Posts made in October, 2012

Dunkin’ Donuts Stays Open in the Face of Hurricane Sandy, but is the Food Worth the Effort?

Posted by on Oct 31, 2012 in News | 0 comments

As Hurricane Sandy pummels the New York/New Jersey area, most chain restaurants are battening down the hatches until the storm clouds clear. News images of Manhattan suggest that the Big Apple has become a bit of a ghost town, but a closer look suggests that not all restaurants are fleeing the storm, a few are digging in and braving the elements.

Dunkin’ Brands, which includes Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, seems to have only a few restaurants closed. The ones that have closed have done so mainly because of power outages and not because of the recommended evacuation orders or evacuations of potential customers. It’s reasonable to think that New York residents will get some version of cabin fever being cooped up in their small apartments for hours on end with nothing to do. Going out to get some food and talk to other people can be enough of a reason to face down the fury of Mother Nature and add some taste and excitement to the day.

For those who bundle up and decide to eat out at Dunkin Donuts, what sort of nutrition awaits? You might actually be surprised when comparing five typical menu items that might pass as an “entrée” on the Dunkin Donuts menu on the basis of the following three nutritional metrics:

Weight:           Effect on body weight
Glucose:          Effect on after-meal peak blood glucose level
Heart:              Effect on cholesterol and triglycerides

Health Index Table (from eclaireMD app)
WeightGlucoseHeart
Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Wake-up Wrap332640
Egg White, Turkey, and Sausage Wake-up Wrap212813
Ham and Cheese Sandwich on a French Roll6710438
Tuna Melt Sandwich11911746
Texas Toast Grilled Cheese Sandwich868153
The sandwiches that one might consider to be typically eaten for lunch or dinner have higher ratings in the “Weight” and “Glucose” categories. This means they have higher calorie and carbohydrate content. Surprisingly, four of the menu items are in the same range when it comes to heart healthiness—despite the overall differences in total calories. The Egg White, Turkey, and Sausage Wake-up Wrap seems to take the ribbon in this category.

*You can see the essential nutritional value of many popular restaurant menu items for yourself by using the EclaireMD.com App*

We can speculate about our own willingness to go out to eat during a hurricane, but it’s both fascinating and noteworthy to see which restaurants are determined to stay open in the face of severe weather threats versus which are not. It’d be interesting to see what menu items turn out to be the most popular “hurricane foods” after the storm clouds clear.


Contributed by Dennis Heller
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Does Coffee Cause High Blood Pressure?

Posted by on Oct 30, 2012 in News | 0 comments

High blood pressure or hypertension is a very common chronic condition that increases the risk of heart failure, heart attack, and stroke if left untreated. For many of us drinking coffee is an important part of the morning routine before we start our day, and while it’s true that coffee and caffeinated beverages can cause a small increase in blood pressure, the effect is only temporary according to research studies.

Researchers did a study on the association between habitual coffee consumption and development of high blood pressure. They collected data from different populations and found out that about 5 cups of coffee a day causes an increase in systolic (upper number) by 2 mmHg and diastolic (lower number) by 1 mmHg in the blood pressure readings. Another follow-up study was done on caucasian males who were over 33 years old where participants were placed into two different groups (coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers). The study recorded the initial blood pressure and development of high blood pressure over the years. Both studies confirmed that coffee consumption plays a small role in the development of high blood pressure. Coffee, exercise, or intense physical activity can cause a small increase in your blood pressure and the effect may last up to one hour, therefore you may want to hold off your coffee intake before going to your doctor’s office for blood pressure check-up.


Contributed by Patricia Hsiao M.D.
Sources: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, The JAMA Network
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Is Eating Out Healthy For You?

Posted by on Oct 26, 2012 in News | 0 comments

Many chain restaurants are expanding the “healthy fare” sections of their menus that appeal to the health-conscious crowd, but are these so-called healthy menu items actually good for you?  For that matter, is there any restaurant food that is actually healthy for you? The answer depends on a number of factors, including the menu item contents, whether sauce or condiments are eaten with it, and how much of the food you actually end up eating.

Nobody wants to get fat or goes out to eat with the objective of actually getting fat, but sadly, many of the citizens of developed countries—especially America—are either obese or overweight with a body mass index (BMI) over 25. Many of us are trying, either casually or desperately, to lose weight, so it pays to consider what is in a serving of restaurant food and what its effect on our health will be.

First, let’s take a look at the essential food characteristics that have a direct impact on our health and wellness:

Weight:           Effect on body weight
Glucose:          Effect on after-meal peak blood glucose level
Heart:              Effect on cholesterol and triglycerides

The ‘Weight’ category is directly based on how many calories are in the food item.

Just as important as the calories is the amount of carbohydrates, especially the refined carbs that come from sugar, fruit, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, white rice, and peeled potatoes. Many of these foods or food components convert either directly or indirectly to fat in the liver. Carbohydrates also have a direct impact on your body’s peak after-meal blood glucose level, which is important if you are either diabetic or want to ward of becoming diabetic.

The “Heart-Healthy” menu items tend to be meals that have less red meat, less animal fat, less butter cooked in as part of the food, and are more vegetable-oriented. Animal and trans-fats tend to result in the body developing more plaque in the heart and blood vessels, raising the risk of heart attack and/or stroke.

Let’s look at the comparison table for four separate dinner menu item selections at Denny’s, the world’s most popular diner-style restaurant, to see how much they differ from each other in terms of healthiness:

eclaireMD Health Index Table (from eclaireMD app )
WeightGlucoseHeart
T-Bone Steak10843102
Fish and Chips with Fries and Cole Slaw8911254
Tilapia Ranchero with Bread24927291
Brooklyn Spaghetti and Meatballs193204110
Grilled Chicken Deluxe Salad393043
As you can see, the various menu items tend to have a very wide range of healthfulness. The Fish and Chips with French Fries and Coleslaw meal, in particular, seems to be wildly unhealthy. That alone might have been enough justification for the Boston Tea Party. On the other end of the spectrum, the Grilled Chicken Deluxe Salad is healthful in all three categories, but it’s important to note that amount and type of salad dressing can have a dramatic impact on its overall healthfulness.

*You can see the essential nutritional value of many popular restaurant menu items for yourself by using the EclaireMD.com App*

There are usually many considerations that go into our decision regarding whether to eat out. It may be part of an event that must be attended. We might be travelling and there’s no alternative or we may be too tired or short on time to prepare our food from scratch. Dining out is integrated with the culture of modern living for many people and is nearly unavoidable and, in many circumstances, enjoyable and desirable. Keep in mind that what we order and how much of it we eat can make all the difference when it comes to eating healthy at a restaurant.


Contributed by Dennis Heller
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What Screening Tests do I Need for my Age?

Posted by on Oct 25, 2012 in News | 0 comments

Screening TestA visit to the emergency room can be costly and often a several hour waiting period is normal if your condition is non-emergent. It’s always good to know after hour urgent care centers in your area in case of minor injuries and acute care. Not only will the bill be smaller; you’ll also get the care you need in a shorter amount of time. The best way to prevent an unnecessary emergency room visit is to have a primary care physician, even if you’re a healthy individual. Many primary care physician offices have walk-in appointments for those who need to be seen on the same day. That way you can get the care you need in a timely manner with reasonable cost.

Preventative medicine is the key to a healthier and happier life. There are age specific screening tests for men and women as well as for kids. This article will only focus on screening tests for adults (18 or older). The purpose of the preventative screening tests is to identify and treat health problems before they get worse and assess your risk for chronic diseases. Many chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol do not show symptoms for many years until at later stages. Keep in mind that recommendations for screening tests may vary slightly from different organizations such as the U.S Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), American Cancer Society, and the American college of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The guidelines for a screening test are often changed whenever there is a new research finding.

First, we will start with the screening tests for adults who are 18-39 years of age:

At least two physical exams in your 20s.

  • Height, weight and blood pressure screening at each visit. Blood pressure should be checked every two years if it is normal (<120/80 mmHg). Yearly if your blood pressure is between 120-139/80-89 mmHg.
  • Blood glucose test if one or both parents have diabetes or your blood pressure is higher than 120/80 mmHg.
  • Lipid panel for cholesterol screening (Some doctors may not do it if you have no family history of high cholesterol).
  • Dental exam and cleaning yearly.
  • Tetanus-diphtheria (TdAP) booster every 10 years.
  • Eyes exam every two years if you have vision problem.
  • Flu vaccine yearly.
  • Monthly testicular self-exam for men. Ask your primary care doctor for instruction if you are not sure how to check it.
  • Monthly breast self-exam for women. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice any changes in your breasts. Breast exam should be done by your primary care doctor every 3 years.
  • Pelvic exam and Pap Smear 3 years after the first sexual intercourse or by age 21 whichever comes first. Every two years for women in their 20s. Every three years for women in their 30s if you have three negative results in a row.
  • Screening for chlamydia infection in sexually active women (age 25 and younger).

Furthermore, the following screening tests are for adults who are 40-64 years of age.

  • Physical exam every 1-5 years for both men and women.
  • Height, weight and blood pressure screening at each visit. Blood pressure should be checked every two years if it is normal (<120/80 mmHg). Yearly if your blood pressure is between 120-139/80-89 mmHg.
  • Blood glucose test if one or both parents have diabetes or your blood pressure is higher than 120/80 mmHg.
  • Lipid panel for cholesterol screening. Recheck every 5 years if it is normal.
  • Dental exam and cleaning yearly.
  • Tetanus-diphtheria (TdAP) booster every 10 years.
  • Eyes exam every two years if you have vision problem. Some doctors may do tonometry to check for glaucoma for those who are 45 or older.
  • Flu vaccine yearly.
  • Stool guaiac test yearly for colorectal cancer in men and women at the age of 50. Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years. Some doctors may do colonoscopy every 10 years or CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy), which is non-invasive procedure every 5 years instead. If you have a parent or sibling with colorectal cancer, your colonoscopy will be done at earlier age (possibly at age 40 or ten years younger than the age of the relative with colorectal cancer at the time of diagnosis).
  • For men who are 50 or older, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer screening. This test is based upon individual’s preference.
  • For women, monthly breast self-exam. The first mammogram at age 40 for breast cancer screening and then, yearly after that. Mammogram at earlier age for those with high risk of breast cancer.
  • Yearly pelvic exam and Pap Smear for cervical cancer screening in women. Every two-three years if you have three negative results in a row.

Lastly, the following are screening tests for adults who are 65 and older.

  • Yearly physical exam for both men and women.
  • Height, weight and blood pressure screening at each visit. Blood pressure should be checked every year if it is normal (<120/80 mmHg). If it is between 120-139/80-89 mmHg, it will be monitored closely.
  • Lipid panel for cholesterol. If your cholesterol is normal, it will be rechecked every 3-5 years.
  • Dental exam and cleaning yearly.
  • Hearing test every year.
  • Tetanus-diphtheria (TdAP) booster every 10 years.
  • Eyes exam every two years if you have vision problem. Some doctors may do tonometry to check for glaucoma.
  • Flu vaccine yearly.
  • Pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine at age 65 or older.
  • Stool guaiac test every year with flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years or colonoscopy every 10 years for colorectal cancer screening.
  • For men, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer screening and bone density test.
  • 65 to 70 years old men who smoke or ever smoked should get one time abdominal ultrasound for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening.
  • For women, monthly breast self-exam. Breast exam by your primary care doctor every year and mammogram every 1-2 years for breast cancer screening.
  • For women, pelvic exam and Pap Smear may discontinue at age 65 to 70 if she has had three negative results in the last 10 years with the most recent test in the past 5 years.
  • Bone density test (DEXA scan) for women who are 65 and older for osteoporosis screening.

Contributed by Patricia Hsiao M.D.
Sources: Centeres for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. National Library of Medicine, UpToDate.com 
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Tanning and Skin Cancer: Know the Risks

Posted by on Oct 23, 2012 in News | 0 comments

Like other cancers, skin cancer is when there is uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells, and while there are many varities of skin cancer, melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell carcinoma are now the most common types of skin cancer.

Recent studies have shown that skin cancer has been on the rise in the past decade. Both genetic and environmental factors play a role in skin cancer. Fair skin people with red hair and light-colored eyes have a higher risk of getting a skin cancer than people with darker skin. Melanin is a pigment that gives color to the skin, hair, and the part of the eyes called iris. Darker skin people have higher melanin content. Melanin provides some protection from the ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB) of the sun. It does not mean that people with darker skin tone cannot get skin cancer; they simply have a lower risk. Other risk factors for skin cancer include family history of skin cancer, having freckles or many moles, and tendency to get sunburn in childhood.

Tanning is becoming popular in many societies from both the tanning bed and excessive sun exposure. According to British studies, the use of a tanning bed for the first time before age 35 increases melanoma risk by about 87 percent, while the use at any age increases the risk by 20-25 percent. It also indicated that women who use a tanning bed once or more in a month have significantly increased risk for melanoma compared to those who don’t use one at all. Another study done in Western Europe confirmed that the risk of melanoma increases with more frequent tanning bed sessions. Researchers found that tanning bed usage increases the risk for other types of skin cancer as well.

The best way to prevent any types of skin cancer is to make a few changes in your lifestyle. Here are a few tips on how to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Wear protective clothing and sunglasses when you go out in the sun.
  • Stay in the shade whenever you get a chance.
  • Always wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or greater. “Broad spectrum” sunscreens provide both UVA and UVB protection. You may need to reapply sunscreen in a couple of hours if you are sweating or swimming.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Instead try to use tanning sprays.
  • Check your skin regularly. Pay close attention to new moles or freckles or birthmarks to see if it’s getting bigger or changing in color.
  • See a dermatologist or primary care doctor as soon as possible if you notice any changes in your skin or abnormal growth on your skin. Many types of skin cancer have a higher chance of being curable if caught at an early stage.

Contributed by Patricia Hsiao M.D.
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