Common Health Questions, Unlocked

For most individuals to wait to find a primary care provider (PCP) or schedule an appointment until they are sick. However, delaying preventative care and/or avoiding the doctor’s office may increase your chances of unexpected health complications in the future. It’s important to always consult with your PCP regarding any health concerns or questions, as the answers may vary depending on age, weight, and health and family history.

Denise Wegrzynowicz, DO, a family medicine physician who practices with St. Clair Medical Group Family Medicine, is here to answer common questions she hears from patients over and over. Dr. Wegrzynowicz provides her professional answers in a Q&A series below.


Q. Is it healthy to go gluten-free?

A. Going gluten-free may be helpful for a variety of reasons, but it is not for everyone. People who suffer from unexplained headaches, joint and muscle pain, and abdominal pain may feel better eliminating gluten and other inflammatory substances from their diet. Other inflammatory substances include dairy, soy, corn, sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed meat, and alcohol.

Eliminating gluten may not lead to weight loss, as many people believe it will. Gluten-free products are usually higher in calories than products containing gluten because they contain more sugar and bad fats to help improve taste and texture.

Q. What’s the benefit of a daily glass of wine?

A. Having a glass of red wine can be helpful to improve your HDL or good cholesterol. Red wine also contains antioxidants that may help to protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart. However, you should not start drinking alcohol for heart benefits, especially if you have a family history of alcohol use disorder.

Women should limit intake to 4 ounces or about one standard wine pour per day, while men should limit intake to 8 ounces to avoid adverse effects. Though a glass of wine is not recommended to help with sleep difficulties. The wine may help you to fall asleep, but it will not help you sleep through the night.

Q. Does intermittent fasting work for weight loss?

A. Intermittent fasting has become the new way of dieting. Fasting is basically not eating for a longer period of time and eating during a shorter period of time. The idea is to restrict food consumption and calorie-containing beverages to a set time period of the day. The hope is that you will eat less because it is a smaller window of time.

Fasting can be helpful if you are making good food choices, limiting your portion sizes, and not consuming your calories right before you go to bed. But if high-calorie foods and beverages are consumed during the time you are allowed to eat, then fasting won’t make a difference.

Q. Is microwavable food unsafe?

A. Cooking and reheating food in the microwave does not make food unsafe. Studies show that food does not become radioactive.

Microwaves use radiation, which is a broad term that includes any kind of energy that falls on the electromagnetic spectrum. Some types of radiation are healthy and some are dangerous; it all depends on the size and frequency of their wavelengths.

Microwaves use non-ionizing radiation, which is only strong enough to excite atoms and make them move at a higher rate. When you microwave food, the radiation is quickly absorbed by the water molecules in the food, causing the molecules to move quickly, rub together, and create friction. The friction creates heat, which warms the food. Thus, it is safe to eat.

Q. Is birth control that eliminates your cycle really safe for long-term use?

A. Using oral contraceptive pills (OCP) on a continuous basis is safe for long-term use. By using a combination of estrogen and progesterone, the growth of the endometrium or the lining of the uterus is inhibited. However, the safety of using long-term hormonal birth control may depend on a person’s risk factors, age, and medical history.

If you have these or other common health-related questions, it’s important to discuss them with your PCP since they are more familiar with your medical history and can help make the best decision for you based on your health needs. If you are in need of a new PCP, call St. Clair Medical Group at 412.942.8570.