From travel to picnics to allergies -- Spring into good health
(Photo by tanjila, flickr)
Here comes allergy season!
The Cornerstone Striders took on the Shamrock!

The Striders had 26 members run the Shamrock races on Saint Patty's Day at the oceanfront!  Eleven (11) of those 26 were running their first half marathon.  Both Dr Dowd's wife Cynthia and Cornerstone's nutritionist Angela Spencer ran the half marathon in just over 2 hours -- way to go, ladies!  One runner, Mike, was the fastest Strider, and finished his race in 1:30:45.  Steve was the lone full marathon runner from the group who ran an amazing 4:20 marathon taking over 15 minutes off of  his first marathon time he logged back in November.  It was quite an emotional weekend for everyone involved and they cannot wait to do it all again at their next event.  If you are interested in joining this group, please follow the link to become a part of this amazing group. Beginners, intermediates, or experienced runners -- you all are welcome!

Our very own nutritionist, Angela Spencer, RD, after running the Shamrock Half Marathon in 2:08!
(Photo By Moyan_Brenn, flickr)
Eating Healthy While Traveling
by Angela Spencer, RD

It is getting near the time when we start taking vacations and road trips.  If often feels impossible to eat healthy while traveling on the road especially when it seems like the only options are fast food restaurants and gas station snacks.  The good news is that with a little planning and preparation it isn’t impossible and often more cost effective in the long run.  Here are some tips for eating healthy while on the road:

Be prepared:  Do some research on where you will be going to look up restaurants and menus
Don’t go hungry:  It makes it even harder to eat healthy if you have gone all day without eating
Stay hydrated!  Pack a lot of water; oftentimes we mistake hunger for thirst

When you go on trips, take a cooler and pack healthy snacks.  You can even find small refrigerators that plug in to lighters in vehicles.   Here are some examples of road-friendly snacks:
Suitcase or car friendly:
GoPicinic:  a boxed lunch style meal found at target, Walgreens, CVS, etc.
Bars:  Belvita, Kashi, Luna, Kind bars
Trailmix (heavy on nuts and light on candy!)  Tip: try using some dark chocolate chips mixed in!
Seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin
Individual tuna packets and whole grain crackers
Fruit: apples, or Veggies: carrots
Car friendly:
Cooler friendly:
Cut up veggies.  Tip: bring along a small container of hummus or natural peanut butter for dipping!
Nitrate free, low sodium deli meats
Low fat string cheese
Rotisserie chicken (take the skin off)

The Cornerstone Difference

As we have been doing with this column, I'll share an example based on a real patient, but as always, we've made changes to protect each patient's identity.  This is a story about an 80-year-old patient I'll call "Stacy."  Stacy was in the hospital with a serious infection that started in her urinary tract.  She recovered, but had lost some strength as a result of the infection. When Stacy was ready to go home, I reviewed her medications (new and old) with her, her spouse, and her daughter, and I discussed the symptoms I wanted them to watch out for. I gave her a follow-up appointment with me a few days later, and I arranged for her to continue having physical therapy to regain all of her strength.  Stacy did very well and was back to normal within a week.

However, a few weeks later, Stacy started to develop some of the symptoms I had warned her about.  Stacy and her spouse called and spoke to me, and in a short time, we had arranged for testing and treatment, so that this time Stacy did not need to be hospitalized.  In fact she was back to normal within a day or two.

At Cornerstone, we prevent hospitalizations on a regular basis.  How do we do that?  There are actually several reasons, but I'd like to highlight two: communication and connectedness. To us, good communication means taking the extra time to talk with and listen to our patients.  In my opinion, modern medicine is sometimes more a monologue than a dialogue when it comes to doctors' assessments and treatment plans.  Effective communication usually requires some back and forth.  I think sometimes my patients get tired of my asking if they have any questions, but it's not uncommon that this leads to the realization that something needs clarification.   Connectedness is a related concept, but I think it deserves specific mention.  Connectedness is about removing barriers to communication.  Although it doesn't always happen, in theory good communication should be "easy" when a doctor and patient are both together in the exam room.  However, sometimes a question comes up that, while important, doesn't really necessitate a trip to the office.  This is where connectedness becomes important--how easy or hard is it for a patient to ask their question to the doctor or the staff?  At Cornerstone  we try to make it easy for our patients to reach us in multiple ways (phone, email, even text) in addition to traditional office visits.

Communication, Connectedness, and Prevention -- three important parts of the Cornerstone Difference!


(photo by parrchristy, flickr)

Spring (and allergies) are here!

Warm weather has finally hit Virginia!  But in addition to bringing out the sunshine and flowers, spring is often the season for runny noses, itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing, and sinus infections.  People often turn to over-the-counter (OTC) medications for help with seasonal allergies.  These include:
·         Antihistamines
 ·          Decongestants
·         Nasal Sprays
·           Eye Drops
However, while there can be a role for most of these treatments, they can also have some serious side effects, so be sure to visit with your doctor to make sure you know which are the best ones for you to use.
If you aren’t too keen on using drugs to treat allergy symptoms, here are a few natural ways you can get some relief:
·         Steamstand in the bathroom with the shower running on hot and breathe in the steam, or do so over a pot of boiling water.
·         Flush flush your nasal passages with saline.  Flush with a small amount of noniodized salt and warm, sterile distilled water (eg: as in Neti Pots).
·         Hot or cool compresses.
·         HumidifierStudies show that moist air while propping your head up can help with pressure and breathing in the morning.  (However, please be sure to keep it clean with fresh water, as mold can grow in the humidifier!)
·         Hydrate! Water, water, water.  Make sure you are drinking plenty of water so that you are nice and hydrated.  Being hydrated not only is healthy, but helps to loosen up the mucus that may be blocking nasal passages
·         Sweatdo cardio!  Cardio is an excellent way to loosen congestion in the nasal passages or hiding out in your chest.  Do regular 30-minute aerobic exercises -- but if you aren't exercising currently, please work up to this, and do so gradually.
Regarding symptoms which turn into sinus infections, make sure you visit your doctor to get proper treatment.  Studies show that antibiotics are often over-prescribed because sinus infections are typically viral, and antibiotics treat only bacterial infections.  A recent JAMA study showed 80% of those with a sinus infection on a placebo felt better in 10 days.  This supports that most sinus infections are not bacterial, but viral.  So please visit your doctor prior to requesting antibiotics for a sinus infection, because they may not be what you need.
As the weather warms, people are often drawn to outdoor activities and other adventures like early vacations.  But as fun as vacations are, it is easy to get caught up in the hubbub and forget to wear sunscreen (! – SPF 30 broad spectrum please!), to drink enough water and avoid dehydration or heat stroke, and often, healthy diets and eating as well go out the window.  Check out Angela’s tips for how to pack while traveling (to the left, in the side column)!
(photo by whologwhy, flickr)
Roasted Parmesan Broccoli
2-3 heads of broccoli
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1-2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional)
1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2.  Wash and cut broccoli into pieces
3.  Spread broccoli evenly on cookie sheet
4.  Sprinkle with parmesan, olive, oil, and cayenne pepper evenly
5.  Roast in oven for 5-8 minutes
(photo by Mark Dumon, flickr)
Have a Wonderful Spring!
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Newsletter Editor: Jessica DuBois
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