Staying Healthy When Dining Out

By: Nat Paolone

With such a variety of enticing food options coercing our palates into gluttony, eating healthy outside your home proves quite challenging.

Looking at the menu, densely packed with highly caloric, over-sized portions (which we have become accustomed to in our modern world) we succumb and gorge. Busy lifestyles and poor choices while eating out often lead to further weight gain. Let’s have a look at how we can better deal with this and make better choices at the restaurant.

Societal Pressure

Socio-economics definitely influence our food choices both in selecting a restaurant/cafe and what we decide to order. We like to “fit in,” and eat what our friends munch on.

We’ve all heard too often from friends and family, “Oh come on, just eat it! You only live once, it won’t kill you…” Seemingly when you choose to eat healthy, you may become the outcast among your friends. This compounds matters as striving for acceptance is human nature.

Why all the talk of sociological factors when we just want healthy eating tips? Because the challenge is largely psychological and habitual. Most of it is really common sense but unfortunately eating substandard food has simply become socially accepted.

Right then, let’s get into making some better nutritional choices.

Photo by Pixabay

Local Food Suggestions

Vietnamese grilled fish and meats are ideal dishes, as well as soups and hot pots. Many Japanese and Korean restaurants around Saigon have solid, healthy choices in contrast to the majority of most Western menus offered throughout the city.

Next time you enjoy your favourite pho or bun bo, ask for less noodles in order to maximise your healthy diet. In regards to MSG, well, you know what it is, and we must accept that it’s nearly unavoidable when eating out in HCMC. Goi cuon (chicken spring roll), goi xoai (mango salad) and ca nuong la chuoi (grilled fish with banana leaf) are a few healthy Vietnamese options.

Photo by Pixabay

Indian food doesn’t have to be heavy. Go for the tandoor chicken breast or lamb as long as you make sure to request it with no butter or cream. Choosing brown rice over naan is also another way to manoeuvre around the fattening dishes lingering at your table. When eating Italian, skip the primi and go straight for secondi.

Sugar and excess carbs are fundamentally problematic. Lower these and increase the veggies and proteins. For all the lovely vegetarians, choose protein rich beans and legumes. This is a challenge in Vietnam as most vegetarian restaurants do not include beans on the menu. Sure tofu is good, but this protein packed veggie has a long history of nutritional controversy.

Portion size is paramount. Share a pizza instead of having a whole one, as so many of us are carb junkies consuming these saccharides voraciously, reducing portions is the goal.

How Unhealthy is Alcohol?

Alcohol! The ultimate socially accepted evil. What? Nothing wrong with a few glasses of wine paired with your meal you say? Well, not exactly. Regarding weight gain, alcohol is more than a double whammy. This potion is broken down into acetate, which your body will use first for energy before anything else you eat or drink. Alcohol is metabolised, fat oxidation stops, weight gain may occur and slowed metabolism may result.

Photo by Stephen Bentsen

An average glass of wine has 150 calories, and beer has about the same. People who drink alcohol with a meal often eat up to 30% more food, and considering the culture of pairing food and drink in HCMC, this may cause a problem for many.

Juices and Sodas

Photo by Lavanya Kumara Krishnan

Fruit juices are commonly thought to be a healthier choice over soda. Studies show that the effects on our bodies are virtually the same. According to a recent publication in the Nutrition journal, fruit juice has a fructose concentration of about 45.5 grams per litre, slightly less than the average of 50 grams per litre for sodas.

"The human body isn't designed to process [fructose] at such high levels. Fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat, which increases risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease,” says Michael Goran, Director of Childhood Obesity Center in Southern California.

Essentially sodas and fruit juices should be avoided altogether. Eat fresh fruit instead, which includes fibre, slowing down absorption of sugars and allowing the normal metabolism of fructose. As an alternative, drink lots of local fruit smoothies (like avocado) but without condensed milk or sugar. Try an avocado smoothie for healthy fats.

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” - Mark Twain


The Lowdown on Lower Back Problems

By: City Pass Guide

Lower back pain is one of the leading causes of disability in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

In the U.S. for example, around 31 million people will experience lower back problems at any given time, says the American Chiropractic Association. These problems affect the spine's flexibility, stability and strength, causing pain, discomfort, and mobility issues.

And the problem is certainly not confined to America. In 2012, a research paper by Professor Stephen Bevan of Lancaster University in the UK covered 30 European countries, and found that a staggering €240 billion was lost to musculoskeletal conditions.

I sat down with Dr. Nicolas Dupaux, the man in charge of the Osteopathy department at Centre Medical International, and one of the leading back specialists in HCMC. We began the discussion with the difference between osteopathy and chiropractic practices.

Photo by www.lifenurturingeducation.com

An osteopath differs from a chiropractor in quite a few ways. As someone who has suffered at the hands of a chiropractor in the past, I was interested to learn more about the subject of osteopathy.

The osteopath will look at the cause of the imbalance rather than just the symptoms. They will not just crack bones back but try and balance the whole body; they have a wider spectrum of techniques. It is really difficult to know if a patient, for example, has a problem with their veins. If they have a pathological problem and don’t inform the practitioner, they can do more harm than good. There are some techniques that are no longer considered safe to employ.

I asked Mr. Dupaux to answer some common questions about back problems.

What do you think about massage parlours in HCMC?

Anyone can get a licence to open a massage parlour here after taking just eight hours of theory. There is no real culture of massage in the country; there are no real schools and traditional massage houses. Ten years ago Thai girls were being paid by hotels to teach the techniques. But there was no homegrown skill, they imported it. The physiology is so different between East and West.

Even in my surgery I have to do different treatments for different nationalities. This is why Western people don’t find the massage to be as beneficial. Eastern people like to have very strong massages, and cracking of the bones. However, I treat, on average, two people per week who come in suffering from a blocked neck or severe back pain, caused by a massage.

What is your attitude to the use of painkillers with back pain?

Pills often have side effects. It is often necessary to take anti-inflammatory drugs and/or muscles relaxants but pain killers should be seen as a last resort.

Do you think that alternative treatments like acupuncture have a role to play in treating back problems?

Alternative treatments do have a place in the treatment of patients, but some, like hypnotherapy, are restricted to rich people and the elite. In my opinion there are both new and old technologies that are very good. Acupuncture, for example, is very good, for spinal problems. Serious scientific studies have shown that the acupuncture points are definitely different to other areas of the skin. It has been electromagnetically proven that acupuncture works.

Photo by www.groupon.com

If the need arises for surgery, would you advise people to go abroad or have it done here?

Dr. Claudio Duek at Family Medical Practice is a very good surgeon working on hands, and Dr. Phatat at FV Hospital is a specialist in knees and legs. So for these problems it is good here. These guys are at the same level as European doctors. However for complicated surgeries you are better off going to Bangkok or Singapore.

Have you got any advice on how people should carry backpacks?

A correct backpack should cause no issues at all. Good quality packs are fine as long as the weight is spread. People who carry a pack every day get stronger. Use both shoulders and balance the weight.

Having some age related arthritic issues myself, I find the warm weather here hugely beneficial. Why is this?

The microclimate here is definitely good for joints. There is something going on here in the climate that is great for people with joint problems, asthma and other issues. The diet is also healthy. Pho uses herbs that have medical properties and of course, there is no gluten in pho.

The cure to lower back pain seems to be an illusive thing at times, but when you consider that, as one doctor told me years ago, the difference between being pain free and in agony is often less than half a millimetre, maybe it’s not surprising.

Header photo by www.thelifesquare.com


Measles Outbreak in HCMC

By: City Pass Guide

Several cases of measles have appeared in Ho Chi Minh City in recent days, in the context of an epidemic in Vietnam.

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection. Transmission is mainly by air.

The virus is transmitted either directly to a patient or sometimes indirectly because of the persistence of the virus in the air or on a surface contaminated by nasopharyngeal secretions.

Clinical signs

After exposure to the virus, the onset of a rash manifests after a delay of 14 days on average (7 to 18 days).

The invasion phase lasts 2 to 4 days and is marked by the appearance of a fever at 38.5°C, respiratory signs (cough, rhinitis, conjunctivitis) accompanied by a general malaise with abnormal physical weakness or lack of energy.

Measles Outbreak in HCMCImage source: medicalnewstoday.com

The rash lasts 5-6 days. The contagious phase begins the day before the appearance of the first respiratory signs and extends until 5 days after the onset of the eruption.

Complicated forms are more common in patients less than 1-year-old and over 20 years old.

The leading cause of death is pneumonia in children and acute encephalitis in adults (about 1 case per 1000).

Prevention and vaccination

In infants and children, the immunization schedule includes a first dose of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine at 12 months of age and a second dose before the age of 2 years.

A vaccine catch-up (total of 2 doses of triple vaccine) is recommended for all persons over 24 months of age and born since 1980.

Measles Outbreak in HCMCImage source: sciencebasedmedicine.org

More: Schedule of vaccinations and vaccination recommendations according to the opinion of the High Council of Public Health.

Quarantine of the patient is recommended throughout the contagious period, ie up to 5 days after the onset of the eruption.
The vaccine catch-up, as recommended above, performed within 72 hours after contact with a case can prevent the occurrence of the disease in the vaccinated.

What are the recommendations?

Only vaccination prevents the occurrence of measles.

- Check your vaccination record. Immunization with 2 doses of the MMR vaccine is recommended to anyone born since 1980, or in the absence of a personal history of measles.

If there is no vaccination or incomplete vaccination, consult your doctor.

- In case of contagion with a patient presenting with a measles diagnosis, or in case of fever associated with respiratory signs and/or rash, consult your doctor.

For further information, here is the reference page of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/conseils-aux-voyageurs/conseils-par-pays-destination/vietnam/#sante

Banner Image source: athenahealth.com


Victoria Healthcare Internationals Clinics: Medicine with Compassion

By: Keely Burkey

It is often said that great things start from unexpected beginnings. Victoria Healthcare International Clinics are surely proof of this.

For Dr. Mason Cobb, one of Victoria’s founders, the oak is everywhere he looks. “I started in Vietnam with Dr. Tuong 20 years ago. Our project was revolutionary for the time and Saigon was just opening its eager eyes to a bigger world. Now when I look out the window in Vietnam and I see all the highrises and palm trees, I know how far from home I really am,” he reminisced. For Dr. Cobb, home was a small farm in rural Michigan – certainly a long way from the busy streets of Saigon.

clinicImage source: Victoria Healthcare

Victoria Healthcare’s co-founder, Dr. Nguyen Vinh Tuong, has a different upbringing. Raised in Saigon, he came from a family of doctors and nurses; it made sense for him to carry on in this tradition.

He remembers his early days of selling medicine directly to doctors, before pharmacies were established and regulated. Once he began studying at the Ho Chi Minh City Medicine and Pharmacy University, he could tell his professor the price per dosage of everything on the market. “They were stunned. They didn’t know how I knew that!” he laughed.

The paths of these two doctors crossed in 1997 when Dr. Cobb came to Vietnam to help set up the Columbia-Gia Dinh Clinic Joint Venture, Saigon’s first post-war international health clinic. Dr. Tuong worked hard for the licence to the Columbia clinic and together with Dr. Cobb got the project up and running.

Their current partnership was born a few years later. Dr. Cobb had gone back to pediatric surgery in Washington, while Dr. Tuong continued to pursue his interests in gastroenterology at the National University Hospital in Singapore and the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. While in the US, Dr. Tuong visited his friend in the Pacific Northwest and together they were excited to open another clinic in Vietnam together – this time on their own terms.

A Working Philosophy

For Dr. Cobb, high-quality healthcare is a layered concept. The first layer? Safety. “We want to make sure, of course, that nobody gets hurt or sicker while receiving care,” he said, listing the international levels of sterility and cleanliness that are practised at all four clinics, the newest one having just opened in late April of this year.

The second layer is “doing the best thing for the patient, even if it’s not the best business decision: ‘Patients First’ – even before business.” While this flies in the face of the daily ledger, it’s a hit that the doctors are willing to take. Rather than run tests that cost a lot but prove little, Dr. Cobb and Tuong have worked to help people medically, not hurt them financially. This mission is embedded in every Victoria doctor as a basic ethical responsibility.

clinicImage source: Victoria Healthcare

The last layer, while the most important, is also characteristically unconventional: “Respect. We respect the patient.” Respect is crucial to their healing philosophy, which is centred around preventative medicine. Rather than wait for an illness to bring a patient to their doors, Victoria strives to educate their patients on how to live well and be healthy. “This might not be good in a business sense,” Dr. Cobb joked, “but if they’re healthy, they’ll stick around longer.”

Continuing Education

To make sure all doctors and nurses stay current on medical research and technology, Dr. Tuong and Dr. Cobb have implemented weekly training courses. For nurses, this means the Continuing Nurse Education (CNE), a programme that tests medical knowledge and industry trends. For doctors, there’s the Continuing Medical Education (CME), which is conducted in English. Each physician must deeply research a topic in their specialty and present it to the rest of the medical staff. The question-and-answer sessions are robust and highly interactive. Technology is also harnessed to facilitate lively clinical discussions amongst doctors across all four care sites.

clinicImage source: Victoria Healthcare

This zest for learning is infectious, and the founders proudly report that every member of staff enthusiastically wants to be part of the team as well as the best that they can be.

Continued Engagement

It’s clear that Dr. Cobb and Dr. Tuong have found a recipe for success. However, Dr. Tuong doesn’t want to grow too quickly. “We open clinics very strategically,” he says. “We really want to make sure we’re providing exactly what the customers want and need in exactly the right place. After a few years, if the clinic does well, we open another one, always incorporating lessons learned.”

Victoria Healthcare’s just celebrated the grand opening of its newest clinic. This nine-storey palace of health on Dinh Tien Hoang in District 1 is a sight to behold. Features include two floors devoted entirely to pediatrics, a 128-slice CT scanner and an outpatient minor surgical ward.

I asked what they could expand in the future. Dr. Tuong smiled. “Maybe a hospital in two or three years.” That would be the oak forest.

Contact information:

Clinic 1: 135A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan D
Clinic 2: Broadway D, 152 Nguyen Luong Bang, D7
Clinic 3: 20-20Bis -22 Dinh Tien Hoang, D1
info@victoriavn.com | +84 28 3910 4545 | www.victoriavn.com

Banner image source: Victoria Healthcare


A Brighter Smile in Saigon

By: Patrick Gaveau

We sat down with Dr. Philippe and Chau Guettier, two well-known dentists who have run the Starlight Dental Clinic for over 20 years, in order to find out more about dental care in HCMC and Vietnam.

In your opinion, is the Vietnam dental industry currently developed in HCMC?

Philippe: During the last 15 years it has developed a lot. Especially in terms of quality, it has improved much in the past three to four years. At the university level, the education of the dentists is getting better and better. There is much more training done by foreign universities - namely French universities. Now young dentists who graduate receive much better education for their practice.

Is developing the dental industry and pushing dental care a concern for the Ministry of Health?

Philippe: The Ministry has a good control over the quality of the clinic. In France, once you graduate and open your clinic, you will never get any check-ins from the government on a yearly basis to see if everything is taken care of. In Vietnam, each clinic gets a check-in from the Ministry of Health every year. This is good for maintaining the quality of clinics here.

In terms of equipment, are there concerns or issues based on the different levels of clinics? Or is there a general standard?

Philippe: Basically, what the government will control are x-rays, sterilisation, and product lifespan. After, they will not check if the tools or the products you are using to treat the patient are good quality or not. Unfortunately in Vietnam you have many products made in China - machines, or products you put into the patient's mouth. The instruments used to treat and restore a patient’s teeth will not be of the same quality. There is quite a big discrepancy from one clinic to another.

Do the majority of locals value the importance of having healthy teeth?

Philippe: You have a growing middle class. Once you go outside Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, there’s still a big gap. You have to look at the ratio of how many dentists there are for the population. In France, it’s 1 dentist for 1,500 people. In Vietnam, it’s 1 dentist for nearly 10,000 people.

We’ve seen more obesity in children in Vietnam in the past 10 years. Is this also affecting dental care?

Chau: I think the main reason for cavities is how you brush and take care of your teeth. Even if they eat a lot, if they brush their teeth afterwards they will not have problems. Now, people have more education on how to keep their teeth clean.

Philippe: We go to a lot of schools and have a program for this. We teach the children what are cavities, how to brush your teeth, and we give them a toothbrush. But to answer your question, I think we have more cavities than before for the kids. The quality of food (with fast food and soft drinks) has decreased. Even if you have kids in international schools with wealthy families, you’d still be surprised by the number of cavities that can be found.

Will there be an expanding future market for orthodontics?

Philippe: By definition, everybody knows Vietnam is a young country [laughs] with a lot of kids, so sure there is a market for orthodontics. Now, you have parents who want their children to have great teeth for the future, so they bring them in for orthodontics. But you also have a lot of young Vietnamese adults who get orthodontics, because as kids they didn’t have this. As opposed to France, where mostly children get orthodontics, in Vietnam we have many more adults patients.

If you had to give a price difference between the majority of treatments, how much less expensive would it be here than Australia, including the cost of travel and board?

Philippe: Australia would be three to four times as expensive, at least.

Chau: But it depends on the treatment. To give an example, I had a quotation from a patient in Australia for one impacted wisdom tooth removal for $1,200. At our clinic in HCMC the cost is $120.


Elite Dental: Global Quality with Local Hospitality

By: City Pass Guide

Elite Dental Group was founded in 2012 and is comprised of world class dentists trained to use cutting edge methods and technology.

Featuring spotless facilities with the most up-to-date technology from America, Europe and Japan, Elite Dental is the perfect location to get affordable and high quality treatment. Offering implants, cosmetics, restoration, orthodontics, minor surgeries and general dentistry, Elite Dental is breaking new ground with their all-encompassing services and masterful practitioners

Qualifications

All dentists practicing at Elite Dental have proper licenses, years of work experience, and fluent English and French skills. Elite Dental is served by internationally certified implant professionals. Dr. Tran Hung Lam, the leading dentist, received his Doctorate from University of Marseille in France. He is an internationally published writer and frequent speaker at domestic and international conferences. Dr. Lam and his group of certified specialists provide an internationally qualified dental team that are dedicated to providing the most efficient, affordable, and modern dental care to all of their patients. As a result of extensive work on dental rehabilitation and implant procedures, Dr. Lam has been able to develop his surgical techniques to become one of the most respected dental surgeons and implantologists in the region.

Specialist Services

Elite Dental Group offers much more than general dentistry. For each specialist department they have professionals trained in that particular area. They are one of the few clinics in the city that house internationally certified specialists, with ICOI Diplomate (The International Congress of Oral Implantologists), ITI Fellowship (International Team for Implantology), and Invisalign certified doctors.

In addition, they offer orthodontics, including the recently popular option of invisalign clear aligners, which allows patients to reap the benefits of braces without the noticeable display of metal.

A modern restoration department is being operated by 15-year smile makeover specialists. They have been handpicked for their expertise in porcelain veneers and crowns. Elite Dental has been working with Japanese and French laboratories to deliver the finest products to their customers.

All-On-4 Dental Implant Program

The All-On-4 Program refers to the immediate replacement of all teeth on either jaw. This only requires four implants, unlike traditional methods that require one implant per tooth. Chewing functions and appearance are restored immediately thanks to temporary teeth placement before the permanent teeth are set in.

This is a very modern and innovative technique where the implants are tilted at different angles, which provides the support for total rehabilitation. This also allows the implants to last more than 10 years and avoids the cumbersome process of bone grafting. Today, Elite Dental is exclusive in Vietnam for All-on-4 procedures, with an emphasis on immediate teeth restoration.

Dental Tourism

Although dental tourism has just recently put itself on the map in Vietnam, Elite Dental offers special packages for interested parties. This includes free accommodation and food and cultural event vouchers, as most patients come from America, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong. Prior to coming, potential customers are given free consultations and a flexible time plan that fits their personal needs.

Elite Dental has received several international awards for its customer service: International Accredited Clinic (Global Rating Clinic), Global Patients’ Choice Awards (Dental Departure), Customer Service Award Winner 2016 (WhatClinic).

Facilities

Elite Dental offers nine separate units on two floors, which are divided by special services. The ground floor is home to the restoration departments, cosmetic department, multiple general treatment areas, and the digital scanning facility. The second floor is home to the orthodontics and implant departments. A Junior Club is also provided to keep your children occupied as you undergo your treatment. Books, toys, bean bags chairs and free Wi-Fi are available for their entertainment.

Unlike most dental clinics, which often send you all around town to get x-rays or blood testing before you can begin your procedure, Elite Dental Group alleviates the hassle of going from place to place by closely cooperating with local hospitals to take care of the blood work. This saves you time, and allows the customers to have all their procedures taken care of on-site.

High-End Technology

Technology is one of the most important components in modern medicine, and Elite Dental Group is dedicated to using only the most up-to-date equipment in the world. The team at Elite Dental cooperates closely with its overseas counterparts in order to stay informed on the most recent technology available. Some of their latest tech additions include German-imported Sirona Cone Beam CT scanning equipment, which scans bones and tissue to create a digital x-ray display; and 3Shape’s TRIOS intraoral teeth scanner, used for creating 3D digital images of your teeth and gums for Invisalign treatment, crowns and veneers. All dentists are routinely trained and updated on how to use these cutting edge tools.

Once an appointment has been made, an automated SMS system is setup to send patients a friendly reminder about the time and location of their appointment. There is a 24-hour hotline for patients local or abroad in case of emergencies, and English, French and Vietnamese are spoken. In order to facilitate maximum comfort, patients may choose a range of sedation or anaesthetic methods to help them feel at ease during their procedures.

Contact information:

Website: www.elitedental.com.vn

Email: info@elitedental.com

Hotline: +84 28 3933 3737

Address: 57A Tran Quoc Thao, D3


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