Tag Archives: health


What’s Up With Fat?

By Sarah Larocco, MSN, FNP-C

The American Heart Association says a body definitely needs some fat. Dietary fats keep the machine that is the body humming by creating energy, protecting organs, stimulating cell growth, producing needed hormones, and helping the body absorb key nutrients.

“The average American diet is already heavy in fat,” says Sarah Larocco, MSN, FNP-C with Novant Health Chair City Family Medicine. “Our food choices also greatly impact cholesterol levels.”

The so-called “good fats” are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, while “bad fats” are trans-fat and saturated fats. The bad fats are responsible for raising the bad type of cholesterol in the body, which is called low density lipoprotein (LDL). This type of cholesterol can increase the risk for atherosclerosis, which is plaque build-up in the blood vessels that limits blood flow. Good fats can lower the levels of LDL, reducing your risk of atherosclerosis and therefore reducing the risk for heart attack and stroke.

According to the AHA, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (“good fats”) provide Vitamin E to our diet, an antioxidant that most Americans need more of. Polyunsaturated fats also provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which the body needs but can’t produce on its own.

Examples of monounsaturated fats include olive, canola, sunflower, peanut, and sesame oils. They are also found in olives, avocados, peanut butter, almonds, macadamia nuts, and cashews.

Examples of polyunsaturated fats are found in soybean oil, corn oil, and fatty fish like salmon, trout, or tuna. Walnuts, flaxseed, soybeans, tofu, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds are other good sources of this fat.

Saturated fat (“bad fat”) is naturally occurring and is found in high-fat cuts of meat and chicken with skin on it. It’s also in non-skim dairy products like milk, cream, and yogurt, as well as in ice cream, cheese, and butter. Limit meals with animal products to once a day. Try replacing red meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish whenever possible, and switching from whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods to lower fat versions.

Most of the trans-fat we consume is partially hydrogenated oils in processed food. These are also “bad fats” and are used by food manufacturers to improve texture, flavor, and shelf life of food. It can be found in commercially-baked cookies and cakes or snack food such as chips and crackers, margarine, and fried fast food. Other foods high in trans-fat are frozen pizza, candy bars, and hydrogenated cooking oils. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge people to keep trans-fat to a minimum as it contributes to an increase in LDL or “bad cholesterol.”

The AHA recommends that adults would benefit from lowering LDL cholesterol by reducing their intake of trans-fat and limiting consumption of saturated fat to 5 to 6% of total calories. “Moderation is the key word,” says Larocco. “For example, if a label for cookies says 0.5 grams of trans-fat per serving (serving size 2 cookies) and you eat 10 cookies, the amount of trans-fat adds up fast.” Larocco recommends reading the complete list of ingredients and staying away from products with partially hydrogenated oil and added sugars.

“Our busy schedules today lead many of us to reach for fast food or simple food options which are pre-made; however, we need to limit consumption of foods that come in boxes, bags, packages, or from the fryer,” says Larocco. Check the number of ingredients listed on a product. In general if a label contains more than five ingredients, leave that item behind and go to the fresh fruit and vegetable section. Your heart and body will thank you!





Controlling High Blood Pressure

Frankie Hoover, PA-C
Novant Health Lexington Primary Care

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. It is important to control high blood pressure because it increases the risk of stroke.

“High blood pressure is the one of the most important preventable risk factors for stroke,” says Frankie Hoover, a Physician Assistant with Novant Health Lexington Primary Care. “The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk for a possible stroke and other health consequences.”

Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. In people who do not have diabetes or kidney disease, treatment for high blood pressure is usually started when three separate blood pressure readings show readings of 140 or higher for systolic blood pressure (top number) or 90 or higher for diastolic blood pressure (bottom number).

“If you are found to have high blood pressure by your healthcare provider,” comments Hoover, “he/she may first recommend lifestyle changes such as losing weight, improving your diet, and increasing your exercise. If these lifestyle changes don’t lower your blood pressure, then medication may be necessary.”

Many medications are available to treat high blood pressure. Your healthcare provider may start you on one medication or a combination of medications to control your blood pressure. Once you begin taking blood pressure medication, you may have to continue taking it for a long time, perhaps even for the rest of your life.

“Unfortunately, some people with high blood pressure stop taking their medication,” says Hoover. “If their blood pressure returns to normal on medication, they may feel they no longer need the medication. But normal blood pressure means the medication is doing its job. Halting medication will allow blood pressure to rise again, putting them at risk for stroke and other complications of hypertension.”

Reasons people frequently give for stopping medication:
• Unpleasant side effects, such as dizziness, fatigue, or cough
• Cost of the medication
• Lack of information about hypertension and how important it is to control

“If you experience unpleasant side effects, it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider,” encourages Hoover. “Your provider may be able to switch you to a different medication, as there are many different classes of antihypertensive medications to choose from. The goal is to find medication(s) with few, if any side effects.”

“If the cost of the medication is a concern, your doctor may be able to prescribe an effective but less expensive alternative,” says Hoover. If you have questions about high blood pressure and its treatment, talk to your healthcare provider.

Here are some tips on how to remember to take your blood pressure medicine:
• Take it at same time each day.
• Take it with meals or with daily activities like brushing your teeth.
• Use a pill box marked with the days of the week.
• Keep a medication calendar near your medicine and mark off when you’ve taken each dose.
• Post a reminder note where you’ll see it or set a daily alarm on your phone.

For more information, visit nhlexingtonprimarycare.org or call Novant Health Lexington Primary Care at (336) 248-8692.

A stethoscope in front of medical

Pain Pain Go Away


Does this sound familiar? Probably so for most of us. We could say that at some time in our lives we’ve suffered from pain somewhere in our body. Headaches, backaches, knee aches, shoulder or arm aches, and so on. What do we do then? Some of us go to a doctor, some of us get over-the-counter pain relievers, and some of us just suffer in silence. You don’t have to do that anymore. There is a technology that’s been around for over a hundred years. It’s been used all around the world. There have been thousands of studies performed on its use. Even Albert Einstein took notice that this technology could heal. The best part is that it’s non-invasive, doesn’t heat up, and has no side effects. It’s called Red Light Therapy. There are other names that it’s called such as cold laser, low level light therapy, photo therapy, photonic therapy, and red light torch. The Red Light is a medical quality super luminous LED that uses a broadband single wave length of 660 nanometers. This number is important because the healthy cells in our body vibrate at 660 nanometers. When tissues are damaged by illness, injury, or disease, the cell vibration goes down. Having Red Light Therapy increases the vibration back to the normal 660 nanometers and the body essentially can heal itself. The color red is used because it’s the only color in the spectrum that penetrates the skin. There are eight ways that Red Light Therapy improves healing. RLT:

  • Reduces pain by increasing the production of endorphins, a natural pain killer
  •  Reduces inflammation by suppressing enzymes that create swelling, redness, and pain
  •  Increases cellular regeneration and healing by stimulating the mitochondria in the cell
  •  Increases lymphatic drainage and circulation
  •  Relaxes tight muscles and quickly releases muscle cramps
  •  Increases antibody production in the bloodstream
  •  Improves structure of tendons, bones, teeth, skin, and cartilage by increasing collagen production
  •  Increases serotonin levels which stimulate strong heart beats, regulate inflammation and allergic reactions, initiate sleep, fight depression and stimulate smooth muscle in the intestinal wall, helping it contract

It’s important to know what the best Red Light is when you are considering having this therapy or purchasing one for yourself. I’m not an engineer or math expert, but you need to ask about the “output power” of the Red Light. This is the power that comes out of the end of your Red Light. You need to look for quality and an output power number within 10% of the advertised output.  Not all Red Lights are created equal. At The Nature Cottage, a health and wellness store featuring essential oils, we use the Photonic Health Red Light for therapy and through our rental program. We can also help you purchase one for yourself. It is, in our opinion, the best Red Light on the market. If you have questions or want to experience the Red

Light Therapy for yourself, contact us at 336-843-4297 or at www.thenaturecottage.com.