Your Complete Health Checklist for 2019: Tests You Need, Habits to Break and an Easy Guide to Healthy Eating
Losing weight and eating healthier always make the “top ten” list of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. However, good intentions are useless unless you have the knowledge and the tools to reach your goals. To complicate matters, “Dr. Google” and the internet often feature unreliable information.
We want 2019 to be your best year ever. Therefore, we’ve compiled some useful information to serve as your year-round guide. Follow these tips for healthier living.
Schedule regular checkups, particularly if you have a chronic health condition.
Wellness is a lifelong endeavor. That’s why we don’t just want to see you when you’re sick. Cancer screenings, regular bloodwork and even routine medical tests can save lives. Diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol require consistent monitoring, and depending upon your individual case, we may need to see you more often than once a year. Our main concern is to ensure that you remain healthy and active.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that thousands of lives could be saved if adults participated in regular wellness screenings and checkups.
Medical Tests You Need in 2019
Which medical tests should you have? Our philosophy of care is to tailor each individual care plan to address you and your health risks. However, in general, the following are some important items that should always be included with your annual physical.
Your doctor will check routine bloodwork on or around your annual physical exam. This important bloodwork will usually include a general health panel and lipid panel. These panels check glucose levels, basic electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, kidney, liver and thyroid function, as well as cholesterol levels.
These labs help us check for signs of:
- Low or high white blood cell count
- High fasting blood sugar
- Problems with cholesterol
- Issues with triglycerides
- Concerns with thyroid function
- Poor kidney function
- Problems with liver function
Routine bloodwork is not a diagnostic test within itself, but the results can help us identify the need for more extensive testing for a certain health issue. For example, a low white blood cell count could indicate an underlying health condition such as an autoimmune disease.
OTHER IMPORTANT ROUTINE EXAMS
Depending upon your age and risk factors, you may need to have one or more of the following exams:
- A Pap smear is recommended for some women
- Heart stress test
- Some men should have a PSA test and prostate cancer screening
- Skin cancer screening
- Bone density screening
The Top Ten Habits to Break in 2019
Many times, simple lifestyle changes are all you need to start the journey to a healthier you. Take a look at these top ten bad habits and see if any of them apply to you.
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable deaths among Americans. Many smokers start the habit early. Did you know that 4.7 million middle and high school students use at least one tobacco product? According to the CDC, nearly 16 million Americans have a serious illness that is the result of smoking.
If you don’t smoke—don’t start. Even vaping and e-cigarettes should not be considered “safe” alternatives. If you do smoke, there are several resources –such as this one from the American Cancer Society – to help you quit.
2. LEADING A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE
Quite simply, exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself physically and mentally. Exercise reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and also releases “feel good” brain neurotransmitters called endorphins.
If you need help getting off the couch and into the gym, we’ll be glad to work with you to establish a safe, healthy and productive exercise regimen.
If you’re interested in more information about exercise, check out our other articles:
- Should You Vary Your Exercise Routine?
- The Best Exercises You’re Not Doing
- Four Tips for Keeping Your Weight Loss Resolutions
3. IGNORING WARNING SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Millions of Americans may have diabetes and not know it. This is because many of the symptoms are ignored. It’s important to work with us throughout the year and let us know if you are experiencing any problems. Too often, denial can keep you from getting the health care you need and deserve. If problems such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer are caught in their earliest stages, they can be treated successfully.
4. FAILING TO ASK THE DOCTOR QUESTIONS
We welcome your questions! In fact, we wish more patients would ask us about problems that concern them. This is necessary to ensure good partnerships in your care. As internal medicine physicians, we take a holistic approach to health care and are in a unique position to help you not only avoid and address health problems, but to enhance your overall health.
Not sure where to start? Try our useful guide, The Top Ten Questions You Should Ask Your General Practitioner
The holidays may have left you with some extra pounds you’d like to get rid of, but the most important principle to remember is to take everything in moderation. Due to the notorious portion distortion that is common in our restaurants and daily lives, overeating is an easy habit to get into.
We suggest working closely with our registered dietitian Nicole Matala, who will be happy to help you get back on track.
6. FAILING TO KEEP REGULAR DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENTS
We’ve already reviewed how important regular screenings are to your overall health. We realize with today’s busy schedules, it’s very easy to cancel or put off your appointments until the next year, but doing so can be devastating to your health.
7. FAILING TO GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
As a nation, we’re very sleep deprived. A good night’s sleep is vital for a healthier body and a better outlook, according to information from the National Sleep Foundation. Adults should get seven-to-nine hours of sleep each night. If you snore, this may be an indication that you are at risk for sleep apnea, a condition where you stop breathing for several seconds at a time throughout the night. Sleep apnea not only leaves you exhausted the next day, but it also puts you at greater risk for heart disease, stroke and other complications.
8. SKIPPING BREAKFAST (AND IGNORING GOOD NUTRITION)
It’s called the most important meal of the day for a reason. Failure to get that morning meal can affect your performance throughout the day. One caveat: be sure you eat a healthy breakfast instead of high- sugar cereals, donuts or muffins. Look for protein options.
9. SITTING FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME
The nine-to-five office job isn’t doing your health any favors, especially if most of that time is spent sitting at a desk. Study after study confirms that those who sit for eight hours a day have an increased risk of health problems such as heart disease. Solution: take frequent standing breaks or work on some of these office exercises to break the monotony. Your body will thank you.
10. FORGETTING SUNSCREEN
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., with one-in-five Americans developing it over the course of a lifetime.
When you’re making New Year’s resolutions, the summer seems so far away. However, sunscreen is vital to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays, whether you’re surfing or skiing. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that you use sunscreen year-round any time you’ll be outside. Snow, sand and water reflect the sun’s rays, including harmful UV rays.
An Easy Guide to Healthy Eating
Fad diets and the latest eating trends aren’t the key to successful, long-term health and weight loss. Good eating habits and nutrition aren’t established overnight, and they often require lifestyle changes to make a significant difference.
The Centers for Disease Control states that a healthy eating plan should:
• Emphasize whole grains (instead of refined)
• Include lean meats such as poultry and fish
• Utilize healthy proteins such as beans, eggs and certain nuts
• Remain low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol
• Avoid any “hidden” or added sugars
• Limit salt intake
Our registered dietitian, Nicole Matala, can answer all your questions and take the mystery out of eating well.
“Many patients come in thinking they’ll be told to follow a very restrictive diet that cuts out their favorite foods. This is not necessary for positive results,” Matala said. “Small changes can add up to big improvements in health and weight change.”
There are several things that make internal medicine doctors different from other doctors. Internists combine the analytical aspects of laboratory science with the personalized, tailored approach to patient-centered care that is commonly seen in family doctors. As internal medicine specialists, we are experts in not only treating chronic illnesses, but treating patients who may be facing several chronic illnesses at the same time.
Want more information on how our experience and expertise can help you live a healthier life? Contact us and schedule an appointment. We wish you a happy and healthy 2019!