Cervical Health Awareness

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. The goal of this month is to raise awareness on how to protect against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STIs) in the United States, affecting nearly 80% of women, at least once in their lifetime. According to WomensHealth.gov, though most cases don’t show any symptoms, and usually goes away on its own, if it doesn’t, HPV can lead to:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Other genital cancers (e.g. cancers of the vulva, anus, penis, etc.)
  • Oropharyngeal cancer (i.e. cancer of the back of the throat, affecting tongue and tonsils)
  • Genital warts

However, there is good news. With HPV vaccine shots, regular screenings, and follow-up care, HPV and cervical cancer can often be prevented. This is one of the many reasons why a yearly well-woman visit is important. Other ways to prevent HPV and the risk of cervical cancer include:

  • Get tested – make sure you are your partner are tested for STIs
  • Use condoms – condoms have been linked to lower cervical cancer rates
  • Limit your number of sexual partners – your risk increases with the number of partners you have

As parents, it’s important to understand the benefits of the HPV vaccines, and have them administered to your children, both boys and girls. Though encouraged to get the vaccine during the pre-teen years, teens and young adults are still able to receive the vaccine (boys – up to age 21; girls – up to age 26).

R-Health gives our members access to vaccines right in the office. If you want to learn more about the HPV vaccine, or want more tips to prevent cervical cancer, call your local R-Health office to get started.

Why Weight?

Weight loss is always about what is on the end of your fork – it’s about what you are eating.  Exercise is extremely important to stay healthy, but it is a much smaller player in the weight loss journey.  Patients often express frustration with their progress because they feel that they have been going to the gym, or otherwise working out, and not losing weight.  The reason that they are not losing weight is that they are missing the most important piece, which is changing how much they eat and what they eat.

Slow weight loss is always best – 1-2 pounds weekly.  That is the kind of loss that will be maintained.  Rapid loss usually results in rapid gain that often surpasses initial starting weight.

Try to eat within a 12-hour window – begin about 30 minutes after getting up, and complete the last meal about 12 hours later.  People often get into trouble with nibbling after dinner or during the night.

Weigh or measure all food – many people incorrectly estimate how much they are eating.  And, keep track of what you are eating, a convenient app is called “MyFitnessPal.” In fact, I have had patients lose up to 60 pounds in just this way!

Instead of beverages with sugar or artificial sweeteners, make spa water – Fill up a container with water, and add in fruits/veggies/herbs and let sit overnight.  Some of our patients have enjoyed combos like:

  • Cucumbers and fresh mint
  • Ginger and lemon
  • Frozen peaches/strawberries

For healthy snacks, consider:

  • A cheese stick and ½ piece of fruit
  • A small handful of nuts and ½ piece of fruit
  • A small container of hummus or guacamole (individual serving sizes are available at the grocery store) with veggies
  • A 3 ounce can of tuna spread on a rice cake

These are just a few of the countless methods by which you can lose weight. For tips and much more feedback, visit your R-Health doctor and develop the plan that works for you.

Time to Stick With It

Like clockwork, every year around this time there’s a lot to wrap up – holiday gifts, end of year vacations, or another popular one, New Year’s Resolutions. Thinking about setting your own New Year’s resolution?  Here are some tips to help you set and achieve yours!  What makes a goal more attainable is accountability and proper planning, and HealthAdvocate helps focus on the latter by sharing a few steps that make your health resolutions achievable.

  • Choose something that interests you – Having a clear focus can help drive you towards reaching your goals
  • Choose your resolution as a long-term goal – There’s no quick fix for a long-term plan. Time allows you to better manage your goals, which ultimately brings more success
  • Think simple – Choose something that challenges you, but not taxing that it burdens you
  • Compare your 2018 resolutions with previous years’ – Learn from your mistakes and what worked well to better position yourself moving forward
  • Recognize it may take longer than a year – Some goals take longer to accomplish, but every step towards your resolution is one in the right direction

Breaking down your goals into small pieces can help make large goals more obtainable and more important in your daily life.  For example, if your goal is to lose 20lbs over the course of the year, that cheese steak seems less harmful, than if your goal is to lose 1 lb. that week.  You also get to celebrate more victories along the way!   The American Psychological Association shared these quick tips on how to persevere.

  1. Start small – Whether it’s losing 2 pounds a month, or drinking an extra glass of water a day, starting small makes your resolutions easier to keep
  2. Change one behavior at a time – Healthy behaviors take time to develop, don’t rush
  3. Don’t beat yourself up – Everyday won’t be a win, but make sure to continue your pursuit even when you stumble
  4. Ask for support – Share you experiences and find an outlet that helps support and push you to carry on

Attaining better health, is a common New Year resolution.  Maybe it’s through better food, exercise, improved sleep habits, stress management or a combination.  Maybe it’s finally getting a colonoscopy. Whatever it is, you can always reach out to your R-Health doctor and develop plan to make and meet your 2018 health goals. If you want, get a head start, fill out this worksheet to help you think about why the goal is important to you, what might be barriers and solutions to achieving your goal and bring it along.

Finally, don’t hesitate to share.  We can all learn from one another.  Visit our Facebook page and share your trials and successes during your journey.

Sweets: Naughty or Nice?

The holidays are full of special things, decorations, songs, events, parties and gifts.  There are also sweet treats all around.  Holiday treats can be bittersweet – both literally and figuratively.

Whether the holidays serve as a relaxing time or a stress filled environment, finding too much comfort in these treats can be damaging to your health.

Next time the tray of cookies is in front of you, try to make mindful decisions.  Think about if this cookie is truly special, or is it just there in front of you.  Is it the cookie that will bring me joy, or is it that I am surrounded by my family and friends?  Or am I reaching for this cookie because I am stressed, what else could I do to handle my stress?  If you decide to eat the cookie, great, don’t have regrets!  Take time to chew, and savor, and truly enjoy it.  You will feel more satisfied and less likely to mindlessly reach for another.

What if there were healthier options available?  You could be a part of making that available for your family and friends.

There are many options to create healthier alternatives to traditional holiday sweet treats and gifts. You can show your love and keep loved ones healthy!  For example, create your own trail mix, make dark chocolate bark with fruit and nuts, make your own spice rubs or soup kits in mason jars.  Our very own Dr. Julia Snyder even suggested a healthy treat, Almond Grabbers, and their recipe can be found here.

For more healthy holiday treat and gift ideas, check out EatingWell. For all other tips and tricks as to what you should avoid for the holidays, reach out to your R-Health doctor who’s always available for you, even during the holiday season.

Do you have ideas of your own healthy holiday treats?  We’d love to hear. Share them with us on Facebook.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat!

The little things. It’s always the little things that are often overlooked, but can carry the most importance. Fresh air. Cold pillows. A good breakfast. Washing your hands. Few have the impact of the latter.

Washing your hands is one of the most important steps to not only protecting your own health, but also prevention of germ spread and other bacteria to others. This week is National Handwashing Awareness Week, and with the flu and many other sicknesses very prevalent during this time, now is as good a time as any to discuss the importance of handwashing, and how it’s relative to prevention.

For a little context on how important this topic is, here are a few facts, courtesy of the CDC, related to handwashing:

  • Washing hands with soap and water can reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50%
  • Handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16%
  • A large percentage of foodborne disease outbreaks are spread by contaminated hands, which could be greatly reduced by handwashing.
  • The use of alcohol gel hand sanitizer in classrooms can result in upwards of 20% reduction in absenteeism due to infection.
  • Reducing the number of infections through handwashing may help prevent the overuse of antibiotics (and eventual antibiotic resistance) often prescribed for these health issues.

Looking for more reasons why handwashing is important? Look no further than the main culprit of sickness: germs.  As the CDC describes, feces is a main source of germs, like Salmonella and E.coli that spread many respiratory infections such as, hand-foot-mouth disease and adenovirus to name a few. These germs get onto your hands a variety of ways, including:

  • After toilet use
  • Changing diapers
  • Blowing your nose
  • Handling raw meat
  • Taking out garbage
  • Petting animals
  • Caring for sick people

These are common, everyday activities that people do, yet if people don’t take the initiative to wash their hands, germs will stay on the surface of your hands for hours. With frequent touching of the body (i.e. touching eyes, nose, and mouth) coupled with germ pile up on your hand surface, it gets you sick, and even worse, it transfers to other objects that will get others sick.

So, what can you do? Wash your hands multiple times throughout the day and follow standard handwashing techniques:

  1. Wet – Wet your hands with clean water, then apply soap
  2. Lather – Rub your hands together with the soap, making sure to get the back of your hands, between fingers, and under the fingernails
  3. Scrub – Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds
  4. Rinse
  5. Dry – Air dry or use a clean towel
  6. *Tip* For public restrooms, shut the faucet off with a paper towel, and use your shoulder (or another towel on the knob) to open the door

If you’re not near a sink, hand sanitizer is a great substitute. However, if your hands are visible dirty and greasy, this will not be as effective in eliminating the high number of germs. It’s also important to note to avoid the use of antibacterial soap, due to the dangers of triclosan. As the Mayo Clinic describes, although triclosan is an active ingredient in making some soaps antibacterial, excess use can cause small amounts to be absorbed by the skin, which may lead to a damaged immune system and/or antibiotic resistance.

In closing, sometimes it’s the little things that have big impact. Don’t risk getting sick, especially during peak flu season, by not washing your hands. Your R-Health doctor hand-washes every time they see you, so take the lead and follow suit. Or use our R-Health hand sanitizer.

R-Questions, Answered, Vol. III

We continue our new practice introductions in Hamilton, home of R-Health Hamilton and Dr. Cindy Geng. A doctor with extensive routes and unique specialties, Dr. Geng was kind enough to answer a few of our questions. If you’re curious for more answers, you can always partake in our meet and greet sessions with the doctor, but for now, here’s a look into Dr. Geng’s background, passion for medicine, and why she’s excited for this new opportunity.

  1. Where are you originally from?  China
  2. Why did you study medicine? I’d like to help people get healthier, and I love to play a detective’s role to figure out what is the real culprit for their medical issues.
  3. What was the hardest part of medical school? I am OK with exams, but there were just too many exams in med school.
  4. What do you do on a day off? If the weather is nice, I would prefer to get close to nature – near a lake or a trail. I also enjoy have a party or tea time with friends.
  5. What’s your favorite TV show? Can we skip this one – as I watch TV shows mostly in Chinese. 🙂 
  6. Do you have bad handwriting? (They say all doctors do) NOT really.
  7. What’s is different about Direct Care that excites you? I love having more time to get to know my patients, to build a rapport and be able to have a positive impact in their long-term health.
  8. What’s the simplest piece of medical advice you can give? Have a healthy life style suitable for you, it will make your days more enjoyable.

Dr. Geng’s office is open and accepting new members, so don’t hesitate to sign up and see what else you may have in common.

[Healthy] Thanksgiving!

If you haven’t heard already, there’s a pretty big holiday coming up soon: Thanksgiving. In a time of reminiscing and gathering of friends, family, and loved ones, the main star on this day is the food. With an assortment of people and traditions, there’s always an abundance of dishes available to consume. However, how can we distinguish what’s healthy and will benefit our health? There are a few tips we all can follow without sacrificing our appetites.

Studies have shown that people gain on average, between 5-10 pounds during the holiday season (from Thanksgiving to New Year’s). WOW!!! While just averages, this can mean that people gain less than this range, or in the unfortunate instance, gain more. It’s important during the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, to be proactive in maintaining your health and keeping the extra pounds off, so you may have an easier time with your upcoming New Year’s Resolutions.  WebMD has offered a few tips that won’t impede satisfaction of the yummy holiday feasts.

  • Get active
    • Exercise before eating your favorite foods
    • Increase the number of days, and length of workouts before Thanksgiving
    • Plan a post-meal walk and/or workout the following day
  • Eat breakfast
    • Eating a small meal in the morning can give you better control over your appetite
    • More disciplined appetite makes for healthier food and beverage choices
  • Lighten up
    • Whether preparing the meals, or bringing add-ons, try and make your dishes with less sugar, no added fat, and less calories.
    • Use sugar substitutes, and reduce oil/butter when you can
  • Police your proteins
    • Survey the options and select reasonable sized portions
    • Smaller portions allow you to enjoy whatever you’d like
    • Resist the urge for second helpings
    • Stop eating when you’re satisfied. If you wait til your full, it might be too late 😉
  • Slowly savor
    • Eating slowly allows you to taste every bite while being satisfied after one plate
    • Try eating only two meals on holidays and keep them within 8 hours of each other. So perhaps skip breakfast if you expect to eat a big lunch or dinner. This style of eating is called Intermittent Fasting and has been very helpful in weight loss/weight maintenance.
  • Go easy on alcohol
    • Have a glass of wine or sparkling water in between alcoholic drinks to avoid dehydration and the calories that alcohol provide
  • Be realistic
    • During the holiday times, it’s very difficult to try and lose weight, therefore shifting focus to maintaining weight provides more desirable outcomes.

If you’re looking for which foods to include in your Thanksgiving menu you can turn to the Mayo Clinic and/or EatingWell for an assist. They provide countless recipes that are not only fresh, but contain less fat, sodium, and calories to provide guests with healthy options that are equally flavorful. If you have a particular diet or health plan that you’re on, reach out to your R-Health doctor for any meal suggestions. Otherwise, enjoy the holiday and celebrate this time with your family and friends!

Defeat Diabetes!

With Thanksgiving approaching, it may seem like a joyous occasion for most, but for a segment of the population, it may be another day of battling your urges, for the sake of long-term health. November is recognized as American Diabetes Month; and with diabetes affecting nearly 30 million people and their families, it’s important to remind them that they are not alone, and to share information to those who are newly diagnosed.

For a quick summary of the condition, we turn to the Mayo Clinic. Diabetes affects how your body uses glucose. Glucose, or blood sugar, is a major source of energy for the cells in your muscles, tissues, and your brain. However, too much glucose in your blood can cause major health risks such as:

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Nerve, Kidney, Foot, and/or Eye Damage
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Skin infections
  • Alzheimer’s

Since there are different types of diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) there are different risk factors associated with each, and we’ll share a few below:

  • Type 1 Diabetes – more prevalent during childhood/adolescence – removes insulin production from the body.
    • Risk Factors
      • Family History
      • Dietary Factors
      • Environment Factors
      • Geography
  • Type 2 Diabetes – more prevalent during adulthood – body becomes insulin resistant.
    • Risk Factors
      • Family History
      • Age/Weight/Race
      • Inactivity
      • High Blood Pressure
      • Abnormal Cholesterol levels

Consequently, knowing these risk factors, what should you do if you’re diagnosed? Binge eating will certainly not be the answer, however, Diabetic Living shared a few tips on how to approach a new diagnosis.

  1. Inspect your health plan – find the best and most affordable health plan that will cover your upcoming medications and supplies.
  2. Consider medications to lower your blood sugarIt’s now recommended to take at least one glucose-lowering medication as soon as you’re diagnosed (e.g. metformin).
  3. Create a diabetes eating plan – Monitor what you eat, but also track it to see its impact on your blood glucose levels. Most times you don’t have to make drastic changes.
  4. Create a physical activity planJust like your diet, physical activities are important when diabetic. Food provides the energy, and the activity helps burn some of it. Incorporating this into an everyday routine can have great impact.
  5. Shop for Diabetes supplies – Blood glucose meters, test strips, and a blood glucose journal are just a few things that can help you along the way.
  6. Connect with others As we mentioned earlier, you’re not alone in this fight. Connecting with others can relieve you of any anxieties and motivate you to take care of yourself.
  7. Choose your primary care provider

Now if you’re not a diabetes rookie, you’d be more focused on how to manage your diabetes. With help from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), they shared 4 major actions you should take to manage your diabetes throughout your lifetime.

  1. Learn More about Diabetes
    • Get a better understanding about the type of diabetes you have and ones you’re not sure of (e.g. Gestational diabetes).
    • Take classes, join support groups, and talk to your doctors (i.e. dentist, dietician, eye doctor) in your health team to see how it can affect other areas
  2. Know your diabetes ABCs
    • A – A1C test. It measures your sugar levels over a 3-month span
    • B – Blood pressure. Have blood pressure goals and know what gets it too high or too low
    • C – Cholesterol. Like blood pressure, have cholesterol goals and ask your doctor what those numbers should be
  3. Learn to live with diabetes
    • Ask for help, discover new hobbies, voice your concerns to your support system
    • Spend time developing a food palette and compare your sugar levels to see what part of your diet needs changing
  4. Get routine care
    • Getting routine care at least twice a year can help catch any future problems, early
    • Get the A1C test twice
    • Ask your primary care doctor and other members in your health team if any other tests are required

If you’re already an R-Health Member, you’ve already got a great primary care doctor. Your R-Health doctor can spend the time with you to create your own health plan, covering what to eat, medication suggestions, and how to balance physical activity. A strong relationship with your primary can help you overcome some of the obstacles associated with diabetes, including a loaded Thanksgiving plate.

R-Questions, Answered, Vol. II

In our tradition of commencing new locations, we’ve asked our Dr. Snyder, of R-Health Cherry Hill, a few questions to help introduce her to our community. Check out her answers as she discusses her background, interests, and even helpful medical advice. Moreover, if you have any questions for Dr. Snyder, you can always schedule a meet and greet to chat on a multitude of things, not discussed in this fun Q&A. Enjoy.

  1. Where are you originally from?  I was born in Washington Township, NJ and lived across the street from a farm where I fed carrots to horses. Then my family moved to Moorestown for the start of school.
  2. Why did you study medicine? I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was very little. I wanted to help people feel better. I still do.
  3. What was the hardest part of medical school? The hardest part of medical school was realizing that medicine wasn’t the way I had dreamed when I was little. After I had gotten through anatomy lab, physiology, and pharmacology in the first and second year of medical school, third year gave me a broken heart when I saw how dehumanizing medicine could be. Luckily, fourth year I discovered integrative and holistic medicine. It was what I dreamed medicine of being – addressing the care of the whole person – mind/body/spirit/family. This has been my passion ever since.
  4. What do you do on a day off? Spend time with my family. I have five-year-old twin girls. We love to play soccer, go to the playground, have dance parties at home and read together. I also spend a lot of time cooking. Having healthy food prepared for my family is very important to me. If I have a time for myself, I love to take a walk in the woods.
  5. What’s your favorite TV show? I like to watch Modern Family sometimes when I am on the elliptical. Does that count? The only thing that is ever on our actual TV is sports. My daughters love watching the Phillies or the Sixers. Thank my husband for that 🙂
  6. Do you have bad handwriting? (They say all doctors do) My signature is legible. My father taught me the importance of this. I think I have decent handwriting when I am not rushing. But I will admit that it can get sloppy if I have to move fast!
  7. What’s is different about Direct Care that excites you? I am so excited about Direct Care that I moved my family back here to NJ from Abington, PA. This is an amazing opportunity to practice medicine how I dreamed. Allowing time to develop a healing and trusting relationship, and time to focus on wellness, prevention and optimization of health, as well as taking care of illness in a holistic way as it comes up. I think it will be great for patient care and great for actually developing a healthcare system (not a sick-care system).
  8. What’s the simplest piece of medical advice you can give? Eat whole foods that come from nature, get enough sleep, manage your stress, move your body, and appreciate all that you have.

Dr. Snyder’s office is open and accepting new members, so don’t hesitate to sign up and see what else you may have in common.

The R-Health Experience, Vol. II: True Mobility

Sarah, the mother of two young children, had been looking for a new doctor. Of the utmost importance to her was convenience since she is extremely busy with her kids. She had been looking for the right fit, but just couldn’t find it, until she got a postcard about Dr. Randi Protter’s practice at R-Health.

Like most people, she thought that what she was reading about R-Health sounded too good to be true, but she soon realized it was everything she was looking for.

“I love the mobile app. I developed a rash and instead of going to the office, I used the app to upload pictures and send it to Dr. Protter. She looked at the pictures, got back to me right away, and sent a prescription to my pharmacy. Not having to take my two children into the doctor’s office for me to be treated for something simple, was fabulous.”

Sarah has experienced a little bit of all the R-Health offerings. She got a same-day urgent care appointment, she has done her comprehensive wellness exam, and she loves to use the Spruce mobile app. For her, more than anything, she loves how Dr. Protter truly listens to her. “It’s so nice to talk to a doctor and have her actually listen.”

Sarah’s husband is also a member of R-Health and has been seeing Dr. Protter for almost a year. He recently had a cold that kept lingering for multiple days. He called the office, got a same-day appointment, and immediately had a prescription sent to the pharmacy.

“For us, the responsiveness of R-Health is so unique, we feel like we are privileged clients. We feel so lucky to have found Dr. Protter and R-Health.”