Reducing Risk

5 Everyday Foods with Hidden Sugar

Monday, August 13th, 2018

5 Everyday Foods with Hidden Sugar

Eating too much sugar can have devastating health consequences. Excessive sugar intake can cause unwanted weight gain, for example, and it can lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other serious health conditions.

The American Heart Association suggests that women limit their sugar intake to 100 calories and that men limit their sugar intake to 150 calories daily, which works out to about or about 6 teaspoons per day for women and nine teaspoons per day for men.

Nutritionists discuss sugar in terms of grams. One teaspoon of sugar contains four grams. This works out to 24 grams per day for women and 36 grams of sugar daily for men.

If you are like many people, you are trying to reduce the amount of sugar you consume. The first step is to estimate how much sugar you actually consume every day. It is easy to underestimate sugar consumption, though, as sugar often hides in unexpected places – even in foods you would not consider sweet.

Look for Sugar Hiding in these Five Foods

1. Low-fat yogurt

Yogurt can be a highly nutritious food, but it can be high in sugar. This is especially true in low-fat yogurt.

You might be surprised to learn that foods marked “light” or “low-fat” often have higher sugar content than do the regular versions, as a scoop or two of sugar helps make up for the bland flavor of the low-fat food. Check the sugar content on the yogurt label – you may be better off with full-fat, natural, or Greek yogurt.

2. Condiments

BBQ sauce, ketchup, and other condiments can contain large amounts of sugar. In fact, two tablespoons of BBQ sauce can contain 14 grams of sugar – that’s three tablespoons of sugar in a two-tablespoon serving of sauce. While ketchup contains less sugar – only about a teaspoon of sugar in every teaspoon of ketchup – it still adds unnecessary sugar to your diet.

3. Spaghetti sauce

Tomatoes make spaghetti sauce naturally sweet, but many manufacturers add sugar to make their sauce tastier.

4. Flavored coffee

Flavored coffee from a coffeehouse can contain a staggering amount of sugar – up to 25 teaspoons.

5. Granola

Granola is another health food that can contain nuts, honey, and other sweeteners. In fact, a 100-calorie serving of granola can contain more than six teaspoons of sugar.


If you are concerned that sugar has caused health problems, consult with a health professional. Blood tests can help you doctor determine if you have diabetes, while heart screening tests can help evaluate any cardiovascular effects. Optimize your health and contact Virtual Imaging, Inc. today and schedule a scan for cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and colon cancer. 


Top 5 Summer Foods that Improve Cardiovascular Health

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Summer Foods for Cardio Health

From fresh food to outdoor activities, summer is a great season for cardiovascular health.

The arrival of summer means days at the pool, outdoor activities, and family picnics. Summer also provides extra opportunities to improve your heart health. The warm weather and longer days allow you to squeeze in more exercise, for example. The season also gives you a chance to enjoy your favorite summer foods. Here are the top five summertime foods that can improve your cardiovascular health.

The Five Sensational Summer Foods You Need for a Healthier Heart

1. Avocados

Avocados are a heart healthy alternative to butter or mayonnaise. Slathering on a ¼ cup serving of pureed avocados or tossing a one-quarter cup of diced avocados onto a salad provides six grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, yet it is only 90 calories, which is less than a tablespoon of mayo or butter. Monounsaturated fat can lower cholesterol, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

2. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of summer’s tastiest heart-healthy foods. There is a wide variety of fresh tomatoes available from July to October. Anything, from cherry tomatoes to Roma tomatoes, are grown during those months. Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which helps protect your body cells from damage and may also lower your cholesterol.

3. Salmon

Eating a 4-ounce serving of wild-caught salmon two times each week supplies you with all the essential omega-3 fatty acids you need for cardiovascular health. These fatty acids help to lower your risk of sudden cardiac death, reduce the formation of blood clots, and slow the accumulation of plaque in your arteries. Omega-3 fatty acids can also decrease triglycerides, which are a type of fat.

4. Dark leafy greens

Dark leafy greens are not just for salads anymore! Your summer sandwich cries out for fresh red or green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, or spinach. Add kale, collards, turnip greens, Swiss chard, and red or green cabbage to your favorite salads or summertime dishes. Dark leafy greens have the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your heart needs for good health. These greens are also low in calories, with a cup of raw spinach providing only 7 calories.

5. Fresh fruit

Is there anything better than fresh fruit on a hot summer day? Probably not! A serving of fresh fruit is the ultimate refreshment on a hot day, and it helps your heart stay healthy. Diets rich in fruits can help lower your blood pressure. The water in fruit can also keep you hydrated on hot days.

For more information on the best foods to eat for optimal heart health, speak with a doctor, nutritionist or other health professional. Schedule an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc by calling 770-730-0119.


5 Ways Strengthening Your Core Benefits Your Overall Health

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Core and Health

Your core is more than just a group of abdominal muscles – it acts as the center link of a chain connecting your upper and lower body. A strong core gives you a competitive edge in sports, but it also helps you do everyday activities while benefiting your overall health.

Your core muscles include the front abdominal muscles, muscles along the sides of your body, a deep muscle that wraps around the front of your body, and the muscles that run along your spine and between the bones of your spine. Your diaphragm, the muscle that helps you breathe, and the pelvic floor muscles that support your organs are also core muscles.

5 Ways a Stronger Core Improves Your Overall Health

1. Less back pain

Core muscles play a major role in stabilizing your body. If you have weak core muscles, your body has to rely on the passive structures in your back, such as the bones, ligaments, and rubbery discs for stability. Relying on these structures, rather than on core muscles, can cause back pain.

2. Improved balance

Your core muscles stabilize your body and help you move in nearly every direction without losing your balance. This helps prevent falls that can cause life-altering injuries.

3. Better exercise performance

Physical activity is good for your overall health. However, exercise is only beneficial when performed correctly and weak core muscles can prevent you from efficiently exercising. Keeping your core muscles strong helps your body move the way it was meant to, prevents debilitating back injuries, and improves your breathing so that you get the most out of your workout.

4. Better breathing

Your diaphragm plays an essential role in breathing – contracting the diaphragm muscle pulls oxygen-rich air into your lungs. Other core muscles, like those in your abdomen and back, help you exhale to get rid of carbon dioxide and other toxins. Strong core muscles help you bring in more oxygen and exhale more efficiently.

5. Healthier heart

Exercise can improve the health of your heart and help prevent heart disease. Maintaining a strong core keeps you moving.

Whether you are a novice who is just taking the first steps towards fitness or an elite athlete, a strong core is one of the most important things you can do to improve your overall health. For more information on strengthening your core, speak with a health professional. Schedule an appointment with Virtual Imaging, Inc today by calling 770-730-0119 or by reaching us here.


5 Steps Toward a Healthier Heart

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

5 Steps Toward a Healthy Heart

Approximately 610,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means heart disease is responsible for about one in four deaths in the nation and is the leading cause of death.

Certain risk factors increase the likelihood that you will develop heart disease. Some of these risk factors are out of your control. Having a family history of  heart disease increases your risk for cardiovascular problems, for example. Fortunately, many of the risk factors for heart disease are modifiable, which means you can change them. Some of these risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, having diabetes, and being overweight.

You can change these risk factors through lifestyle choices and improve the health of your heart. These lifestyle changes can also improve your overall health and well-being.

5 Lifestyle Changes You Can Make for a Healthier Heart


 1. Aim for a healthy weight

Obesity puts you at increased risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and resistance to insulin. The higher your body mass index (BMI), the higher your risk of heart disease. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides a table to help you determine your BMI.


2. Eat well

Eating a healthy diet is one of the best steps you can take toward having a healthy heart. The types and amounts of food you eat can influence other modifiable risk factors for heart disease. Choose a nutrient-rich, low-calorie diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and avoids sweets and red meats.


3. Be physically active every day

Get up and move every day. Engaging in three to four 40-minute exercise sessions per week can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and help you maintain a healthy weight.


4. Quit smoking

Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, which can lead to the buildup of a fatty plaque and narrow the arteries. This can restrict the amount of blood flowing through the arteries, which can lead to heart attack, chest pain known as angina, and stroke.


5. Get checked out

Undergo regular doctor appointments and cardiovascular screening. Going to the doctor regularly gives your health care provider an opportunity to measure your blood pressure and cholesterol and to detect and treat heart disease early, before it becomes a big problem.


You can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease by eating well, exercising, and improving a few daily habits. For more information about steps you can take for a healthy heart, speak with a healthcare professional and contact Virtual Imaging, Inc. today. 


Benefits of Chia Seeds

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Benefits of Chia Seeds

You might remember chia seeds from a popular toy; these are the same seeds you smeared on Homer Simpson’s head to grow an afro. You may not realize that chia seeds are more than fun – they are actually good for you. Despite their small size, there are a number of health benefits packed into chia seeds.

4 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds


1. Omega-3 fatty acids

Chia seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential nutrients your body cannot make for itself. Omega-3 fatty acids help boost levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the “good” cholesterol that protects you against stroke and heart attack.


2. High in fiber

One ounce of chia seeds, which is about two tablespoons, provides 10 grams of fiber. Research shows that consuming 14 grams of fiber per every 1,000 calories can protect against coronary artery disease, a type of heart disease. A high-fiber diet also provides a number of other health benefits, including making bowel movements more regular, lowering cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar, and even aiding in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The fiber in chia seeds helps you feel satisfied after even a small meal, which helps you lose weight.


3. Antioxidant powerhouses

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants, which counteract the damage that free radicals can have on body cells. Free radicals can interact with other molecules and, when they do, the interaction causes a type of damage known as oxidative stress. A growing body of research shows that oxidative stress from free radicals is associated with a number of illnesses, including a type of heart disease known as atherosclerosis, as well as cancer, joint problems, diabetes, and certain types of eye diseases. Free radicals can even cause certain types of lung problems, such as asthma.

The antioxidants in chia seeds fight free radicals and reduce the risk for health issues associated with oxidative stress.


4. Chia seeds are high in nutrients

A tablespoon of chia seeds provides 18 percent of the calcium you need for strong teeth and bones. It also provides 27 percent of your daily phosphorus needs, 30 percent of the recommended daily allowance of manganese, and smaller amounts of potassium and copper. Chia seeds are low in cholesterol and sodium, so they are a sensible part of a heart-healthy diet.


Perhaps the best thing about chia seeds is that they are easy to eat – just sprinkle chia seeds on your oatmeal, mix them into muffins, or bake them into bread or other recipes. In addition to eating chia seeds to improve your health, contact Virtual Imaging, Inc. today and schedule a scan for cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and colon cancer. 


Signs of Colon Cancer

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Signs of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the colon, also known as the large intestine. Doctors diagnose about 97,220 cases of colon cancer each year.

Colorectal cancer of the colon is common – excluding skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States.

Many people with colon cancer do not realize it at first – many of the signs and symptoms of colon cancer may be the result of other conditions, such as hemorrhoids, infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease. Signs of colon cancer are especially hard to recognize in the early stages of the disease. Early detection of colon cancer is important, though, in that early treatment improves outcomes.

Signs of Colon Cancer

The signs of colon cancer include:

  • A change in your bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, or narrow stools, which persists for more than a few days.
  • Feeling like you need to have a bowel movement, but moving your bowels does not relieve the sensation.
  • Rectal bleeding.
  • Dark stools or obvious blood in your stool.
  • Belly pain or cramping.
  • Weakness, fatigue.
  • Unintended weight loss.

Most people who experience these signs and symptoms do not have colon cancer. It is important that people who do experience these signs and symptoms undergo colon cancer testing, as symptoms often appear only after the cancer has progressed to a later stage of the disease.

Colon Cancer and Screening

Doctors often describe colon cancer and rectal cancer as one condition – colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer found through routine screening is usually easier to treat than cancer found in people with symptoms. Screening can even prevent some colorectal cancers by giving doctors an opportunity to find and remove precancerous growths, known as polyps, during the screening procedure.

The American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal screenings for men and women starting at age 50. People with a family history of colon cancer should talk with their doctors about undergoing testing at a younger age.

When diagnosed before it has spread, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is 90 percent. That means nine out of ten people live for more than five years after treatment. Survival rates are lower once  the cancer has spread outside of the colon.

For more information about colon cancer and screening, talk with your doctor or schedule an appointment with us today. 


7 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Heart Health

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Questions to Ask Your Heart Doctor

If you are like most people, you want to keep your heart as healthy as possible. You may know that heart disease is common, according to the American Heart Association, which says that more than 85 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or after-effects of stroke.

Your doctor can be one of your best allies when it comes to keeping your heart healthy. You may not be getting all the help you need from your doctor, though, simply because you do not ask the right questions while you are at the office. Here are seven heart health questions to ask at your next doctor visit.

7 Heart Health Questions to Ask at Your Next Doctor Visit


1. How high is my cholesterol?

High cholesterol can lead to the accumulation of fat and plaque in your blood vessels, which increases your risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems. There are several types of cholesterol, including “bad” LDL, “good” HDL, and triglycerides. Ask your doctor if your cholesterol levels are within normal limits.


2. What is my BMI?

You may know that your body mass index (BMI) has a lot to do with your heart health. BMI is a measurement of body fat based on your height and weight. A high BMI means you may be overweight or obese, and carrying excess weight increases your risk for heart problems. If you are like many people, though, you may not know how to calculate your BMI.


3. Am I at high risk for heart disease?

Some people are at higher risk of heart disease than others. Certain risk factors increase the chances that you will develop cardiovascular disease. The key risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one of those risk factors. Other risk factors include being overweight or obese, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, and excessive alcohol use.


4. Should I see a nutritionist or registered dietitian to learn more about healthy eating?

Nutrition plays an important role in heart health. If you are like many people, you want to eat healthier but you may not be sure what foods you should eat.


5. What can I do to lessen my risk of heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke?

Your doctor can help you review your risk of heart disease and suggest ways to reduce that risk.


6. Should I undergo heart screening?

A heart scan can detect the development of plaque in the arteries and, if plaque is present, determine how much plaque has built up.


7. How often should I undergo screening?

People at high risk of heart disease because of a personal history of heart disease, a family history of cardiovascular disease, or high risk factors for heart disease should undergo screening more often than those who are at average risk.


Print out your list of questions and take the list with you when you visit your doctor. Be sure to bring a pen so you can write down the answers as needed. Schedule an appointment with Virtual Imaging, Inc. today and take steps towards protecting your heart.


How Allergies Affect Your Lungs

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

How Allergies Affect Your Lungs

Spring is in the air – and so are many of the allergens that cause the misery of seasonal allergies. Symptoms of seasonal allergies can cause itching and watering in your eyes, congestion and runniness in your nose, and itching in your throat. Allergies can affect your lungs to cause wheezing, coughing, and other uncomfortable signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies can also trigger asthma, allergic bronchitis, and other lung problems.

Pollen is one of the most common triggers of allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Plants release pollen each spring, summer, and early fall. This pollen fertilizes plants of the same species of trees, grasses, and weeds. Exposure to these pollens and other allergens causes allergic reactions that can affect your lungs.

How Allergies Affect Your Lungs

Allergies can cause inflammation in your lungs. This inflammation can result in coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

The symptoms of allergies, such as nasal congestion and watery eyes, come from inflammation of your body tissues. Allergies can also cause inflammation in your lungs. This inflammation is the result of your body’s misguided attempt to protect itself from the allergens.

Allergies can cause lung problems. Exposure to allergens can cause allergy-induced asthma, a condition in which the airways swell and produce extra mucus.

Individuals with allergies are at higher risks of developing respiratory infections, such as bronchitis. Exposure to seasonal allergies can compromise the immune system and increase mucus production, which can promote the development of bronchitis and other respiratory infections.

People can develop hypersensitivity to dust, tiny organisms, and chemicals. This hypersensitivity can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a type of allergic reaction that causes inflammation of the lung’s air sacs.

How to Protect Your Lungs from Seasonal Allergies

Check the outdoor air quality levels and pollution forecasts before you venture outside. If you do go outside, scope out the environment for obvious allergy triggers.

Do gardening and lawn maintenance in the early morning or in the evening, while pollen counts are at their lowest.

Stay away from citronella candles, bug sprays, strong-smelling candles, and other seasonal products that can irritate your lungs. Opt for mosquito repellants in lotion form rather than in sprays.

Use medications as prescribed and keep your allergy medications handy.

Consult with a medical professional. Doctors can diagnose seasonal allergies, prescribe medications, and recommend imaging tests to evaluate the health of your lungs. For more information, make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. at 770-730-0119.


8 Benefits of Taking Daily Walks

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Benefits of Taking Daily Walks

“Walking is the best medicine”



The “Father of Medicine” realized the benefits of walking way back around 400 BCE. Throughout the centuries, science and research proved Hippocrates’ theory about the health benefits of a daily ambulation.

Today, doctors and other health professionals still recommend taking a frequent stroll, even if you already engage in other forms of exercise.

Taking a daily walk is perhaps the best thing you can do for your health. Here are eight ways walking improves your health.

8 Ways Walking Improves Your Health

1. Improves circulation

Walking stimulates blood circulation, which improves the flow of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to your muscles and organs.


2. Boost heart health

Your heart is a muscle. Like all muscles, the more you exercise your heart muscle, the stronger it gets. Walking increases your pulse to give your heart a workout.


3. Lower your risk for medical problems and diseases

Walking can help lower your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes as much as running, according to the American Heart Association.


4. Strengthen your bones and muscles

Exercise strengthens bones and muscles. Walking strengthens the muscles in your legs, hips, and upper body. The National Institutes of Health says that weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, is the best type of exercise for strengthening your bones.


5. Gives you energy

A brisk walk activates various body systems to raise your pulse, increase perspiration, trigger the flow of “happy” hormones, and stimulate alertness.


6. Perk up your mood

Stimulating your circulation and hormone secretion improves your mood. Put a little kick in your step and smile on your face all day by taking a brisk walk in the morning.


7. Improves your balance and coordination

Walking improves your balance and coordination by building lower body strength. Improved balance and coordination can help reduce your risk of falling; stronger bones reduce your risk of broken bones in case you do fall.


8. Nearly everyone can do it

Walking is a free, easy, and convenient way to improve your health – you need nothing more than a comfortable pair of shoes. You can walk around the block, stroll through the mall, or get on a treadmill. Walking is appropriate for most people, even those with medical problems. For more information on the health benefits of walking, talk with a medical professional. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. at 770-730-0119.


Your Colon and Why It’s Important

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Your Colon and Why It's Important

Your colon is the final part of your gastrointestinal tract, which is part of your digestive system.

Your colon is about five feet long and about 2.5 inches in diameter. Your small intestine is actually longer than your large intestine but your large intestine is thicker in diameter, which is why they refer to your colon as the large intestine.

Your large intestine wraps around the border of your abdominal cavity. Your colon begins on the right side of your abdomen, where it connects to your small intestine. The hollow tube of your colon moves upward on the right side of your stomach, a segment of the intestine known as the ascending colon. The transverse colon then takes a 90-degree turn to move from the right side of your upper abdomen across to the left side, where it takes another 90-degree turn. Your descending colon then runs down along the left side of your abdomen. The large intestine bends slightly at the end of the descending colon, so that the end of the colon terminates at your anus.

Your colon performs three very important jobs:

  1. Converting food into stool
  2. Absorbing essential vitamins from bacteria living in the gut
  3. Reclaiming water from stool

A semi-liquid mixture of digested food, known as chyme, passes from the small intestine into the large intestine. Powerful muscles move the chyme through the colon in a motion known as peristalsis. It takes about 36 hours for chyme to move through your colon.

The chyme mixes with beneficial bacteria living in the gut. As the chyme moves through the colon, bacterial fermentation turns the chyme into stool and releases vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, K, and biotin that the body uses for various functions.

Your colon also turns chyme into stool by absorbing excess fluid and salt. Your body uses this reclaimed fluid and salt for other metabolic processes. The remaining waste moves through to the final segment of the colon, known as the sigmoid colon, which stores the stool for elimination. Once or twice a day, the stool moves from the sigmoid colon to the rectum and then to the outside world during a bowel movement.

For more information on your colon and its importance to your good health, talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.