New Year, New You: Tips for a healthy start to 2023
The beginning of a new year symbolizes a fresh start and, for many of us, it provides a renewed focus on our overall health and wellbeing. That’s why so many of us set New Year’s resolutions intended to improve our wellness. Turning the page on the calendar gives us a chance to turn the page on old unhealthy habits, commit to being better, healthier versions of ourselves and look to the future with hope for what’s to come. Living a healthier life can reduce your risk of illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer; and it can help to boost your energy, sharpen your memories and stabilize your mood, leading to a noticeable improvement in your overall health.
If you have intentions of leading a healthier life this year, you are not alone. We asked our Primary and Specialty Care professionals what their top three recommendations are to stay healthier, longer.
Kearn Ghuman, DO
Fauquier Health Primary & Specialty Care at Lake Manassas
- Pack a gym bag the night before. Packing a gym bag and taking it to work with you is a simple way to encourage yourself to go to the gym before or right after work. Let’s be real – work and life can get hectic and busy, especially around the holiday season. After a long day, depending on your schedule, you may not have the energy to work out. That’s why early morning workouts can be just what you need. They are a great way to get the blood flowing to your brain and will help you stay focused at work. Remember 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week is the goal!
- Put down your phone. This may sound simple, but it is becoming increasingly difficult. Disconnecting is a great way to mentally refresh. We need to remind ourselves to take a break in a world where we are always connected. That includes turning off the TV. Instead, grab a book, take a bath or shower, and take it easy for an hour before bedtime. Only use your bed for sleeping, that means no watching TV or reading in bed. Optimizing your sleep hygiene will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep during the night.
- Meal planning. Meal planning for the week during the weekend is a great way to stay on track for a healthy diet. You can find easy recipes online, for example Mayo Clinic Diet online offers some sample menus and meal plans. Don’t forget, balance in your diet is important!
Hasina Hamid, MD
Fauquier Health Primary & Specialty Care at Lake Manassas
Piedmont Internal Medicine, Warrenton
- Drink more water. Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day. If you engage in regular physical exercise, you may need more water to stay hydrated. Sports drinks can be helpful to replace salts and provide some sugar if you are especially active. Sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages are a big source of extra sugar. Cut them out. Find alcohol-free drinks, mocktails, that you can make. By cutting out alcohol, you’ll cut out a lot of empty calories. You can also choose water, tea, coffee, or other unsweetened beverages.
- Prioritize your sleep hygiene. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of U.S. adults say they typically get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Poor sleeping habits can raise your risk for high blood pressure, increased stress, weight gain, depression, loss of motor skills and poor heart health. If you are having difficulty maintaining good sleep hygiene or are experiencing any of the symptoms of a sleep disorder, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment for you.
- Schedule an annual check-up with your provider. There’s no better time than the start of a new year to schedule your annual check-up or any other health screenings you may need. Annual wellness exams and recommended health screenings give you and your provider the opportunity to catch health issues before they become serious and avoid any potential complications that arise from delaying care. Scheduling your annual check-up or screening is also a great way to stay on top of things like recommended immunizations and any other needed procedures.
Jenna Wong, DO
Fauquier Health Primary & Specialty Care at Lake Manassas
- Be realistic. As we kick off the New Year, you may reflect and decide to make some changes. Make sure you are making realistic lifestyle changes. Keep in mind, crash diets will make you more likely to yo-yo in weight and overall health.
- Be specific. Set specific, concrete goals for yourself. For example, “I will lift weights for X minutes, X times per week and jog for X minutes, X times per week.” Another great example to help mentally prepare you for each day would include, “I will meditate every morning when I wake up for X minutes, X times per week.”
- Food pyramid 101. As children we learned about the food pyramid and how many servings of which food to strive for daily. Then as adults, we tend to lose sight of that. I recommend you strive to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Change your mindset to focus on incorporating nutrients, rather than focusing on the avoidance of unhealthy, “yummy” foods.
If you need a primary care provider, Fauquier Health can help. Call 540.316.DOCS or visit the Find a Provider tab at FauquierHealth.org to get connected with quality care today.
Niacinamide: a gentle skin treatment
How much do you know about niacinamide? This gentle ingredient offers many benefits for your skin and your overall health. Also known as nicotinamide, niacinamide is a form of vitamin B-3, an essential nutrient that supports the health of your skin, kidneys, and brain.
When you eat foods high in B3, like eggs, cereals, green vegetables, fish, and milk, niacinamide supports cell functioning and helps your body convert food into energy. As a topical treatment, niacinamide can benefit your skin in the following ways:
• It forms a protective barrier. Niacinamide helps your skin grow a lipid barrier, enabling it to retain more moisture. It can also safeguard your skin from oxidative stress caused by sunlight and pollution. In addition to supporting moisture retention, niacinamide can help regulate your sebaceous glands so they don’t produce too much oil.
• It evens out irregularities. If you have skin conditions like eczema or acne, niacinamide can help reduce inflammation that causes redness and lesions. Likewise, some studies have shown that niacinamide can help lighten dark spots.
• It reduces signs of aging. Niacinamide is instrumental in producing keratin, which helps keeps your skin healthy and firm. It can also help reduce signs of sun damage, like fine lines and wrinkles.
Experts recommend using a serum or moisturizer with two to 10 percent niacinamide. Apply it as a final step after your cleanser, toner, and anti-aging product. Talk to a skincare expert near you for guidance.
Vitamins and minerals for older adults
As you get older, your nutrition needs change. Your body needs more of certain vitamins and minerals. Here’s a list of some essential nutrients for older adults.
• Calcium is found in dairy, tofu, and dark-green leafy vegetables. Older people at risk of bone loss need calcium in their diets. Men between 51 and 70 need 1,000 milligrams daily, while women over 51 and men over 71 need 1,200 milligrams daily.
• Vitamin B6 helps your body form red blood cells and is found in foods like bananas and potatoes. Men over 51 need 1.7 milligrams, while women of the same age need 1.5 milligrams.
• Vitamin B12 is found in meat and keeps your red blood cells and nerves healthy. Older adults may have trouble absorbing this vitamin from food and require a supplement. Aim for 2.4 micrograms per day.
• Vitamin D helps your body retain and use calcium and phosphorus. Only a few foods, like fish, contain it. Your skin also produces Vitamin D in sunlight. Therefore, a supplement may help you get the recommended amount if you live and work indoors. People between 50 and 70 require 600 international units (IU), while people over 71 require 800 IUs.
• Sodium in high doses can lead to elevated blood pressure, which can result in a heart attack or stroke. Men and women over 51 should limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day.
Talk to your doctor before taking supplements, as some may have severe side effects.
Breathing break reduces stress
If your to-do list is running long and your stress levels are rising, you might want to start your day with a quick break. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true — just a few short minutes of breathing and mindfulness can help you set your stress aside and improve your focus and productivity when you attack your inbox.
Set a timer for five minutes. Start up some relaxing sounds or soft music if you like. Close your eyes, relax your shoulders, and take a few deep breaths from your belly, letting the air slowly rise up into your chest, all the way up to the top of your head. Inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, then hold for four counts before starting again. Focus on each count and how the air feels as it moves in and out of your body. Think about how your body feels through each breath, and if other thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them and let them go.
While you do this exercise, don’t worry about how well you’re doing it — just try to stay in the moment. When your timer goes off after five minutes, you can return to your tasks feeling refreshed and ready to tackle each challenge as it comes.
If a DIY quick meditation isn’t for you or if you prefer a guided experience, a number of meditation apps are available for iOS or Android. Try Headspace, Calm, Healthy Minds, or The Mindfulness App.
Cryolipolysis: Get sculpted without surgery
Are you looking for a way to say goodbye to stubborn fat without liposuction? Cryolipolysis (Cool¬Sculpting®) is an ingenious controlled cooling system that provides long-lasting results.
What is it?
Cryolipolysis is a non-surgical, needle-free treatment that destroys fat cells below the skin to reshape your body without damaging the surrounding tissue.
How does it work?
Cryolipolysis freezes and crystallizes targeted fat cells and destroys them. The body naturally eliminates these dead fat cells in the weeks following the treatment. Untreated areas remain unchanged.
Unlike typical weight loss, where the size of the fat cells varies, cells treated with cryolipolysis disappear permanently, providing long-lasting results. This procedure also allows you, in most cases, to return to your daily activities immediately.
Which areas of the body can be treated?
You can use cryolipolysis to treat many areas of the body, such as a double chin, upper arms, love handles, abdomen, gluteal folds, and inner thighs.
Each person responds differently to treatments, and complications are possible but rare. To find out if cryolipolysis is right for you, visit a clinic in your area that offers this service.
Dental flossing tips everyone should know
Daily flossing is essential to good oral health. It does more than remove unsightly or annoying pieces of lettuce or popcorn stuck between your teeth. It removes plaque before it turns into tartar, which can cause cavities and gingivitis. Flossing also helps clean the areas your toothbrush may struggle to reach. What’s more, it helps remove bacteria and prevent bad breath.
Here are a few tips on how to use dental floss correctly.
Which one to choose?
There are various types of dental floss, including monofilament, multifilament, waxed, unwaxed, and mint-flavored varieties. Select the product you prefer. You can purchase a floss holder or threader if you have difficulty using floss because of braces or limited dexterity.
Using a brush may be more appropriate if your teeth are widely spaced. Talk to your dental hygienist for personalized advice.
How to use it
It’s best to floss at night rather than in the morning, as salivation decreases while you sleep. You should floss before you brush your teeth. This way, your brush can completely remove the residue the floss displaces. It also makes it easier for the bristles and toothpaste to flow between teeth.
Follow these steps to floss effectively:
• Cut off about 12 inches of floss
• Wrap the floss around your middle fingers, leaving about two inches between them
• Tighten it with your thumbs and forefingers
• Slide it between your teeth, forming a “C” at the base of the tooth, under the gum
• Gently scrape the surface by passing two or three times from the gum to the top
It’s normal for your gums to bleed a little at first. However, if the bleeding persists after a few days, it could indicate that you have gingivitis. In this case, consult your dentist.
Make your back stronger this spring
Though sudden back pain can occur after a twist or a sneeze, most back injuries are caused by years of mistreatment before that final, painful injury.
Stresses such as poor posture, faulty body mechanics, obesity, emotional tension, and lack of fitness over the long term are the cause. With these modern problems, it’s not surprising that back pain is the number one complaint today.
Whether you want to treat it or prevent it, these steps will help.
- Posture: Stand with your ears, shoulders, and hips, forming a straight line. See a physical therapist or trainer if they don’t.
- Body mechanics: Keep the correct alignment of ears, shoulders, and hips while performing everyday activities. Keep lifted objects close to your body, and you reduce your risk of injury.
- Exercise: Make it central to maintaining a healthy back. Your program should include aerobic, flexibility, and strengthening exercises.
Aerobic exercise includes walking, biking, and swimming. Do it for 10 to 15 minutes three or four days a week to start, building to 30 minutes.
Poor flexibility can be a key contributor to lower back and neck pain. If your hips don’t move freely, your spine will move more than it should, leading to back programs. If you have a limited range of motion in an area, you need to stretch that area.
Well-balanced muscle strength is essential in maintaining good posture and a healthy back. Strong back, hip, and abdominal muscles support the spine. Strong trunk muscles help to prevent back injuries.
Remember these top keys to a healthy back: posture, mechanics, and exercise. The season for fun is now. Use it to get your back in shape for summer.
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