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Heart Disease and Diabetes: Managing Your Risk

Introduction

Did you know that if you have any form of diabetes, you’re twice as likely to develop heart disease? Let’s look at some of those reasons and what you can do to manage your risk.

Three reasons diabetics have a higher risk

The following is an overview of some of the main reasons diabetics are at higher risk: 

  1. High levels of blood glucose. Blood glucose is made from the sugars in the foods you eat and is your body’s main source of energy. High levels of it can damage the inner lining of blood vessels and promote atherosclerosis, the thickening or hardening of heart arteries.
  2. Systemic inflammation and oxidative stress associated with diabetes also contributes to the progression of atherosclerosis. This is because inflammation increases the risk of forming blood clots that can obstruct the coronary arteries, increasing the risk of a heart attack.
  3. Diabetes disrupts vascular health, meaning that the function of the large blood vessels supporting the heart can become compromised, increasing the risk of heart dysfunction.

The combination of these factors emphasizes the importance of risk factor management and preventive strategies. 

Know the early warning signs 

It’s important to understand what the most common warning signs are to protect your health. The following are some of the most common warning signs of heart disease:

  1. Chest discomfort when walking or exercising.
  2. Chest pain along with fatigue (tiredness) or shortness of breath.
  3. Resting heart rate is faster than 100 beats per minute.  

There are also additional signs that differ between men and women. For men, chest pain is the most common complaint, as well as erectile dysfunction, especially in young men. For women, chest discomfort in the form of Angina (a heaviness or dull ache in the chest) is quite common, as well as patterns of nausea, vomiting, and/or pain in the neck, jaw, and abdomen areas. The reason for these differences is that men and women have different heart and blood vessel sizes. 

If you are experiencing any one of these symptoms, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor right away. For more information on symptoms associated with diabetes, visit our post titled Diabetes Early Signs.

Protect yourself from heart disease

Now that we’ve gotten some of the bad news out of the way, let’s talk about the good news. As with diabetes, nutrition plays a huge role in protecting your heart. A heart-healthy diet and diabetic-friendly diet share several similarities. Here are some ways they are similar:

  1. Emphasis on whole foods, not prepackaged foods. Whole foods help regulate blood sugar levels and protect your heart.
  2. Limitation of added sugars and refined carbohydrates. These foods can spike blood sugar levels quickly and increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes complications.
  3. Portion control and balanced meals. Balanced meals containing a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent overeating.

For more information and ideas on heart-healthy diets, visit our recent post A Heart Healthy Diet: Misconceptions and Simple Tips

Conclusion

Diabetics face twice the risk of developing heart disease due to high blood glucose levels, inflammation, and vascular dysfunction. A heart-healthy and diabetic-friendly diet offers significant protection against heart disease. Early symptom recognition and dietary adjustments are essential for managing risk effectively.

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A Heart Healthy Diet: Misconceptions and Simple Tips

Introduction

When it comes to a heart healthy diet, a few buzzwords may come to mind: low-carb, high-protein, good fats, bad fats, good carb, bad carb. The list goes on and on, and it can get rather confusing. How do you navigate these options to know which one is the best one for you? The simple answer: maybe you don’t need to.

Understanding some of the misconceptions about heart healthy diets and a few tips can help you better navigate your nutritional options and create a balanced approach to heart healthy eating that best suits your lifestyle.

Common misconceptions about heart healthy foods

The following are some common misconceptions about heart healthy diets:

  1. All fats are bad. Not all fats are harmful; according to the American Heart Association unsaturated fats, found in such oils as avocado and olive, are very beneficial for heart health.
  2. Low fat equals healthy. Some low-fat products contain high sugar or refined carbohydrates, which may not be heart healthy. While a high-fat diet isn’t ideal, the body requires a moderate amount of dietary fat to function optimally.
  3. No need for portion control with healthy foods. Even nutritious foods should be consumed in moderation to maintain a balanced diet and avoid excessive calorie intake.
  4. Processed foods are just junk foods. While chips, candy bars, and pop-tarts are pretty obvious, prepackaged health foods like protein bars, fiber bars, and low-carb or low-fat snack foods often contain highly processed food additives, excessive amounts of sodium, and added sugar. Research has shown that ultra-processed foods now comprise more than half of the average American’s diet, which contributes to hypertension and coronary artery disease (CAD), diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.

Tips for heart healthy eating

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet for heart health, but there are some basic ingredients for maintaining a heart healthy diet. Consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and limiting saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars are all ways you can begin to eat for improved heart health.

The following are some additional tips for incorporating some of these “ingredients” into a heart healthy diet that works with your lifestyle:

  1. Track what you eat, even if it’s only for a couple of weeks, you may be surprised at the results and may even discover that just a few simple tweaks are needed to be on track with a heart healthy diet.
  2. Be mindful of your macros (macronutrients). This one seems pretty complicated, right? But it doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple as making sure each meal contains three things: a healthy fat (olive oil, avocado oil, etc), a lean protein (chicken, fish, or lean beef), and a carbohydrate (vegetables, whole grains, etc.). For more information on this one, check out our post on macronutrients vs. micronutrients.
  3. Follow a plan. You don’t have to do it alone! For some ideas on diets, you can explore our blog on types of diets.
  4. Cook in bulk. If you’re going to spend the time cooking, why not make it last? This one is a great tip for reducing reliance on prepackaged and processed foods. A slow cooker is the perfect tool for this. For some fun recipes that will save you time and boost your heart health, visit our post on slow cooker recipes.

Conclusion

Understanding misconceptions about heart healthy diets is key. Not all fats are bad, low-fat doesn’t always mean healthy, and portion control matters. Processed foods aren’t just junk foods; even some health foods can be highly processed and packed with additives.

Tracking your food intake, being mindful of your macros, following a plan, and cooking in bulk to reduce reliance on processed foods are ways you can take steps toward a heart healthy diet today. A heart healthy diet is crucial for your overall well-being as it reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes, and other cardiovascular issues.

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Heart Disease: What Exactly Is It?

Introduction

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and a regular buzzword in health literature and mainstream news. But what exactly is it and why is it important to understand?

Heart disease defined

By definition, heart disease relates to conditions where the optimal heart function is permanently compromised. There are many categories and forms of it, and they relate to either lifestyle, genetics, or a little bit of both. But it turns out that the most common form is preventable, based on diet and activity level. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the most common type and the number one cause of death in the United States (US). It involves the narrowing or blockage of coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. CAD can lead to chest pain (angina) and, if left untreated, may result in a heart attack. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, managing risk factors, and seeking medical advice are crucial in preventing and managing CAD.

It affects more than just your heart

Why do you need to understand what heart disease is and how to prevent it? Because no matter how well managed, it can be life-threatening and expensive. Also, it doesn’t work alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), heart disease increases the risk of stroke, kidney function problems, reduced cognitive function, and heart arrhythmias (when the heart develops an irregular beat pattern) which can affect organ health and physical stamina. It can also be a major complication of and for other common health concerns, especially diabetes.

Other health factors that increase the risk for heart disease

Understanding your risk is a critical step in prevention and management. Some of the most common health factors that contribute to heart disease that receive a lot of attention are high cholesterol, high blood pressure (hypertension), and obesity. Of course, genetics and lifestyle play a role in many of these related health factors as well. However, two of the lesser-known causes of heart disease are linked to stress and diabetes.

What do all these factors have in common? Your ability to directly influence the severity of these factors through education and in being proactive with your health. For more information on health factors that contribute to heart disease, visit our blog post on Heart Disease: What are the symptoms?

Questions your doctor wants you to ask

Being proactive and understanding if you are at risk for developing CAD is a critical step in taking your heart health seriously. The following are three questions your doctor needs you to ask:

  1. Based on my current health status, am I at risk?
  2. What symptoms or warning signs should I be aware of?
  3. Are there specific tests or screenings I should undergo to assess my heart health?
  4. What lifestyle changes can I make to reduce my risk?

Conclusion

While heart disease remains a top health concern and cause of death in the United States, there is a silver lining: It has been on a steady decline since the late 1960s. Why? Your lifestyle choices have a direct impact on the likelihood that you’ll be at risk for developing heart disease. For instance, being mindful of what you eat and how it affects your heart health is a good place to start. Some of the more common types of diets have well-known heart-health benefits, and these days they are easily adaptable with the number of cookbooks, websites, mainstream news articles, and free app resources dedicated to them.

So, while heart disease and the health complications associated with it may seem all doom and gloom, the fact remains: you can do something about it. You can dramatically reduce your risk of developing it by understanding what it is, talking to your doctor about it, and making heart-healthy lifestyle choices that are best suited for your health situation.

 

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Unveiling Ozempic

Introduction

In the realm of diabetes management, the quest for effective and innovative treatments is a continuous journey. Among the groundbreaking advancements, Ozempic has emerged as a beacon of hope for individuals grappling with Type 2 diabetes. Developed by Novo Nordisk, this injectable medication has garnered attention for its efficacy in not only controlling blood sugar levels but also promoting weight loss. Let’s delve into the details of this revolutionary drug and explore its impact on diabetes care.

Understanding Ozempic

Ozempic, scientifically known as semaglutide, belongs to a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. It mimics the action of a naturally occurring hormone in the body that regulates blood sugar levels. By stimulating insulin production and reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver, Ozempic helps maintain optimal blood sugar levels, making it a valuable addition to the arsenal of diabetes management tools.

Efficacy in Blood Sugar Control

Clinical trials have shown promising results regarding Ozempic’s ability to effectively lower blood sugar levels in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. By enhancing insulin sensitivity and slowing down digestion, the drug aids in glucose utilization, leading to improved glycemic control.

Weight Loss Benefits

One of the unique aspects of Ozempic is its potential for weight loss. Many individuals with Type 2 diabetes struggle with obesity, which can exacerbate the challenges of managing the condition. Ozempic has demonstrated a positive impact on weight, making it a preferred choice for those seeking dual benefits of blood sugar control and weight management.

Conclusion

Ozempic represents a significant advancement in the treatment landscape for Type 2 diabetes. Its dual benefits of effective blood sugar control and weight loss make it a compelling option for individuals looking to manage their condition more comprehensively. As with any medication, it is crucial for individuals to consult with their healthcare providers to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on their unique needs and medical history. As research continues to unfold, Ozempic stands as a testament to the ongoing progress in diabetes care, offering hope for a healthier and more manageable future for those living with Type 2 diabetes.

 

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Pharmacy: A Deep Dive into the Practice

Introduction

Pharmacy, often regarded as the bridge between medical science and patient care, plays a crucial role in the healthcare ecosystem. Pharmacists are not merely dispensers of medications; they are healthcare professionals who contribute significantly to patient well-being. In this blog, we will explore the multifaceted practice of pharmacy, delving into its historical roots, the evolving role of pharmacists, and the impact of modern technology on the field

The Evolution of Pharmacy

Pharmacy has a rich history dating back to ancient times when healers and shamans concocted herbal remedies for various ailments. Over the centuries, the practice of pharmacy has evolved into a sophisticated science, incorporating advancements in chemistry, biology, and medicine. Historically, pharmacies were known for compounding and dispensing medications. Today, the role of pharmacists extends beyond these traditional functions. They are integral members of healthcare teams, collaborating with physicians and other professionals to optimize patient outcomes.

Key Responsibilities of Pharmacists

  1. Medication Dispensing:  Modern pharmacists are equipped with advanced technologies to ensure accurate dispensing and patient safety.
  2. Patient Counseling: Pharmacists are valuable resources for patients, providing information about medications, potential side effects, and proper usage. Patient counseling is crucial for promoting adherence to prescribed regimens and preventing adverse reactions.
  3. Medication Therapy Management: Pharmacists actively engage in medication therapy management, assessing the appropriateness and effectiveness of drug therapy. They work to optimize treatment plans, identify potential drug interactions, and address medication-related issues.
  4. Immunizations and Preventive Care: In many regions, pharmacists are authorized to administer vaccinations, contributing to public health initiatives and preventive care.
  5. Collaborative Healthcare: Pharmacists collaborate with healthcare providers to ensure comprehensive and coordinated patient care. This includes participation in interdisciplinary teams to manage chronic diseases and promote health and wellness.

Innovations in Pharmacy Practice

The field of pharmacy has embraced technological advancements that have revolutionized the way pharmacists operate. Electronic health records, automated dispensing systems, and tele pharmacy services are just a few examples of innovations that enhance efficiency and patient care. Tele pharmacy, in particular, has gained prominence, allowing pharmacists to provide remote services, especially in underserved areas. This innovative approach improves access to pharmaceutical care, making a positive impact on communities.

Challenges and Future Trends

Despite the progress, the practice of pharmacy faces challenges such as drug shortages, rising healthcare costs, and the need for continuous professional development. The future of pharmacy will likely see an increased focus on personalized medicine, pharmacogenomics, and expanded roles for pharmacists in areas like genetic testing and precision medicine.

Conclusion

The practice of pharmacy is a dynamic and evolving field, deeply rooted in scientific principles and dedicated to patient care. Pharmacists play a vital role in promoting health, preventing diseases, and ensuring the safe and effective use of medications. The art and science of pharmacy will undoubtedly continue to flourish, making a lasting impact on the well-being of individuals and communities.

 

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Hyperthyroidism: The Role of Diet and Thyroid Function

Introduction

Hyperthyroidism is a condition that arises when the thyroid gland becomes overactive, producing an excess of thyroid hormones. To comprehend the impact of diet on hyperthyroidism, it’s essential to first understand the thyroid itself—what it is, what it does, and how it functions within the body.

The Thyroid Gland

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. Despite its small size, the thyroid plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions. Its primary responsibility is to produce hormones—thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)—that control metabolism. These hormones influence heart rate, body temperature, and the rate at which the body converts food into energy.

 

Functions of Thyroid Hormones:Thyroid hormones have a profound impact on the body’s metabolic rate. They help maintain energy balance by influencing the consumption, storage, and utilization of nutrients. Proper thyroid function is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, regulating body temperature, and ensuring the smooth operation of various organs.

Hyperthyroidism: Causes and Symptoms

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormones. Grave’s disease, an autoimmune condition, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Other causes may include nodules on the thyroid, inflammation, or certain medications.

 

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can be wide-ranging, encompassing weight loss, rapid heartbeat, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Understanding these symptoms is crucial for early detection and management of the condition.

Dietary Impact on Hyperthyroidism

While diet alone cannot cure hyperthyroidism, it can play a supportive role in managing symptoms and promoting overall health. A diet rich in nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, can provide the body with the necessary resources for optimal function.

 

Iodine, an essential mineral, is a key component of thyroid hormones. While iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, excessive iodine intake may exacerbate hyperthyroidism. Therefore, individuals with hyperthyroidism should maintain a balanced iodine intake, consulting with healthcare professionals to determine the appropriate levels for their specific condition. Additionally, certain foods, known as goitrogens, can interfere with thyroid function when consumed in excess. These include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and kale. Cooking these vegetables can help mitigate their effects.

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding hyperthyroidism involves recognizing the intricate role of the thyroid gland in regulating metabolic processes. While diet cannot replace medical treatment, adopting a balanced and nutrient-rich diet can support overall well-being for individuals with hyperthyroidism. It is crucial for those experiencing symptoms to consult with healthcare professionals for accurate diagnosis and personalized management strategies.



Group of young people doing exercises together in gym

Elevate Your Fitness Journey

Introduction

Embark on a transformative fitness journey with our comprehensive guide to effective workout plans and goal mastery. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or just starting, this blog is tailored to empower you with the knowledge and motivation needed to achieve your fitness aspirations.

Setting SMART Goals

Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) fitness goals. Explore the psychological benefits of goal-setting, enhancing commitment and focus

Crafting Your Workout Plan

– Tailor workout plans to individual fitness levels and preferences.

– Highlight the importance of incorporating cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility exercises.

– Provide sample workout routines for beginners, intermediate, and advanced levels.

 

Consistency and Progression

– Emphasize the significance of consistency in achieving fitness goals.

– Guide readers on tracking progress and making gradual adjustments to workout intensity.

– Discuss the role of rest days in preventing burnout and supporting overall well-being.

 

 Staying Motivated

– Share motivational tips to overcome workout plateaus and maintain enthusiasm.

– Explore the benefits of variety in workouts to keep things interesting and challenging.

– Encourage readers to find joy in the process and celebrate small victories.

 

Conclusion:

As you embark on this fitness journey, remember that the key lies in dedication, consistency, and a positive mindset. Whether your goal is to build strength, improve endurance, or enhance overall well-being, our guide is here to support and inspire you every step of the way. Start today, and witness the transformative power of your commitment to a healthier, happier you.












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Holiday Indulge Without Guilt

INTRODUCTION

The holiday season is synonymous with delicious feasts and indulgent treats, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your commitment to a healthy lifestyle. With a bit of creativity and smart ingredient choices, you can savor the festive spirit without compromising on nutrition. Let’s explore some delightful and nutritious holiday recipes that will make your celebrations both tasty and health-conscious. The main focus of our blog, is to provide our audience with health literacy so that they go onto live fore-filling lives, visit HERE to check out our previous blog. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Pecans:

Embrace the flavors of the season by roasting Brussels sprouts to perfection. Toss them with a handful of tart cranberries and crunchy pecans for a dish that’s not only rich in antioxidants but also adds a burst of vibrant colors to your holiday table.

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash:

Elevate your side dish game with quinoa-stuffed acorn squash. Packed with protein and fiber, quinoa provides a hearty base, while the roasted acorn squash adds a natural sweetness. Enhance the flavor profile with herbs and spices for a dish that’s as nourishing as it is delicious.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast:

Opt for a leaner approach to the main course by preparing herb-roasted turkey breast. Seasoned with a medley of herbs, this dish delivers a burst of flavor without excess calories. It’s a healthier alternative that doesn’t compromise on the festive appeal of a classic turkey dinner.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble:

Reimagine the traditional sweet potato casserole by incorporating a nutrient-packed pecan crumble. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins, and the addition of pecans provides a satisfying crunch along with healthy fats. This wholesome twist will have your guests asking for seconds.

Festive Fruit Salad:

For a refreshing and guilt-free dessert option, prepare a festive fruit salad. Combine seasonal fruits like pomegranate seeds, citrus slices, and kiwi for a colorful medley. Drizzle with a touch of honey or a sprinkle of cinnamon for an extra layer of holiday cheer.

CONCLUSION

This holiday season, treat yourself to these nutritious and delectable recipes that prove you can celebrate without compromising your health goals. By making mindful ingredient choices and embracing wholesome alternatives, you can enjoy the festivities guilt-free. Here’s to a season of delicious, nourishing, and joyful celebrations!



A smiling mid adult female doctor listens as a female patient discusses her health.

Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Treatments

In the intricate realm of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), where the challenges of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis manifest, a diverse array of treatment methods has emerged. These approaches aim not only to alleviate symptoms but also to enhance the overall quality of life for those grappling with these chronic conditions.

Medications

Anti-Inflammatories: Mesalamine, a cornerstone in IBD treatment, combats inflammation in the digestive tract, offering relief to those with milder forms of the diseases.

 Immunosuppressants: Azathioprine and methotrexate act as immunomodulators, mitigating immune system responses to manage inflammation effectively.

 Biologics: Cutting-edge therapies like infliximab and adalimumab target specific immune pathways, providing a more precise approach to symptom control.

Nutrition Therapy

Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN): Some patients find success with EEN, a therapeutic approach involving a liquid-only diet, which can promote healing and alleviate symptoms.

Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD): Focused on eliminating certain carbohydrates, the SCD has shown promise in managing inflammation and supporting gut health.

Surgery

For cases resistant to conventional treatments, surgical intervention becomes a viable option. Procedures like bowel resection aim to remove damaged portions of the digestive tract, offering respite from persistent symptoms.

Lifestyle Modifications

Dietary Adjustments: Identifying trigger foods through careful monitoring and making tailored dietary changes is integral to managing symptoms effectively.

Stress Management: Incorporating stress-reduction techniques, such as yoga and meditation, into daily life can positively impact the course of these chronic conditions.

Probiotics

Research suggests that probiotics, beneficial bacteria, may play a role in maintaining a healthy balance of gut flora, potentially reducing inflammation and supporting digestive health.

Clinical Trials

Participation in clinical trials opens doors to cutting-edge treatments and contributes to the ongoing evolution of therapeutic options for IBD.

Patient Education and Support:

Equipping patients with a comprehensive understanding of their conditions and fostering connections through support groups empowers individuals to actively participate in managing their health.

 

In the absence of a definitive cure, the key lies in collaborative efforts between patients and healthcare professionals to tailor treatment plans. Factors such as disease severity, individual responses to medications, and lifestyle considerations are integral in crafting an effective, personalized strategy. As research continues to unravel the complexities of these diseases, the landscape of IBD treatment holds promise for continued refinement and improvement, offering hope for a brighter future for those affected.



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Understanding Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

INTRODUCTION

As our topic of focus shifts from Diabetes which you can catch up HERE. Living with chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can be a daily battle, impacting not only physical health but also emotional well-being. These inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are often misunderstood, and those affected face a unique set of challenges.

Unraveling the Complexity

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both forms of inflammatory bowel disease, characterized by inflammation of the digestive tract. While they share similarities, there are key differences. Crohn’s can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus, causing inflammation in patches, whereas ulcerative colitis is confined to the colon and rectum, leading to continuous inflammation.

 Invisible Struggles

One of the most challenging aspects of living with these conditions is the invisible nature of the symptoms. Many individuals with Crohn’s or colitis appear healthy, yet they battle fatigue, abdominal pain, and unpredictable bowel movements daily. This unseen struggle can lead to feelings of isolation and frustration as others may not fully grasp the extent of the challenges faced.

 The Impact on Quality of Life

The impact of Crohn’s and colitis extends beyond physical discomfort. Individuals may experience anxiety, depression, and a diminished quality of life. The unpredictability of symptoms can disrupt daily routines, affecting work, social life, and overall mental well-being. Coping with these conditions requires resilience and a supportive network of friends, family, and healthcare professionals.

 Treatment Approaches

Treatment for Crohn’s and colitis varies and often involves a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and, in severe cases, surgery. Managing these conditions requires a personalized approach, as what works for one person may not be effective for another. Regular communication with healthcare providers is crucial to finding the right balance and maintaining long-term well-being. For more information on the treatment options please Visit for more impactful medical advise. 

 Raising Awareness

Increasing awareness about Crohn’s and colitis is vital to fostering understanding and empathy. Those living with these conditions should not face stigma or judgment. Educational initiatives, support groups, and open conversations contribute to a more compassionate society and a better-informed community.

 Moving Forward with Hope

While living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis presents its share of challenges, many individuals successfully manage their conditions and lead fulfilling lives. Research continues to advance, offering hope for improved treatments and, ultimately, a cure.

Nourishing Resilience: The Vital Role of Nutrition

In the intricate puzzle of managing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, nutrition emerges as a critical piece. Individuals grappling with these conditions often face unique challenges in nutrient absorption and gut health. Crafting a personalized nutrition plan becomes a powerful tool in alleviating symptoms and promoting overall well-being.

Key Considerations:

  1. Low-Residue Focus: Many find relief through a low-residue diet, minimizing high-fiber foods to ease bowel irritation and reduce symptoms like cramping and diarrhea.
  2. Trigger Food Awareness: Identifying and steering clear of trigger foods, such as dairy or spicy items, proves essential. Keeping a food diary aids in recognizing specific triggers.
  3. Nutrient-Dense Choices: Prioritizing nutrient-rich foods, including lean proteins and cooked fruits and vegetables, helps combat potential nutrient deficiencies.

Supplementation Essentials:

  1. Targeted Vitamins and Minerals: Due to common deficiencies, guided supplementation of vitamins B12, D, and iron can address nutritional gaps effectively.
  2. Probiotics for Balance: While responses vary, incorporating probiotics may foster a healthier gut bacteria balance, potentially reducing inflammation.

Hydration Priority:

  1. Preventing Dehydration: Chronic diarrhea underscores the importance of maintaining adequate hydration, a cornerstone for overall health and symptom management.

Individual Guidance:

  1. Dietitian Consultation: Seeking advice from a registered dietitian ensures a tailored approach, considering specific symptoms, dietary restrictions, and lifestyle factors.
  2. Adaptability and Observation: Gradual introductions of new foods and continual observation allow for adjustments, empowering individuals to navigate their nutritional journey with resilience.

In the journey of managing Crohn’s and colitis, a personalized and well-informed approach to nutrition stands as a beacon of resilience, providing individuals with the tools to navigate their unique paths to wellness

In conclusion, raising awareness, providing support, and fostering understanding are crucial steps toward creating a more inclusive and compassionate world for those navigating the complexities of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.



Maple Glazed Turkey Dinner

Navigating the Festive Feast

Introduction

The holiday season brings a cascade of warmth, joy, and communal celebrations, often accompanied by a rich tapestry of festive foods. For individuals managing diabetes, however, the allure of holiday treats comes with a heightened awareness of the potential impact on their health. In this exploration, we delve into the effects of holiday food on diabetes and strategies for a balanced, enjoyable season.`

For more in-depth information on Diabetes click HERE, to review some of our previous posts.

The Culinary Landscape

Holiday tables are often adorned with an array of tempting delights – pies, cookies, casseroles, and other mouthwatering dishes that can be laden with sugars and refined carbohydrates. For those with diabetes, navigating this culinary landscape requires a thoughtful approach to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Mindful Portion Control

One effective strategy is embracing mindful portion control. Instead of outright avoidance, individuals can savor small portions of their favorite treats. By doing so, they strike a balance between enjoying the festive flavors and managing their blood sugar levels.

Choosing Wisely

The choice of foods matters significantly. Opting for complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and fiber-rich options can contribute to better blood sugar control. Integrating vegetables and whole grains into the holiday spread provides not only a burst of flavor but also nutritional benefits.

Healthy Alternatives

In the spirit of inclusivity, incorporating diabetes-friendly alternatives into the holiday menu ensures that everyone can partake in the culinary joy. Substituting ingredients or exploring creative recipes that align with dietary needs can transform traditional favorites into healthier options without sacrificing taste.

Communication and Planning

Clear communication about dietary needs is crucial during the holiday season. Individuals with diabetes can proactively discuss their requirements with hosts, fostering an understanding of their unique considerations. This not only facilitates a supportive environment but also encourages the inclusion of diabetes-friendly choices in the festivities.

Staying Active

Physical activity remains a cornerstone of diabetes management. Incorporating light exercises or post-meal walks into holiday traditions can aid in regulating blood sugar levels. Encouraging group activities that promote movement enhances both the celebratory atmosphere and overall well-being.

Embracing Moderation

The ethos of the season centers around joy, connection, and shared moments. Embracing moderation rather than deprivation allows individuals with diabetes to fully participate in the holiday festivities. By savoring the flavors responsibly, they can revel in the spirit of togetherness without compromising their health.

Conclusion

As we raise our glasses to another year of celebration, let us also raise awareness about the effects of holiday food on diabetes. By fostering understanding, making informed choices, and prioritizing well-being, we can create an inclusive environment where everyone can relish the festive season’s delights in a mindful and health-conscious manner.




Insulin injection needle or pen for use by diabetics

Insulin: Guide to Understanding the Basics

INTRODUCTION

In the intricate dance of our body’s internal processes, insulin plays a starring role. This tiny hormone, produced by the pancreas, wields a mighty influence on our overall health Diabetes is a complex condition that affects millions worldwide. Broadly categorized into two main types, it’s crucial to understand the distinctions between them. For more information visit our previous blog HERE.

Insulin’s Crucial Role:

Insulin is a key player in regulating blood sugar levels. When we consume food, especially carbohydrates, our body breaks it down into glucose, a form of sugar. Insulin acts like a gatekeeper, allowing cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, providing them with the energy they need to function.

Pancreatic Powerhouse: 

Insulin is produced by beta cells in the pancreas, a small organ nestled behind the stomach. These beta cells continuously monitor blood sugar levels and release insulin in response to elevated glucose concentrations.

Balancing Act:

Maintaining a delicate balance of blood sugar is crucial for our well-being. Too much glucose in the bloodstream can lead to hyperglycemia, while too little can result in hypoglycemia. Insulin steps in to ensure this balance is maintained within a healthy range.

Insulin use Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes:

There are two main types of diabetes, both of which involve issues with insulin. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas, leading to a lack of insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use it effectively.

Injections and Pumps:

Individuals with diabetes may need external help to manage their blood sugar levels. Injections of insulin or the use of insulin pumps are common methods for delivering this crucial hormone when the body can’t produce it in sufficient amounts.

Diet and Exercise:

Lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, play a significant role in insulin sensitivity. Regular physical activity and a balanced diet contribute to the body’s ability to use insulin effectively, helping to keep blood sugar levels in check.

Continuous Monitoring:

For those managing diabetes, continuous glucose monitoring systems provide real-time data about blood sugar levels. This information allows individuals to make informed decisions about insulin doses, diet, and lifestyle.

Ongoing Research:

Scientific advancements continue to shed light on insulin and its functions. Researchers are exploring new ways to improve insulin therapy, enhance its effectiveness, and find alternative treatments for diabetes.

Conclusion

In the intricate tapestry of our body’s functions, insulin is a humble yet powerful thread that weaves through the fabric of our health. Understanding the basics of insulin empowers us to make informed choices about our lifestyle, promoting overall well-being and preventing the complications associated with imbalances in blood sugar levels. For more information on diabetes and insulin please visit the website for the American Diabetes Association. 



 

Young nurse doing a glucose blood test on her senior patient, during a home visit

Diabetes and What To Look Out For

INTRODUCTION

Diabetes is a complex condition that affects millions worldwide. Broadly categorized into two main types, it’s crucial to understand the distinctions between them.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Individuals with Type 1 diabetes require external insulin to regulate their blood sugar levels.

On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes is often linked to lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. The body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to its effects. Management involves lifestyle changes, medication, and, in some cases, insulin.

While both types share the name “diabetes,” their causes and treatments vary significantly. Awareness and education are key in the battle against this widespread health issue. Learn more about the various types of Diabetes HERE

 

NUTRITION LABELS 

Navigating nutrition labels can be a bit like decoding a secret language, but it’s a skill worth mastering for a healthier lifestyle. Here’s a quick guide on what to look out for:

  • Serving Size: Be mindful of portion sizes. What looks like a single serving might actually be two or more.
  • Calories: Check the total calories per serving. This is a crucial factor in managing your weight.
  • Macronutrients: Look for the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Consider your dietary goals and adjust accordingly.
  • Sugars: Keep an eye on added sugars. Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or other syrups contribute to your daily sugar intake.
  • Fiber: Aim for products with higher fiber content. It’s good for digestion and can help you feel full.
  • Sodium: High sodium levels can contribute to hypertension. Be aware of your daily sodium intake, especially if you have blood pressure concerns.
  • Ingredients List: Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. If sugar or unhealthy fats are at the top, the product may not be the healthiest choice.
  • Nutrient Content: Some labels provide information on vitamins and minerals. Check for essential nutrients your body needs.

Being label-savvy empowers you to make informed choices about what you put into your body. Over time, it becomes second nature, and you’ll find yourself making healthier choices effortlessly. For more information on diabetes and the connection to nutrition, The American diabetes Association has a more in-depth information, being the main source of my research for this topic. 

How to manage diabetes 

  • Balanced Diet: Prioritize whole foods, lean proteins, and complex carbs. Keep an eye on portion sizes and monitor your carbohydrate intake.
  • Regular Exercise: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to help control blood sugar levels and enhance overall well-being.
  • Blood Sugar Monitoring: Stay vigilant by regularly checking your blood sugar levels. Understanding your patterns empowers informed decision-making.
  • Medication Adherence: Take prescribed medication consistently as directed by your healthcare provider for stable blood sugar management.
  • Stress Management: Incorporate stress-reducing activities such as meditation or deep breathing exercises into your routine to mitigate the impact of chronic stress.

Regular Check-Ups: Schedule routine check-ups with your healthcare team for plan adjustments and early detection of potential issue

In conclusion, managing diabetes is about weaving healthy habits into your daily life. By embracing a balanced diet, staying active, monitoring blood sugar levels, adhering to prescribed medications, managing stress, and attending regular check-ups, you empower yourself to take control of your health. Small, consistent actions lead to significant improvements, making diabetes management a journey of proactive well-being.





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Produce for Health Organic vs. Inorganic

INTRODUCTION

In today’s world, health-conscious individuals are often faced with choices about the food they consume. One such choice revolves around the type of produce they buy – organic or inorganic. In this blog, we’ll explore the differences between organic and inorganic produce and how this choice can impact your health.

WHAT IS ORGANIC PRODUCE

Grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Instead, it relies on natural methods to control pests and enhance soil health. Organic farming practices prioritize sustainability and the well-being of the environment, promoting biodiversity and minimizing chemical runoff.

INORGANIC PRODUCE

Grown using synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to maximize crop yield and protect against pests. Some argue that these chemicals can potentially leave residues, which may be ingested when you consume it.

HEALTH CONSIDERATION

Nutritional Value: There is an ongoing debate about whether organic is more nutritious than conventional. Some studies suggest that organic produce may have slightly higher levels of certain nutrients due to healthier soil conditions. Pesticide Residue: Organic produce generally has lower levels of pesticide residues, which may reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Taste and Quality: Many people claim that organic produce often tastes better and is of higher quality. This may be due to the emphasis on soil health in organic farming.

COST ACCESSIBILITY

Organic produce is often more expensive than conventional options. The higher cost can be a barrier for some consumers. Access to organic produce can also be limited in some regions, making conventional produce the more practical choice for many.

MAKING INFORMED CHOICES

 When deciding between organic and conventional produce, consider your values, budget, and health concerns.You can also refer to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists, which highlight produce items with higher and lower pesticide residues, respectively

CONCLUSION

The choice between organic and inorganic produce is a personal one and depends on various factors. Whether you prioritize pesticide reduction, nutritional content, or simply the taste, understanding the differences can help you make informed decisions that align with your health and environmental values.





 





 

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Supplements: What Do You Need to Know?

Health supplements have become increasingly popular in recent years as people seek ways to support their well-being. However, understanding the world of supplements is crucial for making informed choices about your health. In this blog, we’ll explore the basics of health supplements and what you need to know to navigate this growing industry

Basics on Supplements

Health supplements are products designed to complement your diet and provide essential nutrients that may be lacking in your regular meals. They come in various forms, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, and more.

Types of Supplements

There are different types of health supplements, such as multivitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and herbal supplements. Each serves a specific purpose, so it’s important to know what your body needs.

Why Take Supplements

Supplements can be beneficial when you have nutritional deficiencies, dietary restrictions, or specific health goals. Consult a healthcare professional to determine if you need them.

Safety First

Not all vitamins are created equal. Some may interact with medications or have side effects. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new supplement regimen.

Dosage and Timing

Follow the recommended dosage on the supplement label and consider when to take them. Some are best absorbed with food, while others are better on an empty stomach.

Natural vs. Synthetic Supplements

Some Vitamins are available in natural and synthetic forms. Natural forms are often preferred, but synthetic can be suitable in certain cases. Discuss with your healthcare provider.

Monitor Your Health

Keep track of your health while taking vitamins. If you notice any unusual symptoms, discontinue use and consult your healthcare professional. You may need change over time due to lifestyle, age, or health conditions. Regularly review your supplement regimen with a healthcare provider.

Conclusion

Vitamins can be valuable tools in maintaining and enhancing your health, but they should be approached with caution and knowledge. Prioritize health literacy by understanding your unique needs and consulting professionals to make informed choices. Your health is too important to leave to chance, so make sure you’re well-informed about the ones you’re considering.



 



 

African American doctor and her female patient analyzing medical report after examination in the hospital. Focus is on female patient.

Navigating Your Path to Health: Reading Nutrition Labels

Introduction:

In today’s information-driven world, understanding and managing your health is both empowering and challenging. This blog post explores three essential aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle: reading and comprehending nutrition labels, deciphering your doctor’s advice, and finding reliable health information online. Let’s dive into these topics to help you make informed choices about your well-being.

Decoding Nutrition Labels

Nutrition labels on food products can be overwhelming, but they contain valuable information. Here’s how to decode them:

– Serving Size: Start by understanding the serving size, as all the information is based on it.

– Calories: Keep an eye on your daily calorie intake and compare it to your recommended daily intake.

– Nutrients: Pay attention to the amounts of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

– % Daily Value: This indicates how much a nutrient in a serving contributes to your daily needs.

Section 2: Understanding What Your Doctor Is Telling You

Effective communication with your healthcare provider is crucial. Here’s how to make the most of your appointments:

– Prepare questions in advance to discuss your concerns.

– Request explanations: If you don’t understand something, ask your doctor to explain it in simpler terms.

– Take notes: Keep a health journal to record advice, medications, and symptoms.

– Follow up: Schedule follow-up appointments as needed to track your progress.

  Finding Reliable Health Information Online

The internet is a vast resource, but not all health information is trustworthy. Follow these steps to find reliable information:

– Check the source: Look for websites with credible sources, such as medical professionals and institutions.

– Peer-reviewed articles: Trust information that has undergone peer review.

– Beware of biases: Be cautious of information that seems overly promotional or biased.

– Consult your doctor: Always consult your healthcare provider before making significant health decisions based on online information

Conclusion:

Understanding nutrition labels, deciphering your doctor’s advice, and finding reliable health information online are essential components of a healthy lifestyle. By mastering these skills, you can make informed choices about your well-being and take control of your health journey.





 

 

 

 

Smiling woman passing food to man. Happy friends sitting together at dining table. They are enjoying in party at home.

The Role of Diet and Nutrition in Breast Cancer Avoidance

Introduction

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women worldwide. While genetics and other factors play a significant role in breast cancer risk, emerging research suggests that diet and nutrition also play a crucial role in breast cancer avoidance. Making informed choices about what you eat can potentially reduce your risk of developing this devastating disease. In this blog post, we’ll explore the role of diet and nutrition in breast cancer prevention and provide some dietary tips to help you stay healthy.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is key to maintaining overall health and reducing the risk of various diseases, including breast cancer. A balanced diet typically includes:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: These are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help protect your cells from damage and support your immune system. Aim to fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables at each meal.
  • Whole Grains: Choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, and oats over refined grains. Whole grains are a good source of fiber, which can help regulate hormones and reduce breast cancer risk.
  • Lean Proteins: Opt for lean sources of protein like poultry, fish, tofu, and legumes. Reducing the consumption of red meat and processed meats may also lower breast cancer risk.
  • Healthy Fats: Include sources of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil in your diet. These fats have anti-inflammatory properties and can help maintain hormonal balance.
  • Maintain a Healthy Body Weight: Obesity is a known risk factor for breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women. Maintaining a healthy body weight through a combination of diet and regular physical activity can reduce your risk. Even modest weight loss can have a positive impact on breast cancer prevention.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, it’s essential to do so in moderation. The American Cancer Society recommends limiting alcohol to one drink per day for women.

Get Adequate Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a role in cell growth regulation and may influence breast cancer risk. Spend some time in the sun and include vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and supplements if necessary.

Avoid Highly Processed Foods

Highly processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats, added sugars, and artificial additives. They can contribute to weight gain and inflammation, which are risk factors for breast cancer. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is essential for overall health. Staying well-hydrated may help your body function optimally and support healthy cell function.

Conclusion

While there are no guarantees when it comes to cancer prevention, adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol, and avoiding processed foods are all positive steps you can take to support your overall health and potentially lower your breast cancer risk. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and screening recommendations based on your individual risk factors. Your choices today can make a meaningful difference in your health tomorrow.




 

 

 








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Hereditary Factors and Risks In Breast Cancer

INTRODUCTION

Breast cancer is a widespread and serious health concern that affects millions of people worldwide. It is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the breast tissue, leading to the formation of tumors. The IIllness is the most common cancer among women globally, making it a significant public health issue.  Understanding the role of genetic factors in breast cancer risk is crucial for several reasons. While breast cancer can affect anyone, certain genetic mutations and family histories (hereditary) substantially increase an individual’s susceptibility to this disease. Recognizing these genetic factors allows for personalized risk assessment, early detection, and tailored prevention strategies, ultimately saving lives. In this blog post, we will look at genetic factors and their significance in breast cancer risk.

Genetic Mutations and Breast Cancer Risks

Genetic mutations are alterations or changes in the DNA sequence of a person’s genes, which occur naturally or be inherited from one’s parents. However, not all genetic mutations are harmful, some can increase the risk of various health conditions, including breast cancer. Certain genetic mutations are particularly associated with an higher risk of breast cancer. They can disrupt the normal regulation of cell growth and division, making it more likely for cancerous cells to develop. These mutations can tip the balance towards uncontrolled cell growth, which is a hallmark of cancer.

Two of the most well-known genetic mutations linked to breast cancer are BRCA1 (Breast Cancer gene 1) and BRCA2 (Breast Cancer gene 2). These genes are responsible for producing proteins that help repair damaged DNA, and maintain the stability of a cell’s genetic material. BRCA1 gene significantly increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Women with BRCA1 mutations have up to a 70% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Mutations in the BRCA2 gene also elevate the risk of breast cancer, and the risk is especially high for male carriers. Women with BRCA2 mutations have a lifetime breast cancer risk of around 69%.

Hereditary and Sporadic Breast Cancer

Hereditary breast cancer is associated with specific inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Individuals with hereditary breast cancer often have a family history of the disease. Several close relatives may have had breast cancer, and it may occur at a younger age than in sporadic cases, hereditary breast cancer carries a significantly higher risk compared to sporadic cases. For example, BRCA1 mutation carriers may have up to a 70% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Sporadic breast cancer occurs due to genetic mutations that develop spontaneously during a person’s lifetime. Individuals with sporadic breast cancer typically do not have a strong family history of the disease. It may occur in one family member without a pattern of inheritance. Sporadic breast cancer, on average, has a lower lifetime risk compared to hereditary cases. However, risk factors such as age, gender, and environmental influences still play a role.

Counseling and Hereditary Testing

Genetic counseling is a specialized medical service that provides individuals and families with information and support regarding genetic conditions, including those related to breast cancer risk. One way Genetic counselors help detect hereditary breast cancer risk is through genetic testing. Genetic testing involves analyzing an individual’s DNA to identify specific genetic mutations or variations associated with an increased risk of certain diseases, including breast cancer. 

Genetic testing often begins with a referral from a healthcare provider, typically an oncologist or genetic counselor, based on an individual’s personal or family history of breast cancer. Before genetic testing, individuals receive pre-test counseling, where the genetic counselor explains the test, its purpose, potential outcomes, and implications. A sample of DNA is collected, often through a blood sample or saliva test, and sent to a specialized laboratory for analysis. After receiving the test results, individuals undergo post-test counseling, during which the counselor interprets the results, discusses their meaning, and helps individuals make informed decisions based on the outcome.

Reducing Risk and Early Detection

Reducing Breast Cancer Risk can be achieved in various different ways,

Lifestyle Modifications: Adopt a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding smoking. These habits can help reduce overall cancer risk. Breastfeeding: If you have children, consider breastfeeding. It has been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Be cautious about using HRT during menopause, as long-term use can increase breast cancer risk. Discuss alternatives with your healthcare provider. Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, as it can help reduce breast cancer risk. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight or obese can increase breast cancer risk, so strive to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.

Support and Resources

Below will include a list of resources, including foundations and etc devoted to battling the illness.

FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered): FORCE is an excellent resource for individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. They offer support groups, educational resources, and advocacy initiative Bright

Pink: Bright Pink focuses on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women at high risk, Therefore they provide online resources, including a risk assessment tool, as well as support and education programs.

The BRCA Foundation: This organization is dedicated to advancing research and support for individuals with BRCA mutations. They provide valuable information, advocacy opportunities, and connections to research studies.

Local Cancer Centers: Many cancer centers and hospitals offer specialized clinics and support services for individuals at high genetic risk of breast cancer. Check with your local healthcare providers for available resources.

CONCLUSION

Being proactive may pave the way for a healthier future. If you have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, take the initiative to discuss genetic testing with a healthcare professional. Early detection and proactive risk management can save lives. Together, we can continue to raise awareness, support research, and ultimately reduce the impact of breast cancer on individuals and families.

 

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What’s Really in Your Beverages?

Beverages are an integral part of our daily lives. From quenching our thirst to providing a pick-me-up during a long day, beverages come in a vast array of flavors and types. Some are hailed as health elixirs, while others are known to be less forgiving to our well-being. 

Water: The Ultimate Hydrator

Let’s start with the purest and most essential beverage: water. Water is the foundation of life, and its consumption is crucial for overall health. Staying hydrated helps maintain bodily functions, aids digestion, and supports radiant skin. It’s the healthiest beverage you can choose.

  • Healthy: Hydrates the body, supports metabolic functions, and has zero calories.
  • Unhealthy: None! Water is a universally healthy choice.

Tea: A Steaming Cup of Health

Tea is a beverage steeped in tradition and health benefits. It comes in various types, each offering unique advantages.

  • Green Tea: Packed with antioxidants, green tea can improve brain function, boost metabolism, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Black Tea: Contains theaflavins and thearubigins, which may reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels.
  • Herbal Tea: Often caffeine-free, herbal teas like chamomile and peppermint can aid digestion, reduce stress, and promote relaxation.
  • Healthy: Depending on the type, tea can be highly beneficial for health.
  • Unhealthy: Adding excessive sugar or cream can turn a healthy cup of tea into a calorie-laden beverage.

Coffee: Energizing or Excessive?

Coffee is beloved for its caffeine kick, but it’s essential to consume it in moderation.

  • Healthy: Contains antioxidants, can enhance alertness, and may reduce the risk of certain diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
  • Unhealthy: Excessive coffee intake can lead to insomnia, jitters, and digestive issues. Adding excessive sugar or high-calorie creamers can negate its benefits.

Fruit Juices: Nature’s Sweetness or Hidden Sugars?

Fruit juices can be a delightful way to enjoy the flavors of various fruits, but they can also be deceivingly high in sugar.

  • Healthy: Freshly squeezed, unsweetened fruit juices can provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Unhealthy: Many store-bought fruit juices are loaded with added sugars and lack the fiber found in whole fruits. Consuming these excessively can contribute to weight gain and blood sugar spikes.

Sodas and Sugary Beverages: The Not-So-Sweet Truth

Soda and sugary beverages are infamous for their health risks.

  • Unhealthy: High in added sugars, these drinks contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dental problems. They provide little to no nutritional value.

Alcoholic Beverages: To Toast or Not to Toast?

Alcoholic beverages, when enjoyed in moderation, can have some health benefits.

  • Healthy: Red wine, for example, contains antioxidants like resveratrol, which may benefit heart health.
  • Unhealthy: Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to liver disease, addiction, and an increased risk of accidents and chronic illnesses.

Conclusion

Choosing the right beverages can significantly impact your overall health and well-being. Water, tea, and coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle when consumed mindfully. On the other hand, sugary beverages and excessive alcohol consumption should be limited or avoided. Ultimately, it’s essential to strike a balance and make informed choices based on your individual health goals and needs. Staying hydrated with water, and occasionally enjoying a well-chosen cup of tea or coffee, can be your path to a healthier and happier you.

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Nutrition for Different Life Stages

Nutrition isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. Our bodies undergo numerous changes throughout our lives, from growth and development in childhood to the aging process in later years. Each life stage presents unique nutritional needs and challenges. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of nutrition for different life stages and provide valuable insights to help you make informed choices for yourself and your loved ones.

Infancy and Early Childhood

Nutrition during infancy and early childhood lays the foundation for a lifetime of health and well-being. During these crucial years, a child’s rapid growth and brain development demand an optimal intake of essential nutrients. Breast milk, considered the gold standard for infant nutrition, provides vital nutrients, necessary antibodies, and a strong emotional bond between mother and child. As infants transition to solid foods, introducing various nutrient-dense foods is critical to ensuring they receive the full spectrum of necessary vitamins and minerals. Proper nutrition during this period supports physical and cognitive development immune system function, and establishes lifelong dietary preferences and habits. It is a time of immense importance, and ensuring that children receive the proper nutrients in their early years is an investment in their long-term health and development.

Childhood and Adolescence

Nutrition during childhood and adolescence continues to be pivotal for growth, development, and overall health. As children grow, their dietary needs evolve, and it’s essential to provide a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients. During these formative years, adequate intake of protein, calcium, iron, and essential vitamins supports bone health, muscle development, and cognitive function. It’s also a time when habits are formed, making it crucial to encourage a diverse and nutritious diet while teaching the importance of portion control and mindful eating. Equipping young individuals with the knowledge and skills to make healthy food choices sets the stage for a lifetime of wellness while helping to prevent nutritional deficiencies and chronic health issues that can arise later in life. Childhood and adolescence are critical periods where proper nutrition is a cornerstone for healthy growth, development, and a bright future.

Young Adulthood

Nutrition during young adulthood is critical to establishing lifelong health and well-being. This phase of life often includes increased independence and diverse lifestyle choices, making it essential to prioritize balanced and nutrient-rich diets. Proper nutrition during young adulthood supports physical vitality, mental sharpness, and the prevention of chronic diseases. It’s an opportunity to develop a healthy relationship with food, fostering habits that can positively impact long-term health. Young adults should focus on consuming a variety of whole foods, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains while being mindful of portion sizes and moderating the intake of processed foods and sugary beverages. Young adults can set themselves toward a vibrant and healthy future by nourishing their bodies with wholesome choices and practicing mindful eating.

Adulthood

Nutrition during adulthood remains a vital component of overall well-being and quality of life. Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet becomes increasingly essential as we navigate the responsibilities of work, family, and daily life. Proper nutrition in adulthood can help manage weight, prevent chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes, and sustain physical and mental health. Prioritizing a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats while moderating processed foods, saturated fats, and added sugars is vital. Additionally, staying hydrated and being mindful of portion sizes contribute to maintaining a healthy weight and energy levels. Cultivating good eating habits in adulthood supports physical health and fosters resilience in the face of life’s challenges, promoting a vibrant and fulfilling life well into the later years.

Middle Age

Nutrition during middle age takes on a central role in promoting overall health and well-being. As our bodies undergo subtle changes in metabolism and nutrient absorption, we must adapt our diets accordingly. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help maintain muscle mass, bone density, and cognitive function. Additionally, middle age often comes with increased responsibilities and stress, making it essential to prioritize foods that support mental health and reduce inflammation, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Maintaining a healthy weight through portion control and regular physical activity becomes increasingly essential to prevent age-related health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Embracing mindful eating practices and staying hydrated are valuable tools to navigate the unique nutritional needs of middle age, ultimately contributing to a fulfilling and vibrant life as we move forward.

Older Adulthood

Nutrition during older adulthood becomes a cornerstone for maintaining health and quality of life. As our bodies naturally age, there are specific dietary considerations to address. Adequate protein intake becomes vital for preserving muscle mass and preventing frailty. Calcium and vitamin D are crucial for bone health, while fiber supports digestive function. Additionally, older adults should focus on foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids to support brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Managing chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes through dietary choices becomes even more critical. Proper hydration and portion control are crucial to maintaining a healthy weight and preventing dehydration and obesity. Nutrition during older adulthood is not just about sustenance; it’s about fostering vitality, independence, and a higher quality of life, enabling seniors to enjoy their golden years to the fullest.

Retirement and Beyond

Nutrition during retirement and beyond remains essential to maintaining a fulfilling and vibrant life. This phase allows further fine-tuning of dietary habits for long-term health and well-being. Prioritizing nutrient-dense foods, maintaining a balanced diet, and staying hydrated are vital principles. Adequate intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can support immune function and help prevent age-related illnesses. Additionally, older adults should be mindful of managing portion sizes to adapt to changing metabolism and energy needs. Exploring cooking and meal preparation as enjoyable activities can also contribute to overall well-being. In retirement and beyond, nutrition plays a crucial role in sustaining physical health, fostering social connections, and enhancing the joy of sharing meals with loved ones, making every bite a celebration of a well-lived life.

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Mindful Eating

 In a fast-paced world filled with many distractions, eating without genuinely experiencing the flavors, textures, and nourishment of our meals is easy. This disconnect can lead to overeating, poor food choices, and a less-than-satisfying relationship with food. But there’s a solution: mindful eating.

Understanding Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a practice rooted in mindfulness, an ancient Buddhist concept that involves paying complete attention to the present moment without judgment. Applied to eating, it means fully immersing yourself in the experience of eating, from selecting the food to savoring each bite.

Some of the benefits of mindful eating include:

  • Weight Management: Mindful eating can help prevent overeating by increasing awareness of hunger and fullness cues, leading to better weight management.
  • Improved Digestion: Being present while eating allows your body to digest food better, reducing digestive discomfort.
  • Enhanced Satisfaction: When you pay attention to flavors and textures, you’re more likely to enjoy your meals, leading to greater satisfaction.
  • Emotional Well-being: Mindful eating can help break the cycle of emotional eating by fostering a healthier relationship with food.
  • Better Food Choices: Increased awareness of what you eat may lead to more conscious food choices that align with your health goals.

Steps for Mindful Eating

  1. Create a Mindful Environment: Begin by setting the stage for mindful eating. Choose a peaceful, clutter-free space for your meals, free from distractions like smartphones, TV, or work-related materials. The ambiance can significantly impact your eating experience.
  2. Engage Your Senses: Before taking your first bite, take a moment to engage your senses. Observe the colors, textures, and aromas of your food. This sensory awareness helps you connect with the present moment and builds anticipation for the meal.
  3. Chew Slowly and Savor: Resist the urge to rush through your meal. Consciously chew each bite slowly and deliberately, savoring the flavors and textures. This enhances the enjoyment of your food and gives your brain time to register fullness cues.
  4. Listen to Your Body: Tune into your body’s signals throughout your meal. Pause periodically to assess your hunger level. Are you still genuinely hungry, or is it time to stop? Mindful eating encourages responding to your body’s cues instead of following rigid meal schedules.
  5. Mindful Portion Control: Pay attention to portion sizes and use smaller plates and utensils to help with portion control. This practice helps prevent overeating and allows you to savor each serving.
  6. Observe Emotional Eating Triggers: Recognize when emotions, stress, or external influences drive your eating habits. Mindful eating encourages acknowledging these triggers without judgment, helping you make more conscious choices.
  7. Practice Gratitude: Before and after your meal, take a moment to express gratitude for the nourishment you receive. This simple act of thankfulness can enhance your appreciation for the food you consume.
  8. Reflect on Your Eating Experience: After finishing your meal, reflect on your eating experience. How did you feel during and after the meal? What did you learn about your eating habits? This self-awareness can guide you toward making healthier choices in the future. 

     

Overcoming Challenges

In our fast-paced world, the idea of mindful eating can seem like a distant goal. Yet, the benefits it offers are invaluable for our well-being. Let’s tackle some common challenges and explore practical strategies to weave mindful eating into the tapestry of our busy lives.

Time Constraints and Distractions

Tip #1: Schedule Dedicated Eating Time: Allocate specific time slots for meals and snacks in your daily routine. Treat these appointments with the same importance as work meetings or other commitments. By designating time for eating, you’re less likely to rush through meals or multi-task while consuming food.

Tip #2: Single-Tasking vs. Multi-Tasking: Break free from the habit of multi-tasking during meals. Instead, focus solely on eating, allowing yourself to taste and savor your food truly. Turn off screens, close laptops, and put away your smartphone. The more present you are, the more satisfying your meal becomes.

Incorporating Mindfulness into Busy Schedules

Tip #3: Mini Mindfulness Breaks: Even on the busiest of days, find moments for mini mindfulness breaks. Pause for a minute or two to take a few deep breaths before eating. This simple practice can help you transition from a hectic mindset to a more mindful one, setting the tone for your meal.

Tip #4: Mindful Snacking: If full meals are challenging to schedule, opt for mindful snacking. Choose nutritious snacks and approach them with the same mindfulness as a complete meal. Savor each bite and appreciate the nourishment it provides.

Managing External Influences

Tip #5: Mindful Food Choices: Make mindful food choices when dining out or ordering takeout. Scan the menu for options that align with your health goals and values. Ask questions about ingredients and preparation to make informed choices that resonate with your mindful eating journey.

Tip #6: Social Pressure and Mindful Choices: You may encounter external influences that trigger mindless eating in social settings. Be assertive in communicating your mindful eating goals to friends and family, and seek supportive environments that align with your intentions.

Remember, the path to mindful eating is a process, not a destination. It’s about cultivating awareness and making conscious choices in your relationship with food. By addressing common challenges, incorporating mindfulness into your daily life, and managing external influences, you can embark on a fulfilling journey toward a healthier, more mindful approach to eating, no matter how busy your life may be.

Cultivating Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Mindfulness transcends the realm of eating; it permeates all facets of existence. Whether working, spending time with loved ones, or simply taking a stroll, mindfulness invites you to be fully present. Mindfulness enhances focus and productivity. By immersing yourself in the task without distractions, you can accomplish more with less effort, reduce stress, and find joy in your work.

When you venture outdoors, immerse yourself in the natural world. Observe the sights, sounds, and sensations of nature. This connection with the environment can rejuvenate your spirit and instill a sense of gratitude for the world around you. Regular meditation sessions are also a powerful tool for cultivating mindfulness. You can carry this non-judgmental awareness into your eating habits by dedicating time to sitting in stillness and observing your thoughts without judgment. Deep breathing exercises help anchor you in the present moment. When you incorporate deep breathing into your daily routine, such as taking a few intentional breaths before meals, you create a mental space that enables you to make conscious food choices and appreciate the eating experience. So, let mindfulness guide you, both at the table and in the world, as you savor the exquisite tapestry of existence.

cholesterol

How to Lower Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a common health concern worldwide. Many individuals have elevated cholesterol levels without realizing it, as it often presents with no apparent symptoms. The prevalence of high cholesterol is a significant public health issue and is closely linked to the rising incidence of heart diseases. By making informed dietary and lifestyle choices, individuals can take control of their cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. With the proper knowledge and guidance, making meaningful changes positively impacting cholesterol levels and overall heart health is possible.

Understanding Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the body’s cells. It is essential for building cell membranes, producing hormones, and aiding digestion. It circulates in the bloodstream in two primary forms: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is often referred to as “good” cholesterol as it transports excess cholesterol from various parts of the body back to the liver for removal, thus helping to prevent the buildup of arterial plaque. LDL, dubbed “bad” cholesterol, can accumulate plaque in the arteries, narrowing them and increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Elevated LDL cholesterol levels contribute to atherosclerosis, which can ultimately result in heart attacks or strokes. Therefore, maintaining a balanced cholesterol profile is crucial for cardiovascular health. Regular physical activity, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and sometimes medication as prescribed by a healthcare professional can all play a role in managing cholesterol levels and minimizing the risk of heart-related issues.

Lifestyle Changes for Lowering Cholesterol

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is one of the best ways to lower cholesterol levels. A heart-healthy diet primarily reduces saturated and trans fats, commonly found in red meat, full-fat dairy, and processed foods. Replacing these harmful fats with unsaturated fats from sources like olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish can help lower LDL cholesterol. Incorporating soluble fiber from foods like oats, barley, legumes, and certain fruits aids in reduction by preventing its absorption in the bloodstream. Plant sterols and stanols, found in fortified products, can block cholesterol absorption, while lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, tofu, and legumes can reduce saturated fat intake. Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts are known for their heart-healthy benefits, including improved cholesterol levels. Practicing portion control and maintaining a balanced caloric intake is also important.

Regular Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is pivotal in maintaining optimal cholesterol levels and promoting heart health. Physical activity stimulates the body’s metabolism, facilitating the breakdown of excess fats and cholesterol preventing their accumulation within blood vessels. Furthermore, exercise encourages the production of HDL cholesterol, which aids in removing excess cholesterol from the bloodstream. Combined with a balanced diet, regular physical activity becomes a potent tool in managing cholesterol levels and fostering cardiovascular well-being.

Here are some suggested exercises:

  1. Aerobic Exercises: Also known as cardiovascular exercises, these activities increase your heart rate and breathing. Examples include brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, and dancing. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week.
  2. Strength Training: Also called resistance training, this type of exercise involves working against resistance to build muscle strength. It can include weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, and resistance bands. Include strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice weekly.
  3. Flexibility Exercises: These exercises improve your range of motion and help prevent injuries. Stretching, yoga, and Pilates are examples of flexibility exercises. Aim to perform flexibility exercises for at least 10-15 minutes on most days of the week.

Weight Management

Effective weight management serves as a cornerstone in the effort to lower cholesterol levels and promote cardiovascular health. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and exercise can profoundly impact cholesterol levels. Excess weight, especially around the abdominal area, can contribute to the formation of arterial plaque and increase the risk of heart disease. Losing weight improves the body’s metabolism, aiding in the breakdown and excretion of cholesterol and fats from the bloodstream. Additionally, weight management encourages the production of HDL, which helps transport excess cholesterol away from arteries. Engaging in a mindful diet and regular physical activity is a powerful strategy for optimizing cholesterol levels.

Specific Dietary Strategies

Healthy Fats

Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet can help to lower cholesterol levels. Saturated fats in foods like red meat, butter, and full-fat dairy products are known to raise LDL levels. Unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, have positively impacted cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats, found in sources like olive oil and avocados, can help lower LDL while preserving HDL. Polyunsaturated fats in foods like nuts and fatty fish contain essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that actively reduce LDL levels and promote a healthy balance of HDL cholesterol. Check out our previous blog for more information about fats in nutrition.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in improving cholesterol profiles and reducing inflammation. These essential fatty acids, notably those found in fish and plant-based sources, exhibit remarkable anti-inflammatory properties that can help mitigate chronic inflammation—a key driver of various cardiovascular diseases. Omega-3s have been shown to lower triglyceride levels, a type of fat in the body, and can lead to modest reductions in LDL. Rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Plant-based sources, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body can convert to EPA and DHA. Incorporating these sources into the diet can contribute to a more favorable inflammatory response and improved cholesterol levels

Plant Sterols and Stanols

Plant sterols and stanols are naturally occurring compounds found in plants that can block cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract. These compounds have a similar structure to cholesterol, which allows them to compete with dietary cholesterol for absorption in the intestines. When consumed, plant sterols and stanols interfere with absorption, effectively limiting the amount of cholesterol that enters the bloodstream. Incorporating foods fortified with plant sterols and stanols into the diet can be a practical strategy to harness their cholesterol-lowering benefits. Certain margarines, spreads, and yogurt products are often enriched with these compounds and are tasty and convenient snacks. Regularly consuming these fortified products, combined with a balanced diet and other healthy lifestyle choices, can contribute to more optimal cholesterol levels and better cardiovascular health. It’s important to note that while plant sterols and stanols offer benefits, they should be part of an overall heart-healthy dietary plan and not a sole solution.

Monitoring and Seeking Professional Advice

While it’s inspiring to embark on a new diet or exercise regimen, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals is a critical first step, especially if you have existing health conditions. A doctor’s insight considers your health history, current medications, and unique requirements. They can help tailor a plan that aligns with your health goals while minimizing potential risks. Your journey to better health is a collaborative effort. While mindful eating and regular physical activity are important components, they must be integrated into a comprehensive plan for your unique health context. By routinely checking cholesterol levels and consulting healthcare professionals, you’re embracing a proactive approach and investing in a future of enhanced well-being. Remember, it’s not about one monumental change but the sum of small, purposeful actions woven into the fabric of our lives. From savoring heart-healthy meals to relishing moments of physical activity, every choice contributes to a stronger heart.

With each conscious decision, you’re not just lowering cholesterol – you’re raising the banner of empowerment and taking charge of your heart’s story. Here’s to your heart, health, and the vibrant life you’re crafting, one heart-healthy choice at a time.

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Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients

Micronutrients and macronutrients are fundamental to our dietary intake, each serving distinct roles in maintaining our health. Macronutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, are required in larger quantities and provide the energy necessary for bodily functions. On the other hand, micronutrients encompass vitamins and minerals, essential in smaller amounts but equally vital. However, a balanced diet rich in both macronutrients and micronutrients is necessary for overall well-being and vitality.

Macronutrients: Fueling the Body

Macronutrients, the fundamental components of our diet, play a pivotal role in sustaining and enhancing our overall health and well-being. These essential nutrients, required by the body in relatively large quantities, include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each macronutrient serves distinct functions, contributing to energy provision, growth, repair, and various physiological processes.

Maintaining an appropriate balance of these macronutrients is crucial for achieving and sustaining optimal health. Individual nutritional needs vary based on factors such as age, gender, activity level, and overall goals. A well-rounded diet that incorporates a variety of nutrient-rich foods ensures an adequate supply of macronutrients, promoting vitality, resilience, and the ability to lead an active and fulfilling life.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, primarily sourced from grains, fruits, and vegetables, are the body’s preferred energy source. They are broken down into glucose, which fuels cellular activities and powers bodily functions. While simple carbohydrates offer quick bursts of energy, complex carbohydrates provide sustained vitality by releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream. Adequate carbohydrate intake is essential to fuel physical activities, maintain brain function, and support organ systems.

Proteins

Proteins, found in foods like meat, poultry, legumes, and dairy, are the building blocks of tissues and muscles. Comprised of amino acids, proteins facilitate cellular repair, immune system function, enzyme production, and the creation of hormones. A diverse range of amino acids is crucial for optimal health, as different proteins serve unique roles within the body. Consuming an appropriate amount of protein supports muscle growth and repair, aids in weight management, and helps maintain overall bodily integrity.

Fats

Fats, sourced from oils, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, play a multifaceted role in our well-being. Beyond being an energy reserve, fats are vital for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), regulating body temperature, cushioning vital organs, and maintaining healthy skin. Different types of fats, such as saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats, have varying impacts on health. Balancing fat intake and focusing on healthier sources contributes to cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and hormonal balance.

Micronutrients: The Tiny Powerhouse

Though required in smaller quantities compared to macronutrients, micronutrients still help maintain the intricate balance of bodily functions and promote overall health. These essential nutrients encompass vitamins and minerals, serving as catalysts for numerous biochemical processes within the body. While micronutrients are required in small quantities, their absence or deficiency can lead to various health issues, from weakened immune responses to impaired cognitive function and developmental disorders. A balanced and diverse diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy, is essential to ensure an adequate intake of these micronutrients. Additionally, individual factors such as age, gender, and physiological conditions can influence micronutrient requirements. By understanding the significance of these micronutrients and making informed dietary choices, individuals can safeguard their health and well-being while fostering optimal bodily functions.

Vitamins

Vitamins, organic compounds sourced from various foods, are crucial for multiple physiological functions. Vitamin A, found in colorful vegetables and fruits, contributes to vision, immune system strength, and skin health. Vitamin C, abundant in citrus fruits and leafy greens, is an antioxidant that aids in collagen formation, wound healing, and immune function. Vitamin D, often synthesized in the skin through sunlight exposure, supports bone health, immune responses, and hormone regulation. The B-complex vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin), and folate, play roles in energy metabolism, nervous system function, and red blood cell formation.

Minerals

Minerals, inorganic elements derived from various dietary sources, are essential for numerous physiological processes. Calcium, found in dairy products and leafy greens, contributes to bone and teeth strength, muscle contractions, and nerve transmission. Iron, present in red meat, legumes, and fortified cereals, is integral to oxygen transport within the bloodstream and overall energy production. Magnesium, obtained from nuts, seeds, and whole grains, supports muscle and nerve function, energy metabolism, and bone health. Zinc, found in meats, nuts, and legumes, is essential for immune system function, wound healing, and protein synthesis.

 

Superfoods Picture 1

What are Superfoods?

“Superfood” is a term commonly used to describe foods with a potent nutritional punch. These nutrient-rich foods have exceptional health benefits due to their high content of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds. Superfoods contribute positively to overall well-being and may help prevent chronic diseases when incorporated into a balanced diet.

Common Types of Superfoods

Here are some well-known types of superfoods:

  1. Berries (e.g., blueberries, strawberries, acai berries): Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, these fruits are known for their potential to combat oxidative stress and support cognitive health.
  2. Leafy Greens (e.g., kale, spinach, Swiss chard): Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, these greens are celebrated for supporting bone health, immune function, and overall vitality.
  3. Nuts and Seeds (e.g., almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds): A source of healthy fats, protein, and essential nutrients, these foods contribute to heart health and energy levels.
  4. Fatty Fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, sardines): Abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, these fish are associated with cardiovascular health, brain function, and anti-inflammatory effects.
  5. Whole Grains (e.g., quinoa, brown rice, oats): Providing complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential nutrients, these grains support digestive health and sustained energy.
  6. Turmeric: Known for its active compound curcumin, turmeric possesses potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, potentially benefiting various aspects of health.
  7. Green Tea: Rich in polyphenols and catechins, green tea is believed to boost metabolism, promote weight management, and contribute to cardiovascular health.

Incorporating these everyday superfoods into your diet empowers you with diverse nutrients that promote vitality and longevity. Whether whipped into smoothies, tossed into salads, or savored as standalone treats, these superfoods offer a path toward a healthier you.

Health Benefits and Potential Impact

Superfoods influence the trinity of heart, brain, and digestive health, providing remarkable benefits that resonate throughout the body. When it comes to heart health, superfoods rich in antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats, help to prevent cardiovascular issues. They help lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood pressure, and reduce inflammation, collectively reducing the risk of heart disease.

Superfoods also enhance cognitive function by stimulating neural pathways and supporting memory retention. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish and flaxseeds, fuel brain cells, improve neural connectivity, and prevent cognitive decline. The presence of antioxidants and phytochemicals in superfoods combats oxidative stress, shielding brain cells from damage and contributing to optimal cognitive function.

Superfoods also support the digestive system thanks to their fiber content and probiotic potential. Fiber-rich superfoods promote regularity, aid digestion, and nurture a healthy gut microbiome. Not only does this aid digestive health, but also immune function and even mood regulation.

Superfoods’ multifaceted impact demonstrates the interconnectedness of our bodily systems. The profound importance of these nutritional wonders sculpts a life of vitality and well-being.

Incorporating Superfoods into Your Diet

Incorporating superfoods into your diet is like infusing your meals with nutritional magic. These extraordinary ingredients are nature’s way of offering you a vibrant and delicious path to better health. Begin by exploring the rainbow of colors they bring – from the deep blues of blueberries to the lush green of spinach. Add a variety of colors to your plate to create a visually appealing collection of nutrients. Start your mornings by blending nutrient-rich berries into your breakfast smoothie or topping your yogurt with antioxidant-packed fruits. Elevate your salads with vibrant greens like kale or arugula, and experiment with wholesome grains like quinoa for heartiness and sustenance.

Incorporate nuts and seeds by sprinkling them over your cereal or blending them into butter for a satisfying crunch. Introduce the golden touch of turmeric to your savory dishes, harnessing its anti-inflammatory powers. End the day with a cup of green tea, allowing its antioxidants to soothe both body and mind. By making these nutritional gems a part of your meals, you embark on a journey towards a stronger, more vibrant you, all while savoring the delightful pleasures they bring to your taste buds. Click here for some recipes rich in superfoods.

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Vitamins in Food

Vitamins are essential organic compounds our bodies require in small quantities to perform a range of various functions. These micronutrients play critical roles in processes such as metabolism, immune response, and cell maintenance. While our bodies can’t produce most vitamins, they are crucial for maintaining overall health and preventing deficiency-related disorders. Vitamins are typically obtained through a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. Each vitamin has specific functions and benefits, and their collective presence ensures the proper functioning of various bodily systems.

Vitamin A: From Colorful Produce to Clear Vision

Vitamin A is found in both animal and plant sources. Animal sources include liver, fish, and eggs, while plant sources include orange and yellow fruits, leafy greens, and red/pink fruits like tomatoes. Considered a fat-soluble powerhouse, Vitamin A boasts a multifaceted role, crucial for our well-being. Split into two distinct forms – retinol and beta-carotene – this essential nutrient profoundly influences various aspects of health. Vitamin A is best known for promoting clear vision, as it contributes to the proper functioning of our retinas and night vision. Yet, Vitamin A’s impact extends well beyond eyesight. Vitamin A’s importance is further emphasized by its contribution to immune function, cell growth, and differentiation. By supporting the integrity of mucosal surfaces, it acts as a guardian against infections and plays a role in maintaining healthy skin, promoting wound healing, and fortifying our immune system.

However, it’s important to strike a balance with Vitamin A intake. While deficiency can lead to vision impairment and immune system vulnerabilities, excessive consumption can have adverse effects. Vitamin A’s contributions span immune function, cellular health, and fetal development, making it a fundamental nutrient for overall well-being. Therefore, maintaining a balanced intake becomes crucial, allowing us to harness its benefits while safeguarding against potential risks.

Vitamin C: The Zest of Citrus and Beyond

Various fruits and vegetables generously offer this vitamin, from luscious oranges to vibrant bell peppers. Vitamin C is often considered the “immunity vitamin.” This water-soluble nutrient goes beyond its reputation as a cold-fighting hero. It demonstrates a variety of functions within our bodies, showcasing its power as an antioxidant. Vitamin C’s primary role lies in neutralizing harmful free radicals that can wreak havoc on our cells and contribute to chronic diseases and aging. Vitamin C shields our cells from oxidative stress, contributing to skin radiance, cardiovascular health, and overall longevity.

One of the most remarkable attributes of Vitamin C is its ability to fortify our immune system. It strengthens the generation and operation of white blood cells, the robust defenders of our immune system. In times of illness or stress, the immune system requires a heightened response fulfilled by Vitamin C. However, the benefits extend beyond immune support. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in collagen synthesis, the protein responsible for maintaining skin, blood vessels, bones, and other connective tissues. Vitamin C also enhances our body’s absorption of non-heme iron, found in plant-based foods. This means that combining Vitamin C-rich foods with iron sources can optimize iron uptake, mitigating the risk of iron-deficiency anemia.

As with any nutrient, achieving a balanced intake is crucial. While Vitamin C is a vital asset to health, excessive consumption through supplements may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. Therefore, striking a balance through dietary choices is the key to unlocking its full potential. Vitamin C weaves its influence throughout our physiological fabric, strengthening our immune ramparts, nurturing our skin’s vitality, and enhancing our body’s ability to combat oxidative stress.

Vitamin D: Sunlight, Seafood, and Fortified Foods

Often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” Vitamin D is found primarily in the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This fat-soluble nutrient is renowned for its role in promoting strong bones. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, it triggers the synthesis of Vitamin D, which is crucial for calcium absorption and bone mineralization. Beyond its traditional association with bones, emerging research illuminates its influence on immune function, cardiovascular health, and even mood regulation.

Vitamin D’s multifaceted impact is rooted in its ability to modulate genes and regulate cellular processes. It heightens our immune defenses by supporting immune cell production and bolstering their effectiveness. Moreover, it plays a part in regulating blood pressure and aiding heart health. The link between Vitamin D deficiency and conditions like cardiovascular diseases and depression underscores its broader role in maintaining overall well-being.

Despite its importance, Vitamin D deficiency is widespread, attributed to factors like limited sun exposure, geographical location, and lifestyle choices. As a result, Vitamin D-producing dietary sources such as fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and supplements have gained significance.

Vitamin D’s relevance extends to different life stages. During pregnancy, it contributes to fetal bone development, while in older adults, it reduces the risk of falls and fractures. Furthermore, studies hint at its potential to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. However, finding the right balance is crucial, as excessive Vitamin D intake can lead to toxicity and adverse effects. Since our modern lifestyles often limit sun exposure, it is important to understand the significance of Vitamin D.

Vitamin E: Nuts, Seeds, and Vegetable Oils

Vitamin E, a group of fat-soluble compounds, is a potent guardian of cellular health and vitality. This essential nutrient’s antioxidants defend against harmful free radicals that contribute to oxidative stress and cellular damage. Vitamin E’s role extends far beyond its antioxidant capacity, encompassing benefits for skin health, immune function, and even neurological well-being. At the forefront of Vitamin E’s capabilities is its ability to neutralize free radicals, protecting our cells and tissues from premature aging and potential chronic diseases. Vitamin E’s contributions to skin health are particularly noteworthy, as it helps maintain the skin’s moisture, elasticity, and protection against UV damage. This also makes Vitamin E a prized ingredient in skincare formulations.

Vitamin E’s significance spans immune function as well. It supports the body’s immune response by maintaining the integrity of immune cells, helping them combat infections more effectively. Moreover, research hints at Vitamin E’s potential to bolster cognitive function and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders.

Dietary sources of Vitamin E are diverse, encompassing nuts (such as almonds and sunflower seeds), seeds, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables. While deficiency is rare,  factors such as fat malabsorption disorders can impact absorption.

As with any nutrient, moderation is key. Excessive Vitamin E supplementation can lead to adverse effects and interactions with blood-thinning medications. Striking a balance through a varied and nutrient-rich diet is the most prudent approach. Vitamin E’s versatile contributions to skin health, immune function, and neurological protection underscore its value as a cornerstone of optimal health.

Vitamin K: Leafy Greens and Fermented Delights

Primarily recognized for its pivotal role in blood clotting, Vitamin K ensures the efficient healing of wounds. This helps to safeguard us against excessive bleeding. Beyond this, Vitamin K contributes substantially to bone health, activating osteocalcin, a protein essential for adequate bone mineralization. Vitamin K’s significance extends beyond individual health. Its role in fostering a balanced gut microbiome through fermented foods underpins a broader systemic impact, potentially influencing immune responses and well-being.

Vitamin K is divided into two forms – K1 and K2. Leafy greens like kale and spinach offer a rich K1 source, while Vitamin K2, found in animal products and fermented foods like natto, draws calcium toward bones and away from arteries. Its coalescence with other nutrients, such as calcium and Vitamin D, highlights the intricate web of dependencies governing our health.

B Vitamins: Whole Grains, Lean Proteins, and Legumes

B Vitamins, a group of water-soluble nutrients, are a dynamic force driving our body’s energy production and cellular harmony. This group encompasses eight distinct members, each playing a specialized role in supporting various bodily functions. From bolstering metabolism and promoting healthy skin to enhancing cognitive function and aiding in nerve health, the B vitamins form an intricate web of contributions that collectively optimize our well-being.

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, leads the ensemble by converting food into energy and supporting nerve function. Riboflavin (B2) fortifies skin health and contributes to energy production, while niacin (B3) aids in metabolizing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Pantothenic acid (B5) synthesizes essential molecules, while pyridoxine (B6) regulates brain health and neurotransmitters. Folate (B9), cobalamin (B12), and biotin round out this group of nutrients. Folate, a key player in DNA synthesis and cell division, is especially critical during pregnancy. Cobalamin ensures nerve health and aids in the production of red blood cells, while biotin promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails.

The collective impact of B vitamins goes beyond individual functions. Their synergy in energy metabolism is particularly noteworthy, as they facilitate the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, providing the fuel our cells need to function optimally. A deficiency in any B vitamin can disrupt this harmony, potentially leading to fatigue, neurological issues, and other health complications.

Balancing B vitamin intake is pivotal, as they are water-soluble and not stored extensively in the body. Incorporating a variety of sources like whole grains, lean proteins, leafy greens, and dairy products ensures a comprehensive supply. However, factors such as alcohol consumption, specific medications, and medical conditions can impact B vitamin absorption.

B vitamins, each with its distinct role, form a collective powerhouse essential for our body’s vitality. Their contributions span a spectrum of physiological processes, underscoring their significance in maintaining optimal health and resilience.

 

Man taking his blood pressure.

Metabolic Syndrome

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

In a fast-paced world where convenience often trumps well-being, it’s no surprise that modern lifestyles have taken a toll on our health. Metabolic syndrome has been steadily gaining ground, impacting millions of lives worldwide. Though it has been recognized as a health concern for several decades, its prevalence has surged in recent years due to widespread sedentary habits, unhealthy dietary choices, and the escalating obesity epidemic. Metabolic health is a serious concern, especially in the US, with only around 12% of adults being metabolically healthy.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of five conditions that create disturbances within one’s metabolism. These disturbances can alter our body’s fundamental processes, developing severe health complications like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a person typically needs to have at least three of the following five risk factors: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, and low HDL cholesterol. Genetic and lifestyle factors, including diet, physical activity, and obesity, play a huge role in developing metabolic syndrome.

What are the Risk Factors?

There are five factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome:

  1. Abdominal Obesity: Abdominal obesity, a prominent risk factor of metabolic syndrome, refers to the accumulation of excess fat around the waistline. This type of fat, known as visceral fat, is particularly dangerous as it surrounds vital organs and is associated with higher levels of inflammation and insulin resistance. Individuals with abdominal obesity often have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. Reducing waist circumference through lifestyle changes is crucial in managing this risk factor.
  2. High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common risk factor for metabolic syndrome. Elevated blood pressure strains the arteries and the heart, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Managing blood pressure through lifestyle changes, such as adopting a heart-healthy diet, limiting salt intake, engaging in regular exercise, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, is essential in preventing or controlling this risk factor.
  3. High Blood Sugar: High blood sugar levels, often associated with prediabetes and diabetes, contribute to metabolic syndrome. When blood sugar remains consistently elevated, it can damage blood vessels and organs over time. Dietary adjustments, weight management, and regular physical activity are crucial in controlling blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of complications associated with hyperglycemia.
  4. High Triglyceride Levels: Abnormal lipid levels in the blood, characterized by high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol levels, are significant components of metabolic syndrome. Elevated triglycerides contribute to atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in arteries. Low HDL cholesterol reduces the ability to remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream. Managing lipid levels involves adopting a heart-healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, and, if necessary, using medication to control cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  5. Low HDL Cholesterol: Low LDL cholesterol levels are a critical aspect of abnormal lipid levels in metabolic syndrome. LDL cholesterol plays a role in forming arterial plaques, leading to atherosclerosis and increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. While reducing LDL cholesterol levels is generally considered beneficial for heart health, deficient levels can also pose health risks. Striking the right balance of LDL cholesterol is crucial in managing metabolic syndrome. 

How to Prevent Metabolic Syndrome

Preventing metabolic syndrome involves adopting a healthy lifestyle focusing on several key aspects. By making positive lifestyle changes, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Here are some essential steps to help prevent metabolic syndrome:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: If you are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight can have significant health benefits. Aim for gradual and sustainable weight loss through a combination of a balanced diet and regular physical activity.
  2. Adopt a Balanced Diet: Focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit the intake of processed and sugary foods and saturated and trans fats.
  3. Exercise Regularly: Engage in moderate-intensity aerobic activities, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling, for at least 150 minutes per week (or 30 minutes a day, five days a week). Additionally, incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week.
  4. Avoid Sedentary Lifestyle: Limit your sedentary behavior and be physically active throughout the day. Take breaks from sitting and incorporate movement into your daily routine.
  5. Quit Smoking: If you smoke, seek help to quit. Smoking is a significant risk factor for metabolic syndrome and many other health conditions.
  6. Limit Alcohol Consumption: If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Excessive alcohol intake can contribute to metabolic problems.
  7. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can impact your metabolism and overall health. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, or spending time with loved ones.
  8. Get Enough Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, as poor sleep can greatly affect your metabolism.
Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Recipes

If you’re a food enthusiast who craves delicious, tender, and flavorsome dishes with minimal effort, then slow cookers are the way to go! Gone are the days of toiling away in the kitchen for hours on end. With the magic of a slow cooker, you can achieve gourmet-worthy meals with just a few simple ingredients and a touch of patience. The best part? It’s not just about convenience – slow cooking also intensifies flavors, resulting in dishes that burst with taste and complexity. Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or a complete newbie, slow cooker recipes are your ticket to culinary bliss. Here are some recipes from The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association to get you started.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Turkey Soup

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories: 224

Protein: 26 g

Carbohydrates: 27 g

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground skinless turkey breast
  • 3 large carrots, sliced crosswise into rounds
  • 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

Directions

  1.  Put all the ingredients in a slow cooker, stirring to combine and breaking up the turkey.
  2. Cook, covered, on low for 8 hours or until the turkey is no longer pink.

 

Slow Cooker Ratatouille with White Beans

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories: 180

Protein: 10g

Carbohydrates: 30g

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 (15-oz) cans low-sodium great northern or cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 (14.5-oz) can no-added-salt fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup low-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1/2 med eggplant(diced with skin on)
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper(sliced into 1-inch strips)
  • 3 clove garlic(minced)
  • 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Brush the inside of the slow cooker with the olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker; stir to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, until the vegetables and beans soften. Remove and discard the bay leaves before serving.

 

Pulled BBQ Chicken

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories: 160

Protein: 16g

Carbohydrates: 9g

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 whole chicken (skin removed, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 cup reduced carb or reduced sugar barbeque sauce
  • 8 large lettuce leaves
  • 2 cups cabbage (shredded)

Directions

  1. Combine paprika, chili powder, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and salt (optional) in a bowl. Add chicken pieces and toss to completely coat chicken.
  2. Add chicken and onion to a slow cooker and set to low for 5-6 hours.
  3. Remove chicken and set on a cutting board or in a bowl to rest for 15 minutes. Remove any remaining liquid and onions and mix with the barbeque sauce, set aside.
  4. Pull chicken and shred with a fork. Discard bones.
  5. Mix pulled chicken with barbeque sauce and onion mixture.
  6. To build the sandwich, add a heaping 1/2 cup of chicken to a lettuce leaf and top with 1/4 cup shredded cabbage.

 

Slow Cooker Recommendations

Excited to embark on a delightful, mouthwatering journey with slow cookers? Here are some high-quality yet affordable slow cookers to get you started.

  1. KitchenAid Refurbished 6-Quart Slow Cooker with Glass Lid | Stainless Steel (Renewed)

  2. Hamilton Beach Portable 6 Quart Set & Forget Digital Programmable Slow Cooker

  3. Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker

  4. Crock-Pot 6 Quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker

Examples of saturated fat

Fat in Nutrition

The word “fat” typically has a negative connotation, especially in relation to nutrition. While dietary facts can have cons, most people are often unaware of the pros they can bring to one’s health as well. Dietary fats, alongside carbohydrates and proteins, are one of the three macronutrients essential for a balanced and healthy diet. Fats, also known as lipids, are organic compounds that are a concentrated energy source. They play crucial roles in the body, including providing insulation and cushioning for organs, assisting in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, and serving as a structural component of cell membranes.

Fats are composed of fatty acids, which are long chains of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms. Dietary fats act as building blocks for hormones, and without these essential fats, our bodies would experience hormonal imbalances. Hormone imbalance can cause sleeping problems, weight gain, indigestion, and many more problems if not regulated. Therefore, it is important to get the proper amount of dietary fat intake to regulate the body’s hormones. There are three main types of dietary fats: unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats.

Unsaturated Fat

Unsaturated fats are considered the healthiest dietary fat, known for their beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. Consuming unsaturated fats in moderation can help lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) levels while increasing HDL (the “good” cholesterol) levels. Unsaturated fats are also a great source of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, which are crucial in brain function, cellular health, and inflammation regulation. Moreover, unsaturated fats provide the body with vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are necessary for immune system support, bone health, and vision. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are primarily found in plant-based foods and oils, such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds. Incorporating unsaturated fats into a balanced diet can help promote heart health and provide the body with important nutrients for optimal functioning.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are commonly found in animal-based products and some plant oils, such as certain cuts of meat, dairy products, butter, lard, and coconut oil. Unlike unsaturated fats, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. They have long been associated with negative health effects, particularly concerning cardiovascular health. Consuming high amounts of saturated fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Although it is not advised to avoid saturated fats completely, limiting the intake and replacing them with healthier alternatives is generally recommended.

Trans Fat

Trans fats are widely recognized as the most unhealthy type of fat. They are artificial fats created by hydrogenation, a process that adds hydrogen to liquid oils and makes them solid at room temperature. Consuming trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, trans fats can promote inflammation, leading to chronic health issues. They can interfere with the proper functioning of cells and contribute to insulin resistance, which is associated with developing type 2 diabetes. In many countries, regulations have been put in place to limit or ban the use of trans fats in food production due to their detrimental effects on health. Here in the US, the FDA has recently banned the addition of trans fats to food to lower consumption. It is crucial to minimize trans fats in order to maintain an adequate diet.

Finding the Balance

Finding a balance between different dietary fats is important for maintaining overall health. Aim to increase the amount of unsaturated fat in your diet, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Do your best to limit saturated fat. While some saturated fats are necessary for the body, it’s important not to overconsume them. Reduce the intake of fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, butter, and coconut oil. Instead, opt for lean meats, low-fat dairy alternatives, and healthier cooking oils. Trans fats should be minimized or eliminated as much as possible from your diet. Check food labels and avoid products that contain partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats. These are often found in processed foods, fried foods, and commercially baked goods.

Practice portion control, as moderation, is key when consuming fats. Pay attention to portion sizes and practice mindful eating. Opt for smaller servings of high-fat foods and combine them with healthier options like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Remember that a healthy diet is not just about balancing fats, but balancing other nutrients too. Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and legumes to ensure a well-rounded and nutritious eating plan. If you have specific dietary concerns or health conditions, seeking professional advice is always a good idea. Healthcare professionals or registered dietitians can provide personalized guidance and recommendations based on your unique needs. By making conscious choices, you can achieve a balanced intake of dietary fats, promoting overall health and well-being.

Person with diabetes checking blood sugar level

The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

In 2019, 37.3 million people in the US were diagnosed with diabetes, while an estimated 96 million people had pre-diabetes. This is a complex and increasingly prevalent condition that has become a pressing health concern in today’s society. Its impact is felt globally, affecting millions of individuals across various age groups and demographics. Understanding the intricacies of diabetes is crucial for both healthcare professionals and the general public. By gaining a comprehensive understanding, we can foster greater awareness, promote proactive healthcare practices, and ultimately work towards alleviating this pervasive condition in individuals and society.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects how the body produces or utilizes insulin, which helps to break down and distribute glucose throughout the body. Glucose, a simple sugar, is a primary energy source for cells and serves as a fuel for various biological processes. The hormone, insulin, produced by the pancreas, plays a crucial role in controlling blood sugar levels. In individuals with diabetes, there is a disruption in the production or effectiveness of insulin, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. There are several variations of diabetes, with the two most popular being Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes typically develops in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood, although it can occur at any age. The exact cause of this variation is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetics and environmental triggers, such as viral infections. In individuals with type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. As a result, the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient insulin. Without adequate insulin, glucose (sugar) cannot enter the body’s cells for energy use. This leads to a buildup of glucose in the bloodstream, causing high blood sugar levels, known as hyperglycemia. The inability to regulate blood sugar levels can have serious consequences, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and increased risk of other autoimmune disorders.

Managing type 1 diabetes requires lifelong insulin replacement therapy. This involves administering insulin through injections or an insulin pump to regulate blood sugar levels. Individuals will also need to monitor their blood sugar levels regularly, adjust their insulin dosage accordingly, and maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular physical activity. While type 1 diabetes, unfortunately, cannot be prevented or cured, with proper management and support, individuals with the condition can lead active and fulfilling lives. Ongoing research aims to improve treatment options, enhance glucose monitoring technology, and ultimately discover a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Type 2

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes typically develops in adulthood, although it is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents due to rising obesity rates. Unlike type 1 diabetes, where the body fails to produce insulin, individuals with type 2 diabetes initially produce insulin, but their body’s cells become resistant to its effects. This means that even though insulin is present, it is not effectively utilized by the cells to allow glucose to enter and provide energy. Obesity and excess weight are particularly significant risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Adipose tissue, or body fat, releases substances that interfere with insulin action, leading to insulin resistance. Over time, the pancreas may struggle to produce enough insulin to compensate for the increased demand, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

Symptoms can include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing wounds, and recurrent infections. However, some individuals may have no noticeable symptoms initially, leading to undiagnosed cases. If left uncontrolled, type 2 diabetes can lead to various complications, including cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, nerve damage (neuropathy), eye problems (retinopathy), and an increased risk of infections. However, with proper management and proactive care, individuals can minimize the risk of complications and maintain a good quality of life. Managing type 2 diabetes typically involves lifestyle modifications, such as adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating a balanced diet (check out some diabetes-friendly meals here), exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight, can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The Importance of Proper Diagnosis and Treatment

Proper diagnosis and treatment of this disease is essential for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, an accurate diagnosis ensures that individuals receive the appropriate medical care and support, distinguishing it from other conditions with similar symptoms. This allows healthcare professionals to develop tailored treatment plans based on the specific type of diabetes and individual needs. Secondly, effective disease management is crucial in maintaining optimal health for individuals with diabetes. With a proper diagnosis, individuals can work with healthcare professionals to develop comprehensive treatment plans that include blood sugar monitoring, medication management, lifestyle modifications, and regular check-ups. This helps individuals achieve target blood sugar levels, prevent complications, and improve overall well-being.

Early diagnosis and proper treatment also minimizes the risk of long-term complications associated with uncontrolled diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, eye problems, and foot complications. Additionally, proper diagnosis and treatment significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. Managing diabetes effectively can alleviate symptoms, improve energy levels, and enhance overall well-being. If you know or believe that you are experiencing symptoms of type 1 or type 2 diabetes, don’t wait to seek medical attention, as proper diagnosis and treatment is crucial for disease management, prevention of complications, individualized care, and improving the overall quality of life for individuals living with this condition.

Signs of a Heart Attack in Men - Image

Signs of a Heart Attack in Men

When it comes to heart attacks, a common misconception is that they exclusively affect older men and women. However, the reality is that heart attacks can strike those of all ages. From the unmistakable chest pain to the more subtle warning signs that can easily be overlooked, we aim to shed light on the diverse ways a heart attack can manifest specifically in male individuals. By familiarizing ourselves with these symptoms, we can foster a proactive mindset that facilitates early detection and, ultimately, better outcomes.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Men

Heart attack symptoms may not always be recognizable and can vary in their presentation between men and women. If you are interested in hearing more about the symptoms of a heart attack in women, click here. While some heart attacks are accompanied by clear and unmistakable symptoms, others can have more subtle or atypical signs. It’s important to note that each individual may experience different symptoms, and not all heart attacks manifest in the same way. However, here are some general symptoms a man might get when experiencing a heart attack:

  1. Chest Pain or Discomfort: This is the most common symptom of a heart attack in men. It may feel like pressure, tightness, squeezing, or heaviness in the chest. This pain can also spread to one or both arms, the neck, jaw, or back.
  2. Shortness of Breath: Men experiencing a heart attack may have difficulty catching their breath or feel like they can’t breathe deeply enough.
  3. Nausea or Indigestion: Men may experience feelings of indigestion, heartburn, or stomach pain. They may also vomit or feel sick to their stomach.
  4. Sweating: Sudden, cold sweats or breaking out in a sweat unrelated to physical exertion or temperature can be a symptom of a heart attack.
  5. Lightheadedness or Dizziness: Men may feel lightheaded or dizzy as if they might pass out.
  6. Fatigue: Unusual fatigue or feeling excessively tired, especially when accompanied by other symptoms, can be a warning sign of a heart attack.

The Importance of Recognizing Symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack is crucial because prompt medical intervention can significantly improve the chances of survival and minimize potential damage to the heart muscle. Here are some reasons why it is important to recognize the symptoms:

  1. Timely Treatment: Identifying the symptoms allows for early medical intervention. If a heart attack is detected early, medical professionals are more efficiently able to provide treatments, such as medications, clot-dissolving drugs, or surgical procedures to restore blood flow to the heart. The sooner these interventions are initiated, the better the outcome.
  2. Preventing Complications: Acting promptly can help prevent further complications associated with a heart attack, including heart rhythm abnormalities, heart failure, or damage to the heart muscle. By recognizing the symptoms early, healthcare providers can take steps to minimize these risks.
  3. Saving Lives: Heart attacks can be life-threatening. Quick recognition of symptoms allows for a swift response, including calling emergency services and receiving immediate medical attention. This can be critical in saving lives and preventing the progression of a heart attack to a more severe condition.
  4. Education and Awareness: Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack helps to raise public awareness about heart health and the importance of seeking medical help. Education about heart attack symptoms can empower individuals to take action if they or someone around them experiences a potential heart attack.

What to Do if You Believe You Are Experiencing a Heart Attack

Experiencing a heart attack is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. If you or someone around you is experiencing symptoms that may indicate a heart attack, it is crucial to take the following steps:

  1. Call Emergency Services: Dial the emergency services number in your country immediately. Inform them that you or someone else is having symptoms of a possible heart attack. It is crucial not to delay this step, as time is of the essence in getting medical help.
  2. Stop Activity and Rest: If you are in a safe place, stop any physical activity and rest. Sit or lie down to reduce strain on your heart. This also prevents additional stress and anxiety, which can further strain the heart.
  3. Chew Aspirin (if recommended): If you have been prescribed aspirin by your doctor and are not allergic to it, chew a regular-strength (325 mg) aspirin. Aspirin can help to prevent blood clots and minimize damage to the heart muscle during a heart attack. However, it’s important to note that you should only take aspirin if it has been specifically prescribed or recommended by your healthcare provider.
  4. Do Not Drive Yourself: If possible, do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital. Emergency medical services (EMS) can provide critical care during transport and ensure a prompt arrival at the appropriate medical facility.
  5. Follow Medical Advice: Once medical professionals arrive, provide them with accurate information about your symptoms, medical history, and any medications you may be taking. Cooperate with the healthcare team and follow their instructions and treatment recommendations.

Remember, these steps are general guidelines, and it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and care. It is always better to seek medical attention and be safe rather than assuming symptoms will resolve on their own.

Heart Attack Prevention

Preventing a heart attack involves adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle and managing risk factors. While it’s important to note that not all heart attacks can be prevented, following these guidelines can significantly reduce the risk:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Diet: A healthy diet is the key to a healthy heart. This includes a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats and a limited intake of saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars. Always do your best to opt for healthier alternatives when it comes to snacks and beverages.
  2. Engage in Regular Physical Activity: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week. Incorporate activities that elevate your heart rate, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing. Consult with a healthcare professional before starting an exercise regimen, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.
  3. Don’t Smoke or Use Tobacco Products: Smoking damages blood vessels, reduces oxygen supply to the heart, and increases the risk of heart disease. If you smoke, seek support to quit, and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
  4. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight based on your age, height, and body type. Excess weight, especially around the waist, can contribute to heart disease. Combine a balanced diet with regular physical activity to manage your weight effectively.
  5. Control Blood Pressure: High blood pressure strains the heart and increases the risk of heart disease. Monitor your blood pressure regularly and take the necessary steps to keep it within a healthy range. This may include lifestyle modifications and, if needed, medication prescribed by a healthcare professional.

 

Food intolerances

Food Intolerances

What are Food Intolerances? 

Food intolerances affect millions of people worldwide, and chances are, you or someone you know has experienced the discomfort they can bring. Picture this: you indulge in a delicious meal, only to find yourself feeling bloated, gassy, or experiencing some unpleasant digestive issues afterward. It’s frustrating, right? Food intolerances occur when your body struggles to digest or process certain foods, leaving you with those pesky symptoms.

Food allergies and food intolerances are completely different problems. A food allergy sends your immune system into high alert. The reactions can range from mild itching and hives to more severe symptoms that make it hard to breathe or can even be life-threatening.

If you suspect you have either condition, it’s important to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or allergist who can provide an accurate diagnosis, offer personalized advice, and help you navigate the world of dietary adjustments. Your comfort and well-being are worth it!

Symptoms

There are ten major symptoms you could experience with food intolerance:

  1. Bloating
  2. Gas and Flatulence
  3. Stomach Cramps
  4. Diarrhea or Loose Stools
  5. Constipation
  6. Nausea and Vomiting
  7. Fatigue and Lethargy
  8. Headaches or Migraines
  9. Skin Issues
  10. Mood Changes

Remember, these symptoms can vary in severity and duration depending on the individual and specific food intolerance. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation, diagnosis, and guidance on managing your food intolerances.

Common Types of Food Intolerances

You might’ve heard of lactose intolerance, but there are a lot of other common types of food intolerances lurking in the culinary world.

  1. Lactose Intolerance: Lactose intolerance is one of the most prevalent food intolerances worldwide. It occurs when your body lacks the enzyme lactase, needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in dairy products. Symptoms may include bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea after consuming lactose-containing foods like milk, cheese, or ice cream.
  2. Gluten Intolerance (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity): This condition involves an adverse reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. While not as severe as celiac disease, it can cause digestive issues, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, and brain fog. Avoiding gluten-containing foods like bread, pasta, and baked goods is the primary treatment.
  3. Fructose Malabsorption: Fructose malabsorption occurs when your body has difficulty absorbing fructose, a type of sugar found in fruits, honey, and some sweeteners. Symptoms may include bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea after consuming fructose-rich foods or high-fructose corn syrup commonly found in processed foods and beverages.
  4. Histamine Intolerance: Histamine intolerance is characterized by an inability to properly break down histamine, a compound found in various foods and involved in the body’s immune response. Consuming histamine-rich foods like aged cheese, fermented products, or certain seafood can lead to symptoms such as headaches, skin rashes, nasal congestion, and digestive issues.
  5. FODMAP Intolerance: FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) are a group of carbohydrates that some individuals have difficulty digesting. FODMAP intolerance can cause bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel movements. Common high-FODMAP foods include certain fruits, vegetables, grains, and sweeteners.

Remember, this is not an exhaustive list, and other food intolerances may exist. Identifying your specific food intolerances requires careful observation, elimination diets, or consultation with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian. By identifying and managing your food intolerances, you can make informed dietary choices and promote your overall well-being.

Getting Diagnosed 

While it may seem challenging to pinpoint food intolerances, there are several methods and tests available to help you uncover the foods causing your discomfort.

  1. Keep a Food Diary: Start by keeping a detailed food diary, documenting everything you eat and any symptoms you experience afterward. This can provide valuable insights and patterns to discuss with a healthcare professional.
  2. Elimination Diet: An elimination diet involves temporarily removing suspected trigger foods from your diet and then systematically reintroducing them to observe any reactions. Working closely with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian during this process can help ensure accuracy and safety.
  3. Medical Evaluation: Consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in food intolerances, such as an allergist, gastroenterologist or registered dietitian. They will review your symptoms, medical history, and food diary and may recommend additional tests or procedures.
  4. Food Allergy Tests: While food allergies and intolerances are different, some tests used for allergies can also be helpful in diagnosing intolerances. These may include skin prick tests, blood tests measuring specific antibodies, or oral food challenges conducted under medical supervision.
  5. Breath Tests: For certain types of food intolerances breath tests can be performed to measure the gases produced during digestion. These tests can help identify whether you have difficulty breaking down specific sugars or carbohydrates.

Self-diagnosis is not recommended, as it can lead to unnecessary dietary restrictions or overlook other underlying conditions. Seeking professional guidance is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and developing a personalized management plan tailored to your needs. With the right diagnosis, you can take control of your diet, find relief from symptoms, and improve your overall well-being.

Tips to Manage Food Intolerances

Living with food intolerances doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right strategies and mindset, you can navigate your dietary journey and reclaim your well-being. Here are some practical tips to help you manage your food intolerances and enjoy a fulfilling and satisfying lifestyle:

  1. Read Food Labels: Become a professional at identifying potential trigger ingredients. Look out for hidden sources of common allergens or intolerant substances, and familiarize yourself with ingredient names or terms that may indicate their presence.
  2. Plan and Prepare Meals: This gives you control over the ingredients and allows you to tailor your meals to your specific needs. Experiment with new recipes, explore alternative ingredients and get creative in the kitchen.
  3. Seek Support and Community: Connect with others who share similar experiences. Online support groups, forums, and social media communities can provide valuable advice, recipes, and emotional support.
  4. Communicate Effectively: When dining out or attending social events, communicate your dietary needs clearly and confidently. Speak with waitstaff or hosts about your food intolerances, ask about ingredient options or consider bringing a dish you know is safe to share at gatherings.
  5. Keep Emergency Supplies: Prepare for unexpected situations by keeping emergency supplies with you, especially if you have severe food intolerances. Carry allergen-free snacks, medication (if prescribed), and allergy alert bracelets or cards to communicate your condition in case of emergencies.
  6. Maintain a Balanced Diet: Ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs despite dietary restrictions. Work with a registered dietitian to develop a well-balanced meal plan that provides essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Consider supplementation if necessary.

Managing food intolerances can require some adjustments, but it’s worth it for the improved quality of life it can bring. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Reach out for support, stay informed, and embrace the opportunity to explore new foods and flavors that nourish your body.

By taking control of your diet, making informed choices, and prioritizing self-care, you can thrive with food intolerances and live a fulfilling life. Empower yourself with knowledge, be proactive, and never let your dietary restrictions define you.

Regularly getting your blood pressure checked can inform you of your risks.

What is a Normal Blood Pressure Range?

We’ve all heard the terms “high blood pressure” and “low blood pressure,” but what’s considered normal? Those two numbers can hold a lot of weight and you don’t have to be a medical professional to understand their importance. We believe it’s time to decode this information in a way that anyone can understand. After all, your health is your most precious asset, and knowing the basics of blood pressure can empower you to take charge of it.

What is Blood Pressure and Why is it Important? 

Blood pressure is like the traffic flow in your body’s highways, with blood acting as the vehicles. It’s the force exerted by your blood against the walls of your arteries as it moves through them. Now, you might wonder, why is this simple concept so crucial?

Blood vessels are like the lifelines that deliver oxygen and vital nutrients to every nook and cranny of your body. They nourish your organs, tissues, and cells. When your blood pressure is within the normal range, the force exerted on your artery walls is balanced, allowing blood to flow freely and efficiently.

Overall, it serves as a vital indicator of your cardiovascular health. It’s a key player in maintaining the equilibrium that keeps your body running smoothly.

What is a Normal Blood Pressure Range? 

Your blood pressure reading consists of two values: the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure.

The systolic pressure represents the force exerted on artery walls when your heart beats and pumps blood. It’s the higher number in the reading. On the other hand, the diastolic pressure reflects the force when your heart is at rest between beats. It’s the lower number.

In general, a normal blood pressure reading is around 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The systolic pressure should be below 120 mmHg, while the diastolic pressure should be below 80 mmHg.

However, it’s important to note that blood pressure ranges can vary slightly depending on factors such as age, overall health, and individual circumstances. Your healthcare provider is the best person to assess your specific situation and provide personalized guidance.

Keeping within the normal range is crucial for maintaining good cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of associated complications. Regular monitoring, a healthy lifestyle, and proactive management can go a long way in ensuring your blood pressure stays within the desirable limits.

The Dangers of High and Low Levels

When it comes to blood pressure, both extremes (hypertension or hypotension) can pose risks to your health.

High blood pressure puts your cardiovascular system under strain. Over time, if left uncontrolled, it can lead to serious complications. When it consistently exceeds the normal range, it can cause damage to your arteries, making them less flexible and more prone to blockages increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems. High blood pressure often goes unnoticed as it may not present noticeable symptoms, earning it the name “the silent killer.”

In terms of numbers, a reading above 130/80 mmHg is generally considered high. However, it’s important to note that the threshold for diagnosis may vary based on factors like age, existing health conditions, and individual circumstances and your healthcare provider will know the appropriate range for your situation.

On the other hand, low blood pressure can bring its own set of concerns. While it’s not typically as dangerous as high blood pressure, having excessively low numbers can cause inadequate blood flow to vital organs. This can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. In severe cases, it may result in organ damage.

In general, a reading below 90/60 mmHg is considered low. However, it’s essential to note that some individuals naturally have lower blood pressure without experiencing any adverse effects.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of low or high blood pressure, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider.

The Role of Diet in Blood Pressure Management 

Your diet plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and promoting overall cardiovascular wellness.

One key aspect of a blood pressure-friendly diet is reducing sodium intake. Sodium, commonly found in table salt and processed foods, can contribute to high blood pressure by causing the body to retain excess fluid.

Another essential dietary element is increasing your intake of potassium-rich foods. Potassium helps counterbalance the effects of sodium and can help lower blood pressure. Incorporating foods like bananas, spinach, avocados, sweet potatoes, and citrus fruits into your meals can provide a healthy dose of potassium.

In addition to these dietary guidelines, maintaining a healthy body weight and engaging in regular physical activity are essential for managing your blood pressure.

By adopting a healthy eating pattern, reducing sodium intake, incorporating potassium-rich foods, and following a balanced diet, you can take charge of your blood pressure and support your cardiovascular health. Remember, small changes in your diet can lead to significant improvements, and ultimately, a healthier you!

How to Incorporate Heart-Healthy Foods into Your Diet

Here are some practical tips to help you make healthier choices and support your blood pressure management:

  1. Load up on fruits and vegetables: Aim to include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your meals. They are packed with essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants that can contribute to better blood pressure control. Try adding berries to your breakfast, snacking on crunchy carrot sticks, or enjoying a colorful salad with your lunch or dinner.
  2. Opt for whole grains: Replace refined grains with whole grains whenever possible. Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal provide more fiber and nutrients, which can help support healthy blood pressure levels.
  3. Choose lean proteins: skinless poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and tofu are great examples of lean proteins. These protein-rich foods are lower in saturated fats compared to red meats and can contribute to better heart health.
  4. Embrace healthy fats: Include sources of healthy fats in your diet, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These fats can help reduce inflammation and support cardiovascular health.
  5. Reduce processed foods: Minimize your consumption of processed and packaged foods, as they tend to be high in sodium and unhealthy fats. Opt for fresh, whole foods as much as possible.
  6. Experiment with herbs and spices: Enhance the flavor of your dishes with herbs and spices instead of relying heavily on salt. Experiment with flavorful options like garlic, basil, turmeric, and cinnamon to add depth and taste to your meals.

Remember, making gradual changes and adopting a sustainable approach to your diet is key. Start by incorporating one or two blood pressure-friendly foods at a time and gradually expand your repertoire. Small changes can make a big difference in the long run.

Check out our website for easy heart-healthy recipes!

Endometriosis symptoms can be severe.

Endometriosis Signs

Did you know that endometriosis affects about 1 in 10 women of reproductive age? That’s a lot! If you’re not familiar with endometriosis, it’s a condition that can cause some pretty unpleasant symptoms, like pelvic pain, painful periods, and even infertility. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some helpful information to help you manage this condition.

In this blog post, we’ll start with the basics, but we’ll also dive deeper into some of the lifestyle factors that can affect endometriosis, including diet. If you’re looking for some tips on what to eat (and what to avoid), be sure to stick around for our section on recommended foods for endometriosis.

What is Endometriosis? 

Endometriosis is a medical condition in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, usually on the surfaces of other organs within the pelvis, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or bladder. This misplaced tissue can cause inflammation, pain, and sometimes scarring in affected areas.

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary from person to person, and some women may experience no symptoms at all. However, for many women with endometriosis, the symptoms can be severe and can interfere with daily activities and quality of life. Some common symptoms include pelvic pain, painful periods, heavy bleeding, painful bowel movements, and infertility. It’s important to consult a doctor to get an official diagnosis and start on a path toward treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Endometriosis 

Endometriosis symptoms can vary in severity from woman to woman. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:

  1. Painful periods: Women with endometriosis often experience severe menstrual cramps that can be so painful that they interfere with daily activities.
  2. Pelvic pain: Women with endometriosis may experience chronic pelvic pain that is not related to their menstrual cycle. This pain may be felt in the lower abdomen, lower back, or rectum.
  3. Infertility: Endometriosis can also cause infertility in some women. This occurs when the tissue growths interfere with the function of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus.
  4. Painful bowel movements or urination: Women with endometriosis may experience pain during bowel movements or urination, especially during their menstrual cycle.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider.

Foods Recommended for Those with Endometriosis 

Don’t count on the power of a good diet! While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to endometriosis symptom management, there are some foods that may be helpful for managing inflammation and reducing pain.

Here are some foods that may be beneficial:

  1. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce endometriosis pain. Some good sources of omega-3s include fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as well as chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
  2. Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables can help provide important nutrients and antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation.
  3. Fiber-rich foods: Fiber-rich foods can help promote regular bowel movements and reduce constipation, which is a common symptom of endometriosis. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, beans, lentils, fruits, and vegetables.
  4. Lean protein sources: Poultry, fish, tofu, and legumes can help provide important nutrients while reducing inflammation and supporting overall health.

There are certain foods to steer clear of that may worsen your symptoms.

  1. Processed foods: Processed foods, such as those high in refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and unhealthy fats, may contribute to inflammation and worsen symptoms.
  2. Red meat: Red meat contains arachidonic acid, which can increase inflammation in the body and may exacerbate symptoms.
  3. Dairy products: Some women with endometriosis report that dairy products worsen their symptoms, potentially due to the hormones and inflammatory compounds found in dairy.
  4. Caffeine: Caffeine can interfere with hormone metabolism and may increase pelvic pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis.
  5. Alcohol: Alcohol can worsen inflammation and may increase estrogen levels, which can exacerbate symptoms.

Remember, making dietary changes alone may not be enough to manage your endometriosis. Be sure to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your symptoms and develop a comprehensive treatment plan that works for you.

Other Recommended Lifestyle Changes

In addition to making dietary changes, there are other lifestyle changes that may help manage symptoms. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help reduce inflammation, improve mood, and manage pain associated with endometriosis. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
  2. Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and may help reduce inflammation and manage pain associated with endometriosis. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  3. Manage stress: Stress can exacerbate symptoms, so finding ways to manage stress is important. Try relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
  4. Avoid smoking: Smoking can increase inflammation and worsen symptoms, so it’s best to avoid smoking altogether.

By making these lifestyle changes and incorporating the recommended foods into your diet, you may be able to manage your symptoms and improve your overall health. Remember, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that works for you.

Meal prepping is a great start towards healthy eating.

Cheap Meals that are Healthy

When it comes to eating healthy meals, it’s easy to believe that it means shelling out more money on food. But the truth is, there are plenty of wallet-friendly and nutritious meal options to make at home that won’t put a strain on your finances.

The Importance of Eating At Home and Meal Planning 

When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, one of the most important steps you can take is to eat more meals at home. Eating out can be convenient, but it often means consuming larger portions and higher-calorie meals that are loaded with sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. By preparing your own meals at home, you can control the ingredients and portions, and avoid the hidden calories and sugars found in many restaurant dishes.

Another key to eating healthy meals on a budget is meal planning. When you take time to plan out your meals for the week it can help you avoid the temptation to order takeout or pick up fast food. Additionally, when you plan ahead of time, you can make a list of the ingredients you need and watch for sales on those items. You can also buy in bulk and freeze leftovers for future meals, which can save you both time and money.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas 

These breakfast ideas are all affordable, easy to make, and packed with the nutrients you need to start your day off right. By incorporating more whole foods and protein into your breakfast routine, you can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep your hunger at bay until lunchtime.

  1. Overnight Oats: This is a quick and easy breakfast option that you can prepare the night before. Simply combine 1/2 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk, and 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt in a mason jar or small container. Add in some cinnamon and a drizzle of honey if desired. Mix everything together, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you can add in some fresh berries or sliced banana for extra flavor and nutrition. Tip: there are tons of ways to get creative with your overnight oats and add flavors you like.
  2. Avocado Toast: Simply toast a slice of whole grain bread, mash up half of an avocado, and spread it on top of the toast. You can sprinkle some salt and pepper on top, and add some sliced tomato or a fried egg if desired.
  3. Huevos Rancheros: This classic Mexican breakfast dish is both flavorful and nutritious. To make it, heat a small amount of oil in a pan and add in some diced onions and bell peppers. Cook until softened, then add in a can of diced tomatoes and some chili powder, cumin, and paprika. Simmer the mixture until it thickens slightly, then create small wells in the sauce and crack eggs into them. Cover the pan and cook until the eggs are set to your liking. Serve with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and some fresh avocado on top.

Healthy Lunch Ideas 

Everyone wants something different out of lunch, whether it’s a quick and portable option or a warm and comforting meal.

  1. Chicken Fajita Salad: This is a flavorful and satisfying lunch option that is also diabetes-friendly. Simply grill or sauté some chicken breast with sliced bell peppers and onions, and serve it over a bed of lettuce with some sliced avocado, cherry tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil and lime juice. You can also add a sprinkle of cheese or some Greek yogurt as a healthy alternative to sour cream.
  2. Turkey and Hummus Wrap: This is a quick and easy lunch option that is also high in protein and fiber. Simply spread some hummus on a whole wheat tortilla, add some sliced turkey breast, lettuce, and tomato, and roll it up. You can also add some sliced cucumber or bell pepper for extra crunch.
  3. Black Bean Soup: To make it, sauté some onions and garlic in a pot with some olive oil, then add in a can of black beans (drained and rinsed), some diced tomatoes, and a few cups of chicken or vegetable broth. Simmer the mixture until the beans are soft and the flavors have melded together, then blend it with an immersion blender or transfer it to a regular blender and puree until smooth. You can serve the soup with a dollop of Greek yogurt or some fresh cilantro on top.

Healthy Dinner Ideas 

  1. Baked Fish Tacos: This is a healthy twist on a classic dish. Simply season some white fish fillets with cumin, chili powder, and garlic, and bake them in the oven until cooked through. Serve the fish in whole wheat tortillas with some shredded cabbage, diced tomato, and a squeeze of lime juice. Add in some creaminess with sliced avocado or a dollop of Greek yogurt.
  2. Grilled Chicken with Roasted Vegetables: Customize this simple and nutritious dinner with your favorite veggies. Simply season some chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs, and grill them until cooked through. Meanwhile, toss some vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven until tender. Serve the grilled chicken with the roasted vegetables for a colorful and healthy meal.
  3. Quinoa Stuffed Peppers: Cook some quinoa according to package instructions, then mix it with some black beans, diced tomatoes, and chopped cilantro. Cut the tops off of some bell peppers and remove the seeds, then stuff them with the quinoa mixture. Bake the stuffed peppers in the oven until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through. Serve the stuffed peppers with a dollop of Greek yogurt or some fresh salsa on top. Looking for a healthy salsa recipe? Check out our Cinco de Mayo Healthy Recipes blog post.

The Importance of Consistent Eating Habits

Consistency is key when it comes to healthy eating habits. Research has shown that establishing a routine can be helpful in maintaining healthy eating habits. By planning and preparing meals ahead of time, you are less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks or fast food options when hunger strikes. By consistently making healthy choices, you are more likely to continue to do so in the future. Check out our website for more healthy recipes.

It’s also important to remember that healthy eating habits should be sustainable in the long term. Restrictive diets or extreme changes to eating habits can be difficult to maintain and can lead to feelings of deprivation or guilt. Instead, focus on making small, gradual changes to your eating habits, such as incorporating more fruits and vegetables, reducing portion sizes, or choosing lean protein sources.

Remember: be kind to yourself and focus on progress rather than perfection.

Healthy foods for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo Healthy Recipes

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner, so it’s time to start planning your nutritious and delicious menu! We’ve got you covered from the starters to desserts with mouth-watering dishes that you can indulge in guilt-free.

Starters 

Salsa is already a pretty healthy starter, but this recipe calls for no added sugar, no excessive salt and no unnecessary oils.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño pepper, and minced garlic.
  2. Then, addd the lime juice and cilantro and stir to combine.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  5. Finally, serve as a dip for vegetables and whole-wheat tortilla chips or as a topping for tacos or grilled chicken.

Stuffed jalapeno peppers are another great starter guaranteed to be a hit at any party.

Ingredients:

  • 12 medium jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons diced pickled jalapeño peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, cilantro, pickled jalapeño peppers, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.
  4. Then, stuff the halved jalapeño peppers with the cheese mixture and place them on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the peppers are tender and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  6. Serve hot as a healthy and spicy Cinco de Mayo starter.

Drinks 

During your Cinco de Mayo celebration sip on this classic skinny margarita recipe to stay on track with your health goals.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. silver tequila
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. agave nectar or 1 packet of stevia
  • 1 oz. water
  • Salt for rim (optional)
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the tequila, lime juice, agave nectar or stevia, and water.
  2. Next, shake vigorously until the ingredients are well combined and the drink is chilled.
  3. Optional: Rim a glass with salt by rubbing a lime wedge around the edge of the glass and dipping it in salt.
  4. Then, fill the glass with ice and strain the margarita into the glass.
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge.

A Grapefruit Paloma is a great way to get some vitamin C when you keep your fruit juice fresh and your sweeteners natural.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. silver tequila
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup sparkling water
  • 1 tsp. honey or agave nectar
  • Salt for rim (optional)
  • Grapefruit wedge for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the tequila, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and honey or agave nectar.
  2. Shake vigorously until the ingredients are well combined and the drink is chilled.
  3. Optional: Rim a glass with salt by rubbing a grapefruit wedge around the edge of the glass and dipping it in salt.
  4. Then, fill the glass with ice and strain the Paloma into the glass.
  5. Finally, top it with sparkling water and add a grapefruit wedge as garnish.

Main Dishes 

Time for the main course! Spice up your Cinco de Mayo festivities with these mouthwatering and nutritious tacos, filled with protein and fresh toppings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 small whole wheat tortillas
  • Shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, and fresh cilantro for topping

Instructions:

  1. Start by heating the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the ground turkey or chicken to the skillet and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Then, add the cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper to the skillet and stir to combine.
  4. Next, add the tomato sauce and chicken broth to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Warm the tortillas in either the microwave or on a griddle.
  6. Finally, assemble the tacos by placing either the turkey or chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla, and topping with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, and fresh cilantro.

This recipe is a healthier take on traditional chicken and black bean enchiladas, without sacrificing any of the delicious flavors.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz.) enchilada sauce
  • 8 small whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro and sliced avocado for topping

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. Then, remove from oven and let cool. Once cooled, shred the chicken with a fork and set aside.
  2. Then, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Next, add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and black pepper to the skillet and stir to combine.
  4. Add the black beans and 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce to the skillet and stir to combine.
  5. Warm the tortillas in the microwave or on a griddle.
  6. Next, spread a spoonful of the remaining enchilada sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Then, place a tortilla on top of the sauce.
  7. Add a scoop of the chicken and bean mixture to the tortilla, and roll it up tightly. Place the enchilada seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.
  8. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas, and sprinkle with the shredded cheddar cheese.
  9. Finally, bake the enchiladas for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  10. Serve hot, topped with chopped fresh cilantro and sliced avocado.

Sides

Black bean and corn salad is another great recipe and easy to whip up before any event.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the black beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Then, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
  4. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  5. Serve the salad cold as either a side dish or over a bed of lettuce as a main dish.

Mexican-style quinoa may not be a traditional dish, but it’s packed with rich and authentic flavors that will surely please everyone.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa and a pinch of salt, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, bell peppers, red onion, and cilantro.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  4. Then, pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and toss to coat.
  5. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  6. Serve the salad cold as a side dish or topped with avocado or grilled chicken for a complete meal.

Desserts

Lastly, Cinco de Mayo wouldn’t be complete without indulging in some sweet treats and you can satisfy your cravings with this healthier twist on a classic favorite – baked whole wheat churros coated in cinnamon sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the coating:

  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Then, in a medium saucepan, combine the water, coconut oil, honey, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, and add the whole wheat flour and 1 tsp of cinnamon to the saucepan. Mix well until the dough forms.
  4. Next, remove the dough from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
  5. Then, transfer the dough to a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe the dough onto the prepared baking sheet into 4-inch long sticks.
  6. Bake the churros for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. While the churros are baking, combine the coconut sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon in a small bowl.
  8. Remove the churros from the oven and immediately toss them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until coated.
  9. Serve warm and enjoy!

This healthy churro recipe uses whole wheat flour and coconut sugar instead of white flour and refined sugar, making it a healthier option while still maintaining the classic churro flavor.

For a sweet ending to your Cinco de Mayo celebration, indulge in these irresistible Mexican hot chocolate cookies that will leave everyone wanting more.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted coconut oil and honey until well combined.
  4. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until smooth.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Then, fold in the dark chocolate chips.
  7. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are set and slightly firm to the touch.
  9. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Food insecurity effects mental and physical wellbeing.

Food Insecurities

Food insecurity is a significant global issue affecting millions of people around the world. In America 11.7% of households in the country struggle with this – but what is it? And how do you know if you’re living with food insecurity?

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity is the state of being unable to access or afford enough food to meet basic nutritional needs. It is a condition in which a person (or a household) lacks consistent access to adequate food for a healthy life. This can be caused by various factors such as poverty, lack of resources, and environmental or economic factors.
The question is: what specifically qualifies someone as having food insecurity?
A person or household may be considered food insecure if they experience any of the following:

  1. Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.
  2. Inadequate quality of food, including poor nutritional value, that leads to poor health outcomes.
  3. Insufficient quantity of food, resulting in reduced food intake or disrupted eating patterns.
  4. A sense of anxiety or uncertainty about the ability to obtain enough food to meet basic needs.
  5. A need to resort to socially unacceptable or extreme coping strategies to acquire enough food, such as stealing.

Food insecurity can be temporary or chronic and struggling with any of the five experiences above can lead to a lot of anxiety and maybe some shame, but you’re not alone and there are ways to combat food insecurity.

Causes of Food Insecurity

Here are just a few examples of the many factors that can contribute:

  1. Poverty: One of the main causes is poverty, which can limit access to nutritious food and make it difficult for people to afford enough food.
  2. Unemployment or low-paying jobs: People who are unemployed or working in low-paying jobs may struggle to afford enough food, especially with the other expenses of living compounding on everything else.
  3. Limited access to healthy food: Some people live in areas with limited access to grocery stores or fresh produce, which can make it difficult to find healthy food options.
  4. Natural disasters: Living in a place where natural disasters are common such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts can damage crops and disrupt food supplies, leading to food shortages and higher prices.
  5. Conflict and displacement: People who are forced to flee their homes due to conflict or other crises often face food insecurity as they may not have access to food or the means to buy it.
  6. COVID-19 pandemic: The pandemic has had a significant impact on food security, as it has disrupted supply chains, led to job losses, and increased food prices, making it more difficult for many people to access food.

While some of these causes may be beyond your control, it’s crucial to identify the specific factor(s) that are affecting you, so you can find solutions and move forward.

The Impact

Food insecurity can have negative effects on a person’s physical and mental health. Psychologically speaking, shelter and food are fundamental needs that must be met. Failing to fulfill these basic needs can impede progress in other areas of life.
When someone does not have enough food or access to nutritious food, they may experience hunger, malnutrition, and health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It may sound contradictory: hunger and obesity? It’s important to remember food insecurity is not just the lack of access to food, but also the lack of access to healthy food.
In regards to the mental health effects, food insecurity can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. Children who experience food insecurity may struggle in school, have developmental delays, and be at higher risk for chronic health conditions.

How To Combat Food Insecurity

Though food insecurity can feel out of your control, there are some simple ways to reclaim your health.

  1. Make a budget: Creating a budget can help you prioritize your spending and ensure that you have enough money to purchase food. Sitting down for an hour to evaluate your spending habits can help you spot ways to reduce unnecessary spending.
  2. Plan meals ahead of time: Meal planning can help you save time and money while ensuring that you have nutritious meals available. Try to plan meals that use affordable ingredients and buy them in bulk when possible – since buying in bulk can be less expensive.
  3. Cook at home: Cooking your own meals can be more cost-effective than eating out, and it allows you to control the quality of your food. On our website, we have heart-healthy recipes that are easy to make at home.
  4. Shop smart: Look for sales and discounts on healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Consider purchasing generic or store-brand items, which are often less expensive than name-brand products.
  5. Participate in community programs: Many communities offer programs that provide free or low-cost food to individuals and families in need. These can include food pantries, soup kitchens, and community gardens. Getting help from your community can seem daunting, but it shouldn’t be embarrassing to get help to meet your mental and physical needs.
  6. Reduce food waste: Use leftovers and plan meals that use up ingredients you already have on hand. This can help you save money.
  7. Consider food assistance programs: If you are struggling to afford food, there are several government programs that can help. These include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and school meal programs for children.
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Unsaturated Fats vs. Saturated

Fats sound like something that should be avoided by those who don’t know much about nutrition, but that’s not always the case. There are two kinds of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Though the difference might be hard to remember, it’s crucial to understand to make the best diet decisions.

What’s the Difference Between Unsaturated Fats Versus Saturated? 

Unsaturated fats help lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease that’s why they’re considered “healthy” fats. They are usually found in plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.

Saturated fats, on the other hand, are generally considered “unhealthy” fats because they increase bad cholesterol levels and raise the risk of heart disease. They are commonly found in animal-based foods like meat and dairy products.

How to Limit Saturated Fats 

To have a healthy diet, it’s essential to recognize the key foods that contain a high amount of saturated fats.

  • Fatty cuts of meat, such as beef, lamb, and pork
  • Processed meats, such as sausage, bacon, and hot dogs
  • Full-fat dairy products, such as cheese, butter, and cream
  • Fried foods, including fast food items like french fries and fried chicken
  • Baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, and pastries made with butter or lard
  • Tropical oils, such as coconut and palm oil

While these foods are high in saturated fats, it’s okay to consume them in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, it’s recommended to choose leaner cuts of meat and opt for low-fat dairy products. Also, use healthier oils like olive oil and canola oil for cooking whenever possible.

Most processed and fried foods contain saturated fats and small steps towards substituting these items in your diet can go a long way toward a healthy lifestyle.

How to Add Unsaturated Fats

Adding unsaturated fats to your diet can improve your overall nutrition. Simple ways to incorporate “good” fats:

  1. Swap out unhealthy fats like butter or lard for healthier options like olive oil, canola oil, or avocado oil when cooking or preparing meals.
  2. Snack on almonds, walnuts, or cashews, and sprinkle chia seeds, flax seeds, or pumpkin seeds on salads or yogurt.
  3. Add avocado to salads, sandwiches, or smoothies for a creamy texture and a great source of healthy fats
  4. Incorporate more fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or tuna into your meals. These fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.
  5. Spread peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter on toast or fruit for a healthy and satisfying snack.
  6. Plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu are a great source of healthy unsaturated fats.

These foods are a great source of “good” fats; however, these foods are still high in calories and should be consumed in moderation.

How to Balance Fats in Your Diet

Now that the difference is clear between healthy and unhealthy fats, you know which foods to avoid and what to stock your pantry with. However, it’s essential to pay attention to portion sizes: intake of too much of any fats can lead to weight gain.

Reading nutrition labels is important in becoming fully aware of what’s in the foods you love. Nutrition labels will tell you clearly what type and amount of fat they contain, and from there you can make an informed decision to buy, limit or avoid that food.

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Food With High Cholesterol to Avoid

What is cholesterol? 

You’ve probably heard the term cholesterol numerous times in your life. Cholesterol levels are commonly tested at the doctor and it’s on your food labels, but what is it really? And is it always bad for you?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the cells of our body. It’s crucial for the normal functioning of our body, but too much can build up in our arteries and lead to health problems such as heart disease. There are two main places it comes from: our liver and the food we eat.

What’s the difference between good and bad cholesterol? 

Though it seems complex, cholesterol can be divided into two categories: good (HDL) and bad (LDL).

Good cholesterol helps remove excess cholesterol from the blood and carry it back to the liver, where it can be broken down and removed. Bad cholesterol can build up in the walls of our arteries, leading to the formation of plaque.

Cholesterol is not always a bad thing, but it’s important to recognize what food items are high in LDL so that you can limit or avoid them in your everyday diet.

High Cholesterol Foods 

Here are eight foods that are high in LDL:

  1. Fatty Meats: Beef, pork, and lamb are all high in saturated and trans fats.
  2. Processed Meats: Deli meats, hot dogs, and bacon are high in saturated and trans fats, as well as sodium.
  3. Fried Foods
  4. Butter
  5. Cheese
  6. Ice Cream
  7. Baked Goods: Cookies, cakes, and pastries are often made with butter, which is high in saturated fat.
  8. Fast Food

It can seem daunting to avoid these foods, but limiting them can help decrease LDL levels on your next blood panel. There are tips and tricks you can follow to make healthy fast food substitutions, as well as lessen cholesterol in your baked goods and cooking. 

Here are eight foods that are high in HDL:

  1. Fatty Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can increase HDL levels.
  2. Nuts: almonds, walnuts, and peanuts
  3. Seeds: chia seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds
  4. Avocado
  5. Olive Oil
  6. Whole Grains: oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, etc.
  7. Legumes: beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  8. Fruits and Vegetables: fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that can help increase HDL cholesterol levels. Some good options include berries, citrus fruits, apples, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.

Healthy Ways to Lower LDL Levels 

Cholesterol levels have to do with diet as well as exercise.

  1. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet: avoiding foods high in LDL is a great start; furthermore, there are also tons of recipes for heart health that you can follow at home.
  2. Exercise Regularly: Regular physical activity can help lower LDL levels and increase HDL levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.
  3. Quit Smoking: Smoking can lower HDL levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
  4. Manage Your Weight: Being overweight or obese can increase LDL levels. Losing weight through healthy eating and exercise can help improve lab results and overall health.
  5. Limit Saturated and Trans Fats: Saturated and trans fats can increase LDL levels. Limit your intake of these fats by choosing lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. Instead, choose healthier fats like those found in nuts, seeds, fish, and olive oil.
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Healthy Options for Fast Food

Can Fast Food be Healthy? 

It’s possible to enjoy your favorite fast-food restaurants without compromising your healthy lifestyle or health goals. But, this requires making wise choices when ordering off the menu. Fast food options are often high in calories, sodium, unhealthy fats, and sugar, which can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.

Fast food vs. Eating at Home 

Eating at home is generally considered to be healthier than eating fast food because you have more control over the ingredients in your meals.

Fast food is often high in calories, unhealthy fats, sodium and sugar. Meals prepared at home can be made with whole foods and lean protein and can be tailored to meet your nutritional needs. However, you can customize your order at most fast-food restaurants to control the ingredients you’re ingesting.

There is also a cost factor. Fast food can be convenient and inexpensive, but eating at home can be more cost-effective in the long run. Planning your meals and buying ingredients in bulk is the key to saving money.

Fast food portions are often larger than what you would typically eat at home, which can lead to overeating and weight gain. Cooking at home allows you to control your portion sizes and avoid overeating.

The cooking methods from eating fast food to eating at home are different. Fast food is often fried or cooked with unhealthy oils while cooking at home allows you to choose healthier cooking methods like baking, grilling, or steaming.

Overall, while fast food may be a convenient option, eating at home offers numerous health benefits and allows for greater control over the ingredients in your meals. Incorporating a variety of whole foods and cooking at home can help ensure a well-rounded, healthy diet.

Easy Substitutions for Healthy Eating

If you want to eat at your favorite fast-food restaurants, but want to eat healthier there are easy substitutions.

The first substitution is to choose grilled or baked options. Fried foods are high in unhealthy fats; instead, go for grilled or baked options like grilled chicken, baked potatoes, and roasted vegetables.

Secondly, opt for salads. Salads can be a healthy option if you choose the right ingredients. Aim for salads with plenty of vegetables, and lean protein like grilled chicken or fish. The dressing is an essential part of the salad, aim for a light or low-calorie dressing.

If you’re craving fast-food, but are trying to make healthy eating choices, you can choose smaller portions. Many fast food restaurants offer smaller portions or kid’s meals, which can be a healthier choice than a large burger or sandwich.

Another great substitution is to exchange sugary drinks for water, unsweetened tea or other low-calorie drinks. Sugary drinks like soda and sweetened tea are high in calories and sugar, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems.

Always remember you can customize your order. Many fast food restaurants allow you to make substitutions, so you can ask for extra vegetables, hold the cheese, or choose a whole-grain bun or wrap.

Things to Avoid 

As discussed in the substitutions, here is a short list of items to avoid when eating fast food:

  1. Fried foods like chicken tenders, french fries, and onion rings are high in unhealthy fats, calories, and sodium.
  2. Sugary drinks like soda and sweetened iced tea
  3. Extra cheese and sauces like mayonnaise, ketchup, and ranch dressing can add unnecessary calories, fat, and sodium to your meal. You can ask for these items on the side and use them sparingly.
  4. Large portions
  5. Processed meats like bacon, sausage, and pepperoni are high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and preservatives.
  6. High-sugar desserts: Fast food desserts like milkshakes, cookies, and pies are often high in sugar and calories. Opt for fresh fruit or a small serving of a lower-sugar dessert if available.

How to Improve Your Health

In conclusion, making healthier fast food choices can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being. By choosing grilled or baked options, opting for salads, avoiding sugary drinks, customizing your order, and limiting high-calorie extras. However, it’s important to keep in mind that fast food should be consumed in moderation, and incorporating a variety of whole foods and cooking at home can help ensure a well-rounded, healthy diet.

When cooking at home, check out our recipes and join our community for healthy eating encouragement.

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Heart Attack Signs For Women

When we imagine a heart attack it can often look like clutching your chest and falling to the floor, but the symptoms don’t always present this way. When women are having a heart attack they often think they are experiencing flu symptoms or acid reflux. Understanding the complexities of heart attack symptoms and how they can be different between men and women is a necessity for keeping your heart healthy.

Are heart attack symptoms different between men and women? 

Yes, women and men have different heart attack symptoms. You might not have been taught the differences in school because most heart disease research in the past was primarily focused on men. Women’s symptoms are important to know because women often ignore the early signs of a heart attack, thinking it’s a sign of something else, and wait much longer to seek help which can be dangerous.

Heart Attack Symptoms 

The most common symptom between men and women is chest pain.

Symptoms of a heart attack for women:

  • Pressure or pain in the center of your chest
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Gas-like pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Throat pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Unusual fatigue lasting several days or sudden unusual fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety

Symptoms of a heart attack for men:

  • Intense chest pain/pressure
  • Upper body pain and discomfort
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Stomach discomfort that feels like indigestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Cold sweat

In recent years, researchers have found specific symptoms women over 50 may experience, including:

  • Severe chest pain
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating

If you’re experiencing heart attack symptoms consider going to the doctor immediately.

Risk factors and Causes for women 

Obesity, inflammatory diseases, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are risk factors affecting both men and women. There are other factors that may play a bigger role in the risk of women developing heart disease such as:

  • Menopause: lower levels of estrogen equals an increased list of diseases in blood vessels.
  • Diabetes: women with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease than men. Another reason this is dangerous for women is that they may mistake heart attack symptoms for diabetes symptoms and wait longer to seek help.
  • Emotional stress and depression
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy complications: high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy may lead to a long-term risk of heart disease.
  • Family history of early heart disease

The causes of a heart attack are very similar between men and women. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the main cause, to learn more about CAD check out our article about the symptoms of heart disease.

When to see a doctor

If you are at high risk for heart disease, it’s important to regularly go to the doctor and track your health.

If you think you’re having a heart attack or are experiencing symptoms, call 911 immediately.

How to improve your heart health

There are universal things everyone can do to improve their heart health, such as:

  • Managing stress levels
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Knowing your blood pressure
  • Know your cholesterol
  • Check for diabetes
  • Quit smoking
  • Be physically active
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink

Making big lifestyle changes starts with changing daily habits. Eating healthier, exercising regularly and lessening smoking and drinking alcohol are changes you can implement daily. Going to the doctor regularly is also very helpful to know if you have one or several risk factors.

Check out our website to learn more about heart health and heart-healthy recipes.

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What are Heart Palpitations?

If you experience heart palpitations, it can be worrisome, but knowing how to prevent them can make life less stressful. Heart palpitations refer to the feeling of having a fast, fluttering or pounding heart. The good news is they are usually not a sign of a more serious condition and simple lifestyle changes can go a long way in improvement.

Symptoms of Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations can have several symptoms, including:

  1. Rapid, fluttering, or pounding heartbeats
  2. Skipping, fluttering, or jumping sensations in the chest
  3. Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting

The palpitations can be felt in the neck as well as the chest. These symptoms can be experienced as a single episode or as a recurring pattern. It can also range from a few seconds to a few minutes.

Causes and Risk Factors of Heart Palpitations

There are numerous factors that can cause palpitations:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Exercise
  • Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine
  • Fever
  • Low blood sugar
  • Medication use

There are also several risk factors, including:

  • Age
  • Medical conditions (overactive thyroid, low potassium levels, and heart disease can increase your risk)
  • Certain medications
  • Substance use (caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine)
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Family history
  • Hormonal changes (women may be more likely to experience heart palpitations during pregnancy or menopause)

Complications

Potential complications of heart palpitations include:

  1. Arrhythmias: Heart palpitations can be a symptom of an irregular heartbeat if left untreated.
  2. Blood clots: An irregular heartbeat can cause blood clots to form. This can increase the risk of stroke or other conditions.
  3. Decreased quality of life
  4. Cardiac arrest
  5. Heart failure

When to see a Doctor

You should see a doctor if your heart palpitations are:

  • Frequent
  • Severe
  • Accompanied by other symptoms
  • New or different
  • Persistent

Furthermore, if your palpitations are accompanied by other symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, or dizziness, consider going to the doctor.

When at the Doctor’s Office

There are specific tests that your doctor may recommend based on your symptoms and medical history, but the most common are:

  1. Physical examination
  2. Electrocardiogram (ECG): records the electrical activity of your heart and can help detect any abnormal heart rhythms.
  3. Holter monitor: a portable device that you wear for 24 to 48 hours to continuously monitor your heart rhythm.
  4. Event monitor: a portable device that you wear for an extended period of time and that activates when you experience symptoms.
  5. Blood tests: Your doctor may want to check for underlying conditions contributing to your symptoms.
  6. Echocardiogram: a test that uses ultrasound to produce images of your heart and identify any structural abnormalities.
  7. Tilt table test: a test that helps determine if your heart palpitations are related to changes in your body position.

It is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations to properly diagnose and treat your condition.

Treatment

In some cases, surgery may be helpful to reduce or stop palpitations. However, the main treatments are lifestyle changes and medication.

The lifestyle changes needed are reliant on stress management. Simple changes in your everyday routine such as improving sleeping habits and avoiding caffeine and alcohol may reduce palpitations and lead to increased heart health.

heart disease - what are the symptoms

Heart Disease: What are the Symptoms? 

Heart disease describes a range of conditions, making it difficult to understand; however, it’s essential to recognize the symptoms in order to improve your heart health. Though there are uncontrollable factors like genetics and age that contribute to the risk of heart disease, there are also preventative measures to improve heart health. Two of the most common preventable heart diseases are:

  1. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is defined as getting blockages in the vessels that supply blood to your heart.
  2. A heart attack occurs when there is a blockage of blood to the heart. The blockage is usually due to a buildup of cholesterol or fat.

Causes of Heart Disease 

Causes can vary between the different diseases; however, they are very similar between coronary artery disease and a heart attack because complications from CAD can lead to a heart attack.

Coronary Artery Disease

Cholesterol deposition or inflammation of the inner walls of the arteries is the main cause of CAD.

Factors that can damage these inner walls include:

  • Poor diet
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Age
  • Increased stress
  • Genetics

Heart Attack shares all the same causes as above as well as:

  • Heart surgery
  • Extreme stress

Risk Factors 

There are three main risk factors for heart disease:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. High cholesterol
  3. Smoking

There are also uncontrollable risk factors like age, diabetes and family history.

These behaviors can also increase the risk of heart disease:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Consuming a diet high in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Tobacco usage

Symptoms of Heart Disease 

Those with CAD may experience:

  • Chest pain that spreads across the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • A heart attack can happen if there is a complete blockage in the coronary artery
  • Nausea
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness

Those having a heart attack may experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Pain in the upper body
  • Stomach pain
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations

When to See a Doctor 

If you believe you are having a heart attack, do not hesitate to call 911. If you have many of the risk factors listed above, it could not hurt to go to a doctor and get testing for CAD as it can become dangerous if unchecked and untreated.

Complications

There are many life-long complications associated with a heart attack or CAD, which is why it’s so important to prioritize heart health.

Those with coronary artery disease may experience:

  • Heart attacks
  • Blood clots in the artery
  • Heart failure
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Chest pain

 Those with heart attacks may experience:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Inflammation of tissue surrounding the heart

How to Improve Your Heart Health

Eating healthy, exercising, quitting smoking and abstaining from excessive drinking are great steps toward improving your heart health. It’s also extremely helpful to schedule regular checkups to monitor cholesterol and blood pressure levels. 

Smoking can increase your risk of numerous heart diseases, including the ones mentioned above. The sooner you can quit the better. Within four years of quitting, your risk of a stroke drops to the same levels as someone that has not smoked at all. Excessive drinking can also lead to heart disease as well as other medical problems, but what exactly is an excessive amount? Studies show only one drink a day is drinking in moderation and will not negatively impact your health.

With exercising, consistency is key. Find a workout you enjoy, whether that is joining a community like a cycling class or taking some alone time to put on your favorite music and go for a walk. Start slow with something like a 10-minute walk. The key is to take that first step.

Eating healthy can sound like a daunting challenge, but substituting foods in your daily routine goes a long way. The major foods to avoid are those high in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats. Cholesterol is in a lot of food that we eat every day, such as shrimp, fast food and cheese. Saturated fats are high in fatty or processed meats, butter and coconut oil. Lastly, trans fats are high in fried foods and desserts.

A great first step to eating less of these items is being aware of the cholesterol and fats in your groceries by researching and also reading the nutrition facts on the back of the items. It may sound like everything delicious is off limits, but the goal is to eat fast foods and processed desserts in moderation and to increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grain items. Overall, if you are interested in improving your heart health check out our website to gather ideas for healthy recipes and join our motivated community on our social media.

high blood sugar

The Signs of High Blood Sugar

High blood sugar can seem scary, but it is often manageable by eating healthy and regularly working out. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is a common problem among those with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Frequent spikes or prolonged periods of high levels can lead to long-term health complications. It is important to recognize the symptoms and prevent them before they worsen.

Risk Factors of High Blood Sugar

High blood sugar affects diabetics, those with hormonal disorders and people with long-term medical conditions.

However, there are other factors that play a role, such as: 

  • Genetics
  • Age 
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Prediabetes
  • Being overweight 
  • Lack of sleep 
  • Infections 
  • Trauma
  • Stress after surgery

In someone with diabetes, constant uncontrollable high levels can be a sign to change medication, start taking medication or possibly increase the dosage of insulin. If changes need to be made make sure you talk to your doctor. 

Causes

Diabetes is characterized by a lack of insulin and insulin is key in fighting rising blood sugar levels. 

Many factors contribute to high blood sugar, but a leading one is a poor diet. The body breaks down the consumption of carbohydrates into mostly glucose which elevates the levels. Carbohydrates are foods like white bread, cake and cookies. It is important to recognize foods that are high carb and try to replace them with healthier foods. 

Symptoms

The most common symptoms are:

  • Increased urge to urinate
  • Increased appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased thirst
  • Headaches
  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Tingling sensation or numbness in extremities 

When to see a Doctor

Consider getting your blood sugar levels checked if you identified with the previous symptoms. It is important to note that the symptoms listed above can also be indicators of diabetes.

There are more serious symptoms to look out for that might indicate an immediate trip to the doctor or an emergency room such as nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, severe fatigue and stomach pain.

Having high blood sugar for a prolonged time is dangerous for diabetics and non-diabetics alike because it can lead to:

  • A heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Kidney damage
  • Nerve damage
  • A stroke
  • Eye damage
  • Skin problems

How to prevent high blood sugar

Those with Type 1 need insulin to lower their blood sugar and certainly can benefit from eating healthy and regular exercise. For people with Type 2, levels can be managed with medication, insulin, dietary changes, weight loss or exercise depending on a doctor’s recommendation.

Maintaining a regular workout routine doesn’t have to be a chore, making your workout an enjoyable part of your day can be the key to continuity. Upholding healthy eating habits like eating fewer carbs is recommended. Instead, eat more foods that are high in fiber like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep. Without the proper amount of sleep, the hormone cortisol rises causing blood sugar levels to rise with it. Cortisol also secretes when stress occurs. Though stress can feel unavoidable, exercising and allowing time for relaxation can help to reduce this.

Overall, keep in mind what causes high blood sugar as that information is essential to prevent it. Simple changes in your diet, sleep schedule and everyday routine can go a long way. 

Check out our website for healthy recipes and join our community to receive motivation to form new eating habits.

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Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be worrying to notice. Diabetes is when the body cannot use sugars in the blood properly for energy. This causes a buildup of sugar, which leads to other issues such as vision and heart problems. It is crucial to know what type of diabetes you may have in order to receive proper treatment and preventative measures. 

Types of diabetes

Prediabetes: Prediabetes is when blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. 

Type 1 Diabetes: This is when the pancreas develops little to no insulin. People of any age can develop this, but it is most common in children, teenagers, and young adults. This type cannot be prevented but is treatable.

Type 2 Diabetes: Like type 1, this is when the pancreas develops little to no insulin. This primarily occurs in adults over the age of 45 but can develop in children and teens. Type 2 diabetes is preventable with lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity and dietary changes to manage blood sugar. 

Gestational Diabetes: This form of diabetes develops during pregnancy without previously having any form of diabetes. Changes in hormones during pregnancy with weight gain may cause insulin resistance.

Knowing the different types of diabetes, we can now look into the risk factors. 

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

Some risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

Having prediabetes 

Being overweight 

Being over the age of 45

Having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Family history of type 2 diabetes

Being sedentary

Knowing the risk factors are will hopefully make you more aware of your health and prevent type 2 diabetes. However, it is also crucial to understand the symptoms if you are unsure about seeking treatment. 

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Some symptoms of type 2 diabetes include: 

Frequent urination 

Excessive thirst

Unintentional weight loss 

Dry skin 

Blurred vision

Fatigue

Slow healing sores and frequent infections

Type 2 diabetes usually develops over time and people can have symptoms for years without noticing. While self-diagnosing is not a good idea, it may be good to visit a doctor if many of these symptoms apply to you. 

When to visit a doctor 

As stated previously, if you are experiencing many of the symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes, then you should see a doctor. When visiting a doctor, they will perform tests such as a fasting blood sugar test and a glucose tolerance test. Knowing the risk factors and symptoms of type 2 diabetes will help you prevent future issues. 

Preventing type 2 diabetes

Weight loss: Losing weight, even just 5% to 10% of your bodyweight can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Dietary changes: It is crucial to eat nutritious filling foods that are low in calories. It is good to incorporate fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and high fiber foods into your diet. 

Increasing physical activity: A good amount of physical activity to aim for would be around 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes per week. Getting enough physical activity does not have to be a big deal like going to the gym. A light walk around the block or even household chores such as cleaning and doing laundry is a great place to start. 

Preventing type 2 diabetes depends on making proper lifestyle changes and maintaining those new habits. Drastic changes to your lifestyle may work in the short term but will not help in the long term. For this reason, it is crucial to make small changes over time to maintain long term prevention. 

diabetes managment winter

Diabetes Management in the Winter

With the winter coming up you can look forward to the holidays associated with it. Or you can look towards the coldness and shortness of each day. Whatever your opinion of winter is, it is important to focus on your diabetes management in the winter.

Make sure to keep warm

Along with making sure to keep warm. You will need to check and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Having higher blood sugar may make you feel warmer than you actually are which can lead to problems like nerve damage. You can make sure to stay warm by dressing properly for the temperature outside. Also by consuming warm items like coffee or soup. Along with keeping yourself warm also follows doing your best to not get sick.  

Do your best to not get sick

By keeping yourself warm, you will need to prevent yourself from getting sick. First, you can practice proper preventative measures such as washing and sanitizing your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom. Along with avoiding touching your face. Second, be up to date with flu and covid shots. Getting sick may make diabetes management in the winter more difficult to properly take care of yourself or use your diabetic supplies at the same consistency. Along with using your diabetic supplies consistently, it is also important to take proper care of them. 

Keep diabetic supplies at the right temperatures

It is important to keep diabetic supplies at the right temperatures. An example would be insulin and blood glucose meters and strips. Keeping insulin in a cold place like your car may cause it to freeze if temperatures drop below 32 degrees. Also, blood glucose meters and strips usually do not work below 40 degrees, so make sure to keep them out of cold places such as your car. Keeping your supplies functional will allow you to check your blood sugar levels consistently. 

Check blood sugar levels

As stated before, elevated blood sugar levels may make you feel warmer than you actually are which means it is important to keep your supplies on you and functional. The cold weather may cause cold hands which makes it more difficult to draw blood. This issue can be avoided by warming up your hands prior to testing. One way you can keep your hands warm is by carrying gloves or mittens along with hand warmer packets and if available, washing hands in warm water is a good idea as well. This will help make the process of checking your blood sugars a bit more pleasant and keep you from having to experience medical emergencies during the holidays. 

Stay active 

 Staying active will help keep you warm as well as help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Even though the weather is cooling down, days are getting darker earlier, and the weather may not be optimal, this should not stop you from staying active. If you have a gym membership, you can use that to quickly and easily avoid darkness and coldness. If not, you can start by finding ways to stay active at home or you could look for large indoor areas such as an indoor mall or even just a grocery or department store to walk around in for a short time. Choosing to stay active means you will be on your feet often, this makes it important to check your feet and other extremities. 

Check your feet

Persons with diabetes may develop nerve damage, especially along the extremities such as the feet. It is even more important to check your feet during the winter as the cold weather will draw blood and warmth away from places like the feet and hands first. Some ways to prevent any foot problems is to make sure to check your feet daily for any changes or damage such as cuts, bruises, or blisters. Make sure to wear properly fitting shoes and warm socks made of wool. Lastly, ensure to check for any small objects like pebbles that can be lodged in your shoes or socks. 

Diabetes management in the winter involves a few extra steps and it is important that you follow them so you can be healthy and safe.

DIabilities awareness

Diabetes and Persons with Disabilities

There are many persons with disabilities

International Persons with Disabilities Day is on December 3, 2022 this year and has been as of 1992. At this time, a lot of people around the world have a form of disability which makes it important to talk about it.

  • More than 1 billion people in the world have some form of disability.
  • More than 100 million disabled persons are children.
  • 50% of disabled persons cannot afford health care.

These statistics come from the UN. Also, around 80% of persons with disabilities live in developing countries. However, not all disabilities are clearly identifiable. For this reason, It is important to know which ones are visible and non-visible.

Visible and Non-Visible Disabilities 

Persons with visible disabilities can be identified by looking at them and some examples of visible disabilities include:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Persons who have non-visible disabilities affect how they perceive the world, act, or interact with the world. It also affects their abilities to do daily tasks such as school, work and other tasks. Some examples include:

  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • ADD
  • ADHD
  • Aspergers

Persons with visible or non-visible disabilities struggle throughout their lives. For that reason, it is important to address challenges they face.

Challenges faced by persons with disabilities

At the present time, persons with disabilities are considered to be “the world’s largest minority“. Since most of these people live in developing countries, they may not have access to resources or opportunities. Also, they may face negative societal attitudes regarding their disabilities. As a result, children with disabilities and adults with mental health issues are four times more likely to face violence. Not to mention the barrier they may face with employment or receiving assistance. So, we will now focus on disabilities related to diabetes.

Disabilities associated with diabetes

At this time, 1 in 6 persons with disabilities in the United States have been diagnosed with a form of diabetes. Because of diabetes it can lead to further complications such as: 

As shown above, untreated diabetes can lead to many complications and result in other disabilities such as loss of vision or amputation. That is why it is important to know how to address these complications. 

Ways to address disabilities associated with diabetes

Firstly, it is important to make proper lifestyle changes such as improving your diet and adding adapted exercises if possible to your weekly routine. Even though we are in the middle of the holiday season, these tips can help and can still be useful at any time during the year. Also it is important to see your doctor regularly to discuss how to treat your diabetes symptoms and to watch for any worrying symptoms such as changes in vision or numbness or tingling and to tell your doctor right away to prevent any further complications. Seeing that diabetes can lead to further issues, it is important to help spread awareness regarding these symptoms and issues. 

How you can help bring awareness 

Seeing that November is Diabetes Awareness Month, you can continue to educate yourself regarding diabetes and other disabilities and also share this blog as well as other information to help spread awareness. In order to reduce the stigma and violence surrounding disabilities we need to educate ourselves as well as share information to others regarding visible and non-visible disabilities. 

DIabetes Management during the holidays

Diabetes Management during the Holidays

The holidays are right around the corner and also it is Diabetes Awareness Month this November. The holidays coming means there will be more than plenty of food to eat. If you have diabetes it may be a little troubling having to navigate yourself around all the food. Fortunately, you can still enjoy the holidays with proper diabetes management! 

Make sure to eat normally

You may consider skipping meals or restricting how much you eat because of holiday foods. This is not a good idea since it is not healthy to skip meals or restrict food intake too much. Skipping meals or restricting food intake may also cause you to overeat later on. This makes it important to plan what you will eat. 

Plan what you will eat

It is important to plan what you will eat. You will be surrounded by a lot of unhealthy holiday foods and will probably eat some. It is important to know how much of what foods you will have before eating. An example would be to say you will only have one or two slices of pumpkin pie and no seconds. It is also necessary to eat foods with the right nutritional value for you and practice portion control. 

Pick veggies and practice portion control

Even though it is the holidays, it should not be a free-for-all with what you eat. Picking veggies and other healthy items will help you with managing your diabetes during the holidays along with proper portion control. As stated before, if you properly plan what you will eat you can practice portion control and be able to indulge a little without having to worry. Making sure to stay active is also a key factor in your diabetes management during the holidays. 

Continue being active

It may be difficult to find time to be active during the holidays but it will help with managing your diabetes. You do not have to do anything crazy like go on long runs or hit the gym, you can enjoy a light stroll with your family members. Adding in a little bit of activity even for just a 30 minutes, will help you manage your diabetes and keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range. 

Make sure to check blood sugar

Make sure to not overindulge or forget to check your blood sugar levels during the holidays. As previously mentioned, not skipping meals or restricting food intake too much will prevent blood sugar levels from dropping too low. Planning what you eat as well as adding in some exercise will help with keeping blood sugars at healthy levels. Even with all this, you may just want to relax during the holidays which is okay. 

Practice good Diabetes Management and dont be too hard on yourself

Its the holidays and you will be spending time with your family and friends. It is okay if you want to relax and not be too hard on yourself if you do end up eating too much or not exercising enough. 

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes Awareness Month

Each November since 1975 has been declared as National Diabetes Awareness Month (NDAM). “According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), National Diabetes Awareness Month was established 40 years ago in 1975” (Healthline). The prevalence of all forms of diabetes has only been increasing for the past 20 years. There are millions of Americans that may not be aware that they have a form of undiagnosed diabetes. The rise in occurence of diabetes will lead to more people being undiagnosed. Diabetes awareness is important because knowing could save you or a loved one. 

Why Diabetes Awareness is important

  • Undiagnosed Diabetes: According to the CDC “7.3 million adults aged 18 years or older who met laboratory criteria for diabetes were not aware of or did not report having diabetes” (CDC)
  • Preventable: Some types of diabetes such as type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes can be prevented with proper lifestyle changes.
  • High death rate: In 2021 there were over 100,000 deaths associated with diabetes (Reuters).This makes it the second year in a row that there were over 100,000 deaths related to diabetes.
  • Diabetes and prediabetes are becoming more common.

As I mentioned before, all forms of diabetes have been increasing over the past 20 years. Bringing awareness to diabetes is very important for those who may have a form of undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes. 

Common Types of Diabetes

  • Prediabetes: This is a form of diabetes that develops and causes your blood sugar to be high and increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes among other things and more than 80% don’t know they have it.
  • Type 1 Diabetes: This is when the pancreas produces little or no insulin which helps the body use blood sugar for energy. Previously referred to as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes as most cases developed in children, teenagers, or young adults. (CDC)
  • Type 2 Diabetes: This is also when your body is unable to produce enough or any insulin for your body to use as energy. This develops more often for adults over 45 predominantly but we are seeing more cases develop for younger people as well.
  • Gestational Diabetes: This is a form of diabetes some women develop during pregnancy without having had diabetes before. 

Early detection of diabetes will be possible with diabetes awareness. Knowing risk factors can help people discuss the possibility of developing diabetes with their doctors.

Risk factors and early detection

  • Having Prediabetes (Type 2)
  • Not physically active during the week (Type 2 and Prediabetes)
  • Are Overweight (Type 2 and Prediabetes)
  • “Are an African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, or Alaska Native person. Some Pacific Islanders and Asian American people are also at higher risk.” (CDC)
  • Are 45 or older (Type 2 and Prediabetes)
  • Family History and Age (Type 1 and Type 2)
  • Previously had Gestational Diabetes during pregancy
  • Gave birth to a baby weighing 9 or more pounds
  • Over 25 years old and Overweight (Gestational Diabetes)

Now knowing some information about the types of diabetes as well as the risk factors, how will you be able to spread awareness?

How you can help during Diabetes Awareness Month

  • Wearing blue.
  • Share diabetes information on social media.
  • Participate in a funding event such as a walk.
  • Donate to diabetic research. 
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Continuing to learn about diabetes.
  • Joining or supporting diabetic support groups.

As the amount of people that may develop diabetes grows, we will need to put more resources into bringing awareness to this issue. Early detection will help prevent any futher diabetes complications. Spreading awareness will allow people to understand their risk factors and prevent it early. If you or a loved one is seeking additional help click here Yumlish to find out how you can join a diabetes prevention program with one of our coaches or find additional resources related to preventing type 2 diabetes.

Glasses on Snellen Eye Test Chart

What is Diabetic Eye Disease

What is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic Eye Disease, also known as Diabetic Retinopathy, this is when problems from diabetes cause damage to your eyes and vision. “Diabetic retinopathy is caused when high blood sugar damages blood vessels in the retina” (CDC). The higher levels of blood sugar can cause blood vessels to swell or leak and can cause damage to your vision.  These can cause long term problems but can be prevented or treated.

Risk Factors

  • How long you have diabetes: Having Type I or Type II diabetes for longer periods of time will increase the chances of developing vision problems. The damage can start early if you have Prediabetes.
  • Pregnancy: If you have diabetes during pregnancy (also known as gestational diabetes). So, this increases your chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes which from the previous point can make it more likely for you to develop Diabetic Eye Disease. (How Gestational Diabetes can impact pregnancy)
  • Using tobacco and Increased blood sugar levels: Using tobacco can raise your blood pressure and add more strain on the blood vessels in your eyes. The increased amounts of blood sugar will also cause damage to those blood vessels and will increase the chances of developing Diabetic Eye Disease.
  • Race/Ethnicity: Individuals who are Black, Hispanic, or Native American have a higher risk of developing vision problems related to diabetes (MayoClinic).

Diabetic Retinopathy is only one of many vision problems that can occur from diabetes. Diabetes causes other visions issues as well.

Other Vision Problems Associated With Diabetes

  • Cataracts: “A cataract is the clouding of the normally clear lens in your eye.”(CDC). So, people with diabetes are at higher risk of having cataracts at an early age because they will have more blood sugar which can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes and speed up the development of cataracts.
  • Glaucoma:”Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve—the bundle of nerves that connects the eye to the brain.”(NIH). Those with diabetes are two times more likely to end up having glaucoma and with the most common type being open angle glaucoma.

Even if you have Diabetic Retinopathy or any of the other visions problems. Treatment options are available.

How Diabetic Eye Disease is treated

  • VGEF Inhibitors: Medicine used in order to slow down or reverse problems from diabetic retinopathy.
  • Eye Injections: Used with laser treatment.
  • Laser Therapy: This treatment builds scar tissue and will slow down the growth of abnormal blood vessels.
  • Eye Surgery: Used if it is too difficult to remove things with a laser.
  • Vitrectomy: This removes tissue from the front part of the eye which can include blood, wrinkled scar tissue, or any other object in the front of the eye.

Fortunately there are many ways to prevent DIabetic Eye Disease early.

Preventing Diabetic Eye Disease Early

Managing your diabetes is very important in order to avoid any issues, here are some ways to manage it:

  • Getting more exercise.
  • Stopping any tobacco usage such as smoking, vaping, or using chewing tobacco.
  • Having healthy blood pressure levels.
  • Having healthy cholesterol levels.
  • Making sure you have healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Making sure to stay at a healthy weight.
  • Make sure to seek help early on.
  • Get an eye exam if you notice any changes in your vision.Also, It is also important to be aware of any redness or pain in your eyes.

Treatment and prevention for diabetic retinopathy is possible if detected early. Therefore, keeping your diabetes under control is also very important. So now, here are some healthy recipes to help get you started with managing your diabetes.

Healthy Recipes for diabetes management

Better Breakfast Tostada with Avocado and Eggs

Cheese and Vegetable Frittata with Fruit Salad

Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

 Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry

polycystic ovary syndrome

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

In our recent podcast, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Awareness, we speak with Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes about what PCOS is and how it can affect people’s health.

Affecting 6% to 12% (as many as 5 million) of US women of reproductive age, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility (CDC).

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome also known as PCOS, is a problem with hormones that happens during the reproductive years.

With PCOS, many small sacs of fluid develop along the outer edge of the ovary called cysts. These small fluid-filled cysts contain immature eggs called follicles. The follicles fail to regularly release eggs.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may lower the risk of long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease (Mayo Clinic).

What are the causes and effects?

The exact cause is unknown, but usually weight and genetics can contribute. The effects of PCOS, are that it can cause multiple health problems;

Diabetes – more than half of women with PCOS develop type 2 diabetes by age 40

Gestational diabetes (diabetes when pregnant) – which puts the pregnancy and baby at risk and can lead to type 2 diabetes later in life for both mother and child

Heart disease – women with PCOS are at higher risk, and the risk increases with age

High blood pressure – which can damage the heart, brain, and kidneys

High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol – increasing the risk for heart disease

Sleep apneaexternal icon – a disorder that causes breathing to stop during sleep and raises the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes

Stroke – plaque (cholesterol and white blood cells) clogging blood vessels can lead to blood clots that in turn can cause a stroke

Types of PCOS

Insulin Resistant PCOS: About 70% of all people diagnosed with PCOS have this type. Insulin resistance is characterized by the body’s inability to use glucose from your blood, this causes an increase in insulin levels and blood sugar over time.

Post-pill PCOS: This occurs after stopping the use of oral contraceptives. Coming off contraceptives will follow with a surge in androgens that may cause PCOS symptoms such as acne and increased hair growth.

Adrenal PCOS: This is the least common type of PCOS occurring in only 10% of cases. This occurs because of the body’s abnormal response to stress from a period of increased stress.

Inflammatory PCOS: Chronic inflammation will cause an increase in testosterone which will cause an imbalance of hormones. These imbalances can cause problems with ovulation and the increased testosterone can result in physical symptoms such as acne and frontal balding.

How is  PCOS  treated?

The first treatment method that is recommended is lifestyle changes such as increasing your physical activity and improving your diet to reach a healthy weight. “Even a modest reduction in your weight — for example, losing 5% of your body weight — might improve your condition.” (Mayo Clinic). Medications can also be used to treat symptoms related to PCOS

For regulating periods, you may be prescribed:

Combination of birth control pills

Progestin therapy

To help with ovulation, you may be prescribed:

Clomiphine

Letrozole

Metformin

Gonadotropins

To address acne and excessive hair growth, you may be prescribed:

Acne Treatments

Birth Control Pills

Although there is no cure for PCOS, there are many ways to help treat it. Lifestyle changes can also begin with a healthy diet. Below you will find some healthy recipe options that are featured on Yumlish!

Healthy Recipes for people with PCOS

Baja Shrimp Tacos

Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry

Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

Chicken and Roasted Pepper Long Leaf Wrap

cultural competence

What is Cultural Competence?

Personalized Healthcare

So, for our upcoming podcast, Personalizing Health in a Diverse Setting. We speak with Wendy Mobley-Bukstein about how medical professionals can personalize healthcare to a patients sociocultural background and the goals of cultural competence.

“A higher proportion of African Americans and Latinos, compared to Whites, report that they have at least one of seven chronic conditions — asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or anxiety/ depression. These rank among the most costly medical conditions in America (HPI).”

That is why having cultural competence in healthcare will provide services that can be able to meet the cultural and social needs of patients. Meeting these needs will address issues in healthcare for these patients.

What is Cultural Competence ?

This is the integration and transformation of knowledge about individuals and groups of people into specific standards, policies, practices, and attitudes used in appropriate cultural settings to increase the quality of services; thereby producing better outcomes (NPIN).

Principles include:

  1. Define culture broadly.
  2. Value clients’ cultural beliefs.
  3. Recognize complexity in language interpretation.
  4. Facilitate learning between providers and communities.
  5. Involve the community in defining and addressing service needs.
  6. Collaborate with other agencies.
  7. Professionalize staff hiring and training.

“Health and human service organizations are recognizing the need to enhance services for culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Providing culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare services requires an understanding of cultural competence” (NPIN).

 

what prediabetes means

What Prediabetes Means?

In our recent podcast, Prediabetes Awareness, we spoke with Dr. Aleem Kanji about the symptoms and causes of prediabetes.

According to the CDC, approximately 96 million American adults, more than 1 in 3, have this condition. More than 80% did not know they have it (CDC).

Not knowing about prediabetes can cause great health risks over time. Creating awareness could help people know the warning signs sooner rather than later. In addition, bringing awareness to this can keep us in tune with our bodies, therefore creating the space for better lifestyle choices.

What is Prediabetes? 

Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (CDC).

What are the signs and symptoms

  • Being more thirsty than usual
  • Being overweight
  • Blurry vision
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Family with type 2 diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • Having had gestational diabetes
  • Age

Usually, individuals ignore these signs due to some of them can be caused by natural causes such as blurry vision. It is important for you to check with your doctor if you experience any of these signs and symptoms to make sure there isn’t an underlying cause. If your doctor suspects there may be another cause he or she will ask to go through a series of medical tests discussed below to rule out the possibility of prediabetes.

What tests are needed to be considered prediabetic?

There are 3 tests needed to be diagnosed with prediabetes.

  1. Average Blood Glucose

A blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. An A1C below 5.7% is normal, between 5.7 and 6.4% indicates you have prediabetes, and 6.5% or higher indicates you have diabetes (CDC).

  1. Fasting Blood Glucose

This test measures your blood sugar after an overnight fast. Fasting blood sugar between 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates having prediabetes (CDC).

  1. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

This measures your blood sugar before and after you drink a liquid that contains glucose. You’ll fast (not eat) overnight before the test and have your blood drawn to determine the fasting blood sugar level.

The test is performed as follows: you’ll drink a liquid and have your blood sugar level checked for 1 hour, 2 hours, and possibly 3 hours afterward. At 2 hours, a blood sugar level of 140 mg/dL or lower is considered normal, 140 to 199 mg/dL indicates you have prediabetes, and 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes (CDC).

Regardless of what test your doctor prescribes you, if you are diagnosed with prediabetes, there are steps you can take to reverse prediabetes which we discuss in the next section.

How to prevent or reverse prediabetes?

First, reversing prediabetes is always going to begin with a lifestyle change. This includes maintaining a healthy weight and having regular physical activity throughout your weekdays.

Other ways you can help prevent prediabetes are;

  • Working alongside a lifestyle coach
  • Working with a dietitian/ nutritionist to learn about healthy eating
  • Finding ways that can help manage stress, such as yoga
  • Researching resources and programs that surround you with people with similar goals

If you are diagnosed with prediabetes make sure to get connected with organizations that are approved to provide the CDC’s national diabetes prevention program.One of those organizations is Yumlish. If you need more information on how to get started please click on this link Yumlish and one of our team members will reach out to you and connect you to our program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

what is the definition of obesity

What is the definition of Obesity?

In our recent podcast, we talk with Dr. Ivana Rizo about the relationship between obesity and diabetes.

According to Trust for America’s Health, the U.S. adult obesity rate stands at 42.4 percent. This is the first time the national rate has passed the 40 percent mark demonstrating further evidence of the country’s obesity crisis which has increased by 26 percent since 2008. Now we will go into what exactly is the definition of obesity.

What Is the Definition of Obesity

The definition of obesity is a weight that is higher than what is considered healthy for a given height. This is usually measured by using the Body Mass Index. “It’s a medical problem that increases the risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers” (Mayo Clinic).

What Causes Obesity 

Many different causes can lead to obesity.     

“Demographic trends and the conditions in people’s lives have a large impact on their ability to maintain a healthy weight. Generally, the data show that the more a person earns the less likely they are to have obesity. Individuals with less education were also more likely to have obesity. Rural communities have higher rates of obesity and severe obesity than do suburban and metro areas.

Socioeconomic factors such as poverty and discrimination have contributed to higher rates of obesity among certain racial and ethnic populations. Black adults have the highest level of adult obesity nationally at 49.6 percent; that rate is driven in large part by an adult obesity rate among Black women of 56.9 percent. Latinx adults have an obesity rate of 44.8 percent. The obesity rate for white adults is 42.2 percent. Asian adults have an overall 17.4 percent obesity rate” (Trust for America’s Health).

Other factors such as diet, lack of exercise, and genetics can also cause obesity. These factors can also aid in developing Type 2 diabetes along with other health conditions.

How Are Obesity and Diabetes related? 

Also known as, diabesity, “Having obesity makes you more likely to develop diabetes, the condition of having too much glucose (sugar) circulating in your bloodstream. Obesity also causes diabetes to worsen faster” (Cleveland Clinic).

Not everyone with obesity will develop Type 2 diabetes, although it creates a greater risk. This is due to the excess glucose having nowhere to be stored because of the fat surrounding the liver. “Your pancreas becomes overworked, and as a result, it wears out. It starts producing less insulin. Diabetes develops and then quickly worsens if the fat resistance remains” (Cleveland Clinic).

What Are Ways to Help Prevent Obesity 

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Reduce stress
  • Limiting television/screen time
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Limit sugar
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Drink more water

Preventing obesity starts with creating a healthy lifestyle, such as, cooking at home, avoiding take-out food and sugary drinks. As an article by Very Well Health expresses, “Studies looking at the frequency of home meal preparation have found that both men and women who prepared meals at home were less likely to gain weight. They were also less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes” (very well Health). In other words making lifestyle changes can drastically reduce your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Healthy Solutions 

There are ways to prevent obesity and reverse type 2 diabetes. It all begins with living a healthy lifestyle and having a healthy relationship with food. Seeking education about nutrition, exercise and diseases can create greater awareness about the health condition. It is also a great way to help children learn about obesity and help them develop healthy relationships with food. It is always important to speak with a healthcare professional when seeking medical help or information. Regular physical activity, healthy eating, limiting unhealthy food options, and getting a good amount of sleep can greatly help the prevention of obesity and therefore Type 2 diabetes. There are resources available that can help such as local support groups or consulting with a dietitian.

pregnancy with diabetes

Pregnancy with Diabetes

In our previous podcast with Dr.Elizabeth Widen, we talk about the nutritional needs during pregnancy and what can be some causes of not receiving these needs.

“In the United States, about 1 to 2 percent of pregnant people have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and about 6 to 9 percent of pregnant people develop gestational diabetes. From 2000 to 2010, the percentage of pregnant people with gestational diabetes increased by 56%, and the percentage of women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes before pregnancy increased by 37%” (CDC).

Types of Diabetes

Type 1

  • Known as juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition. The pancreas produces little to no insulin. Different factor such as genetics may cause type 1 diabetes. “Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults” (Mayo Clinic).

Type 2

  • A chronic condition that impairs the way the body regulates and uses sugar as a fuel. The pancreas does not produce enough insulin and cells respond poorly to insulin and take in less sugar. It is more common in adults but can develop in younger people as well (Mayo Clinic).

Gestational Diabetes

  • Diabetes that is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy. It affects how your cells use sugar and causes high blood sugar that can affect pregnancy. Usually, after having gestational diabetes during pregnancy, the blood sugar returns to normal after delivery. However, it is still a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Mayo Clinic).

How Diabetes can Affect Pregnancy 

Hormonal and other changes in the body can affect blood glucose levels. Pregnancy can worsen long-term problems such as high blood pressure, vision loss, and kidney disease (CDC). Risks also include;

  • Preeclampsia – high blood pressure that can damage the liver and kidneys
  • Insulin resistance – when insulin is less effective at lowering blood sugar
  • Macrosomia – a larger than average baby, which can lead to a difficult delivery
  • Birth defects
  • Miscarriage
  • Low blood sugar
  • Early (Preterm) Birth

Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy with Diabetes

  • Plan for pregnancy
  • Visit your doctor early
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take medication and Insulin as directed
  • Treat low blood sugar quickly
  • Monitor blood sugar often

A healthy pregnancy is still possible when having diabetes. “Today, most individuals with diabetes can have a safe pregnancy and birth, similar to that of individuals without diabetes. This improvement is largely due to good blood glucose management, daily glucose monitoring, and insulin adjustments” (UpToDate). Knowing your glucose levels, getting regular checkups, staying on top of medication, and even creating a meal plan. These are all ways that can help in staying healthy during pregnancy with diabetes.

Healthy Recipes to Consider

 

 

disordered eating

The Differences between Eating Disorders vs Disordered Eating

In our upcoming podcast, we speak with Dr. Heather Eicher-Miller about disordered eating and the causes that lead to it. Food insecurity, a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, heathy life, play a major role in disorderly eating. According to the USDA, more than 38 million people, including 12 million children, experience food insecurity in the United States (Feeding America).

However, other than disordered eating, there is also another major concern for not eating healthy, which are eating disorders. Disordered eating and eating disorders can both cause great health risks for people, but it might be hard to know the differences and how they affect the body. In this blog, we will discuss those differences, the causes that lead to the disorders, and ways to prevent their development in life.

The history of eating disorders dates back to the medieval times. “Around this time, purification through the denial of physical needs and the material world became a cultural theme” (VeryWell Mind). There was also a time where Romans would feast at parties and then throw up the food that they could eat more (Eating Recovery Center). In the movie, Hunger Games, they show this as a scene with the rich people in the capital at a party.

What is Disordered Eating? 

Disordered eating sits between normal eating and an eating disorder. It includes unhealthy food and body behaviors that usually develop for the purpose of weight loss or health promotion, that may put the person at risk for harm (Emily Program). Though, another reason that disordered eating happens is due to food insecurity in minority communities.

Examples of Disordered Eating

  • Fad diets
  • Cleanses
  • Skipped meals
  • Diet pills
  • Under-eating or overeating
  • Heightened focus on appearance

What is an Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are serious and life threatening brain based illnesses. It is a condition defined by abnormal eating habits that impair health and an individuals ability to function (VeryWell Mind).

Most common types of eating disorders

  • Anorexia Nervosa – a type of eating disorder that is defined by intense fear of gaining weight, restriction of food intake and a distorted body image.
  • Binge Eating Disorder – having instances of binge eating followed by feelings of shame, guilt and distress. This is the most common type in the United States.
  • Bulimia Nervosa – having instances of binge eating followed by purging behaviors, such as vomiting or using laxatives. It also involved a distorted body image and fear of weight gain.

The differences between eating disorders and disordered eating 

Traits of an eating disorder

  • obsessive thoughts about food
  • extreme concerns about calories
  • major changes in weight

Traits of disordered eating

  • eating for reasons other than hunger
  • eating to deal with stress
  • only eating certain foods

How to seek help

Seeking help for unhealthy eating habits can be a challenge. Some people may not believe that they have a problem with their eating behavior. It is said that early intervention is the best, “Working with a dietitian who has a background in counseling patients with eating disorders can help a person get the help they need for their disordered eating and prevent it from progressing to an eating disorder” (VeryWell Mind).

Alternatives for Medicine

How alternatives for medicine can benefit you

In our upcoming podcast, Spirituality in Medicine, we talk with Dr. Turya Nair about how her patients are beginning to take interest in alternatives for medicine. There are many reasons why a patient may want to try this approach. For example, the patient may be looking for something natural, they may be doubtful of medication, or they may want the freedom to choose their own treatment in addition to medicine.

This history of alternative medicine dates back to the 18th century with Homeopathy, founded and practiced by Samuel Hahnemann in Europe. This form of medicine provided remedies taken from plants, minerals or animals. Other alternative methods came from traditional Chinese medicine, originating in ancient China. As well as,  Ayurvedic medicine, originating in India more than 3,000 years ago and Native American Traditional Healing. Native American healing focused on the balance of mental, physical and spiritual wellness (Gumberg Library).

What is alternative medicine?

Alternative medicine is any form of medicine or healing that does not fall into accepted medical practice. (Medical News Today). Most alternative therapies are not subject to testing by law and hold no scientific evidence that they work. There are many types of alternative medicine that have been around for thousands of years. Although they have small differences, there are other terms to describe non-traditional medicine;

  • Complimentary medicine – Nonconventional medical approaches as an additional treatment to traditional medical treatment.
  • Integrative medicine – An approach to medicine that combines traditional medicine such as drugs, surgery, and lifestyle changes
  • Holistic medicine – A form of healing that considers the whole person, body, mind, spirit and emotions, in the quest for optimal health and wellness (WebMD)

What are the types of alternatives for medicine

Some types of alternatives for medicine include;

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbals
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Yoga
  • Prayer

How alternatives for medicine can benefit you and those with Diabetes

  • Lower Stress and Anxiety
  • Relaxation
  • Help sleep
  • Help balance
  • Change mindset
  • Reduce symptoms of chronic conditions
  • Reduce physical pain

Each alternative for medicine can benefit people in different ways. There are positive effects in some approaches that can help in addition to medication. This gives the patient a chance to choose a treatment for themselves. It can help them take control of their health condition. Their treatment also becomes more than a prescription.

Why are patients becoming more interested 

Medical mistrust has been well known throughout history. It has also been the topic of many discussions today. From a past of testing medicine in harsh ways, the doubt some patients have in medical growth can be expected. Especially in minority communities, “Black and Hispanic Americans have higher rates of chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes” (American Bar).

With more options to treat health conditions, people are able to add their interests into their care. Patients are becoming more involved in how they want to feel better and be healthier.

Why knowing how alternatives for medicine can benefit you is important

There are many reasons why a patient may want to try alternatives for medicine in addition to their treatment. Therefore, doing research and talking with your physician about alternatives for medicine can help with a treatment plan that works best for your interests. Every person has their own personal beliefs, priorities and goals when it comes to their health. As a result, alternatives for medicine can create a positive mindset and a sense of independence. In conclusion, they can be a great way to have more options that can help with your healthcare. (The Atlantic).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foods to Avoid with High Blood Pressure

What Foods to Avoid when you have High Blood Pressure

Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure (Physiology.org). High blood pressure is known as a silent killer, as there are no obvious symptoms. Certain physical traits and lifestyle choices can put you at a greater risk for high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Knowing what foods to avoid when living with high blood pressure can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.

The history of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, began with the development of medical equipment and the appropriate techniques for measuring blood dating back to the mid 20th century (AHAJournals). It is estimated that by 2025 there will be more than 1.5 billion people with hypertension, making hypertension the most common noncommunicable disease, as stated in the journal, The Discovery of Hypertension (Physiology.org).

What Foods to Avoid when you have High Blood Pressure

Having high blood pressure is known to be a cause of heart disease and other serious health problems. Though high blood pressure is a common condition, there are ways to help control it. One way to help control high blood pressure is by avoiding certain types of food that can make your blood pressure increase. Following High Blood Pressure awareness month, we want to highlight certain foods to avoid and how they affect high blood pressure. Having diabetes along with high blood pressure also creates a higher risk of developing heart disease.

What is High Blood Pressure?

As defined by Mayoclinic, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.  The more your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. Hemoglobin A1c Control for Patients with Diabetes (HBD) forces the heart to work hard to pump blood in the rest of the body.

High blood pressure can cause many health problems over a long period of time if not diagnosed or treated. Hypertension, HTN usually has no symptoms, so it is important to regularly get checked by your doctor or self check at home. Since it is a common condition, it is best to practice healthy habits as early in life as possible. Healthy habits would be exercising regularly, eating a diet that is low in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats (Healthline).

Complications of High Blood Pressure

  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nosebleeds
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Hypertension can also have no symptoms

Effects High Blood Pressure can have on the body

  • Chest pain
  • Memory loss/Dementia
  • Kidney damage
  • Heart Attack/Stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Blood clots
  • Hardening of arteries
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart failure

How to control High Blood Pressure

  • Eat a healthy diet*
  • Regular Exercise
  • Reduce Sodium intake
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • No Smoking
  • Limit caffeine consumption
  • Reduce Stress
  • Monitor blood pressure at home

What are some foods to avoid?

When trying to control high blood pressure we want to look at the types of food going into the body. Food is the core of nutrition and the starting point of having a healthy body. According to the Cleveland Clinic, eating foods that are lower in fat, salt, calories along with using spices, herbs, vinegar, lemon or fruit juices instead of salt, can help control high blood pressure as well as avoiding;

  • Regular salad dressing
  • Butter and margarine
  • Fatty meats
  • Whole milk dairy products
  • Fried Foods
  • Salted snacks
  • Fast food
  • Deli meats

Foods that help reduce high blood pressure and are good for diabetes

According to MayoClinic, eating foods that are rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products can lower your blood pressure along with reducing sodium in your diet. For example;

  • Skim, 1% milk, greek yogurt
  • Lean Meat
  • Skinless turkey and chicken
  • Low salt
  • Low fat and low salt cheeses
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Plain rice, pasta, and potatoes
  • Breads

Incorporating these healthy food options into your diet can be a challenge, that’s why Yumlish offers great guidance with our recipes. Check out a few recipes below;

Cauliflower Cabbage Slaw

Chicken and Roasted Pepper Long Leaf Wrap

Baja Shrimp Tacos

Sweet Potato Nachos

Why knowing which foods to avoid is important

By 2025 there will be more than 1.5 billion people with hypertension (Physiology.org). The awareness of which foods avoid when you have high blood pressure will help with how you order food and grocery shop. Incorporating this knowledge, with other healthy habits like regular exercise and no smoking, will help with the overall health of the body over time.

soda 20oz

Soda 20 oz

Brands like Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Dr. Pepper are just a few of the many soda beverages on the market. Soda is a popular drink that the average person consumes worldwide. These beverages come in different flavors like grape, orange, and cherry to name a few. At first, these drinks may taste good due to their high sugar content, but drinking too much soda can lead to many health problems down the line. A 20 oz soda found in a vending machine contains a total of one-third of a cup of sugar which is a total of 65 grams of sugar as it is explained by an article Silive.

What is soda?

Soda was first introduced in the 18th century as a medical agent for sickness. Today, soda is used for consumption as a beverage. Soda is a carbonated drink full of sweeteners, corn syrup, and artificial flavors. Corn syrup is for baked goods, jellies, and candy. It helps create volume and texture and it prevents crystals from forming in food. While this syrup may seem as an essential ingredient, its use in soda beverages has many negative health outcomes. According to  Mayo Clinic, “ High fructose corn syrup can contribute unwanted calories that are linked to health problems such as weight gain, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and high triglyceride levels”.

Health effects of soda 

Drinking large amounts of soda can contribute to negative health effects including:

Type 2 Diabetes:  Lifestyle factors, like obesity and poor diet, can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The CDC explains that high sugar intake in a short period of time can cause insulin resistance, which increases glucose levels in the blood. According to Harvard T.H Chan it states, “ People who consume sugary drinks regularly 1 to 2 cans a day or more have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks”.

Heart Problems: The heart is a vital organ in our body and it is part of the circulatory system. Without the function of a heart, we would not receive oxygen and nutrients in our bodies. In, Harvard Health Publishing , Dr. Hu  expresses that, “The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.”

Weight Gain:  Weight gain is defined as the increase in the amount of weight over a period of time. Sodas contain empty calories as they provide minimal nutritional value. “ Drinking one soda a day could lead to a pound of weight gain every 13days or about 38 pounds a year of weight gain,” explained by City Smiles St. Louis.

What are some alternatives?

Drinking water is always the best choice but occasionally, you may want to enjoy a sweet drink. Soda contains large amounts of sugar and, over time, it can cause the development of  health problems. The following are some alternative drinks that are good for your overall health:

Sparkling Water

Sparkling Water, also known as soda water, can help you stay hydrated. In fact, soda water helps with dehydration and digestion. Well-known sparkling water brands found in the grocery store include San Pellegrino, Bubbly, and Spindrift.

Seltzer Water

Instead of drinking soda, you can substitute your drink for seltzer water, which is a carbonated drink. “You can purchase seltzer water infused with syrups to add flavor. Flavored seltzer water may contain additional nutrients, vitamins, and minerals” according to Nourish by WebMD. However, these drinks are different from sparkling water because the carbonation is artificial, while in sparkling water, the bubble comes straight from its source. Popular Seltzer water brands that you can enjoy are Polar Seltzer and LaCroix.

Infusion Water

Infused water is a blend of berries, ginger, lemons, and cucumber in water. On the internet, this drink can be found in a glass like a bottle.  Infused Water has many health benefits from blood sugar control, immune defense, hydration, and weight loss as explained by PVAMU University. Infused Water can be made easily in the comfort of your home with water, fruits, and leaves of your choice.

To learn more about soda and health, you can listen to our podcast here focusing on Type 2 diabetes and Sugary Drinks.

 

health disparities

What is health disparities?

Health disparities are economic drawbacks that affect racial and ethnic groups. The lack of access to healthcare, poverty, income, and substantial factors causes disparities. Therefore, health disparities are an issue that needs awareness. By improving disparities, we can improve the healthcare system’s cost and equality worldwide.

Minorities and the healthcare system

Minorities experience a difference in treatment and service in healthcare. People of color often endure volumes of mistreatment. As a result, this leads to mistrust among their physicians and the healthcare system. This mistrust creates an issue because minority groups are more likely to develop chronic diseases. “People of color face higher rates of diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease, and cancer than whites,” According to Health Affairs.The following are a list of common disease and health problems found in different minority groups: 

Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease formed by high blood sugar levels. There are three main types of diabetes Type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, and this causes elevated blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body creates insulin but does not use it, causing elevated sugar levels. Gestational diabetes is the diagnosis of diabetes during pregnancy. According to the USCF, South Asians and Pacific Islanders have higher rates of diabetes. These high rates in this ethnic group are due to increased abdominal fat and less body muscle.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when your blood pressure is higher than average. Hypertension is a prevalent disease found in adults. In addition, this disease occurs in pregnant women called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia often occurs in pregnant women of color at a higher rate explained by the Preeclampsia Foundation. Stress, genetics, obesity, and high salt intake can cause high blood pressure.

Heart Disease

According to the CDC, every 36 seconds, a person dies from heart disease. Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the United States. The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease. This disease can lead to heart failure and even death when left untreated. Obesity, cholesterol, smoking, and family history cause heart disease.

Cancer

Cancer is a commonly known disease that involves abnormal growth in cells. Various cancers affect different parts of the body. African Americans are more likely to get breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer, while black men are likely to die from prostate cancer explained by the American Cancer Society.  

Obesity

According to the National Institute of Health, “obesity and overweight are the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States.” Obesity is a health issue involving excessive body fat in the body—obesity results when the intake of calories is higher than the number of calories burned. Over time, uncontrolled obesity can lead to many health problems, including stroke, heart attacks, and other forms of chronic illness.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic Kidney disease(CKD) is when the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter waste or fluid out of the blood. There are five stages in the chronic kidney disease process. CKD stage 5 is also called the end of the stage renal disease. At this stage, dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed to survive. Pre-existing conditions, family history, and age put you at risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

What are some solutions?

Health disparities are a common issue in our society today. Unfortunately, racial health disparities often affect minority groups in the healthcare system. However, we can take proper steps to target disparities in our communities.

Here are some ways to improve racial health disparities, with one step at a time:

More Health Coverages

Minorities have lower quality and less access to health insurance. Yet, health insurance is vital to cover expenses and emergencies. Without proper coverage for health costs, this causes minorities who don’t have money, to avoid medical treatment and physicians. The expansions of health coverages will help and produce less of a burden among minority groups.

Interventions

Different interventions can help battle racial health disparities. Certain areas with minorities often lack resources in terms of health. As a result, they are creating health problems and chronic diseases. Socioeconomic play a role in the divide among people of color and disparities in America. Therefore, targeting issues such as lack of resources, healthy foods, health care, and physical activities can help disparities.

You can listen to our podcast here to learn more about Race, Ethnicity, and Diabetes: Intra- Ethnic diabetes disparities.

 

 

 

 

Diabetes Early Signs

Diabetes Early Signs

Recognizing the early signs of diabetes can help prevent a life and death situation. It’s essential to be aware of any physical and significant changes in your body. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure, adult blindness, and amputation. Often known as the silent killer, diabetic patients often have no symptoms in the beginning stages. With a better understanding of diabetes and its signs, you can take appropriate actions and maintain your disease.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that increases the body’s blood sugar levels. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Genetic factors influence type 1 diabetes, and Lifestyle factors control type 2 diabetes. In addition, one less known form of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which occurs in pregnant women during their third trimester.

Who is at risk?

Many factors can contribute to the increased risk of diabetes; some uncontrollable risk factors include age, race, and family history. In contrast, controllable risk factors include weight, high blood pressure, inactivity, and high cholesterol. Knowing your risk factors can be helpful to avoid any health problems and conditions.

What are the early signs?

Many signs of diabetes can be detected; however, many can also go undetected. A total of 88 million adults who are 18 or older have prediabetes; on average, 1 in 4 people do not know they have diabetes. According to the National institute of diabetes and digestive,” An estimated 26.9 million people of all ages have been diagnosed with diabetes (8.2 percent of the U.S. population). Of the people diagnosed with diabetes, 210,000 are children and adolescents younger than age 20 years.”

The following are different types of early signs that can be found in a diabetic patient:

Change in taste

Increase in Thirst: Excessive thirst is often a common sign of early diabetes. Polydipsia, or increased thirst, results from the body attempting to bring glucose levels back to normal by eliminating excess glucose through the urine.

Excessive Hunger: A common early sign found in type 2 diabetes is the increase in appetite. Insulin resistance prevents glucose uptake by the cell. Due to glucose not entering the cell for energy, the body signals food intake for energy, therefore increasing hunger.

Change in body

Numbness: A feeling of tingling, sharpness, and burning in your hand or feet is a numbness sensation.  A rise in blood sugar causes irreversible damage to the nerve.

Vision Change:  A sudden form of blurry vision is an early sign of diabetes. High amounts of sugar can cause the blood vessels in your eyes to shift, and without treatment, it can cause vision loss.

Infections: Chronic infections can be an early sign of diabetes, such as UTI and yeast infections. Elevated glucose feeds the bacteria and can make it challenging to resolve the infections.

Fatigue:  Fatigue is another symptom of diabetes. Insulin resistance interferes with the body’s ability to use glucose for energy and, as a result, leaves us feeling tired.

Dry skin: Dry, itchy, and poor wound healing skin is an early sign of diabetes. In addition, someone with diabetes is more prone to rashes ranging from blisters, dermopathy, and sclerosis.

Urination: the excessive use of urination four to seven times a day is a common sign of diabetes. The kidneys are overworking due to trying to get rid of sugar in the bloodstream, which causes a change in urination.

Why is it important?

Diabetes is a commonly known disease that affects people worldwide. This disease can lead to many complications such as stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure. Noticing and identifying early signs can help you take appropriate steps for proper treatments. Treatments include monitoring, medication, healthy eating, and exercise. Above all, noticing early signs and bringing awareness to these symptoms are just one step into improving your overall health.

To see examples of healthy meal options for someone with diabetes, you can visit our website here.

 

 

 

 

Insulin price increases

Insulin price increases

Following your medication regimen is vital when managing your diabetes. Skipping your medication can worsen your diabetes and overall health. But what happens when the cost of your medicine is too high, and you are unable to afford it. The price of insulin is drastically increasing each year. “The average retail price of insulin rose 54% from 2014 to 2019,” according to GoodRx Health.

Why is insulin so expensive?

Insulin was first introduced in the 1920s at the price of $1. Today insulin prices have significantly changed over the years. In the United States, insulin is more expensive than in other countries around the world. “The average US manufacturer price per unit across all insulin was $98.70, compared to $6.94 in Australia, $12,00 in Canada, and $7.52 in the UK”, according to Pharma News Intelligence. This article further expands by saying, “Most higher-income countries, a long insulin accounted for over 80 percent and in some cases 100 percent of volume and sales”.

Many possible factors contribute to insulin prices: manufacturers, patents, and health plans. In addition, Below are other reasons why insulin is so expensive for the average consumer:

Biologics

Biologics are a form of drug that is specific to a particular area of the body. Animal and plant cells are living organisms that form this drug. Examples of biologics are fusion proteins, vaccines, insulin, and blood products. This drug is one of the most costly forms of treatment because a lot of money goes towards facilities and testing.

Policies

Only three leading companies around the world manufacture insulin. In the United States, the government does not regulate the prices of drugs. As a result, this gives companies the authority to set their own prices. This issue is a common debate where some people argue that the United States should not control costs to avoid experiencing shortages and excessive spending.

What is Insulin?

Insulin is a natural hormone produced by the pancreas that helps your cells utilize the glucose you consume. People who have Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes make little to no insulin and often depend on insulin injections to help their bodies utilize glucose. Common injection of insulin sights includes your thigh, buttock, upper arm, and abdomen. Constantly monitoring blood sugars and insulin dosing can be complicated, so people with diabetes need the assistance of insulin devices to manage their blood sugars better. The following are different types of insulin devices that patients can choose from:

Insulin pumps: These are small devices attached to your body; this pump can be worn on the go.  Pumps can detect high and low blood sugars levels and release insulin to bring those blood sugars back to normal levels.

Insulin syringe: A insulin syringe is a traditional device with a needle, plunger, and barrel. Insulin syringes are injected manually by patients. With the removal of the cap, the syringe is pushed into an insulin bottle and injected into the skin.

Insulin pens: are the most popular insulin device that uses injections with a needle. They come in two different forms disposable and reusable. Insulin pens come with pre-filled medication and combine the vial and syringe together. To inject a pen, you pinch the skin and insert the pen by pushing the plunger down.

What’s next?

Even with insurance, insulin devices are only partially covered by health companies. As a result, diabetic patients rationalize or avoid taking their insulin due to the high expenses needed for their medication. Insulin is an essential medication for people with diabetes, and it can lead to many complications if not taken when needed.

Bill Back Better Plan is a policy that aims to rebuild middle-class households. President Joe Biden Is rebranding this bill to include health care benefits. Some possible changes include money for Medicare, prescription drug reform, and the price of insulin. The Bill Back Better Plan has already passed in the House of Representatives and is currently in the Senate before becoming an official law.

To find out more information about insulin regarding cost, affordability, policies, and insurance. Please listen to our podcast here.

 

 

 

 

chronic kidney disease?

What is a chronic kidney disease?

The human body is the most complex system, with 78 organs. Each organ plays a vital role in the functioning of the overall body. For example, the kidney may not always seem like an essential organ, but they play a critical part. The organ’s general functions include filtering any waste material from the blood. When the kidney fails and can’t produce or filter blood, this forms a condition called Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). This disease is silent and can advance without proper care over time. According to the National Kidney Foundation, a total of 37 million American adults have CKD, and millions of others are at increased risk.

What are the causes?

Several risk factors and conditions exist that can contribute to CDK development. Risk factors of CDK include family history, ethnicity, and pre-existing conditions. Other conditions that may impact kidney functions are:

  • Diabetes: a chronic disease known for elevated blood sugar levels. Diabetes causes kidney disease due to the excessive amount of sugar in the blood that can cause kidney damage.
  • High blood pressure: a condition that occurs when the blood vessels in your body are at a high level. When high blood pressure is not controlled, it can form near the kidneys’ artery and not receive enough blood.
  • Polycystic kidney disease: a disorder inherited through genetics that causes cysts to form in your kidneys. When these cysts grow excessively, they can cause complications to the kidney that can eventually lead to chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.
  • Urinary tract infection: a bladder infection primarily found in women caused by bacteria forming in the urinary tract. When a urinary tract infection is left untreated, it can lead to bacteria spreading to different areas in the body, including the kidney.
  • Glomerulonephritis(glomeruli): an inflammatory disease that affects the kidney’s filter; when the kidney is damaged, it can filter and get rid of waste. As a result, it can lead to kidney issues.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of chronic kidney disease won’t be noticeable at first, especially in the early stages. However, these symptoms can develop anywhere throughout the body, from the cardiovascular, respiratory, neurologic, and reproductive systems.

A person experiencing chronic kidney disease may experience the following:

  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling (located on your legs, ankles, and feet)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Uremic Breath (breathe smells like urine)
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulties sleeping (frequent urination)
  • Itchy/dry skin
  • Change in urine (color, foam)

These are just a few of many conditions that can cause chronic kidney disease. To see a complete list, you can click here. 

What are some preventions?

Research has shown that kidney disease causes more deaths than breast cancer. In addition, when left untreated, kidney disease causes kidney failure and death. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware and take the proper steps to detect and contact a physician. Unfortunately, there is no actual cure for CKD, but you can take the following steps to help maintain or prevent this disease:

Eating healthy

Balancing a healthy lifestyle can be challenging but, it’s essential to practice healthy dieting. Eating healthy can be as simple as adding fruit and vegetables or substituting foods for healthier options. By maintaining healthy eating habits, you will be receiving valuable nutrition and prevent many health complications.

Laboratory Test

Laboratory Testing is a significant factor at the doctor’s office; this helps early detection and possible diseases. If you know you are at high risk or have a family history of chronic diseases, it’s essential to inform your doctor. By doing this, chronic kidney disease can be tested through urine samples and blood work.

Exercise

The thought of getting up early or taking time out of your day to head to the gym can often be exhausting, but it’s very beneficial. By simply exercising a couple of times a day, you improve your blood circulation, overall health, and any chance of chronic diseases.

Please listen to our podcast here for more information regarding proper health choices with kidney disease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risk of diabetes because of policy

How do government policies and media affect the risk of diabetes?

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are major health concerns in today’s society. And minorities are a known high-risk population for diabetes. So, not surprisingly, the government would create some policies to address this major issue. Sadly though, while some policies do decrease the risk of diabetes many of the policies do nothing or very little. The media does not help this situation out when they portray people with diabetes in a negative or comedic light. This causes less public support for potential government programs to help with diabetes. Attention needs to be given to the media and government policies so more programs that will greatly decrease the risk of diabetes can be created.

 

What government policies decrease the risk of diabetes?

More than 1 in 3 adults are prediabetic. The majority of these people are minorities. And many minorities are uninsured. One great way for people to prevent diabetes is to visit a doctor or medical provider to get medication or find a good prevention or management plan. This is less likely to happen for an uninsured person. This explains when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed for more insured people, it lowered the overall risk of diabetes.

Another government program is the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) which funds programs to improve public health. One program this fund invested in is the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP). This program was created to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. As well as promote lifestyle changes like eating and exercise to manage and reduce the risk of diabetes for people with prediabetes. This program is implemented through the partnership of public and private organizations so help can reach more people effectively.

 

What government policies increase the risk of diabetes?

Not all government programs are good for diabetes prevention and management. While most policies have good intentions, they sometimes either have no impact or a negative impact. Alyshia Gálvez, in her podcast episode with Yumlish, mentions the unintended consequences NAFTA has on the Mexican population, such as the increase in diabetes among the Mexican population among other negative impacts. She also speaks about the link between globalized economies and chronic illness. Basically, if countries sign a trade deal, then chronic illness increases in one of the countries that benefit from the trade deal. To learn more check out her podcast episode.

 

How does the media affect diabetes?

In film people portrayed with diabetes embody certain characteristics, weird outcasts with extreme symptoms who experience an offscreen magical cure at a later part of the movie or television series. This is obviously not how diabetes is in real life. This portrayal in the media has negative consequences because it creates a stereotype of diabetes. This negative perception makes it less likely for people, especially children, to take diabetes treatment in public. It is less likely for the creation of programs helping with diabetes management and prevention because of the negative perception the media creates. It is also less likely for people to accept that they have diabetes and get help.

Another way the media negatively impacts diabetes is through advertisements. Marketing does not portray diabetics badly, but they make foods that are not beneficial for diabetes management or prevention desirable. This increases the risk of diabetes in people because of the unconscious suggestion the marketing creates.

 

What needs to happen?

In the end, the media needs to stop using people with diabetes as a tool for fear or humor. This will decrease the stigma around diabetes and allow for more people to get help. The government is continuing to create legislation that will help with diabetes like the Build Back Better Bill. This bill currently proposes a $35 cap on insulin which will make diabetes management easier and more affordable. More information about this bill will be discussed in the next blog post.

 

Myths of diabetes

What are some myths of diabetes?

Like with many things there are a mix of facts and myths of diabetes roaming the internet and being talked about. Many myths are thought of as a truth and it can be hard to figure out what is true or not. Diabetes is a major health concern, so it is important to figure out the myths and see the facts to better your diabetes prevention and management.

 

Common Myths of Diabetes

This blog post will look at some of the common myths of diabetes and address the real truth the myth covers up.

Myth: Everyone overweight will have diabetes

Overweight is one of many risk factors that contribute to diabetes. Weight is not the only risk factor to diabetes. There are many other risk factors that are just as influential such as age, physical activity, genetics, and ethnicity. The CDC breaks down the list of risk factors here.

Myth: Diabetics need to eat special food

Even though some packaged food might have the label “diabetes friendly”, there is not a set of special foods that diabetics eat. That said it is important and highly recommended for a diabetic to eat healthy. This healthy diet does not look different from a healthy diet for anyone. There are some diets and foods that are better for a diabetic, discussed further in this blog post, but there is nothing special needed for a diabetic’s diet other than eating healthy.

Myth: Diabetics need to avoid starchy food or carbs

Starchy foods and carbs are not bad. Starchy foods can be eaten in moderation, try the plate method for an easy way to monitor starch. Carbs as well do not negatively affect diabetes. In fact, eating the right combo of carbs, proteins, and fat can help manage blood sugar levels. It is all about moderation. As long as you do not eat too much of one thing and have a balanced diet, starchy foods and carbs can be eaten.

Myth: Diabetics can not eat sweets or junk food

As stated above moderation is key. As long as sweets or junk food as not the majority of your diet but just a small part then they can be eaten. The best way to eat sweets is to save them for special occasions so you are not likely to eat them too much.

Myth: Diabetics are more likely to get sick

Diabetics are not more likely to get sick than the average person. The reason why it is important to be healthy while diabetic is because getting sick will make it harder to manage diabetes.

Myth: Diabetics will always go blind or have other major health complications

These usually only happen when blood sugar levels are not properly managed and left uncontrolled for long periods of time. If properly managing your diabetes it is possible to go your entire life without the major health complications. For some examples of common health complications and advice on how to prevent them visit this blog post.

Myth: Diabetics can’t live an active life

In fact, exercise is necessary for managing diabetes. Diabetes is not a chronic illness that limits an active lifestyle or a normal lifestyle. It just requires a person to be a healthier version of themselves. Exercise is a part of it.

 

In Conclusion

There are many myths of diabetes floating around which give information that can be harmful for diabetes management. As well as make diabetes worse than it is. Diabetes is a serious chronic illness, but it is not as limiting as these myths make it out to be. It is up to the community and health care professionals, and policymakers to challenge and correct these myths. Which will allow for more accurate information to be spread about diabetes. For more information of this check out this podcast here. Listening to the facts instead of the myths of diabetes will allow someone to have better control of their diabetes management and prevention because they will not have so much fear and misinformation of their diabetes.

Diabetes health complications

What are Common Diabetes Health Complications?

Many different health complications come from diabetes. Specifically, the blood sugar levels caused by diabetes. Most of the health problems come from poor diabetes management. This is why good diabetes management is so important. Great diabetes management like eating well and exercising can prevent most diabetes health complications. For these diabetes health complications, it is good to know what can be done to limit the chances of them happening. As well as know what can be done to limit the pain for you to continue living a great and active lifestyle.

What are the most common diabetes health complications?

Uncontrollable high blood sugar levels can cause a multitude of health problems which can cause anywhere between a minor inconvenience or death. Again, this is why good diabetes management is important because while diabetes alone will not cause most of these health complications, uncontrolled diabetes is still the root cause.

Neuropathy

This is just a more technical term for nerve damage. This is a very common diabetes health complication and over 50 percent of people with diabetes have it. The nerve damage mainly occurs in the hands and/or feet with symptoms that include tingling, numbness, and pain. While there are many different causes of this one of the major causes is long periods of high blood sugar levels. Regular exercise such as walking can help with the pain caused by this complication.

Kidney Disease

According to the American Diabetes Association, high blood sugar levels cause the kidneys to work too much to filter blood. Therefore, the kidneys build up waste faster causing the kidneys to not work. For more information on treatment visit ADA’s page here.

Diabetic Retinopathy

This is another technical term that just means vision problems caused by diabetes. This is caused by uncontrolled blood sugar levels. The symptoms are blurry vision and if left untreated a loss of vision. To learn more about this complication and learn about some possible treatments listen to this podcast here.

Heart Disease

There is a link between diabetes and heart-related conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This is because high blood sugar levels damage the heart and surrounding arteries. This is why diabetic people are 2 times more likely to have a stroke or heart disease. Too much glucose in the body can lead to clogged arteries. So, while you are monitoring your blood sugar levels it is a good idea to also monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Sleep Apnea

This is a common problem among people with type-2 diabetes especially if they are overweight. This is when breathing is interrupted multiple times when sleeping. This can cause loud snoring or a person to stop breathing. A healthy diet and exercise to lose weight is a great way to prevent sleep apnea.

Skin Conditions

People with diabetes are more likely to develop a skin condition and there are some diabetes-related skin conditions over the more general skin conditions. These skin conditions are noticeable because there are usually colored bumps or raised skin are developed or blisters. Skin conditions are caused because high blood sugar levels increase dry skin and lower the ability to fight off bacteria. Therefore, it is best to keep skin moisturized, dry, and clean. As well as check feet every day because they are a high risk for skin disease.

How to prevent diabetes health complications?

Have a good diabetes management plan. Of course, this may sound simple, but by managing your blood sugar levels you can prevent the health problems listed above.  Uncontrolled blood sugar levels cause most of the diabetes health conditions. So, the best way to prevent the complications above is to make sure to keep the blood sugar levels at a safe level. Make sure to eat healthily, check out this blog post about great diabetes diets, stay active, and monitor yourself or go to a health professional.

 

Image of a diet for diabetes

What is a good diet for diabetes?

The month of November is American Diabetes month, celebrated by the American Diabetes Association, CDC, and other organizations. This is why this week’s blog post is about a major question associated with diabetes. What is a good diet for diabetes?

What food should I eat?

Choosing a good diet for diabetes can be difficult because it can be hard to know what foods should be eaten or avoided. The basic answer people get when asking how to eat is to eat healthy. Of course, most people know that fruits and vegetables are healthier than pastries but other foods are just as good.

  • Non-starchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, squash, and leafy green vegetables like spinach.
  • Fruit without added sugars like fresh, drained, and rinsed canned fruit, and frozen fruit. Some good examples of fruit are strawberries, avocados, and apples.
  • Whole-grain foods like whole-grain cereal, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
  • Legumes like black, pinto, and kidney beans. Fat-free refried beans are also a good choice.
  • Lean meats and plant-based proteins like chicken, seafood, eggs, and cheese. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are also a good choice.
  • Good unsaturated fats like omega 3. Some examples are flax seeds, olive oil, and nuts.

Some great examples of recipes can be found on this page or on Yumlish’s recipe page here.

What food should I avoid?

It is important to remember what food should be avoided for a diet for diabetes. It is fine to eat the foods on this list as long as they are in small amounts and the majority of your diet contains foods from the list above.

  • Sugary drinks like regular soda and fruit punch.
  • Refined grains like white bread and rice. These can increase your blood sugar quicker than food with whole wheat.
  • Fried food.
  • Alcohol because when consumed on an empty stomach can increase the risk of low blood sugar.
  • Processed meats like bacon and cold cuts. These meats are high in salt and can increase the chance of heart disease.
  • Candy and sweet desserts like pastries.

 

What are the different diets for diabetes?

There are many different proposed diet plans for diabetes. There is not necessarily one best plan because each plan has its pros and cons. Ultimately it depends on which plan works best for an individual. Diet plans do not have to be strictly followed either but can be adapted to fit your lifestyle and culture. That said, diet plans are a good place to start and get inspiration from.

Plate Method

The plate method is the diet suggested by the American Diabetes Association. A basic overview of the plate method starts with a 9-inch plate or serving size. The plate is divided into ½ vegetables, ¼ starch, and ¼ protein for a meal. For example, ½ of the plate is a salad, ¼ is rice, and ¼ is pozole de pollo. The benefits of using the plate method are the focus on eating vegetables and that it is relatively simple. All that is required is to section off food on your plate.

Carb Counting

Carb counting is another popular method to manage blood sugar levels. Carbs have a high impact on blood sugar levels which is why counting carbs can be used to control blood sugar levels. When deciding to count carbs it is best to visit a dietician or doctor to find out how many carbs you should eat in a day. Some benefits of using this method are that insulin injections and exercise can be adjusted to fit the number of carbs counted to give better control over diabetes management.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is another diet for diabetes. With this diet, foods are ranked low, medium, and high based on how much the food can raise blood sugar levels. So with this diet, it is best to eat foods ranked low or medium and limit the amount of high-leveled foods. The benefits of this diet are that the risk of eating certain foods is labeled and a list of less harmful foods can be found.

In Conclusion

The 3 diet options discussed are not the only diets for diabetes. There are many different diets with many different methods. One other diet is whole-person integrated eating, more information can be found here. The best way to find a diet that works for you is to start with one diet then modify it to fit your lifestyle and culture or contact a dietician.

Diabetes cause mental illness

Can Diabetes Cause Mental Illness?

In short, yes, having diabetes can cause mental illness. In fact, it goes both ways, having a mental illness also increases the chance of becoming diabetic. Taking care of diabetes management can be stressful. You have to check blood sugar levels, plan what to eat, make sure to take insulin, and exercise. Everything needed to be healthy is a lot of work. Even diabetes prevention is stressful with the planning of meals, staying active, and worrying about becoming diabetic. This post will discuss the common mental illnesses associated with diabetes as well as some helpful tips for prevention and/or coping.

Denial and Anger

A mental illness is any mental condition that affects your mood, thinking, and behavior. Before talking about major mental illnesses, it is important to discuss the common feelings associated with being diagnosed with diabetes which are anger and denial.

Short-term and controlled anger can be an empowering and natural reaction. However, it is out-of-control anger that is a contributing factor to depression and high levels of stress. If you feel like your anger is overpowering you, take a breath and try to identify why you are angry. Is it the loss of control, anger towards yourself, or something else? If you are feeling angry try these tips.

  • Take a breath, then take an even bigger breath
  • Get a drink of water
  • Sit down
  • Lean back
  • Shake your arms loose
  • Take a walk

Denial is also a very common and natural emotion to have when diagnosed with diabetes. You might wonder, “why did this happen to me?” or “there must be a mistake”. Overcoming this denial is important because it can lead to not following your treatment plan. These are some common phrases of denial listed by the American Diabetes Association.

  • “One bite won’t hurt.”
  • “I’ll go to the doctor later.”
  • “I don’t have time to do it.”
  • “My diabetes isn’t serious.”

If you have these thoughts don’t worry, denial is common and you can work with your family and friends to help you stick with your treatment plan.

Diabetes Burnout/Diabetes Distress

Burnout is very common and can happen even to the best people. Usually what happens is a person is following their treatment plan but they might not be seeing any results or they had a diabetic-related health problem. Either way, they start to slip, stop checking their blood sugar levels, eat unhealthily, and/or not going to the doctors. When this happens talk to your doctor, a diabetes educator, a mental health professional, or your family to try and help you focus on your goals again. Remember that you do not need perfect blood sugar levels, so try to focus on your smaller goals versus the larger ones. Talking with other people who are in the same situation as you can be beneficial, such as the American Diabetes Association’s community page.

Depression

Diabetes can cause the mental illness of depression. According to the CDC, people who have diabetes are 2 to 3 more times more likely to become depressed. Of those people who are depressed, less than half get diagnosed and treated. If you are depressed, it is important to get treated. Being depressed can lead to lower diabetes management which increases the risk of diabetes complications such as nerve damage and heart disease. These are some symptoms of depression. If you think you are or may be depressed, please contact your doctor to get help so you can stay healthy.

  • Feeling sad or empty
  • Losing interest in favorite activities
  • Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feeling very tired
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty
  • Having aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
  • Having thoughts of suicide or death

To learn more about the link between diabetes and depression, check out this podcast.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress is a normal emotion to have but overwhelming or constant amounts of stress are harmful to your health. High-stress levels are caused by many factors such as work, family, and diabetes care. Constant stress can contribute to poor diabetes management and high blood sugar levels.

Diabetes can also cause the mental illness of anxiety. A person with diabetes is 20% more likely to have anxiety. Possibly because diabetes is a long-term condition that needs constant management. These are some tips for lowering your stress and anxiety levels.

  • A cardio routine or a simple walk can calm you down and release endorphins, “happy-feel-good” chemicals in the brain.
  • Relaxation exercises such as yoga helps center you in the present moment.
  • Talk to someone who understands you like a friend or family member, not someone who will cause you more stress. Sometimes it is good to just vent to someone.
  • Grab some “you” time. Take time away from what is stressing you out to refocus. Try reading a book, cooking, or something else fun you like to do.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, eat healthy food, and make sure to get enough sleep.

 

Physical therapy benefits in action

What are Physical Therapy Benefits for Diabetes Management?

What is Physical Therapy?

A common misconception of physical therapy is that it is only beneficial for people who are injured. However, physical therapy can also help other people, like those with chronic illnesses or aging. This is because physical therapy can help with movement and preventative care for multiple conditions. Some physical therapy benefits can improve mobility, reduce the need for drugs, and reduce a person’s pain. Physical therapists work very closely with their patients so their treatment plans are personalized as well.

 

How Physical Therapy can help with Diabetes Symptoms

Medication, diet, and exercise are 3 common and great ways to manage diabetes and should not be stopped. However, physical therapy can also manage the symptoms of diabetes and is a great add-on to your normal routine.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a symptom of diabetes when a person damages the nerves in their body caused by high blood sugar levels. While there is no cure for this symptom, physical therapy offers an alternate way than medicine to offer pain relief. Even though it can be painful to move, going to physical therapy will improve the balance lost, restore mobility, and some of the sensations lost.

Exercise

Physical therapy requires a person to move which means you are exercising. Exercise can help you lose weight, which helps in reducing the symptoms of diabetes. A physical therapist can instruct a person on the best and safe ways to exercise to manage their diabetes. Also, physical therapy, specifically resistance training, tends to target the muscles and the muscles burn more glucose than fat which can make it easier to achieve blood sugar level goals. Resistance exercises also allow the body to better use insulin to soak up sugars that would otherwise stay in the bloodstream.

 

Overall Benefits of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy offers other benefits outside of helping with diabetes management.

  • It can improve your range of motion and athletic performance. Typically done through strength and flexibility exercises.
  • Can help manage and cope with symptoms of aging.
  • Improve balance and reduce the risk of falling.
  • Manage heart and lung disease through strengthening, conditioning, and breathing exercises.

Of course, physical therapy is also used when a person is sick or injured, as a recovery tool. Physical therapy helps eliminate pain and/or heal from an injury. In fact, there are some injuries that would normally require surgery but can be healed with physical therapy, which saves money.

 

Can You do Physical Therapy at Home?

Yes, you can do physical therapy at home but there are some aspects to keep in mind. After seeing a licensed physical therapist, you should be able to get a program that can be done at home and is personalized and safe for you to do. If you want to skip the licensed therapist step and look up routines and exercises on the internet, here are some tips.

  • Try to be gentle and find gentle stretches or easy exercises.
  • Don’t try aggressive or complicated exercises because they might cause damage to your body without proper instruction.
  • When looking up different exercises on the internet, find trusted sources like this one.
  • Try to stay away from social media and message board advice.
  • Also, keep in mind not to push past the pain, a physical therapist will make sure home exercises will not cause you extra pain. So, any routine that causes pain will not help your body but damage it.

 

In Conclusion

Physical therapy offers many health benefits for overall health and diabetes management. Physical therapy is a great add-on to a good diet, exercise routine, and medication already used for diabetes management. For more information and tips on physical therapy check out this podcast.

Traditionally meal with salad for diabetes care.

Barriers to Diabetes Care for Hispanics

Minorities are already at a disadvantage concerning diabetes prevention and management. Hispanics, in particular, have a high risk of becoming diabetic. Gaining awareness about the barriers to diabetes care can help prevent/manage your diabetes.

Economic Status Barriers

Many of the barriers to diabetes care come from a person’s economic status. The lower a person’s economic status, the more barriers to diabetes care that person has. This puts minorities at a disadvantage because they make up most of the lower socioeconomic population.

One common barrier in this category is citizenship status. If a person is an illegal citizen, then they are less likely to seek help for their diabetes or prediabetes because they fear deportation. The same goes for their family, even if a family member is a US citizen, they may be hesitant to seek help out of fear of putting their family at risk.

Another barrier to diabetes care in this category is access to health insurance. Many people in the lower economic classes do not have access to health insurance. Hispanics have one of the highest uninsured rates among other races and ethnic groups. Not being insured limits the places a person can go to seek treatment or preventative treatment. If you do not have health insurance, you can:

  • Try going to a free health clinic that accepts people without insurance. List of free health clinics in Dallas, Texas can be found here. You can also go here to search nationwide.
  • Join free community programs that help people with diabetes or people wanting to prevent getting diabetes. An example of one community program is offered by Yumlish and is a free one-year nutrition program for diabetes prevention that can be found here.
  • Make lifestyle changes like dieting and exercise.

Culture and Tradition Barriers

Not every barrier to diabetes care is related to economic status, culture and tradition also contributes to creating barriers.

Cultural Misconceptions

Some people in Hispanic cultures have misconceptions concerning diabetes. One frequently cited is that diabetes is out of a person’s control. Since diabetes is out of their control, they cannot do anything to prevent it. One example of this is the misperception that a traumatic event causes a person to have diabetes. While a traumatic event can increase the chance a person has to get diabetes, they can help prevent getting diabetes by making lifestyle changes. Here are some examples of lifestyle changes.

  • Try to eat using the plate method. You do not have to stop eating your favorite traditional foods but simply adjust the amounts you eat. A basic overview of the plating method suggested for a 9 inch plate or serving size is to eat ½ vegetables, ¼ starch, and ¼ protein for a meal.. For example, ½ of the plate is a salad, ¼ is rice, and ¼ is ropa vieja.
  • When possible, choose healthier food options like brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Start exercising. You can take a dance class, do an exercise for 10 or 15 minutes a day, or just walk for 30 minutes a day. There are many good exercise routines found on YouTube. Also, there are quiet exercises for people living in apartments or who don’t want to bother the other occupants living with them.

Another common misconception among Hispanics is the idea of a miracle cure for diabetes. While there are some foods that can help prevent or control diabetes, there is not a miracle cure for diabetes. A person with diabetes needs to take medicine and/or make lifestyle changes to prevent and manage their diabetes.

Language

Around half of the Hispanic population have low English proficiency. This makes it hard for them to go to a doctor who does not speak Spanish, which is another barrier to diabetes care. When English is not a person’s first language, it can be difficult to understand the medical lingo doctors might use. Tips for going around this barrier are to try and find a doctor who speaks Spanish or take a family member who speaks English with you to the doctors.

Family

Hispanic culture is very family-oriented but family can be both an advantage, because of family support, and a disadvantage concerning diabetes. Often families show their love for each other through food and cooking. You can still cook for your family and show your love by making healthier versions of your favorite traditional meals. One way to do this is if a recipe calls for ground meat use lean ground turkey or ground sirloin beef. Some other ideas of healthy food recipes can be found on Yumlish’s recipe page. Feeding your family healthier meals will help make your family healthier.

Leafy greens with folic acid

Folic Acid and Diabetes

What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid is a man-made version of vitamin B. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B. Folate is needed to form healthy cells and DNA. For reference, our hair and nails need new cells to grow. When a person does not have enough folate in their body, they develop folate deficiency which can cause a type of anemia. Thankfully, when a blood test diagnoses a person with folate deficiency, it is usually easy to treat. The treatment for folate deficiency is usually remedied by eating foods that are high in folate or taking a folic acid supplement.

 

General Benefits of Taking Folic Acid

Taking folic acid is associated with many health benefits. One is that it helps prevent changes to DNA that could cause cancer. Second, according to studies, folic acid helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Third, it also promotes healthy gums because it preserves the gum tissues. Fourth, folic acid helps maintain healthier skin because it repairs human skin cells which can promote anti-aging results.

 

Benefits of Folic Acid for Diabetes

Pregnancy

Studies show folic acid proven to prevent defects in newborns specifically in preventing neural tube defects. Another study by the CDC showed that mothers who have preexisting diabetes and took folic acid during their pregnancy decreased the risk for birth defects. The American Diabetes Association and the CDC recommend women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily if they are or planning to be pregnant. During pregnancy the body needs more folate which is why the CDC recommends folic acid. Also, women taking folic acid during and before pregnancy have a decreased chance of developing gestational diabetes.

Heart Disease

Folic acid or eating a diet with high levels of folate can decrease the homocysteine levels in the body. Homocysteine levels are used to monitor heart disease, high homocysteine levels are linked to having a higher chance of heart disease. Studies have also shown that taking folic acid can decrease the chances of getting a stroke. 

Preventing Diabetes

Folic acid can help increase the breakdown of fat cells by accelerating hydrolysis, the chemical breakdown of fat because of a reaction to water. This may help prevent someone from becoming obese and/or developing type-2 diabetes.

Endothelial Dysfunction

Endothelial function maintains the proper dilation of blood vessels. When a person has a health condition such as diabetes or hypertension there is often a dysfunction of the endothelial function. Folic acid can prevent endothelial dysfunction by helping promote the dilation of blood vessels which lowers blood pressure. 

Diabetic Neuropathy

This type of neuropathy is called diabetic peripheral neuropathy. This is nerve damage caused by consistently high blood sugar levels. Taking folic acid may decrease the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy because it promotes nerve repair, increases myelination, protects nerves from damage caused by diabetes, and can reduce nerve pain. 

 

Where to find Folic Acid

Food

Diet is an easy way to get healthy amounts of folate. Leafy green vegetables, legumes, and citrus fruits contain folate, which is the natural form of folic acid. Fortified foods like bread, cereal, rice, and pasta also contain folate. You can tell that a food is fortified because the word enriched will be on the packaging. Because of FDA regulations, enriched foods needed to have folic acid as a way to lower the risk of defects in newborns. This is why, with a balanced diet, a person should not need to find other sources to get folate.

Supplements

Folic acid supplements that are less than 1,000 micrograms are usually non-prescription so you can get them at most stores that sell over-the-counter supplements. Folic acid supplements that are over 1,000 micrograms are prescription-only. Talking to a doctor is necessary to get a high dosage of folic acid.

Conclusion

In general, taking folic acid is not necessary if you maintain a balanced diet eating foods with high folate. Folic acid is a beneficial supplement to take especially when pregnant. The recommended folic acid intake is 400 micrograms daily. A person should not take more than 1,000 micrograms of folic acid unless prescribed by a doctor. It is always a good idea to consult a doctor before taking any new supplements, especially if you have any chronic medical conditions. 

Contributing factors blog post image

What are Contributing Factors of Childhood Obesity

Understanding the contributing factors of childhood obesity is important in helping prevent children from becoming obese. Although not all of the factors that contribute to childhood obesity can be controlled, lifestyle and dietary changes can reduce the likelihood. Three categories, socioeconomic, biological, and behavioral, divide up the contributing factors of childhood obesity.

 

Socioeconomic Factors

A parent can not easily control the socioeconomic factors that contribute to childhood obesity.  These factors are especially harmful to minorities, specifically Hispanics and African Americans, who largely make up the lower socioeconomic status. In terms of obesity prevalence: compared to 16.1% of white children, 25.6% of Hispanics and 24.2% of African American children are obese. Data taken from the CDC.

Income

Income may be a contributing factor of childhood obesity. High energy, low nutrient foods tend to be less expensive than foods with high nutrients. Think the dollar menu at McDonald’s; food on that menu, while inexpensive, is low in nutrients but will still fill a person up.  Compare that to fresh produce from the supermarket which can be double or triple the cost of the dollar menu meal but is high in nutrients and less likely to contribute to childhood obesity. Income determines what food options are easier to obtain.

Location

Where a child lives can also be a contributing factor of childhood obesity. For example, there are some areas or neighborhoods where access to supermarkets or places to find fresh food is scarce or nonexistent; these places are called food deserts. If a child lives in a food desert, then all they might have access to are low nutrient foods like what can be bought at a fast-food restaurant. Food deserts are typically found in lower-income areas.

Biological Factors

Not all factors that cause childhood obesity can be avoided, some are inherited. Some children who are obese have inherited genes from their parents that make them gain weight quickly and/or have a slow metabolism.

Behavioral Factors

Behavioral factors that contribute to childhood obesity may be the easiest factors to change compared to all the other factors discussed.

Technology

Technology is a great help in our lives and is an easy way to distract a child or get them to stay in one place. However, when a child is on technology, they are not moving which means they are not burning many calories. Being stationary can lead to weight gain. One way to prevent this is to limit the amount of time a child spends on technology a day. This will encourage the child to spend more time each day playing, which will help prevent weight gain.

Sleep Deprivation

When sleep deprived a child can crave high-calorie food to compensate. To prevent this, try to make sure your child has a regular bedtime routine, aiming for 9-11 hours of sleep. Another way to get your child to sleep is to take away all their technology at least an hour before bedtime which will encourage the child to be able to fall asleep faster.

Stress

Work from both the child and parent lowers stress which is a contributing factor in childhood obesity. Parental tension, strained relationships, and/or negative life events can lead to stress in a child. These stress factors increase the chance that a child uses the coping mechanism of stress eating which may lead to obesity.

Food

Eating unhealthy food is a contributing factor of childhood obesity. Fattening and sugary foods increase dopamine levels. Dopamine, known as the “happy feel-good” hormone, triggers the reward center of the brain leading to excessive eating. Choosing to eat fresh produce can lower the chance of becoming obese.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is not just one factor that contributes to childhood obesity. Some factors are uncontrollable, like the biological and socioeconomic factors. Other factors, like behavioral, are controllable with lifestyle changes. For more resources and information on how to prevent childhood obesity please visit the CDC website. Also, visit the previous blog post and listen to our podcast for more information.

pregnancy

How Gestational Diabetes can impact pregnancy

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational Diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy in women who don’t already have diabetes. Around 2%-10% of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes every year. Managing this harm diabetes can help make sure a pregnant woman has a healthy pregnancy and baby.

What causes Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin during pregnancy. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, acts like a key to let blood sugar into the cells in the body for use as energy. During the pregnancy, the body makes more hormones and goes through similar changes. While the body goes through these changes, the cells that use insulin become less effective.

Problems of Gestational Diabetes in Pregnancies

An extra large baby. Unmanaged diabetes can result in the baby’s blood sugar to increase.

C-Section (Cesaran Section). A diabetic woman has a higher chance of needing a C-Section to deliver the baby, which causes a longer recovery from childbirth.

High Blood Pressure (Preeclampsia). Preeclampsia is condition that needs to managed by a doctor since it could be harmful to both the mother and the unborn baby.

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia). An unborn baby can quickly develop a low blood sugar after birth if the mother’s diabetes was not well controlled.

Symptoms

This diabetes typically does not have any symptoms and a medical history or risk factors may suggest gestational diabetes, but a woman should consult a doctor to know for sure.

Prevention

Go to all prenatal appointments and follow a treatment plan, including:

  • Checking blood sugar to make sure levels stay in a healthy range.
  • Eating healthy food in the right amounts at the right times.
  • Being active. Regular physical activity that is moderately intense lowers blood sugar.
  • Monitoring the baby while checking regularly with a doctor can result in the baby’s growth and development.

The Fourth Trimester

The Fourth Trimester is the postpartum period, defined as the 12 weeks after delivery, an important time for a new mother and her family. Not everyone has heard of this term, but every mother will go through it. It is a time of great physical and emotional change as the baby adjusts to being outside the womb, and the mother adjusts to motherhood.

Complications of pregnancy such as hypertensive disorders and gestational diabetes can affect a woman’s long-term health and require specific attention. It is advised by doctors that women diagnosed with diabetes should receive a 75-g two-hour fasting oral glucose tolerance test between four and 12 weeks postpartum but 20%-40% of women do not get to that appointment as they neglect their own health after a baby’s birth.

For more information regarding Gestational Diabetes, please listen to our podcast episode here!

 

Childhood Obesity

What is Childhood Obesity?

What is Childhood Obesity?

Childhood obesity is considered a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It is troubling due to the start of health problems to children at an early age that are considered adult problems such like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Not only that but it could lead to poor self-esteem and depression. In order to avoid child obesity, one of the best strategies would be to improve the eating and exercise habits in the family. Treating and preventing childhood obesity helps protect a child’s health now and in the future. 

Symptoms

Many children carrying extra pounds are not considered overweight. Some children have larger than average body frames and can carry different amounts of body fat at various stages of development. The body mass index (BMI) provides a guideline of weight in relation to height. This method is the accepted measure of overweight and obesity. A child’s doctor can use growth charts, the BMI, and other tests to help figure out if a child’s weight could pose health problems. 

Causes

Many lifestyle issues contribute to childhood obesity. Too little activity and too many calories from food and drinks are the main contributors. However, genetic and hormonal factors play a role as well. To learn more, check out the next blog post here.

Complications

Childhood obesity often causes complications in a child’s social, physical, and emotional well-being. 

Physical complications: 

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol 
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint Pain
  • Breathing problems

Social/Emotional complications:

Children who are considered overweight or obese could experience teasing or bullying from their peers. This can result in loss of self-esteem and increase the risk of depression and anxiety. 

Prevention

Here are a couple of ways to help prevent excess weight gain in a child:

  • Set a good example: By making healthy eating choices and maintaining regular physical activity could benefit the family.
  • Have healthy snacks available: Options like fruits with low-fat yogurt, baby carrots, whole-grain cereal, and low-fat milk.
  • Ensure children get enough sleep: Studies indicate that too little sleep can increase the risk of obesity. Sleep deprivation can cause hormonal imbalances that lead to increasing appetite.
  • For a more prevention tips please visit here.

For more information, please visit our Podcast Page

dsm-what-is-type-1-diabetes-shutterstock_274849448

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease. Cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed and the body is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps body cells use glucose for energy and allows the glucose to pass into the bloodstream into the body cells. 

The following is information regarding the chronic disease:

Causes

The exact cause of this disease is unknown. However, it is thought to occur in the autoimmune system where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks beta cells in the pancreas. The Beta cells in the pancreas are the cells that make insulin and that is why it is known as a chronic disease.

Symptoms

The following are symptoms of Diabetes:

  • Excessive hunger
  • Excessive thirst 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Fatigue 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Dramatic weight loss in a short period of time 

It is highly advised that if one suffers from any of these symptoms to visit a doctor.

Type 1 Diabetes vs Type 2 Diabetes

There are two different main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Although they both have very similar symptoms, both can lead to a variety of complications over time. 

Type 1 diabetes is the result of the body not producing insulin on its own. It is vital for the body to take insulin, to move the glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells. Type 1 diabetes develops really quickly and symptoms are noticed easily. 

Type 2 diabetes is the result of the cells unable to respond well to the insulin. The body struggles with moving the glucose from the blood into the cells, despite the levels of hormones. This type of diabetes can take years for it to develop or become noticeable. 

Treatment

Treatment includes: 

  • Taking Insulin 
  • Frequent blood sugar monitoring 
  • Eating healthy foods 
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining weight

When it comes to blood sugar levels, it is important to maintain it as close to normal as possible.

Is there a cure?

There is currently no cure for diabetes. Treatment for diabetes has been mainly focused on managing the disease. However, there have been clinical trials underway for treatments to reverse the disease and restore the body’s ability to produce insulin naturally. According to http://diabetesresearch.org, researchers are currently working toward a biological cure for the disease. This research focuses on a process called islet transplant, which takes healthy cells from the pancreases and inject them in a person who suffers from the disease. However, there is not a solid cure for every person who suffers from Type 1 Diabetes as different gene’s could be a role for the cause of diabetes.

healthcare costs increasing in America

Why Are HealthCare Costs in the United States increasing?

After the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 and 2021 have become dynamic years for the United States healthcare policy. However, the number of uninsured of Americans is rising every year. At the moment, healthcare costs in the U.S are among the highest in the world in all categories. The COVID-19 pandemic, which placed historic stress on an already strained system, has placed stress on the affordability towards healthcare plans to a significant amount of Americans.

Here are a few questions to understand the increase of healthcare costs:

Why does HealthCare cost so much?

The price of medical care is the biggest factor behind U.S healthcare costs. The costs reflect on those with medical conditions, the aging population, and the increased costs of new medicines, procedures, and technology. Not only are healthcare costs higher in the U.S than in other countries, there is a significant difference in what citizens in the U.S pay for the same drug or medical procedure. For example, the average cost in the U.S for an MRI scan was $1,119, compared to $811 in New Zealand, $212 in Australia, and $181 in Spain. While costs are a reason for healthcare costs increasing, so is the higher costs of living. According to a few researchers, the idea that the U.S has a higher cost of living is a reason why the drive up healthcare costs are a fallacy. In 2018, the United States was placed 21st, which was two places ahead of U.K.

Why is healthcare spending increasing in the United States?

The costs of healthcare services have grown significantly faster than the costs of any other goods and services in the economy. There are a variety of reasons for the increase in healthcare prices:
the introduction of new innovative technology that can lead to more expensive procedures and medicine.
The complexity of the U.S healthcare system which leads to waste in the insurance and payment systems.
The lack of competition in hospitals, which grants providers the possibility to increase prices.
The mergers of health insurance companies have facilitated anti-competitive pricing behavior.
According to the National Health Expenditure, Hospital spending represented a close 31%, prescription drugs counted for 10%, and clinics an estimated 20% of total healthcare spending.

Why does it matter?

While spending on healthcare is not a bad thing, it does affect the lives on american citizens who do not have the financial stability to afford healthcare insurance. However, the United States lags behind other countries despite the healthcare costs. A consistent rise towards healthcare costs is important towards the United States economic well-being. If healthcare costs were to continue to rise, the consequences of the acceleration would include a growing national debt; strained federal, state, and local budgets; stagnant wages; and increased insecurity for Americans. Health Affairs has projected that spending on healthcare will grow 5.8% per year until 2026, which will make up 20.1% of GDP.

toddler daughter being held by mom while reaching for yellow rubber duckie in dad's hands

Healthy Eating On A Budget

Couple-cooking-together

 

You may have heard of this, “Eating healthy is very expensive.” While it may sound true, it does not always have to be!

Based on our last blogpost on “Positive Food Language for a Healthy Relationship with Food”, positive food language reduces categorizing foods into good/bad or healthy/unhealthy and instead an “all foods fit” approach. By avoiding labeling, the focus shifts to the flavors of food or reason for food. Similarly, there could be reasons to why you may think healthy foods are expensive. Other than cost, many people perceive food as ‘healthy’ based on the health claims and labels on the packaging of various trendy food products. This is why people would often think otherwise of other food products that may be just as nutritious but are not marketed the same way.

Many food products are created and sold based on current food trends due to the rise in consumers’ interest in healthy eating. It’s no wonder you find various trendy food products with health and nutrition claims on their fabulous packaging. But they all come with a heavy price tag! Here’s the bright side. This does not necessarily mean that these products are healthier than the generic brands. There are tons of nutritious foods that very affordable.

As you may know, cost is the main barrier to eating healthily for the average person. The authors in this study concluded that healthier foods cost twice as much as unhealthier foods per serving on average. What if I told you that you can eating healthily within your normal budget range? Well, is it possible? The answer is yes!

Here are the top three ways that will help you eat healthy on a budget:

1. Buy non-perishables in bulk

A common recommendation for healthy eating is to shop within the perimeter of the grocery store to avoid heavily processed foods found down many of the aisles. However, if you only shop within the grocery perimeters, you are missing out on lots of nutritious foods! Whole grains, cereals and dry pasta, dried or canned beans and frozen fruits and veggies are examples of nutritious foods that stay fresh for a long time. Plus, they are much more affordable than fresh produce, which are normally seasonal and more expensive. The more you buy in a serving, the cheaper the cost per unit of the food you bought.

2. Buy seasonal produce by the bag

When you buy produce that are in season, they not only taste the freshest but they are also at their cheapest price and are high in value. In season, produce will also be higher in nutrients! Here’s a tip: choose to buy your favorite produce or staple ingredients by the bag. For example, a bag of onions should last you a whole week if you cook from home every day.

3. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables

Did you know that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious or if not more nutritious than their fresh counterparts? This is because of the flash freezing process helps them to retain their nutrients even better and prevent them from being lost. If you opt for more servings in a bag, you would be able to save more money too!

4. Buy conventional versus organic products

Organic products are significantly more expensive than conventional. The term “organic” may be used as a buzzword to increase sales and try convince you a product is healthy, but don’t let this fool you. There is not enough evidence to say that conventional fruits and veggies are harmful. So if the cost of buying organic items prevent you from purchasing produce, then definitely stick to conventional items.

Final thoughts

While there are many ways to reduce your food costs to make healthy food affordable for you, there are other factors that impact the ability to eat healthy. One example is low socioeconomic background, in which fresh foods are limited. With that being said, there are alternative ways for those with lower income and access to fresh foods to eat healthy.

If you enjoyed reading this topic on healthy eating on a budget, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Tami Ross, RDN, LD, CDCES, MLDE, FADCES

Tami Ross is an nationally recognized registered dietitian, diabetes care and education specialist, author & spokesperson with over 25 years experience. She was named Diabetes Educator of the Year and served as the 2013 President of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Tami has co-authored 11 books, including the bestseller, What Do I Eat Now? now in its 3rd edition.

Latino family photo of four

Balancing family tradition and positive food language in Latino communities

To celebrate food positivity among diverse cultures, one should bear in mind the culturally relevant foods when talking about food with friends and family. Embracing culture diversity not only supports individualistic perspectives and shared common beliefs, but also makes space for food positivity. 

How positive food language can help with mindful eating

In our last blog on Positive Food Language for a Healthy Relationship with Food, we discussed how positive food language is a way of talking about food that reduces guilt around foods based on their perceived “health” or “junk food” content. For example, instead of labeling certain foods as “unhealthy”, reframe your thoughts so that all foods can fit in a healthy diet. Moderation is key to mindful eating. As much as diet quality is important to health, being too strict about your eating may not be healthy even if your nutritional needs are met.

Practicing mindful eating can help you enjoy the foods you eat without feeling guilty. It allows you to be fully present in the moments of eating. Mindful eating not only allows you to focus on the value of food beyond calories but also make peace with food. So, it is a good idea to reframe your food perspective from being either “good” or “bad” to enjoying your favorite foods in moderation.

Importance of Family and Food in Latin Culture

In the same way, positive food language can help bridge family tradition and cultural acceptance within the latino communities. Traditionally, food represents a strong symbolic component in latino communities. It brings connections to their roots, cultural heritage, and identity. Food brings families together in unison as eating with family is valued in the latino culture. Therefore, food brings a sense of togetherness as it cues the importance of family.

No need for food restrictions with balanced eating

Whatever your health goals are, being open to eating traditional foods with family does not hold back your health goals. A healthy lifestyle entails a balanced way of eating with every food in moderation. Therefore, you do not need to restrict foods in order to enjoy family traditions to reach your health goals. After all, we do not eat the same foods every day. Here is where positive food language in the Latino community, especially around family and friends, can come in handy.

Positive food language can help you engage in family conversations about eating traditional foods in moderation, while still being respectful.

Here are some tips for engaging in conversation with your Latino families: 

1. Un-normalize comments based on appearance. 

The Latino culture is family oriented thus shared opinions are thought to show as a way of concern. For example, giving comments based on appearance or lecturing about the amount of food you eat. Body comments oppose the idea of positive food language because this brings on shame and makes one feel targeted. Instead, talk about how delicious the food is and be present in the moment of eating; mindful eating.

2. Respect differences in food choices and preferences

Traditional foods in Latino culture are commonly passed down from past generations. It is important to Latino families that the authenticity is preserved. Thus, it can be challenging to alter the recipes to suit your own liking without being seen disrespectful. However, positive food language can restore the balance between family tradition and respecting individual food preferences. Communication and being open-minded can bring a long way in strengthening your family bond. 

Overall well-being starts with positive food language. It helps you overcome any food boundaries and makes you feel your best around food. 

two-person-jogging-together-in-park

Health At Every Size

Health At Every Size

Did you know that health looks different on everybody? Health At Every Size (HAES), as a movement supports size diversity and challenges the weight bias characterized by diet culture. HAES emphasizes that health does not have a certain look, therefore health cannot be determined based on your body weight. Instead, HAES promotes healthy behaviors such as healthy eating and exercising instead of focusing on body weight. Therefore, this movement creates a safe and positive environment for people to not feel judged on the basis of how they look.

The importance of the HAES movement

In our last episode, we talked about food language for a healthy relationship with food while keeping up with family traditions. Individuals should practise responding to their hunger cues or practise mindful eating rather than being in control of your food. While food and exercising are important for overall health, emotional and mental health are equally important. Health does not only comprise physical attributes but the mental and behavioral health of individuals as well.

This is where Health at Every Size comes in handy. HAES promotes healthful behaviours for the inherent health benefits gained from those behaviors. Examples of healthful behaviors are exercising, practising yoga, jogging at a park, preparing wholesome meals at home and the list goes on!

HAES have helped many people by engaging them with healthful behaviors. This positive approach as opposed to weight bias, adds motivation and encouragement for others to live a healthy lifestyle. Whether you have a naturally bigger or smaller body frame, everyone deserves mutual respect and to eat delicious and nutritious foods. Therefore, health at every size supports all body types and body positivity for all while promoting health effectively.

Why is weight bias in society a problem?

Weight bias is a negative perception and a social stereotype that individuals tend to internalize.  Research have shown that overweight individuals often have the same eating habits as their leaner counterparts. Yet, the public singles out based on their body weight and size. People who are either overweight or obese commonly experience weight bias. However, one’s size does not reflect one’s eating habits nor overall health.

Weight bias has become normalized in society for many decades now. People start assuming that the basis of one’s health is tied to their body weight when science based evidence document the various health complications arising from obesity. At the same time, the prevalence of social media users that promote “thinness” as the ideal body type gave rise to the hallmark of beauty standards. The popularity of social media encouraging unrealistic body goals skewed the public to frown upon those who suffer from obesity and believe that obese individuals brought the disease upon themselves from overeating. Therefore, many people internalize the preconceived idea that losing weight is a health benefit. This had led to common societal assumptions that justify weight bias against heavier weighted people as a tool to motivate them to adopt healthier lifestyles.

How effective is dieting for weight loss?

Society emphasizes dieting the ultimate tool to improve one’s health. On the contrary, this study demonstrated that the restrictive lifestyle of dieting and the weight bias towards being overweight has shown to have the opposite effect on individuals. The authors explained how weight bias may result in psychological issues. Namely, higher stress levels, anxiety and eating disorders are the few known side effects from weight bias and dieting. This is because increased psychological stress influences negative eating habits leading to the development of eating disorders and other mental issues.

The idea of “healthiness” eventually circles back with dieting. The pursuit of weight loss goals through dieting have proven to be unsustainable and will ultimately lead to food obsession. Therefore, not only is weight bias ineffective but counterproductive to those who are trying to improve their health.

Positive Food Language

Positive Food Language for a Healthy Relationship with Food

Have you ever felt guilty or ashamed when consuming certain foods? Do you usually perceive food as healthy or unhealthy? These feelings towards food can be eliminated using positive food language.

What is “Positive Food Language”?

It is a way of talking about food that reduces shame or guilt around foods based on their perceived “health” or “junk food” content. Positive food language reduces categorizing foods into good/bad or healthy/unhealthy and instead focuses on the food and its flavors or reason for the food.

This can sound like: “I’m excited to go to my friend’s birthday party and enjoy some cake.” There is no categorizing the cake as “good” or “bad”, and there’s no shame or guilt following the statement. Instead, it focuses on the excitement of the celebration and the food that will be enjoyed.

Why is it important to use Positive Food Language?

It can help you feel better about your food choices and will encourage you to have a healthy relationship with food without promoting restrictions of any kind. As mentioned in our last blog, “Eating Healthy During the Holidays: A Holistic Approach”, food has a strong connection to emotion. So, shifting towards a more positive language will help you develop self-compassion when making food choices.

If you label or categorize foods as good or bad, it will usually lead to a cycle of restriction and bingeing, and ultimately guilt, shame, and a feeling of having no control over your food choices. By allowing all foods to fit and improving your food language, you can develop and sustain a healthy relationship with food.

How can you start using Positive Food Language?

It is very simple! You can begin with reframing our your thoughts on food. Words that highlight positive aspects of food, like “satisfying” or “energizing” can be a good place to start. Part of this shift in language is truly believing all foods fit and nothing is off limits. You can incorporate foods that you previously considered “bad” and use positive food language to describe them in a different way.

For example, if ice cream is not allowed in your house because you’ve been told it’s a bad food and you feel you can’t control yourself around it, bring a small pint into your home and allow yourself to eat it and however much you want. You can use language like, “I am glad to have this ice cream in my house on a hot day. It really helps me cool down.”

Here are other ways to promote positive food language:

  1. Not separating foods into “healthy” or “unhealthy” categories

  2. Not commenting on other peoples’ food choices (either positively or negatively)

  3. Using words like “nourishing” or “satisfying” to describe foods

  4. Allowing yourself to enjoy a variety of foods to promote overall wellness

  5. Discussing exercise in a way that promotes health, and not for the reason to be “allowed to eat more”.

Positive food language can help you promote overall health and wellness. Additionally, it will reduce your anxiety around food choices and encourage you to incorporate a variety of foods into your diet.

Healthy eating during holidays

Eating Healthy During the Holidays: A Holistic Approach

Eating healthy during the holidays can be quite a challenge. Holiday seasons are usually characterized by social gatherings, often surrounded by delicious foods that are linked back to different cultures and traditions. However, you must not get discouraged by the endless amount of foods over the holidays. As long as you don’t use this season as an excuse to overindulge, but rather focus on balance and moderation, you can eat and enjoy whatever your body wants! Taking a holistic approach to nutrition and acknowledging a whole mind-body relationship, here are a few tips to eat healthy during the holidays.

Balance

Balance is all about maintaining a healthy diet most of the time. A useful rule of thumb is the 80-20 rule. It encourages us to eat healthy, nutritious foods 80% of the time, and eat whatever our body wants for the remaining 20%. Maintaining a balance, rather than restricting ourselves from eating certain foods, is key to eating healthy during the holidays and will reduce binging.

Moderation

Are you concerned about eating your favorite foods during the holidays? Do you often feel you need to restrict yourself from eating them? Well, there is no need to restrict. Forget the cheat days, it’s all about balance and moderation! There are no good or bad foods. You can enjoy all the holiday treats if you focus on limiting portion sizes. The truth is that all foods are okay in moderation, which is key to eating healthy during the holidays.

Practice Mindfulness

Remember that cleaning your plate is not important. Listen to your body, and try to avoid eating when you are not hungry. Food has a strong connection to emotion, so sit and enjoy it. Limit distractions, control your portions, and choose a smaller plate if you can. This can help with calorie control, plus your plate will look fuller, so you’ll feel more satisfied during your holiday meal! Focus on slowing down, truly think about what you’re eating, savor every bite, and chew food thoroughly to enjoy the whole experience.

Staying Active

Staying active over the holidays will help you balance those extra calories and reduce stress and anxiety. Plan your activity by putting it in your calendar, and decide what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. If you have a busy schedule, short spurts of exercise can counterbalance the endless foods and help you keep healthy over the holidays. If you haven’t chosen an activity yet, you may consider popular choices including yoga, pilates, HITT (high intensity interval training), or even walking, jogging, biking, or dancing.

Healthy Eating Tips

The 80-20 rule should help you get through the holidays without impacting your health. Besides, you can always swap out little things to make recipes healthier and better for you. Recipes are not set and stone. They are more of a guide that can be adapted and changed. One great way to start is by cutting sugars, or swapping refined sugars with healthier alternatives such as stevia or agave nectar. You can also limit saturated fat, mostly from animal products like meat, poultry, and dairy, and substitute it with healthier fats, such as avocado, olive, and canola oil. Check out our healthy recipes at Yumlish for more alternatives.

Don’t forget to watch out for the extra calories in alcohol. As in food consumption, you should drink in moderation during the holidays (usually one drink for women and two for men), and have plenty of water. Additionally, you can take advantage of the holiday season to make your own food with the people you love, rather than having pre-prepared foods. In this way, you can actually control what is going into the food. Substitutions and swaps are very fun! It doesn’t really change the product in the end.

You can do it!

Remember that it is possible to eat healthy during the holidays through a balanced, moderate, and whole mind-body approach. It is not necessary to restrict yourself, just don’t overindulge, or save calories for one meal. Rather, control your portions and enjoy the food, aiming to add color to your plate, loading it half way with greens/fruits, ¼ carbs, and ¼ protein. A balanced, nutritious plate will always help with calorie control, even if you are eating all the food in it. So, eating healthy during the holidays is in fact possible if you focus on this plate method and choose the healthier food alternatives whenever possible.

people sitting around a dinner table with the a large salad serving bowl at the center of the table and the focus being on one woman on the right who is picking up food with a fork

Personalized Nutrition Therapy in Diabetes Management

In our last blog, Why Prioritizing Minority Health is a Smart Business Move, we discussed how addressing diabetes and chronic illness is critical for minority employees, and for the success of your business. But what exactly are the best ways to address diabetes? Diabetes care can be costly, so you want to make sure the services available to your employees are affordable, as well as effective. So what methods of diabetes prevention,  management and treatment will be cost-effective for your business? The answer to this is personalized nutrition therapy. Personalized nutrition therapy is one of the best ways to manage diabetes in minority populations. Luckily, this is the kind of therapy that Yumlish provides in a virtual format, which is even more attractive to patients during these pandemic times. Keep reading to find out the reasons why our personalized nutrition therapy saves costs for your business!

Managing Diabetes

The costs of managing diabetes, no matter what kind of intervention is used, may seem expensive up front. However, the cost of treating diabetes is less in comparison to the cost of leaving it untreated. Diabetes management requires lifestyle changes, controlling blood glucose levels, usually medications, and consulting physicians on a regular basis. Thus, when it is not managed, the costs of diabetes complications highly increase. 

The total costs of diabetes in 2017 were $317 billion. The estimated cost of direct medical expenses  was $237 billion, and reduced productivity was worth roughly $90 billion. Indirect costs due to early mortality and loss of work from diabetes and its comorbidities were valued at $20 billion and $38 billion, respectively. Unmanaged diabetes costs the nation almost $60 billion dollars, not including the actual medical costs of its complications. Therefore, you are saving your business money by ensuring that your employees are in control of their health through diabetes prevention and treatment programs such as those provided by Yumlish. 

Nutrition Therapy

Nutrition therapy is a very cost effective way to manage diabetes. Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is associated with a reduced utilization of hospital and physician services, which are direct costs of diabetes care. The Institute of Medicine discovered and presented to the US Congress, that individualized MNT, provided by a registered dietitian with a physician referral, [should] be a covered Medicare benefit as part of the multidisciplinary approach to diabetes care.”

MNT services for populations over the age of 55 are speculated to save more money that is spent in providing MNT. However, usage is low, as it is not often covered by employers, or private health insurance. Therefore, it is highly recommended to increase coverage for services of this kind, in order to benefit both the patient and business.

Personalization

Yumlish saves your business from the economic burden of diabetes by providing patients with personalized nutrition therapy. Diabetes management must be personalized to effectively meet the individual needs of each patient. Therapies become feasible and sustainable when  culture, gender, religion, health beliefs, and other unique aspects of a patients’ life, are taken into consideration. One study reports that the patient’s willingness to participate in lifestyle changes increases with personalization, while another states that the provision of culturally relevant, personalized nutrition therapy is critical for the management of diabetes among low SES women in pregnancy.

Virtual Format

Other challenges of diabetes management include physical access to nutrition therapy. Finding the time to travel to see a dietitian is not always an option for people with busy schedules and families to look after. The novel COVID-19 pandemic adds another complication to in-person health services. Luckily, Yumlish offers personalized nutrition therapy through a mobile app. Research shows that patients “desire interventions with less person-to person contact” and that “technology-based programs represent an alternative approach to minimize in-person interactions.”

The Yumlish app provides excellent nutrition and lifestyle advice from registered dietitians. Additionally, it offers virtual connections with other patients with diabetes for support. In this way, your employees are more likely to continually manage their diabetes, which saves you costs in the long run.

Choose Yumlish

So, what are you waiting for? Start creating pathways to lower costs and improve the quality of life of your workforce with Yumlish. Take action now and learn more about how we personalize treatments with our registered dietitians and motivate our patients to make sustainable dietary changes that lead to positive health outcomes. 

Hispanic Women Preparing Food

Why Prioritizing Minority Health is a Smart Business Move

Investing in the health of your employees is an investment in your business. Maintaining a healthy workforce plays an important part in allowing businesses to thrive, grow, and innovate. Addressing minority health specifically is an excellent way to make equity a priority in your business, and the economic benefits are worth the investment. As of 2018, racial and ethnic minorities comprised 22% of the labor force in the US; projections indicate that by 2050, minorities will comprise over 50% of the working-age population. With the increase in minority populations living and working in the US, it essential that their health needs be addressed, considering the major health disparities that exist among racial and ethnic minorities. Minority populations in the US are burdened by higher risks of morbidity and mortality from health conditions that are preventable. Barriers to accessing healthcare or obtaining health insurance are also challenges for minorities.

Investing in minority health, and providing a pathway for employees to access culturally relevant and high-quality healthcare has benefits that are invaluable to the health of the US population, but that is not all. We’ve compiled the data, to show you how addressing minority health, and helping individuals combat type II diabetes will benefit your business in both the short and long term. 

Decreased Direct Costs

The total cost of diabetes in the US was estimated at around $327 billion in 2017, $237 billion of which were allocated to direct medical costs. The early prevention and management of diabetes has never been more important for employers, in order to reduce the development of the serious health complications of diabetes that increase the need for (and cost of ) care. However, to reduce direct costs of diabetes care most effectively, targeting minority populations has never been more important. 

Minorities are disproportionately burdened by diabetes in the US. While diabetes only affects 7.5% of non-Hispanic whites, 11.7% of non-Hispanic blacks, 12.5% of Hispanics, and 14.7% of American Indians/Alaskan Natives are burdened by diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Numerous studies have reported that minorities are also more likely to have worse control over their condition, and higher rates of diabetes related complications, such as renal disease, blindness, and heart disease. Thus, targeting minority health specifically in the prevention and treatment of diabetes reduces the prevalence of these conditions among racial/ethnic minority groups of the workforce. This further leads to lower employer expenditures associated with high prevalence.

Decreased Indirect Costs

When diabetes goes undiagnosed or is poorly managed, the consequences for individuals, as well as businesses, can be severe. Indirect costs such as absenteeism, reduced productivity, inability to work and mortality accounted for a combined cost of $90 billion in the year of 2017. Given the disproportionate burden of diabetes on minorities in the US, and the severity of complications, access to adequate screening, prevention and management among minority workers is essential to reducing employer costs. Additional indirect costs that may arise for employers include disability benefits, and the hiring and training of new employees. Both are attributable to poor management of diabetes, and can be avoided by early prevention and management of minority health conditions. 

According to the National Business Group on Health: “Large employers, then, have a vested interest in ensuring that health care treatments and services, for which they are paying, are of the highest quality and deliver the greatest value”. 

  • Workforce Retention

Providing quality healthcare and nutrition guidance for the prevention and management of diabetes in minority groups is crucial for the professional growth and retention of your minority employees. Investing in their health not only translates to their physical and emotional well-being, but minimizes the indirect costs resulting from employees having to leave the workforce due to health complications. 

  • Ensuring Healthy Future

Health disparities among minority groups are not limited to your employees. They include their children and dependents, who also suffer from lack of quality healthcare for diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Since most employers cover employee dependents, it is beneficial to your business to invest in the health of minority employees and their families. In this way, you can reduce the direct and indirect costs associated with the disproportionate burden of minority health complications and ensure the well-being of your future workforce. Ultimately, this will increase employee productivity, professional growth, and retention.

An investment in minority health is an investment in the future: a brighter, more sustainable future for businesses and employees everywhere. By creating pathways to lower costs for innovative, culturally-relevant services like Yumlish, together we can improve quality of life of minority employees, and build a healthier work community. Take action now and help your employees achieve the best version of themselves with our personalized nutritional therapy plans!