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Posts Tagged ‘preventive care’

What’s New About the Proposed New Food Labels?

Earlier this year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a formal proposal to update the “nutrition facts” labels on food products to more accurately reflect the current health concerns and eating habits of Americans. These changes will update the current labels that have been around for the past 20 years and will be based on the most current and reliable science.

Americans are now increasingly health conscious and more interested in what’s in their food. Research has shown that between 2007 and 2014, there has been an 8% increase in reading food labels in the age group of 29-68 year olds. Revising the current labels to be more easily decipherable will make it easier for consumers to better understand what to look for when making informed food choices.

The future proposed changes are in the following areas.

Serving Size. Many of the serving sizes will be increased to more realistically reflect how much people actually eat. For example, the current label on a carton of ice cream lists a standard serving as half a cup, but most people typically eat more than half a cup. Read tips to control your portions.

Total Calories. Total calories will be listed more prominently and possibly in bold print towards the top of the new label. The number of calories is one of the most important things to note. While Americans’ waist lines are ever expanding, it’s become increasingly important to pay more attention to calories consumed. It will also make calorie counting easier.

Calories from Fat. This line will be removed from the new labels which will focus more attention on the breakdown of fats. Research shows that the type of fat is more important than the calories from fat. Labels will continue to list total fat, saturated and trans fat.

Sugars. The new labels will note how much added sugar is in the product. At this time, you cannot differentiate how much sugar comes from added sugars versus natural sources found in fruit and milk. This will make it easier for Americans to follow the American Heart Association’s guidelines for limiting added sugar. The recommendations state that men should consume no more than 150 calories a day from added sugar and women no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar.

Daily Values. There will also be updates to sodium, dietary fiber, vitamin D, potassium, calcium and iron. These will be based on the current needs that have changed over the 20 year period.

With more than a third of Americans obese, paying more attention to the labels in their new and improved format is great news! Studies show that people who read labels tend to eat more healthfully. Food knowledge can be a powerful tool!

For information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition services, click here or call 972.560.2655.

Myth or Fact? Balancing Acidic and Alkaline Foods for Your Stomach

The idea that we need to balance our inner pH with a special diet is a trendy one, but is there any evidence behind it?

The pH level (the balance of acid and alkaline) in your body is important, and can affect multiple body functions, but balancing pH is more complicated than simply changing your diet. It is true that a majority of the average American’s diet is loaded with acidic foods, but food isn’t the only factor that affects your inner pH.

“It is an interesting concept [balancing pH by adjusting the amount of acidic food you eat], but there is little basis or medically proven benefit of doing so,” says Cooper Clinic Director of Gastroenterology Abram Eisenstein, MD.

The human body is very sensitive to changes in pH and balance between acid and alkaline materials in our blood is very important part of our blood, but the body was developed with a number of mechanisms to guard against over acidity or over alkalinity in the blood. “Without these fundamental and life-protecting mechanisms, you can become very ill with chronic acidosis, but in the big scheme of things, what you put in your mouth has very little to do with the acid/alkaline balance in your body,” explains Dr. Eisenstein.

Serious diseases, such as uncontrolled diabetes and chronic kidney disease can have a far greater effect on your body’s pH levels than the food you eat. “While the recommendations that you can control pH by balancing acidic and alkaline foods in your diet come from well-meaning people, this idea is misguided,” says Dr. Eisenstein. “One of the beauties of our bodies is that our pH is regulated minute-by-minute. There is no long term effect on your blood from eating acidic foods.”

As far as the store bought urine tests claiming to check for a pH imbalance, Dr. Eisenstein doesn’t recommend giving them much thought either. “Measuring pH in the urine is not the way to find out if your pH is balanced or not because your kidneys are designed to balance the pH,” he says. “If you have too much acid in your blood, you’ll put out acid urine, if you have too much alkaline in your blood, you’ll put out alkaline urine.”

The bottom line: acidosis and alkalosis are serious medical problems, but unless you have other signs of serious poor health, worrying about your inner pH levels is unnecessary.

If you are concerned about your pH balance, schedule an appointment with your physician for an examination. If it is deemed necessary, your physician will order a blood pH test, which is the only correct way to check for a pH imbalance.

For more Prevention Plus articles, click here.

Treadmill Stress Test at Cooper Clinic

March 24, 2014 3 comments

Did you know that more than 100,000 patients have done the treadmill stress test at Cooper Clinic? A few weeks ago we began a blog series to dive into each of the six components of Cooper Clinic’s comprehensive preventive exam. To get caught up, read about the first two components.

  1. Medical Exam & Counseling
  2. Laboratory Analysis
  3. Cardiovascular Screening
  4. Multidetector Computed Tomography (MDCT) Scan
  5. Skin Cancer Screening
  6. Nutrition Consultation

Component #3: Cardiovascular Screening

Since Cooper Clinic opened in 1970, we have used the treadmill stress test to help detect heart artery blockages and assess patients’ overall risk of developing heart disease in the future. Dr. Cooper was the first physician in Dallas to routinely use the treadmill stress test for this purpose. And since then our research has proven the importance of having this test done annually.

The stress test is a standardized walking or cycling test used to determine cardiovascular fitness, assess functional capacity and the conduction system of the heart and identify possible underlying coronary artery disease. Before, during and after the stress test, the electrocardiogram (EKG) is monitored continuously and blood pressure is measured frequently to assess the cardiovascular response to exercise.

On the Treadmill

At Cooper Clinic we use a modified Balke treadmill protocol for the treadmill stress test. With this protocol, the treadmill speed remains at 3.3 mph. We increase the work of the heart by adding elevation.

  • First minute—Zero percent elevation
  • Second minute—Two percent elevation
  • Third minute—Three percent elevation

After the second minute, we increase the elevation by one percent for each minute up to a maximal incline of 25 percent. As you can imagine, that is a pretty steep hill! For those few individuals who can exercise beyond 25 minutes, the incline stays at 25 percent and then the speed increases 0.2 mph/minute until exhaustion. We use this protocol rather than the Bruce protocol, which is used in most cardiology offices for the diagnosis of coronary blockages. Why? Because the Balke treadmill protocol has a more gradual increase in cardiac workload so that even our most unfit patients can participate to provide the data to write an exercise prescription.

How Performance Provides Results

Patients will often ask, ‘how long do I need to walk on the treadmill?’ In order to obtain an adequate test for the diagnosis of coronary blockages, a patient should reach a heart rate of at least 85 percent of their predicted maximal heart rate. The predicted maximal heart rate is estimated using the equation “220 minus age”. For example, if you are 50 years old, your predicted maximal heart rate is 220-50 or 170 beats per minute. However, we often exercise patients beyond this threshold value of 85 percent of predicted maximal heart rate because we stop the treadmill based on the patient’s exertion level rather than a predetermined heart rate. For many of our very fit patients, if we stopped the test when their heart rate reached 85 percent of their predicted maximal heart rate, we would have a result that didn’t reflect how hard they work when they exercise and we couldn’t create a realistic exercise prescription for them.

Scientifically Proven

A recent study from Cooper Clinic involving 25,642 individuals followed for 7.2 years, showed that in addition to assessing changes on the EKG during a stress test, other non-EKG measures helped predict the risk of death from all causes or from cardiovascular disease. Including:

  • Functional capacity (how long you exercised on the treadmill)
  • Resting heart rate
  • If the heart rate increased appropriately during exercise
  • How fast the heart rate recovered after exercise

Unlike its use in other settings, the treadmill stress test at Cooper Clinic is used as an objective way to measure fitness. Sure, we can ask you how often you exercise; we can ask you how hard you work during exercise, but nothing provides a real measure of fitness like your performance on the treadmill.

In 1989, a landmark paper from The Cooper Institute 501(c)(3) nonprofit examined 10,224 men and 3,120 women who had undergone fitness (treadmill) testing. After a follow-up of slightly more than eight years, research showed the risk of death from any cause decreased as fitness increased in both men and women. In addition, cardiovascular and cancer death rates were lower among the higher fit individuals.

Since that time, numerous scientific publications from The Cooper Institute have demonstrated the benefits of being fit and the risks of being unfit:

  • Men who maintained or improved their fitness were less likely to die from anything or from cardiovascular disease versus the unfit men who remained unfit over time.
  • The health benefits of fitness include reduced risk for developing risk factors for heart disease including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • The risk of low fitness approaches the risk of smoking.
  • Being fit reduces the risk of stroke and depression.
  • Being fit reduces the risk of dying from lung and gastrointestinal cancers.

Most recently, The Cooper Institute has shown that fitness at mid-life (average age in the upper 40s) impacts health—including the development of heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer’s disease—and is a predictor of health care costs in later life. The average follow-up was between 24-26 years.

Given the proven health benefits of fitness, most experts recommend that a fitness evaluation should be part of routine preventive care as an independent “vital sign” that can be directly modified by routine physical activity. At Cooper Clinic, we do exactly that. Once we measure your fitness, we can use that information to create an individualized exercise prescription to improve your fitness or keep you fit.

To learn more about the treadmill stress test at Cooper Clinic, click here.