, your progesterone and estrogen levels are higher than usual, which means you’ll burn more fat while exercising.
And once you start your period, your progesterone and estrogen levels drop, which gives your body extra fuel and leads to a harder workout. And there’s an added bonus—when you work out during this time of the month, you’ll have fewer cramps and a lighter flow.
4. You have a really good reason to enjoy holiday treats.
Not that you needed a reason to enjoy chocolate during this time of year, but with your period you can enjoy indulging even more. As it turns out, the most common cravings during menstruation are salty, snack foods and of course—chocolate. But women crave these particular foods for good reason.
During this time of the month, low progesterone levels can lead to lower blood sugar levels, which leads to a hankering for sugar. Yet another reason is the change in serotonin levels, which spikes carb cravings.
5. You can finally indulge in some self-care.
Day after day, it’s easy to push your individual needs aside in an effort to get things done, especially during this hectic time of year. But the truth is, your period is the perfect time to listen to your body and do something for yourself. Whether that means having a sweet treat, taking a nap, watching a holiday movie or going to the gym—whatever you’ll enjoy most.
6. Your body experiences some cool changes.
So, if the five reasons above weren’t enough to help you fall back in love with your period, here are a few extra reasons:
· Your voice may change (thanks to your reproductive hormones)
· It may help you to fight off free radicals (all because you lose iron every month)
· Your natural scent changes when you’re on your period
Stay in the know about your flow.
At times, it may feel like your period has a mind of its own. After all, it can vary from woman to woman and from month to month, making it hard to tell what’s normal. That’s why it’s important to regularly see an OB/GYN.
As one of the health providers that knows you best, your OB/GYN can help you to determine what’s best for you—and your reproductive health—at every stage of life. You can count on the knowledgeable providers at Gwinnett Physicians Group OB/GYN for all of your women’s health needs.
And don't forget to mark your calendar for the upcoming GMC Women's Wellness Day. This innovative event provides women of all ages the opportunity to learn from some of the area's top health experts on how to make 2018 the best year yet!
And don't forget to mark your calendar for the upcoming GMC Women's Wellness Day. This innovative event provides women of all ages the opportunity to learn from some of the area's top health experts on how to make 2018 the best year yet!
Friday, December 15, 2017
It’s that holly jolly time of year—where everywhere you look you see red and green. And while red may be the perfect color for your favorite holiday sweater and festive décor, it’s the last color you want to see in your eyes. That’s right—we’re talking about bloodshot eyes. Between allergies, lack of sleep or just plain exhaustion from looking at a screen all day, it’s hard to avoid tired-looking eyes.
While you may reach for eye drops as your go-to source for soothing relief, you may actually be doing more harm than good. In fact, many studies have shown that redness-reducing eye drops only treat the symptoms of bloodshot eyes by constricting the blood vessels to make them less visible. Over time, using these eye drops too frequently can cause your eyes to develop a dependency which may cause blood vessel swelling to worsen.
So, instead of reaching for eye drops as often as you reach for lip balm, here are some alternative ways to reduce redness all while keeping your eyes healthy and happy.
Use artificial tears instead. Often, bloodshot eyes are simply the result of dryness and can be relieved through the application of moisture rather than medicated drops. Artificial tears provide a safer way to lubricate your eyes, just be sure to certain brands that may use harmful preservatives.
Take a break from screens. When you stare at screens for extended periods of time, there is a tendency to blink less which only leads to dryness and strain. When working or staring at screens for extended periods, be sure to take small breaks to avoid overstressing your eyes.
Try using a humidifier. Again, dryness is often the primary culprit when it comes to bloodshot eyes. Whether your eyes are taking a beating from the warm, heated air or the dry, winter air, humidifiers can go a long way in keeping your eyes hydrated and free from irritation.
Drink more water. When your body is dehydrated, water content throughout the body decreases dramatically. Of course, the eyes are one of the first places affected. While bloodshot eyes may be the least of your concerns when you’re dehydrated, proper water intake can go a long way in preventing irritated eyes.
Apply cool compress to the eyes. When your eyes are irritated, cold packs can help decrease the size of the blood vessels in your eyes. Whether it’s from dryness, strain or other irritants, swollen blood vessels are ultimately what causes that dreaded redness.
Check your medications. Sometimes bloodshot eyes can actually be a side effect of certain medications. While this may be the case for some prescriptions used to treat chronic conditions, the most common cause is over-the-counter antihistamines and cold medicines. These medications work to dry out the sinuses which can often result in dry, irritated eyes.
Still struggling to find redness relief?
More often than not, bloodshot eyes are simply the result of common irritants that many people experience on a daily basis. Whether it’s allergies, seasonal dryness or strain, we’ve all experienced red, tired eyes. But, this doesn’t make it any less of a nuisance.
So, if you find yourself reaching for drops daily, it may be a sign of an underlying condition, severe allergies or an infection. That’s why the experts of Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care are prepared to help. With a wide variety of services, up-to-date technology and the latest treatment options, your eyes can finally find the lasting relief they need.
Monday, December 11, 2017
There’s no denying that a dog can be a great addition to your household. And once the holiday season settles in, it gets even harder to resist those sweet, furry faces (just look at that cute little guy). But it isn’t just puppy kisses and warm cuddles that you’ll enjoy with your new canine friend; you’ll also get a big health boost. And what's better than the gift of good health? Some benefits include:
· Lower blood pressure
· Lower heart rate
· Lower cholesterol
· Lower stress
· Increased physical activity
In addition to these health benefits for all age groups, recent studies have highlighted the significant benefit that dogs offer for childrenand older adults. For instance, man’s furry best friend might provide some protection against allergic diseases, like eczema.
So, if a new furry companion is at the top of your wish list this holiday season, here are a few things to consider:
1. Start by thinking about your living space, the American Kennel Club suggests. Do you live in a house or a small apartment? How big is your yard or your car?
While a Great Dane may be your favorite breed, the bottom line is, you’ll want to pick a dog whose size and needs are a good match for your household.
2. Next, think about your lifestyle. If you spend a lot of time indoors, you might want a dog that also enjoys being inside with people, like a Pug. However, if you're looking for an exercise companion or have a family that loves outdoor activities, a Retriever may be a good choice.
3. Decide who in the household will be caring for your new pet. Is that person up for long walks every day, or will your dog be getting most of its exercise in your backyard?
4. And if you've got kids, make sure any dog you're considering loves having kids touch and play with him or her. Also talk about the role of caring for the new family member. Having a pet is a great way to instill a sense of responsibility in children.
Giving the best gift of all.
This time of year is extra special, so why not feel your very best? With experienced providers, convenient locations and the latest in treatment options, every member of your family can receive customized care with Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care. Well, all of your human family members at least. Whether you’re battling the common cold or suffering from a stomach bug, count on the experts of GMG primary care to provide the comprehensive care you need exactly when you need it.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Heart disease has developed quite the reputation, but not for anything good of course. When you think of heart disease, what comes to mind? That it’s the number one killer of both men and women or maybe that it’s something that you only have to worry about when you’re older.
Despite all of its negative qualities, there is one good thing about heart disease—you actually have the power prevent it. “Before you assume that it’s too late, or that you’re doomed to have heart disease, evidence has shown that healthy lifestyle changes at any stage of life can help to reverse and prevent damage,” says Jim John, MD, an affiliated cardiologist with Gwinnett Consultants in Cardiology.
1. Don’t Overlook the Small Stuff
When it comes to the biggest risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, extra weight and lack of exercise, most of these are the result of small, everyday choices that add up.
The good news is making life style changes to be more heart healthy doesn’t mean you have to dramatically change everything. It means starting to make small choices that add up in a big way over time. “In fact, major lifestyle changes, especially health fads, rarely have a lasting impact as they invariably become hard to maintain and people fall off the wagon,” says Dr. John. “Instead, I encourage my patients to make small changes that accumulate in big ways.”
2. Find your healthy weight.
There is certainly no one-size-fits-all when it comes to shape, size or weight. Despite the common notion that a healthy weight can only be measured by a scale, there are many other factors to consider. By working with your doctor, you can determine what a healthy weight is for your unique body type, your age and your overall health.
It’s important to note, though, that if you are overweight; losing just 10 percent of your body weight will have a tremendous impact on your heart health. “You can expect your blood pressure and cholesterol levels to be lower, as well as your risk for clots and heart disease to be much less,” explains Dr. John.
3. Eat good, feel better.
Just because a food is good for you, doesn’t mean it has to taste bad. There are plenty of delicious ways to enjoy getting key nutrients for your heart. By incorporating more fresh fruits, veggies and lean protein, you’ll stock up on heart-healthy nutrients like:
· Omega 3 Fatty Acids (found in fresh fish, especially salmon and sardines)
· Folate (found in green, leafy veggies like spinach, kale and romaine lettuce)
· Magnesium (found in walnuts and spinach)
· Polyphenols (found in blueberries, raspberries and strawberries)
· Reservatrol (found in dark chocolate and red wine)
Keep in mind, though, that cutting out unhealthy foods is just as important as adding in nutritious ones. “Foods that are high in fat, sodium and sugar all take a toll on heart health,” says Dr. John. So, if one of your favorite weekly meals is a fast-food burger, you’re likely consuming between 85-175 milligrams of cholesterol in one sitting (the recommended daily amount is only 200-300 milligrams).
However, by cutting out that one weekly burger for a month, you’ll save your heart from nearly 700 milligrams of cholesterol. Just think about what that would add up to over the course of a year.
4. Work your body.
Whether you realize it or not, your body loves activity. From lower levels of stress and improved muscle tone to weight loss and heart health, exercise is essential. However, to get the heart-healthy benefits of exercise, you’ll need to get at least 30 minutes a day or 90 minutes a week of exercise that raises your heart rate.
Regular exercise that raises your heart rate not only helps to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, it can actually change the way your heart works. “Overtime, your left ventricle will adapt to provide more blood per burst, which will lower your resting heart rate,” explains Dr. John, “It will also stimulate new blood vessels to form, which promotes better circulation.”
5.Take time off.
Feeling stressed, anxious and tired has become a part of the daily reality for a majority of people. These feelings not only take a toll on mental health, they also have a surprising impact on physical health, too. Over time, stress can increase cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. It can even promote the buildup of plaque in arteries throughout the body.
With such a tremendous physical impact, there is only one solution when it comes to stress—relaxation. Whether it’s reading, spending time in nature, getting a massage or taking a vacation, you need to find a way to relieve and release your stress. Your heart will thank you for it.
Your heart health is our top priority. When it comes to lasting heart health, preventative care and customized treatment are essential. That’s why GMC offers convenient access to knowledgeable and experienced heart specialists who utilize the latest technology and advanced diagnostic and treatment options. Not to mention the extensive services, resources and experts of Gwinnett Medical Center that support every step of your care.
Monday, December 4, 2017
With the holidays just around the corner, you know the drill—holiday songs on every radio station, festive parties to attend and special gifts to find. Heck, just reading this article, you can probably feel the stress starting to grow, right along with your to-do list. And if miraculously getting everything done wasn’t enough, you’re expected to be merry and jolly all season long or risk being called a Scrooge.
So, is there anything you can do to put a ho-ho-hold on these seasonal stressors? According to Barbara Joy Jones, DO, a primary care physician at GMG’s Gwinnett Family Medical Care in Snellville, here are 6 easy things you can do to stay feeling holiday-obsessed instead of seasonally-stressed.
1. Get organized. Oftentimes, trying to keep track of everything you need to do by memory alone can be anxiety-inducing on its own, let alone during the holidays. We tend to overthink things, going over them again and again, which only amplifies things and makes them feel more stressful.
Takeaway Tip:The next time you have a few minutes to spare, sit down, think through everything you need to do and write it down.
2. Stick to your routines. Whenever you’re stressed out and tight on time, healthy habits tend to fall by the wayside. But the holidays are no time to change-up your schedule as this may only worsen stress.
Takeaway Tip:Whether it’s sticking to your diet and going to your usual exercise class or simply just brushing your teeth before bed, these habits will help you—and your body—handle stress.
3. Give your presence instead of presents. With so much to do and so little time, it’s easy to develop a just-get-it-done mindset instead of actually enjoying the moment.
Takeaway Tip:Try to focus on one thing at a time and be mindful about what you are doing while you are doing it. You’ll enjoy the time you spend with your friends and family more and so will they.
4.Give back. It isn’t just gifts that you should be giving this holiday season. Whether it’s your time, energy or money, giving back to your community can make a big difference—and not just for those you’re helping. In fact, studies have shown that generosity and compassion can support overall health and longevity.
Takeaway Tip: If you feel like time is just too tight, remember that even one small random act of kindness can go a long way.
5.Don't overdo it. We’ve all been guilty of getting caught-up in the moment and spending more than we planned on. After all, you can’t find the perfect gift just anywhere—right? Unfortunately, though, overspending can be a major stressor that sticks with you even after the holidays have long gone.
Takeaway Tip:Don’t be afraid to be honest. Try recommending an amount or price limit so no one feels like they are over-spending or being out-gifted. You can also plan to exchange gifts after the holidays are over, when there is no shortage of sales, specials and deals.
6. Don’t go it alone. No matter how hard you try, there’s simply no way you can do everything on your own this holiday season—something has to give. But it doesn’t have to be your health.
Takeaway Tip: Work with your primary care provider to address all of your unique health needs. As the expert that knows you best, they can help you to navigate this stressful time of year and overcome the season’s biggest health hazards.
Gwinnett Medical Group is your partner in good health this holiday season. With convenient locations, knowledgeable providers and an extensive range of services, you can count on GMG for all of your winter health needs.
Friday, December 1, 2017
When the winter months arrive, bringing with them colder temperatures and fewer hours of daylight, it’s enough to make even the toughest exerciser head indoors. But for those of you that are tough enough to endure the chilly weather—you know who you are—you’ll likely encounter at least a few of the season’s unique difficulties. Between tight muscles, stiff joints, sniffles and toes that are numb, staying active in the cold is anything but easy.
So, despite your dedication to staying active, if you think exercising in the cold bites, listen up. Kristie Willhoit, MS, Fitness Specialist with GMC’s Sports Medicine Program, provides easy ways to overcome some of the most common cold-weather annoyances.
1. You’re either too hot or too cold. When it’s chilly outside, layers are your best friend—you can take things off or add on as needed. However, even when you dress in layers, it’s still hard to find that perfect temperature.
Solution: It may sound obvious, but before heading out for your activity, make sure to check the weather. This doesn’t just mean looking at the temperature. Check to see what the humidity is and whether or not it’s overcast, as both of these things will make it feel colder. To avoid a cold start to your workout, warm up indoors to get your blood flowing. And don't forget to throw on a sleeveless vest while you’re at it.
2. The cold air hurts your throat. If your throat is moist and warm, rapidly breathing in cold air comes as quite a shock to your body. Surprisingly, though, it isn’t actually the coldness of the air that’s the problem—it’s the dryness. When you’re mouth-breathing instead of nose-breathing your body doesn’t have a chance to filter, warm or humidify the air. This can irritate your throat and cause coughing for hours after.
Solution: If you’re not battling the sniffles and can handle breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, that’s the best way to minimize throat irritation. But if you’re a tried and true mouth-breather, try wearing a scarf or bandana around your nose and mouth to keep in some of the moisture and warmth.
3. Your runny nose just won’t quit. The same magic your nose uses to warm and moisturize the cold winter air for your lungs is the same thing that causes it to run. So, when the air is especially cold and dry, your nose is working overtime to create moisture.
Solution: While it isn’t exactly glamorous, one of the best things to do to battle a runny nose is to bring tissues with you. But if that feels like a nuisance, you can try putting some petroleum jelly around your nose; this will give your nose the illusion of more moisture and will prevent chapping.
4. Your muscles and joints feel tighter than normal. No—it isn’t just your imagination. The cold temperatures cause muscles to tighten up and lose elasticity, both of which can make injury more likely. On top of that, it isn’t just your muscles that feel the chill; your nerves are affected, too, making it difficult to sense pain or discomfort at the first sign.
Solution: You’ve already heard it, but it’s worth saying again: take the time to warm up. Not only will you have a better, more enjoyable workout, but it will prevent injury. By doing a gradual warm-up for at least 10 minutes, starting indoors and continuing outdoors, you’re helping to up blood flow to your muscles, tendons and joints, which will minimize your risk for injury.
The key is to perform movements that utilize all your major muscle groups and take your joints through their full ranges of motion—think body weight squats, straight-leg kicks, torso twists, arm circles and side lunges.
Conquer the cold.
GMC’s established Sports Medicine program is focused on transforming the way you exercise. Our experts work to shift your focus away from difficulties to goals, from discomfort to confidence, from injury to strength. This is made possible with our extensive range of services, our knowledgeable specialists and numerous resources. You don’t compromise on exercise, so don’t compromise on care.