Blog

Suicide Rates Rising Across the U.S.

USPM is taking this time to share information and resources in an effort to bring awareness to this difficult topic.

Considered one of the biggest public health problems nationwide, suicides have been steadily increasing in nearly every state according to the latest Vital Signs reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2016, approximately 45,000 people ages 10 or older died by suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of death, and one of just three leading causes of death on the rise1. Although suicide affects people of all ages, the majority of cases are occurring in people over 60 years of age.

Suicidal thoughts or behaviors can be both damaging and dangerous and should be considered a psychiatric emergency. Seek immediate assistance from a health or mental health care provider if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Know the Warning Signs

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more obvious and dangerous
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior2

Imminent Danger

If you notice any person exhibiting these behaviors, seek immediately care:

  • Putting their affairs in order and giving away their possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Mood shifts from despair to calm
  • Planning, possibly by looking around to buy, steal or borrow the tools they need to complete suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication2

If you are unsure, contact a licensed mental health professional to help assess the risk.

 Risk Factors for Suicide

Research has found that more than half of people (54%) who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. Other things may have put a person at risk of suicide, including:

  • A family history of suicide.
  • Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts.
  • More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be under the influence.
  • Access to firearms.
  • A serious or chronic medical illness.
  • Gender. Men are four times more likely to die by suicide even though more women than men attempt suicide.
  • A history of trauma or abuse.
  • Prolonged stress.
  • Isolation
  • Age. People under age 24 or over age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
  • A recent tragedy or loss.
  • Agitation and sleep deprivation2.

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line3.

Suicide prevention is important to address year-round…everyone can help prevent suicide – because all it takes is just one conversation to change a life. #SuicidePrevention #StigmaFree. #moregoodyears

References:

1: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0607-suicide-prevention.html

2: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Risk-of-Suicide

3: https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Suicide-Prevention-Awareness-Month

Don’t Let Falls Trip You Up

According to the World Health Organization, falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide1. It is estimated that 646,000 fatal falls occur each year. Adults age 65 and older seem to suffer the greatest numbers of fatal falls. In a study published by The American Medical Directors Association, women over the age of 70 had a greater risk of falling than men2. It is more common for falls to take place in a familiar environment during your regular activities of daily living.

There are many reasons why people fall. Some are environmental, like area rugs or spills on the floor, while others are related to the physical health of the individual3. Physical factors that can lead to falls include:

  • Loss of balance
  • Poor vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Changes in a person’s weight and how it is distributed throughout their body

Additional fall risk factors include:

  • Age- as we age our risks increase
  • Occupation- hazardous working conditions or elevated heights
  • Alcohol or substance use
  • Certain medications can increase risk of falling- such as muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, and some heart medications
  • Underlying medical conditions-such as neurological or other disabling conditions

The good news is we can reduce our risk of falling even as we age. It’s never too early or too late to start. When we think of exercise, typically things like walking or running pop into our mind. Balance exercises are a great way to strengthen your core and prevent future falls. Below are some exercises that can improve your balance:

  • Standing on one leg- try standing on one leg for 10 seconds. Stop and then switch to the other foot. You can do this exercise while washing the dishes or brushing your teeth. Try to get in 10 repetitions.
  • Heel-toe walk­­-­ start by taking 20 steps while keeping your eyes straight ahead. Put your heel in front of your toes as you take a step. Stop and turn around and take another 20 steps in the opposite direction. Repeat the sequence three times.
  • Try tai chi to improve your fitness, agility and balance.

Remember, by preventing falls you are preserving your independence.

Content contributor: Jennifer Martin, USPM Director of Health Services

  1. http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/falls
  2. http://www.healthinaging.org/aging-and-health-a-to-z/topic:falls/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3863882/

Tips for Self-Managing Your Health

A chronic illness is one that is ongoing versus an acute illness which doesn’t last very long, typically less than 12 weeks. An example of a chronic illness is diabetes or asthma whereas pneumonia would be an example of an acute illness. Acute illnesses may lead to a chronic condition if left untreated1.

Whether your condition is chronic or acute, it is important that you take care of your body to prevent further illness or complications. Self-management means that you are taking responsibility for your health such as taking your medications as prescribed, monitoring your vital signs such as weight or blood pressure, and making good lifestyle choices like being active and eating a healthy diet. According to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, individuals who do not feel capable of managing their own health are more likely to develop a new chronic disease over a 3-year period when compared to individuals with good self-management skills2.

Your health care provider may make recommendations to help improve or maintain your condition. It’s up to you to follow them when in between your provider visits. Below are a few steps you can take to manage your condition3:

  • Be active- get at least 30 min of physical activity each day.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet: make sure to get the colors of the rainbow, lean proteins and whole grains.
  • Take your medications as prescribed- this includes over-the counter and prescription medications as recommended by your provider.
  • Keep all scheduled provider appointments and new appointments for worsening symptoms.
  • Complete your preventive screenings, exams and immunizations as recommended.
  • Know your condition triggers- avoid activities, environments, or foods that can make you feel worse.
  • Self-monitor your vital signs and blood values- if you are a diabetic or prediabetic it may be important for you to check your glucose in between visits with your provider. It is also important to keep track of your blood pressure, heart rate, and weight at least once a week.

Remember to take control of your health and don’t let your condition take control of you!

Content contributor: Jennifer Martin, USPM Director of Health Services

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/18126.htm
  2. https://www.ajmc.com/newsroom/identifying-patients-health-self-management-skills
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/10-steps-for-coping-with-a-chronic-condition
5 Tips to Reduce Stress This Year

5 Tips to Reduce Stress This Year

Stress is an inevitable part of life. We cannot avoid stress, but we can take steps toward reducing the amount of stress we take on. Not all stress is bad. However, long-term stress can harm your health. It’s important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stressful events so that you can address them head on, and know when to seek help. Take practical steps to manage your stress and prevent its effects on your health.

Here are 5 ways you can reduce stress this year.

 

The Benefits of Working With a Primary Care Provider

What is a primary care provider (PCP)? And why is it important to have one?  A primary care provider or PCP is a health care practitioner who sees patients that have common medical problems or conditions. This person is most often a doctor but can be a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner and typically specializes in family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. Your PCP is often involved in your care for a long period of time and is a trusted resource for your ongoing health care needs.

Studies show that having a primary care physician can help keep you healthy.  In fact, a recent study found that adults with a primary care provider:

  • Have 19% less odds of premature death than those who only see specialist
  • Save 33% on health care over people who only seek a specialist
  • People who saw PCPs saw fewer doctors and had fewer hospitalizations and lower costs1

The Benefits of Having a PCP

If you saw one doctor for your heart problems (a cardiologist) and another for a rash on your skin (a dermatologist), these two doctors may not know about each other. There could however be a connection between your rash and your heart problems. Without a PCP looking at “the big picture,” this type of piecing together of symptoms and conditions may have gone unnoticed2.

There are additional benefits of working with a PCP such as:

  • Individualized care – understands your unique medical history
  • Chronic disease management – monitors chronic diseases and prevents unnecessary complications
  • Preventive services – regularly scheduled visits and routine screenings, exams, and vaccinations
  • Continuity of care – oversees the entire health picture of an individual

When is it appropriate to seek assistance from your PCP?

There are times when you should see your PCP and times when you should refer to other resources such as your state’s local Emergency Department or Urgent Care Center.

DO see your PCP for:

  • Non-Emergency needs
  • Follow-ups
  • Physicals
  • Screenings
  • Common illnesses (cold)
  • Immunizations

DO NOT see your PCP for:

  • Emergencies/life or death situations (heart attack, stroke, severe allergic reactions); go to the emergency department for immediate care
  • If you feel your health issue can’t wait; go to urgent care3

The Importance of Having a Primary Care Physician Blog content contributors: Mellisa Criss, USPM Content Specialist and Jennifer Martin, USPM Director of Health Services.

References:

  1. https://www.primarycareprogress.org/primary-care-importance/
  2. https://healthcarecenters.martinspoint.org/Doctors-and-Providers/Why-a-Primary-Care-Provider-is-Important
  3. https://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/factsheets/primary/pcwork1/index.html
Blood pressure monitor and stethoscope

High Blood Pressure, a Silent Killer

Did you know the American Heart Association now considers high blood pressure (hypertension) 130/80 mm Hg and higher? The optimal blood pressure for people 20 years and older is 120/80 mm Hg or lower. It is estimated that 46% of adults in the U.S. 20 years and older have hypertension. There are no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.1 

In 2015, there were 78,862 deaths primarily attributable to high blood pressure.This is why it’s important to check your blood pressure regularly. You can check your blood pressure at a doctor’s office, at a pharmacy, or at home. Take steps to prevent high blood pressure or to control it if your blood pressure is already high. 

You can prevent high blood pressure and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke by living a healthy lifestyle, which includes: 

  • Eating a healthy diet 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight 
  • Getting enough physical activity 
  • Not smoking 
  • Limiting alcohol use 

Healthy Diet 

Eating foods low in salt (sodium) and high in potassium can lower your blood pressure. Following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan is a healthy diet proven to help people lower their blood pressure. 

Healthy Weight 

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for high blood pressure. Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to find out if your weight is in a healthy range. 

Physical Activity

Being physically active can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week.

No Smoking

Smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. For more information about quitting, see CDC’s smoking and tobacco use website at www.cdc.gov/tobacco.

Limit Alcohol

Avoid drinking too much alcohol – it can raise your blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day, and women only 1. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/alcohol.2 

Work with Your Health Care Team

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications and lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes are just as important as medications. Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on your medications. Do not stop taking your medications before talking to your doctor. All drugs may have side effects, so speak to your doctor regularly.3

Know Your Numbers4

Learn what’s considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association. A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. 

Know Your Blood Pressure Numbers

American Heart Association: heart.org/bplevels

 

 

Normal blood pressure: Numbers are within the normal (optimal) range of less than 120/80 mm Hg.

Elevated blood pressure: Readings are consistently ranging from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control it.

Hypertension Stage 1: Blood pressure is consistently ranging from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) such as heart attack or stroke. 

Hypertension Stage 2: Blood pressure is consistently ranging at levels of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications along with lifestyle changes.

Hypertensive crisis: High blood pressure requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and test again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis. If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 9-1-1.


 6 Simple Tips to Reduce Your Blood Pressure

  1. Lose weight. The most effective way of reducing elevated blood pressure is by losing weight. Even losing as little as 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure. 
  2. Read labels. Aim for less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily – which is just 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt. Beware of the “salty six”: Breads and rolls, Cold cuts and cured meats, Pizza, Poultry, Soup, and Sandwiches.
  3. Get moving. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day for at least five days a week. Whether it’s dancing, jogging, biking or walking – Do something you enjoy, and stick with it! 
  4. Pump some iron. Add some weight lifting to your exercise regimen to increase muscle, help lose weight, and stay fit. 
  5. Limit alcohol. Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. Alcohol can increase your blood pressure. 
  6. Relieve stress. Stress hormones constrict your blood vessels and can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure. Stress can trigger unhealthy habits like overeating, poor sleep, and misusing drugs and alcohol. Reducing stress should be a priority to lower your blood pressure.5 

References:

  1. https://healthmetrics.heart.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/At-A-Glance-Heart-Disease-and-Stroke-Statistics-2018.pdf
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/healthy_living.htm 
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/control.htm
  4. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/KnowYourNumbers/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp#.WucWDi-ZNMM
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/6-simple-tips-to-reduce-your-blood-pressure
Danger of energy drinks

The Dangers of Energy Drinks

Over the last decade, energy drinks have risen in popularity among teens and adults. Marketed with flashy slogans and promises of better focus and performance, it’s no surprise that 34% of young adults age 18-24 consume them regularly1. What most people don’t know about energy drinks are the potential health risks that come from consuming too much caffeine.

The Effects of Caffeine on Your Body

Caffeine takes effect on the central nervous system within 30 minutes of consumption. It acts as a stimulant, causing the release of neurotransmitters like adrenaline, which increase your heart rate and blood pressure. In small doses, caffeine usually causes no harm. However, a typical energy drink contains four to five times more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Experts recommend that healthy individuals consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day; an amount which is often seen in just one serving of an energy drink.

Excessive Caffeine Consumption Can Be a Medical Emergency

The health risks associated with energy drinks are more severe in those with high blood pressure or heart problems. Emergency room visits related to overconsumption of caffeine are often from dehydration, seizures, and dangerously high blood pressure. From 2007 to 2011, research showed that adults age 40 and older were responsible for the greatest increase in energy drink related emergency room visits4. Overall, the amount of energy drink related emergency room visits doubled during those same years from 10,000 to 20,000 visits per year4.

Mixing Alcohol with Energy Drinks

Combining alcohol with energy drinks is a growing trend among teens and young adults. Over 30% of young adults aged 18-28 reported mixing the two substances at least once in the last year2. The dangers of consuming a stimulant are magnified when combined with a depressant such as alcohol. Energy drinks can mask the depressive effects of alcohol by making the consumer feel more alert and awake3. Because of this, individuals who combine energy drinks and alcohol can’t determine their level of intoxication.

The Bottom Line

Be aware of the ingredients in energy drinks, such as high caffeine content, added sugars, and other supplements. Excessive amounts of caffeine can pose a risk to those with heart problems or individuals who combine energy drinks with alcohol. Also, make sure to read the label on energy drinks to identify how many servings are in the container. If you do decide to consume caffeine, try a better alternative such as tea or black coffee, and make sure to stay below the recommended amount of 400 milligrams per day.


References

  1. Energy Drinks. (2017, October 04). https://nccih.nih.gov/health/energy-drinks
  2. Johnson LD, O’Malley PM, Bachman JG, Schulenberg JE, Miech RA. Monitoring the Future: National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975–2015. Volume 2: College Students and Adults Ages 19–55. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan; 2016
  3. Marczinski CA, Fillmore MT. Energy drinks mixed with alcohol: what are the risks? Nutr Rev. 2014;72(suppl 1):98–107
  4. Mattson, M.E. Update on Emergency Department Visits Involving Energy Drinks: A Continuing Public Health Concern. The CBHSQ Report: January 10, 2013. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD.
How to Maintain Healthy Eating Habits

How to Maintain a Healthy Eating Lifestyle

What you eat each day affects your health and how you feel now and in the future. Good nutrition plays a major role in helping you lead a healthy lifestyle. When combined with physical activity, your diet can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, and promote overall health and wellbeing.

Creating and maintaining healthy eating habits doesn’t have to be hard. If you start by incorporating small changes into your daily habits, you can make a big impact on your eating pattern and create lasting, healthy eating habits. Try including at least six of the following eight goals into your diet by adding one new goal each week.

1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.

2. Make half the grains you eat whole grains

Switch from a refined-grain food to a whole-grain food. For example, choose whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Read the ingredients list and choose products that list a whole-grain ingredients first. Look for things like: “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “rolled oats,” quinoa,” or “wild rice.”

3. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk

Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.

4. Choose a variety of lean protein foods

Protein foods group includes not only meat, poultry, and seafood, but also dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Select leaner cuts of ground beef (where the label says 90% lean or higher), turkey breast, or chicken breast.

5. Compare sodium in foods

Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”

6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks

Drink water to cut back on unnecessary calories from sugary drinks. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets. To add flavor to your water, add a slice of lemon, lime, apple or fresh herbs like mint or basil.

7. Eat some seafood

Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fat). Adults should try to eat at least eight ounces a week of a variety of seafood. Children can eat smaller amounts of seafood. Seafood includes fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout and shellfish such as crab, mussels, and oysters.

8. Cut back on solid fats

Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies, and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine, or shortening); pizza; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.


Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

To maintain your healthy eating habits, try the following tips.

Add More Fruits & Veggies
  • Mix veggies into your go-to dishes. Swap meat for peppers and mushrooms in your tacos or try veggie pasta instead of grain pasta like one made out of black beans for more plant-based protein.
  • Use fresh fruits and veggies whenever possible. Watch for sodium in canned veggies and look for canned fruit packed in water instead of syrup.
  • Pack your child’s lunch bag with fruits and veggies: sliced apples, a banana or carrot sticks.
Prepare Healthy Snacks
  • Teach children the difference between everyday snacks such as fruits and veggies and occasional snacks such as cookies and sweets.
  • Keep cut-up fruits and veggies like carrots, peppers, or orange slices in the refrigerator.
  • Prepare your meals for the week by making them ahead on weekends or on a day off.
Reduce Fat, Salt, and Sugar
  • When eating out, choose baked or grilled food instead of fried and do the same at home.
  • Make water your go-to drink instead of soda or sweetened beverages.
  • Read labels on packaged ingredients to find foods lower in sodium.
  • Reduce amounts of salt added to food when cooking and use herbs and spices instead to add flavor like paprika, turmeric, black pepper, garlic or onion powder.
Control Portion Sizes
  • When preparing meals at home, use smaller plates.
  • Don’t clean your plate if you’re full, instead save leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
  • Portion sizes depend on the age, gender, and activity level of the individual.
Practice Healthy Eating in School
  • Bring healthy snacks into your child’s classroom for birthday parties and holiday celebrations, instead of providing sugary treats.
  • Pack healthy lunches for children including whole grains, fruits and veggies, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.1

Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce

Making sudden, radical changes to eating habits such as eating nothing but cabbage soup, can lead to short-term weight loss but it won’t be successful in the long run. To permanently improve your eating habits:

  • Reflect on all your habits, both good and bad, and your common triggers for unhealthy eating.
  • Replace your unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones.
  • Reinforce your new, healthier habits.
  1. Keep a food diary for a few days to evaluate what you eat every day. Note how you were feeling when you ate – hungry, not hungry, tired, or stressed?
  2. Create a list of “cues” by reviewing your food diary to become more aware when you’re “triggered” to eat for reasons other than hunger. Note how you’re feeling at those times.
  3. Circle the cues on your list that you face on a daily or weekly basis.
  4. Ask yourself about the cues you’ve circled; is there anything else you can do to avoid the cue or situation? If you can’t avoid it, can you do something differently that would be healthier?
  5. Replace unhealthy habits with new, healthy ones.
  6. Reinforce your new, healthy habits and be patient with yourself. You can do it! Take it one day at a time!
To make sure your meals are balanced and nutritious, use the MyPlate, MyWins at choosemyplate.gov to create healthy eating solutions that work for you.

References

  1. U.S. Department of Human Services: https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/eat-healthy/how-to-eat-healthy/index.html
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/eating_habits.html
Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes

Prediabetes: What You Need to Know

One out of 3 American adults has prediabetes – that’s 86 million people. And, 9 out of 10 of them don’t even know they have it! Prediabetes is a condition that comes before diabetes. It means your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but aren’t high enough to be called diabetes. There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes. Without intervention, many people with prediabetes could develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.1

 Prediabetes

You’re at risk for developing prediabetes if you: 

  • Are overweight
  • Are 45 years or older
  • Have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • Are physically active less than 3 times a week
  • Have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
  • Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk)

Diabetes

You’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes if you: 

  • Have prediabetes
  • Are overweight
  • Are 45 years or older
  • Have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • Are physically active less than 3 times a week
  • Have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
  • Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk)2

Don’t let the “pre” in prediabetes fool you into thinking it’s not a problem now. By taking action now, you have the power to not only prevent type 2 diabetes but also reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke associated with prediabetes.

People with prediabetes who do not change their lifestyle by losing weight if needed, and increase their physical activity – can develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years. According to the CDC, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health issues such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Blindness
  • Kidney failure
  • Loss of toes, feet, or legs

Additionally, being overweight and not physically active can make you feel sluggish and affect your mood. Making positive lifestyle changes can lower your risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and improve the quality of your overall health and wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of your family.3

The great news is that prediabetes can often be reversed. You can join a CDC-recognized diabetes prevention program to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. This proven lifestyle change program can cut diabetes risk in half. Programs are available in-person or online and are designed for people who have prediabetes or are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

CDC-recognized lifestyle change programs are proven to work and are based on research led by the National Institutes of Health. Their research shows that people with prediabetes who participate in a structured lifestyle change program can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% (71% for people over 60 years old). This finding was the result of the program helping people lose 5% to 7% of their body weight through healthier eating and 150 minutes of physical activity a week. For a person who weighs 200 pounds, losing 5% to 7% of their body weight means losing just 10 to 14 pounds. It doesn’t take drastic weight loss to make a big impact.

The impact of this program can last for years to come. Research has found that even after 10 years, people who completed a diabetes prevention program were one third less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.4

How do I find out if I have prediabetes?

Take the American Diabetes Association’s Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test.

What can I learn from the program?

The program is not a fad diet or an exercise class. It’s not a quick fix. It’s a year-long program focused on long-term changes to create healthy habits for life.

Your lifestyle coach, who is specially trained to lead the program, will help you learn new skills, encourage you to set and meet goals, and keep you motivated. A year may sound like a long time, but learning new habits takes time and practice. As you begin eating better and moving more, you’ll notice a difference in how you feel.

During the first half of the program, you will learn to:

  • Eat healthy without giving up the foods you love
  • Add physical activity to your life, even if you think you don’t have time
  • Manage your stress
  • Cope with challenges and obstacles that can derail your path – like how to eat healthy when traveling
  • Get back on track if you stray from your plan

In the second half of the program, you will enhance the skills you’ve learned so you can maintain the changes you’ve made. These sessions will review key ideas such as tracking your food and physical activity, setting goals, staying motivated, and overcoming barriers.

Where can I find a program?

CDC-recognized lifestyle programs are located in a variety of places throughout the community, including:

  • Health care clinics
  • Community-based organizations
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Pharmacies
  • Wellness centers
  • Worksites
  • Cooperative extension offices
  • University-based continuing education programs
  • You can also choose an online program

To find a program near you visit, https://nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_DPRP/Programs.aspx

What’s the cost of the program?

The cost of participating in a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program varies, depending on location, organization offering it, and type of program (in person or online). Contact the program you are interested in to find out the cost. Some employers and insurance carriers cover the cost of these programs. Check with your employer or insurance carrier to see if a program is covered.


USPM is Proud to Offer Diabetes Prevention Program

USPM Prevent T2 is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This proven program can help people at risk for type 2 diabetes make achievable and realistic lifestyle changes and cut their risk of type 2 diabetes in half.

Learn More About Prevent T2 Program

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/prediabetes-type2/index.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/risk-factors.html
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/prediabetes-type2/index.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/prediabetes-type2/preventing.html
Boost Your Immune System and Your Heart Health

Boost Your Immune System

In the past few months, the U.S. has witnessed one of the worst flu seasons since the swine-flu pandemic of 2009. A recent study suggests that the flu doesn’t just cause aches, chills, and fatigue but it may also increase the risk of a heart attack. The study shows a six-fold increase in heart attacks shortly after people get the flu. Take preventive measures today to take care of your heart and body to prevent the flu or reduce its effects if you get the flu.1

The flu season usually begins in October or November and peaks between December and February, and can last as late as May, according to the CDC. Each year, the flu is estimated to cause between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths and up to 710,000 hospitalizations in the U.S.1

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommend the shot for people with heart disease.

Another way to protect yourself against disease is to improve your heart health. The American Heart Association has started a ‘Healthy For Good’ revolutionary movement to inspire you to create lasting change in your health and your life, one small step at a time.

Eat Smart 

A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons against cardiovascular disease. Eating healthy doesn’t mean dieting or giving up the foods you love.

  • Eat more plants! When you eat a vegetarian diet, be sure to add foods rich in iron, Vitamin B12, Calcium, and Zinc.
  • Limit sweets, fatty or processed meats, solid fats like butter, and salty or highly processed foods.
  • Avoid bad fats (solid or saturated fats from animal sources like meat, dairy, and tropical oils) and incorporate healthier fats (nontropical liquid oils, nuts and seeds, avocados, and fatty fish) into your diet.
  • Stock your kitchen with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Ditch the processed and junk foods!
  • Instead of eliminating foods you love, concentrate on eating smaller portions.
  • Eat reasonable portions, even when you’re served more than you need (Split an entrée when dining out).

Move More

A good starting goal is at least 150 minutes a week, but if you don’t want to sweat the numbers, just move more! Find forms of exercise you enjoy and will stick with, and build more opportunities to be active into your routine.

  • Start walking – begin with a few minutes each day, and add more minutes each week.
  • Find ways to make walking fun, whether that’s changing your route, inviting friends or listening to your favorite podcast.
  • Don’t skip out on your warm-up, 5-10 minutes is a good rule of thumb.
  • Get the whole family moving – adding exercise is easier when it’s a shared activity.
  • Make time during a busy day for activity by going for a brisk walk during your lunch break or taking the stairs as often as possible.
  • Cool down after a workout to help your body reset and recover a little bit easier – this is the best time to stretch when your muscles are still warm.
  • Turn TV time into a workout – during every commercial break do a body weight exercise (squats, push ups, jumping jacks).

Add Color

An easy first step to eating healthy is to include fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. All forms (fresh, frozen, canned and dried) and all colors count, so go ahead and add color to your plate – and your life!

  • To mix up your spaghetti routine, add an imposter pasta such as one made from black bean, edamame, chick pea or a vegetable pasta such as zucchini noodles.
  • Roast vegetables in high heat to caramelize and bring out their natural flavors; don’t overdo it with salt or sauces.
  • Grill fruits to unlock a deeper sweetness and give their color some char.
  • Add color to your plate with the 5 main color groups: red and pink, blue and purple, yellow and orange, white and brown and green. Check out healthyforgood.heart.org for examples from each group. 
  • Look at your plate each time you eat, and if it’s too beige, add a serving of fruits or vegetables.
  • Go meatless – add mushrooms in place of beef, go with veggies and beans in your stir fry or use thick cut eggplant in place of chicken.

Be Well

Along with eating right and being active, better health requires getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness, managing stress, keeping your mind and body fit, and connecting socially.

  • Be more active, limit caffeine before bed, and establish a better sleep routine.
  • Neutralize your racing mind by acknowledging thoughts as they come and letting them pass freely.
  • Focus on healthy outlets for stress, like taking a walk, journaling, volunteering or a hobby that you love.
  • Take time out for you – use your vacation days, whether you go on a big trip or just hang at home for a staycation.
  • Don’t overlook your emotional and mental health – get help if you need it to manage stress, anxiety, depression or grief.
  • Practice deep breathing techniques by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth slowly and deliberately.
  • Take preventive measures to avoid stress, like leaving a few minutes earlier to avoid being late, or avoiding busy roads so you can stay calm while driving.
  • In high-anxiety situations, give yourself some space – take a walk and come back later when tensions subside.

 Prevent the Flu2

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu viruses.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with a flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

References:

  1. American Heart Association: https://news.heart.org/flu-blankets-nation-new-study-links-virus-heart-attacks/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm
Cold vs Flu

The Difference Between a Cold and The Flu

Have you ever shown symptoms and wondered whether you have a cold or the flu? This is because having a cold and having the flu can display similar symptoms. Check out the chart below, find out which infection you have, and follow the day-by-day advice given below.
 USPM Cold vs Flu Infographic

Cold

Day 1

Hold off on calling the Doctor.
There is no prescription drug that your doctor can prescribe that will shorten the length of the common cold. A cold is a viral infection that cannot be treated by antibiotics, which fight bacterial infections. Furthermore, antiviral drugs are used to ease symptoms of the flu, so it cannot be used to calm a cold. However, you can take the following over-the-counter drugs to ease the pain of the common cold:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

Practice extra good hygiene

When we are sick, we often want to stay home. However, if you venture out into the public it is extremely important to take extra measures to not spread what you have. To help stop the spread of germs:

 

Do not:
  • Touch others
  • Cough/Sneeze into your hands (then touch another object)

Do:

  • Wash hands with soap and water regularly (Especially after sneezing and/or coughing)
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Cough or sneeze into a cloth (ig. tissue, your upper sleeve, elbow)
  • If you use a tissue, make sure to put in a trashcan
  • Consider taking vitamin C

Days 2-4
Avoid exhausting yourself
When it comes to exercise, moderate activity may help a little, but working out until you sweat may even prolong your symptoms according to Dr. Marvin M. Lipman, M.D.
Take preventive measures and prepare for what comes next
As shown in the chart above, a sore throat is likely the first symptom to roll around. Shortly after, symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, and runny nose start developing. If you are a fan of taking the non-drug route, here are a few suggestions of what you can do to ease these symptoms:
  • Honey or salt-water gargle to ease sore throat
  • Saline nasal spray to east congestion
  • Eat warm soup or drink warm beverages to thin mucus

 5+ Days
Consider calling your healthcare provider
If your symptoms do not improve or are worsening, think about reaching out to your healthcare provider. The common cold is a viral infection, but you could also be developing a bacterial infection, which would require antibiotics. You may have another issue, such as allergies (immune reaction to a foreign substance in the body, bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial lining), or pneumonia (infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs).

Flu

Day 1
Stay home
On the first day of having the flu you are highly contagious, so it is best to not spread germs. The flu usually lasts for 1-2 weeks but after a few days, symptoms may ease, and you can reconsider going out. Have someone bring in some flu-survival basics such as: 
  • Tissues 
  • Easy-to-eat foods 
  • Over-the-counter medications 
  • Chicken soup
Don’t push yourself too hard
As the flu settles in the body, it needs plenty of rest. Instead of pushing yourself too hard doing daily tasks, climb into bed and get the rest your body deserves. Doing too much, especially in the early stages of illness, can weaken your body.
Ask your doctor for an antiviral drug
These drugs can shorten the duration of the flu by a day and reduce the risk of pneumonia and other complications. However, it only works if you start taking it 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. Examples of antiviral drugs are Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza). Use caution with these drugs, especially if you are: 
  • 65 years or older 
  • Younger than 5 years old 
  • Pregnant or just had a baby 
  • Have a chronic disease such as asthma, heart disease, or other chronic diseases
  • Remember to consult with your physician before taking any medication

The flu often starts off with a temperature over 100° F. To ease head and body aches that come with the flu, you can take: 

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

Days 2-4

Fluids, Fluids, Fluids!
Fevers can increase the chances of becoming dehydrated, so drinking plenty of water is a must. Try mixing a salty liquid such as chicken or vegetable broth and a sweet liquid like tea, juice, or iced fruit pops. According to Patricia A. Stinchfield, a pediatric nurse practitioner, the mixture will replace electrolytes, promote full hydration and may help thin out thick mucus. 

Monitor your temperature
A low-grade fever itself is not harmful, however, it can mean that you are still contagious. Monitoring your temperature can keep you up to date on if your temperature spikes or not. In young children, temperature spikes may trigger seizures. 

Reach out to your healthcare provider if needed
Watch out for complications such as difficulty breathing or swallowing, or if you experience disorientation. These are signs that indicate pneumonia, bronchitis, or dehydration. The individuals vulnerable to these conditions are:

  • Children
  • Elderly
  • People with chronic conditions

You should also reach out to your healthcare provider if drinking or urinating become difficult or is painful.


Days 5-6

Invest in some natural remedies
After a few days of having the flu in your system, the body aches and fevers may by gone but sore throat and cough often continue for a while longer. Here are a few good remedies that will be useful during this time: 

  • Lozenges
  • Honey
  • Salt-water gargle
  • Plenty of tea or soup

If you feel that you are recovering and have been without a fever for 24 hours, then you many consider getting back to school or work.


7+ Days

Do not panic
Like mentioned above, the flu can last up to 1-2 weeks. If you feel that you are in the process of recovering, just continue what you have been doing and little by little, you should be on your way to full recovery. 

Call your healthcare provider
If you are not improving or you are showing signs of complications, you may be developing pneumonia, sinusitis, or another health-related issue. Call you healthcare provider to learn more about what you can do.


References
1. https://www.consumerreports.org/medical-symptoms/treating-a-cold-or-the-flu-day-by-day-guide/
2. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/etiquette/coughing_sneezing.html
3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/
Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2014. Almost 80% of individuals suffering from a substance use disorder in 2014 struggled with an alcohol use disorder.1Drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to change.2

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs.

These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease—people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the person responds.

What happens to the brain when a person takes drugs?2 

Most drugs affect the brain’s “reward circuit” by flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. This reward system controls the body’s ability to feel pleasure and motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. This overstimulation of the reward circuit causes the intensely pleasurable “high” that can lead people to take a drug again and again.

As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adjusts to the excess dopamine by making less of it and/or reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug—an effect known as tolerance.

They might take more of the drug, trying to achieve the same dopamine high. It can also cause them to get less pleasure from other things they once enjoyed, like food or social activities.

Long-term use also causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting functions that include:

  • Learning
  • Judgment
  • Decision-making
  • Stress
  • Memory
  • Behavior

Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction.

Can drug addiction be cured or prevented?2

As with most other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction generally isn’t a cure. However, addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. People who are recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy ensures the best chance of success for most patients.

The good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Results from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction. Although personal events and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people view drug use as harmful, they tend to decrease their drug taking.

Therefore, education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.

Treatment for Drug Abuse3

Drug addiction can be treated, but it’s not simple. It must help the person do the following:

  • Stop using drugs
  • Stay drug-free
  • Be productive at home, at work, and in society

Successful treatment has several steps:

  • Detoxification
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction)
  • Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • Long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

Medications can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-occurring conditions.

Behavioral therapies help patients:

  • Modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use
  • Increase healthy life skills
  • Persist with other forms of treatment, such as medication

Finding Treatment Services

Visit https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov to find a treatment service near you or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline:

  • 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • 1-800-487-4889 (TTY)

Free and confidential information in English and Spanish for individuals and family members facing substance abuse and mental health issues – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Road to Recovery

If you or a family member are recovering from drug addiction, focus on the following to help prevent relapse:

  • Keep going to your treatment sessions.
  • Try mindfulness breathing, yoga or meditation to reduce stress.
  • Avoid triggers such as spending time with the people you used drugs with, places, things, or emotions that can make you want to use drugs again.
  • Take care of your body to help it heal from the harmful effects of drug use and to feel better. Be sure to add daily exercise, and eat healthy foods.
  • Find new activities and goals to replace the ones that involved drug use.
  • Spend more time with family and friends you lost touch with; consider not seeing friends who are still using drugs.

Resources

Get Help from Your Doctor 

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you or someone you know is addicted to prescription drugs and needs help stopping or you’re not sure where to start. Reach out to your doctor if you are having withdrawal symptoms that concern you. Your doctor can help you get connected to the care you need.


References

  1. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/addiction-statistics/
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

 

Spread Kindness for a Happier You

Spread Kindness for a Happier You

What if we told you kindness makes you happy? You don’t have to take our word for it. Two studies suggest spending money on others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves!

Kindness can create a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism. Kindness is contagious. Once you start doing nice things for others, you might not want to stop. This month we’re focusing on kindness toward ourselves and others to close out the year on a positive note, and to make kindness a healthy habit to carry into the new year.

Happiness is a central desire in our lives. Gratitude is an important human strength that contributes to happiness. One study showed that grateful individuals were especially appreciative of the contribution of others to their happiness.

“Compared with unhappy people, happy people report close and satisfying relationships and feel more gratitude in their lives. Whereas gratitude results when people receive kindness from other people, kindness entails enacting kind behavior toward other people.”2

The same study found that happy people reported higher levels of the three kindness components:

  1. The motivation to be kind to others
  2. The recognition of kindness in others, and
  3. The enactment of kind behavior in one’s daily life.

“Kind people experience more happiness and have happier memories. Simply by counting acts of kindness for one week, people appear to have become happier and more grateful. Happy people are more kind in the first place and they can become even happier, kinder and more grateful following a simple intervention.”2

Kindness Increases:

  • The Love Hormone
  • Energy
  • Happiness
  • Lifespan
  • Pleasure
  • Serotonin3

Kindness Decreases:

  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Blood Pressure3

Both kindness and gratitude are an important human strength that influences our wellbeing. It’s important to practice these habits frequently, starting with one random act of kindness per week. Then work your way up to one or more random acts of kindness per day. Practice kindness and compassion toward yourself every day. You can’t fill anyone else’s cup unless yours is full. The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnesses the act, improving their mood and making them more likely to extend kindness to others. Build up your compassion muscle by being kind to others and offer care and help.

Tips to Promote Kindness

  • Try seeing your world view as open to improvement by the evidence and experience of others.
  • Remember to put yourself in other people’s shoes. You never know what others are going through.
  • The only person who can affect your mood and thoughts are you! Be introspective and discover your own thoughts and fears that inhibit you from being the kindest possible version of yourself.
  • Write a list of preconceived notions you have about interactions with others, and then break them.
  • Often, we can mask our insecurities by judging and projecting negative thoughts on others. Try to catch yourself thinking a negative thought, and say “STOP” to redirect yourself to a positive thought.
  • Realize that you have to first help yourself before you can help others.
  • Mistakes are okay. Track what you consider to be mistakes, and how you learn from them in your journal.
  • Reflect on past experiences during the week, and how you made decisions every day.
  • Choose being kind over being right and you’ll be right every time.
  • Just about everything is smoother with a smile.
  • Though being kind to our friends and loved ones may come easily, a true test of your kindness is attempting to resolve problems with people scorned or ones you’ve been scorned by in your past.
  • Your words can influence those around you. Remember that the mouth should have three gatekeepers. Is it true? It is kind? And it is necessary? 

Pay It Forward

When someone does a good deed for you, instead of paying them back, “pay it forward” by doing a good deed for someone else. Below are a few ways you can pay it forward.

  • Give a genuine compliment to someone.
  • Perform random acts of kindness (Hold doors open for people, volunteer, share food, etc.)
  • Become a mentor or tutor to a person in need. We all have skills, so share yours with those who need it!
  • Leave post-it notes with encouraging messages in random places (in library books, on car door/windshields, in public places, etc.).
  • Write a positive Yelp! or Google Review for a business you like.
  • Offer to stay late and help clean up at your friend’s party.
  • Visit family members you haven’t seen in a while.
  • When driving, let someone merge into your lane.
  • Drive a friend to the airport.
  • Do two things to protect and preserve the environment for generations to come.
Loving-Kindness Meditation

To cultivate positive emotions, try a Loving-Kindness Meditation. Try this free meditation from UCLA Health website (available in English and Spanish).

  • Visit: http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations
  • To listen to the meditation, click “Play” button next to Loving Kindness Meditation (9 minutes)
  • To download the meditation, right click on “Play” button and then click “Save Link As”

References

  1. Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/kindness_makes_you_happy_and_happiness_makes_you_kind
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine (NIH): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1820947/
  3. Random Acts of Kindness Foundation: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness
Eating and cooking better for diabetes

Eating Better and Exercising for Diabetes Management

Diabetes is a leading cause of heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and amputation. It also leads to more sick days and less productivity on the job. The good news is, type 2 diabetes can be prevented, and it isn’t as hard as you might think. Losing just 7% of your body weight (which translates to 14 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) and exercising moderately (like brisk walking) 5 days a week can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58%. Lifestyle changes can also prevent or delay diabetes complications.1

Nutrition and physical activity are important parts of a healthy lifestyle whether you have diabetes or not. Along with other benefits, following a healthy meal plan and being active can help you keep your blood glucose level, also called blood sugar, in your target range. To manage your blood glucose, you need to balance what you eat and drink with physical activity and diabetes medicine, if you take any.

Becoming more active and making changes in what you eat and drink can seem challenging at first. It is easier to start with small changes and get help from your family, friends, and your health care team. Eating well and being physically active most days of the week can help you:

  • Keep your blood glucose level, blood pressure, and cholesterol in your target ranges
  • Lose weight or stay at a healthy weight
  • Prevent or delay diabetes problems
  • Feel good and have more energy

What foods can I eat if I have diabetes?

Eat smaller portions. Learn about serving sizes and how many servings you need in a meal. The key to eating with diabetes is to eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups, in the amounts your meal plan specifies.

The food groups are:

  • Vegetables
    • Nonstarchy: includes broccoli, carrots, greens, peppers, and tomatoes
    • Starchy: includes potatoes, corn, and green peas
  • Fruits — includes oranges, melon, berries, apples, bananas, and grapes
  • Grains — at least half of your grains for the day should be whole grains
    • Includes wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, and quinoa
    • Examples: bread, pasta, cereal, and tortillas
  • Protein
    • Lean meat
    • Chicken or turkey without the skin
    • Fish
    • Eggs
    • Nuts and peanuts
    • Dried beans and certain peas, such as chickpeas and split peas
    • Meat substitutes, such as tofu
  • Dairy — nonfat or low fat
    • Milk or lactose-free milk if you have lactose intolerance
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese

Eat foods with heart-healthy fats, which mainly come from these foods:

  • Oils that are liquid at room temperature, such as olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Heart-healthy fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • Avocado
  • Use oils when cooking food instead of butter, cream, shortening, lard, or stick margarine1

What foods and drinks should I limit if I have diabetes?

Foods and drinks to limit include:

  • Fried foods and other foods high in saturated fat and trans fat
  • Foods high in salt, also called sodium
  • Sweets, such as baked goods, candy, and ice cream
  • Beverages with added sugars, such as juice, regular soda, and regular sports or energy drinks

Drink water instead of sweetened beverages. Consider using a sugar substitute in your coffee or tea.

If you drink alcohol, drink moderately — no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman or two drinks a day if you’re a man. If you use insulin or diabetes medicines that increase the amount of insulin your body makes, alcohol can make your blood glucose level drop too low.1

How much can I eat if I have diabetes?

Two common ways to help you plan how much to eat if you have diabetes are the plate method and carbohydrate counting. Check with your health care team about the method that’s best for you.

Plate method

The plate method shows the amount of each food group you should eat. This method works best for lunch and dinner. You can find more details about using the plate method from the American Diabetes Association.

Carbohydrate (carb) counting method

Carb counting involves keeping track of the amount of carbs you eat and drink each day. Because carbs turn into glucose in your body, they affect your blood glucose level more than other foods do. Carb counting can help you manage your blood glucose level. If you take insulin, counting carbs can help you know how much insulin to take.1

Most carbs come from starches, fruits, milk, and sweets. Try to limit carbs with added sugars or those with refined grains, such as white bread and white rice. Instead, eat carbs from fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and low-fat or nonfat milk. Learn more about diabetes meal plans at American Diabetes Association.

Why should I be physically active if I have diabetes? 

Physical activity is an important part of managing your blood glucose level and staying healthy. Physical activity:

  • Lowers blood glucose levels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves blood flow
  • Burns extra calories so you can keep your weight down if needed
  • Improves your mood
  • Can prevent falls and improve memory in older adults
  • May help you sleep better 2

What physical activities should I do if I have diabetes? 

  • Ask your health care team what physical activities are safe for you. Many people choose walking with friends or family members.
  • If you have been inactive or are trying a new activity, start slowly, with 5 to 10 minutes a day. Then add more time each week.
  • Walk around while you talk on the phone or during TV commercials.
  • Do chores, such as work in the garden, rake leaves, clean the house, or wash the car.
  • Park at the far end of the shopping center parking lot and walk to the store.
  • Take the stairs instead of elevator.
  • Make your family outings active, such as a family bike ride or a walk in the park. 2

References:

  1. http://www.diabetes.org/in-my-community/awareness-programs/stop-diabetes-at-work
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity
USPM food group shopping guide

Make Grocery Shopping Easier with This Food Group Shopping Guide

The layout of the grocery store and the aisles you walk down will have a great impact on what you purchase. Most grocery stores keep:

  • Produce on the perimeter of the store
  • Meat, poultry, and fish in the back
  • Dairy on the opposite end of produce

The middle aisles can be intimidating as these are often where you will find the processed foods such as chips, snack cakes, breads and frozen or canned meals. They do also contain many staple pantry items such as breads, crackers, nuts, seeds, and baking/cooking products.

The outskirts of the store will hold the freshest foods. The bakery, deli, and if the store has a coffee shop will typically all be located at the front perimeter of the store. The fresh bakery and deli foods of the grocery store even tends to be on the outside area with the produce because it is fresher then pre-packaged baked goods and deli meat.

Specialty products are often placed on the end caps to make shoppers aware of them and increase their sale. These end cap items are often hard to avoid as you still pass by when you stay on the perimeter of the store so it is important to go in with a list and plan.

Use the Food Group Shopping Guide below to help you focus on what to purchase and cook at home! And remember, if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it!

Food Group Shopping Guide

USPM Food Group Grocery Shopping Guide Infographic

 

Download the Infographic: USPM-Food-Group-Shopping-Guide-Infographic

 

Step It Up This October With Walking

Step It Up This October With Walking

Walking is a great way to increase your physical activity and improve your health. It’s an easy way to start and maintain a physically active lifestyle. It’s the most common physical activity for people across the U.S. Walking provides many opportunities to incorporate physical activity into your busy life – whether it’s for work, school, leisure, or to improve your health.

Physical activity such as walking can help control weight and improve health even without weight loss. People who are physically active live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.1 

We Need More Physical Activity1

  • Adults need at least 2 and 1/2 hours (150 minutes) of aerobic physical activity per week . This should be at a moderate level, such as fast-paced walk for no less than 10 minutes at a time. Aerobic physical activity makes you breathe harder and makes your heart and blood vessels healthier. Examples include brisk walking, running, swimming, and other activities.
  • According to the CDC, less than half of all adults get the recommended amount of physical activity.
  • Women and older adults are not as likely to get the recommended level of weekly physical activity.
  • Inactive adults have higher risk for early death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.
  • Walking routes in and near neighborhoods encourage people to walk to stops for buses, trains, and trolleys.

Should You See a Doctor First? 

  • Most people do not need to see a doctor before they start a walking program.
  • However, you should check with your doctor if you have a chronic health problem such as a heart condition, diabetes, or high blood pressure, are over 40 years old and have been inactive.
  • You should also talk to your doctor if while walking, you get dizzy, feel faint or short of breath; or have chest, neck, shoulder or arm pain.2 

How to Start Walking More

1. Set realistic goals and how you plan to achieve them. Set realistic goals such as walking 10 to 15 minutes three times a week.
  • Create an action plan for how far and how often you will walk.
  • Where would you like to be in 6 months to a year in your walking program?
  • Plan where you will walk, what days of the week you will walk.
  • Identify a walking buddy or support person.
2. Be prepared.
  • Make sure you have everything you need to get started such as shoes that fit right and have good arch support; a firm, well-cushioned heel; and nonskid, flexible soles.
  • Ensure you have clothes that keep you dry and comfortable, a hat or visor for the sun, sunscreen, and sunglasses; a hat and scarf to cover your head and ears when it’s cold outside, and layers of clothing in cold weather that you can remove as you warm up.
3. Get moving.
  • Divide your walk into three parts: warm up by walking slowly; increase your speed to a brisk walk; and cool down by slowing your pace.
  • When walking be sure to use proper form: keep your chin up and your shoulders slightly back and relaxed.
  • Look forward, not at the ground.
  • Keep your back straight, rather than arched forward or backward.
  • Let the heel of your foot touch the ground first, and then roll your weight forward.
  • Walk with your toes pointed forward.
  • Swing your arms naturally.
4. Add on.
  • As walking gets easier, start to go faster and farther. Add hills or stairs to make your walks more challenging.
  • If you are walking less than three times per week, give yourself more than 2 weeks before adding time to your walk.

How To Make Walking a Healthy Habit

  • Don’t give up. Stick with your walking program.
  • Walk in places you enjoy, like a park or shopping center. To stay motivated, try different routes to keep it interesting.
  • Listen to your favorite music as you walk, remembering to keep the volume low so you can hear sounds around you.
  • Bring a friend or a family member. Having a regular walking buddy or support person may help you keep going. You can cheer each other on and serve as role models for friends, family members, coworkers, and your community.
  • Have a “Plan B” for when bad weather or other roadblocks get in the way. Be ready to walk indoors rather than outdoors.
  • Track your progress on paper, online, with a fitness app, fitness tracker or a pedometer. Record dates, distance, and how you felt when you were done.
  • Reward yourself with something pleasant after you walk, like a relaxing shower or a 30 minutes of time to yourself.
  • Be prepared for setbacks. If certain obstacles prevent you from walking, get back to your routine as soon as you can.

With time, walking can become part of your daily life and may even make it easier to try other types of physical activity.

20 Ways to Add More Steps

  1. Find a buddy who can take walks with you.
  2. Walk your dog in the morning for 15 minutes and in the evening for 10 minutes.
  3. March in place while brushing your teeth.
  4. Exercise indoor with a workout DVD.
  5. Play hide and seek with your kids.
  6. Have a dance party with your kids.
  7. Walk your kids to school or the school bus.
  8. Walk while chatting on the phone.
  9. Make it a nightly habit to go for an after-dinner stroll with the family.
  10. If you’re going to the mailbox, take a tour around the house first or a lap around your block.
  11. During commercials, don’t fast forward your DVR – stand up and march in place or pick things up around the house.
  12. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  13. Park far from the office.
  14. Get off the bus/train one stop before or after your regular stop to take extra steps.
  15. Walk to a coworker’s office instead of calling or emailing them.
  16. Use the restroom that is one floor up (or down) at work instead of heading for the one closest to your office.
  17. Use the water or coffee machine one floor up (or down) at work instead of heading for the one closest to your office.
  18. Set reminders on your phone or calendar to take a walking break.
  19. Take afternoon “brainstorming” walks.
  20. Pick up your lunch instead of ordering takeout.

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/walking/index.html
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/walking-step-right-direction
Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Taking Care of Your Mental Health

What is Mental Health?

From childhood to adulthood, mental health is a part of your life every step of the way. It includes our psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing. The state of our mental health determines how we make decisions, feel and act towards others, and how we cope with the hardships in our lives.1

Exposures

There are factors that may contribute to an individual’s chance of being exposed to having a mental disorder.

  1. Biological factors (Genes, brain chemistry)
  2. Life experiences (Trauma, abuse)
  3. Family history of mental health problems1,2

Early Warning Signs and Triggers

There are many situations in life that can take us on a rollercoaster of emotions such as divorce in the family or tension within friendships. It is important to not only spot warning signs and triggers in other people, but also in yourself. Below is a list of warning signs that are important to recognize when considering your mental health.

  • Finding little or no pleasure in life
  • Feeling worthless or helpless for long periods of time (Remember, this is not the same as feeling “blue” or sad for a while)
  • Crying a lot
  • Experiencing a change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Distancing yourself from people and everyday activities
  • Feeling numb like nothing matters
  • Arguing and/or fighting with family and friends
  • Losing interest in your favorite hobbies
  • Wanting to harm yourself or someone else1,2

Myths about mental health1

  • Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.
  • Fact: People with mental health problems are actually 10 times more likely to be victims of a violent crime.

  • Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?
  • Fact: The best treatment for a mental health illness depends on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals who have mental health issues also work with a support group counselor to help heal and recover.

  • Myth: Prevention doesn’t work. It is impossible to prevent mental illnesses.
  • Fact: Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavior disorders means to address the issue and promote the social and emotional wellbeing of individuals. Some of the benefits of promoting social and emotional wellbeing are:
  • Lower health care costs
  • Improved family life
  • Lower crime rates
  • Increased lifespan
  • Higher productivity

So How Do We Contribute to Your Mental Health In a Positive Way?

Listed below are activies that you can take to improve your mental health.

  1. Value yourself. It is not only important to value others, but also to value yourself and see yourself as a VIP of your own life. Take care of your mind by treating yourself with kindness and respect. Make time for yourself by doing your favorite hobbies or taking up a dance class. Try broadening your horizons by traveling or becoming fluent in another language.
  1. Take care of your body
  • Eat nutritious meals
  • Avoid cigarettes
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise (Decreases depression and improves mood)
  • Get enough sleep
  1. Surround yourself with supportive people. Make plans with family, friends, or invest in activities that will encourage you to meet new people such as joining clubs. Having a strong supportive network contributes to our mental health.
  2. Give. Volunteering your time is not only self-fulfilling, but you are also helping others in need. Just think about it, you can help people and make new friends at the same time!
  3. Learn how to cope with stress in a healthy manner. Coping with stress is very important, considering that stress is a part of life. Do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet, etc. Whether it is good stress, or bad stress, we must learn coping strategies that will help us lead a healthy life.
  4. Relax your mind. Relaxation exercises such as meditation, mindfulness, and prayer can improve our view on life. Pick one and start practicing today.
  5. Set realistic goals. Aim high but be realistic. We have all gone through that phase of childhood where everyone under the sun asks, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Now is the time where you should think more about your answer. What do you want to achieve academically? professionally? personally? Write it down on paper and go through the steps you need to do in order to get to your goal. This will lead to an incredible sense of accomplishment, and more importantly, self-worth.
  6. Be spontaneous. We can sometimes get caught up in the monotony of life. Instead of committing to your daily routine, try something different that will spice things up! Plan a trip to a place you’ve never been, go on a different path when taking a walk, try food that is new to you.
  7. Avoid alcohol and other drugs. For some people, using drugs to “solve” their issues is common. While it will numb you for a little bit, engaging in activities such as excessive drinking and drug use will only intensify your issues, and may even make you feel regretful.
  8. Get help when you need it. The most important fact that people must remember is that there is treatment. If treated properly, people with a mental illness can fully recover.3

It’s all in the attitude

1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness

Reference: https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/MulticulturalMHFacts10-23-15.pdf

 

 

According to National Alliance in Mental Health (NAMI), approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (43.8 million, or 18.5%) experiences mental illness in a given year.4,5 So why is seeking help still taboo in America? Fear, shame, and embarrassment by family members and peers often influence people to not seek help. Here a few points to remember when in need of help, but reluctant to take action:

  • Mental health problems are real and not something you can just “snap out of”
  • Gender does not matter, it is OK to ask for help because you CAN get it
  • Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness3
  • Mental health is just as important as physical health
  • You wouldn’t avoid a physical illness, so why ignore mental illness?
  • There is hope. People recover and ultimately go on to live healthier lives2

At USPM, there are many health and wellness programs equipped with coaches and nurses that will assist you. If you are interested in having a health coach or nurse case manager help you on your journey to a healthier you, please refer to your Preventive Plan portal.


Sources:

  1. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health/index.html
  2. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/change.aspx
  3. https://www.uhs.umich.edu/tenthings
  4. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mental-illness-ami-among-adults.shtml
  5. https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/MulticulturalMHFacts10-23-15.pdf
Grocery shopping on a budget

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

When it comes to grocery shopping, preparation is key. You should plan to go to the grocery store with a well thought out list, and avoid going on an empty stomach. With all the options available at the store, grocery shopping can be overwhelming. Don’t let yourself fall victim to making impulse buys – stick to the list. Grocery store products and advertisements are designed to catch your attention, and are usually strategically placed at the entrance. Here are some tricks to help you stick to your list and stay focused.

Meal Planning Tips

  • Plan meals for your family weekly.
  • Look up sales and coupons for some of your favorite products, and plan the meals accordingly. 
  • If you need to switch it up or are unsure of what to make, consult health conscious recipe websites such as USDA Mixing Bowl.
  • Make a grocery list and stick to it. Keeping a running grocery list will limit the need to go to the store for single purchases that turn into impulse buys.
  • Think of items that you will use daily, and keep a list of those. Then, once you have planned your weekly meals, incorporate the items needed to prepare them.
  • There are many free phone apps available to help you keep track of the list. This way you will not lose the list or leave it at home.

Shopping Tips

  1. Never grocery shop on an empty stomach. This is the number one rule for going to the grocery store and the most efficient way to avoid impulse buys.
  2. Buy in bulk. For perishable foods, buying in bulk can still be an option; all you need to do is freeze these items to save them for a later date. Non-perishable foods such as canned goods are a great resource to stock up, and they are usually fairly inexpensive.
  3. Buy generic brands. Compare the food label for ingredients. Most generic brands have the same ingredients and cost much less. The less expensive items are usually strategically placed on the top and bottom shelf. The grocery store places the most expensive items at eye level to catch your attention.
  4. Buy unprepared foods. Buy unprepared foods such whole fruits opposed to the convenient pre-sliced fruits.

 


References

https://whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/search/solr-results

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/nutrition-facts-and-food-labels/the-basics-of-the-nutrition-facts-panel

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/eat-right-on-a-budget/10-tips-for-eating-right-affordably

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/eat-right-on-a-budget/on-a-budget-save-money-with-these-tips

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/smart-shopping/5-ways-to-stretch-your-dollar-at-the-grocery-store

Reducing Health Care Burnout: Preventive Tips for Organizations & Caregivers

Reducing Health Care Burnout: Preventive Tips for Organizations & Caregivers

Working in the healthcare industry can be both gratifying and challenging. The unrelenting chronic stress of being exposed to life and death issues, long hours and loads of work can progressively evolve into burnout. If fact, the odds are pretty high that burnout will affect every healthcare professional at some point in their career. Burnout is defined as the consequence of mental and physical exhaustion that is caused by stress resulting in depersonalization and a profound decrease in personal accomplishment.1

Working in this high-stress industry can become emotionally draining, especially when hospitals are understaffed; the caregiver can begin to experience emotional exhaustion, and fatigue. All of this can lead caregivers to an emotional detachment from their work and to begin to see patients as objects, thereby reducing the safety and quality of care provided.

According to a study by NSI Nursing Solutions, the average national turnover rate among all hospital healthcare workers is 16.5%. And the costs are high:

  • Each additional percentage point increase in turnover can cost the average hospital another $359,650
  • It takes hospitals between 36 to 97 days to hire a replacement for an experienced RN
  • The average cost of turnover for a bedside RN ranges between $44,380 and $63,4002

To prevent burnout, employers should create a culture that sustains resilience and supports employee wellbeing. It’s important to take the time to identify the signs and symptoms of burnout, some of which may include:

  • Chronic emotional and physical fatigue
  • Reduced feelings of sympathy or empathy
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Depersonalization
  • Hypersensitivity or complete insensitivity to emotional material
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and other loved ones
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Getting sick more often
  • Irritability3,4

How Organizations Can Prevent Burnout

As a healthcare employer, there are things your organization can do to help your providers stay healthy and succeed:

  • Take an active role: Know your employees’ concerns – Provide a forum for feedback and address problems before they get to a unrecoverable level.
  • Encourage breaks: Taking breaks helps employees walk away from stress ensuring that the staff is not overworking themselves to the point of burnout.
  • Support healthy habits: Implementing health and wellness programs can be invaluable and they don’t have to cost a lot money to be effective. Include healthy recipes in your newsletters, sponsor workout classes, create a relaxation room, or offer meditation classes.5

How Caregivers Can Prevent Burnout

As a caregiver, adopting healthy behaviors can prevent compassion fatigue and burnout:

Take Time to Care for Yourself

Practicing good self-care will significantly help your resilience and reduce your vulnerability to stress.

  • Balanced, healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Routine schedule of restful sleep
  • Balance between work and personal life
  • Drink alcohol in moderation

Adopt Positive Coping Strategies

Positive coping strategies can be used at work or at home to help ease your response to stressful situations.

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Taking a walk
  • Talking with a friend
  • Relaxing in a hot bath

If you still feel that you are not getting enough out of mindful techniques, and are still feeling emotionally vulnerable, chronically stressed and overwhelmed, seek help. Seeing a therapist can help you process your feelings and put things in better perspective, which can help you successfully implement the strategic techniques that will help you move toward a healthy work-life balance.6


References

  1. https://psychcentral.com/lib/identifying-and-reducing-burnout-among-healthcare-professionals/
  2. https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/sk-employee-retention-strategies-for-healthcare
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/caregiving-recognizing-burnout
  4. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/the-cost-of-caring-10-ways-to-prevent-compassion-fatigue-0209167
  5. http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/7-tips-preventing-staff-burnout-healthcare
  6. https://wire.ama-assn.org/ama-news/burnout-busters-how-boost-satisfaction-personal-life-practice
Traveling with Diabetes: Tips for Before, During, and After You Arrive

Traveling with Diabetes: Tips for Before, During, and After You Arrive

Don’t let diabetes stop you from taking your dream vacation. Traveling with diabetes doesn’t have to be complicated if you keep in mind these tips and plan accordingly. When planning a trip or vacation, there are a few things that you need to make sure you have checked off your list before you go! Preparing for your trip can help give you peace of mind and help you from running into any tricky situations with your diabetes.

Planning

  1. See your doctor.
    The first step before heading out it to see your doctor. Confirm with your health care professional that you are in good health to travel and that your diabetes is under control. Schedule the exam with enough time to work on your control before you leave. Ask your doctor for prescriptions if you need them, in order to be prepared.
  2. Ask for documentation.
    Request from your physician a note or document that shows your diabetes diagnosis and your need to pack medications.
  3. Ensure you have ample supply of your medication.
    You should always have enough medication to last you through your trip. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you carry twice as much medication as your trip would last.
  4. Pack a healthy snack.
    Always have a well-wrapped snack bag with peanut butter, whole fruit, juice box (for low blood glucose), and whole grain crackers for regulation of blood sugar. You want to make sure that you are always prepared to treat low glucose.
  5. Make a checklist.
    Be sure that you have a final checklist of items that you need and present this checklist to your physician for medical approval. Have your health care professional suggest anything else he or she recommends you bring.
  6. Consider the time zone changes.
    If you are wearing an insulin pump and will be traveling to a location in another time zone, be sure to adjust your insulin pump to reflect that time change!
  7. Bring your insurance card.
    Keep your card and any emergency contact numbers you might need on your trip.

Flying

  1. Plan your meals around your flight.
    If you have a long flight, make sure that you eat a proper healthy meal before and after your flight.
  2. Stay hydrated.
    Make sure you carry bottles of water with you during your flight to stay properly hydrated!
  3. Pack your medications in your carry on. Luggage can easily get misplaced and you wouldn’t want to be without your medication. Bring all prescription labels for medication and pack the medications in separate clear, sealable bags. Bags that are placed in your carry-on-luggage need to be removed and separated from your other belongings for screening.
  4. Manage your stress and arrive to the airport 2-3 hours prior to flight.
  5. Carry or wear medical identification and carry contact information for your health care professional.
  6. Pack any extra healthy snacks and supplies.
  7. Take breaks. If the seatbelt light gets turned off, take a few minutes to walk around. If allowed, stand and stretch in the aisle to help reduce the risk for blood clots.

Road Trip

  1. Pack a cooler of healthy foods like whole, fresh fruits, hard boiled eggs, nuts, and whole grain crackers.
  1. Pack your insulin. You will want to have your medications on hand and stored in a cool, dry place.
  2. Take breaks. It is crucial that you make sure you stop every hour or two and walk around. This will help reduce your risk for blood clots!

When You Arrive

  1. Take it easy.
    Traveling can be taxing on the body. When you arrive to your destination, check your blood glucose and relax your body for a few hours.
  2. Plan your activities.
    Make sure that you are planning your activities so that you can be on a routine of insulin checks and meals.
  3. Stay hydrated.
    Be sure to pack an adequate amount of water and liquids for you to stay hydrated. Be wary of drinking any tap water or ice cubes when overseas.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes.
    This is especially important for those who will be walking or hiking on their getaway. Check your feet daily for blisters, cuts or swelling. If you see a sign of inflammation, get medical care.
  5. Note local hospitals and pharmacies.
    In case of an emergency, know where to go! Take note of the closest medical centers.

For more information on traveling with diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association website.


References

Practice the Power of Positive Thinking

Practice the Power of Positive Thinking

Experts continue to find evidence that our thoughts — positive and negative — don’t just have psychological effects, they also have physical effects on our body. Advantages of positive thinking include less stress, better overall physical and emotional health, longer life span, and better coping skills. Follow the practices highlighted here for four to six weeks to improve your positive thinking skills. Don’t give up. Remember, you are worth it!

A positive self-image is key to living a happy and healthy life. Research shows that people who feel confident in themselves can problem solve and make better decisions, take more risks, assert themselves, and strive to meet their personal goals.

Pay Attention to Your Thoughts

One technique that will help you think more positively is to become aware of your negative “self talk” and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Sometimes we imagine the worst in situations or about ourselves and often are unaware of the negative thoughts.

  • Positive thoughts are those that make us feel good about our progress. Take time to praise yourself for the little things.
  • It is important to actively think about what you are feeling and how it is portrayed in your life. Try to catch yourself thinking a negative thought, and say “STOP” to redirect yourself to positive thoughts.
  • Work on replacing negative self-talk with positive words. For example, replace “I hate getting up in the morning,” with “I am grateful for a new day.”
  • Write down negative thoughts. Carry a small pad throughout your day and jot down negative thoughts whenever you notice them.
  • Evaluate relationships in your personal and work life, and surround yourself with those who are also positive and support you.
  • Develop positive statements to replace negative ones using words such as happy, peaceful, loving, enthusiastic, and warm.
  • Avoid negative words such as worried, frightened, upset, tired, bored, not, never, and can’t.
  • Remember to smile, it’s contagious!

Nourish Your Body and Mind

The basic human desire is to feel loved, and sometimes that love comes from within. And to love ourselves fully, we must incorporate healthy habits into our lives for a nourished body, mind and soul. A few ways you can nourish your body are by exercising, eating healthy foods, stretching and connecting to others. A few ways to nourish your mind are to do a mind puzzle, meditate, breathe deeply, and laugh. These activities in conjunction nourish both the body and mind simultaneously to improve positive thinking and a positive outlook.

  • Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
  • Be your body’s best friend and supporter, not its enemy.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
  • Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
  • Before you go to bed each night, write about how you treated yourself well during the day.

Give Back & Help Others

Giving back has a positive effect on your body and will make you feel great. Studies show that when people donated to charity, the portion of the brain responsible for feelings of reward were triggered. The brain also releases feel-good chemicals and spurs you to perform more kind acts. Giving back can also improve your self-esteem, sense of belonging, and make you feel more thankful and appreciative of what you have.

  • Volunteer at a food bank or local community service project.
  • Donate old clothing or household items to a local drive, Goodwill, or Salvation Army.
  • Offer to help a neighbor or family member in need.
  • Perform one intentional act of kindness.
  • Donate blood.
  • Cook for someone in need.
  • Participate in a local walk to raise money for a charity or condition (ie. Diabetes walk).
  • Clean up the environment.

Build Your Inner Confidence

Having a low self-esteem or feeling bad about yourself may prevent you from doing the things you love. In addition, low self-esteem may hinder the development of healthy relationships with your family and friends. People with a poor self-esteem are more likely to experience declined physical and mental health that affects their daily lives leading to stress and anxiety.

  • Replace the word ‘can’t’ with ‘can.’
  • Replace the word ‘try’ with ‘will.’
  • Focus on the present.
  • Make a list of your current wants and desires and what you will do to achieve them.
  • Set aside a specific time each day for you.
  • Invest in yourself – sign up for a class or workshop.
  • Look for the good in things.
  • Make signs that say positive thoughts and place them in places where you will see them often.

Create Affirming Lists

Make lists, reread them often to help you feel more positive about yourself. Write affirming lists into your journal or a piece of paper, like:

  • 5 of your strengths, for example, persistence, courage, friendliness, creativity.
  • 5 things you admire about yourself, for example the way you have raised your children, your good relationship with your brother, or your spirituality.
  • 5 greatest achievements in your life so far, like recovering from a serious illness, or learning to use a computer.
  • 10 things you can do to make yourself laugh.
  • 10 things you could do to help someone else.

 Talk Back to Negative Thoughts

Here are some examples that can help you keep setbacks in proper perspective when negative thoughts come to mind. In general, catch yourself! Think, “I am being negative about myself.” Say “Stop!” to yourself. Say it out loud. Picture a huge, red stop sign.


Negative Thought: Foods are Either ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ 

  • “I can never eat dessert again.”
  • “Look at what I did. I ate that cake. I will never do well.”

Positive Thought: Work Toward Balance 

  • “I can eat dessert and cut back on something else.”
  • “One slip-up is not the end of the world. I can get back on track.”

Negative Thought: Excuses 

  • “It is too cold to take a walk.”
  • “I don’t have the willpower.”

Positive Thought: It’s Worth a Try 

  • “I can go for a walk and stop if it gets too cold.”
  • “It is hard to change old habits, but I will start with small steps and progress slowly but surely!”

Negative Thought: Should 

  • “I should have eaten less dessert.”
  • “I haven’t written down everything I eat.”

Positive Thought: It’s My Choice 

  • “It is my choice. Next time I can decide not to eat so much.”
  • “I’m writing down everything I eat because it helps me eat better.”

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/handout_session11.pdf
  2. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/20-ways-love-your-body
  3. http://www.wfm.noaa.gov/workplace/Happy_Handout_2.pdf
Break free from financial stress

Break Free From Financial Stress

About half of Americans believe they are unprepared for a sudden financial need such as the purchase of a new car, appliance or furniture or a significant home repair. Whether it’s saving, budgeting or planning, addressing our financial goals is beneficial for our overall health and wellbeing.

Making the most of your money starts with five building blocks for managing and growing your money – The MyMoney Five. Keep these five principles in mind as you make day-to-day decisions and plan your financial goals.1

1. Earn 

  • Your employer has to subtract certain taxes and other items from your wages every pay period. Your take-home pay (net income) is what you receive after any taxes and deductions are subtracted.
  • Usually, your deductions and withholdings include federal, state and city income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, your contributions for retirement savings, and payments for health insurance provided as part of your job.
  • Be sure you take advantage of all the credits and deductions that help lower your taxes.
  • It’s a good idea to sign up if your employer offers a retirement savings program. Many employers will match part of every dollar you save this way, and you will benefit from it when you retire.

2. Borrow 

  • Borrowing money is a way to purchase something now and pay for it over time. But, you usually pay “interest” when you borrow money. The longer you take to pay back the money you borrowed, the more you will pay in interest.
  • It pays to shop around to get the best deal on a loan. Compare loan terms from several lenders, and it’s okay to negotiate the terms.
  • When repaying a loan, it may be better to pay more than the minimum amount due each month, so you will have to pay less in interest over the life of the loan.
  • One of your most important aids when shopping for a loan is the APR – the Annual Percentage Rate. This is the total cost, including interest charges and fees, described as a yearly rate.
  • Paying your bills on time will help increase your credit score. Even if you fell into trouble with borrowing in the past, you can get on solid footing and rebuild your credit history by making regular payments as agreed.
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll free 1-877-322-8228 to order the free reports. Beware of imposter sites.

3. Save & Invest

  • An easy way to save is to pay yourself first. That means each pay period, before you are tempted to spend money, commit to putting some in a savings account. See if you can arrange with your bank to automatically transfer a certain amount from your paycheck or your checking account to savings every month.
  • People who keep track of their savings often end up saving more, because they have it on their minds.
  • If you are making investments, it’s good to consult with a qualified professional about your plans. Before you purchase investments, be sure to build an emergency savings fund to cover your needs for at least three months. Keep the savings in an insured bank or credit union account that you can access if you need it.
  • Many professionals call themselves “financial planners.” Before you hire one, ask for a description of the services offered. A good place to check the credentials of an investment advisor is your State’s consumer protection office, the State’s Attorney General’s office, or the issuing agency for any professional licenses or certifications.

4. Budget & Spend

  • Make a budget or a plan for using your money wisely. Set short and long-term financial goals and manage your money to meet them.
  • A good way to take control of your spending is to set the maximum amounts you plan to spend each week or each month. Once you’ve set the maximum, stick with your plan.
  • It’s helpful to track your spending over a few weeks or months to get a handle on how you are using your dollars and cents. Look into using online systems or phone apps for keeping track of your spending – you will be amazed at what you’ll learn about your habits!
  • Be careful not to let a sale or discount coupon persuade you to purchase something you don’t really need and that isn’t in your spending plan.
  • When planning a big purchase, take time to comparison shop and check prices at a few different stores, by phone or online.

5. Protect

  • A good system for keeping personal money records will include copies of important documents like your will, property ownership documents, and information about savings and insurance. It should include overview of what happens to property after a major life event occurs.
  • Assume that any offer that “sounds too good to be true” – especially one from a stranger or an unfamiliar company – is probably a fraud.
  • Look at your bank statements and bills as soon as they arrive and report any discrepancy or anything suspicious, such as an unauthorized withdrawal or charge.
  • Be wary of request to “update” or “confirm” personal information, especially your Social Security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, personal identification numbers, your date of birth or your mother’s maiden name in response to an unsolicited call, letter or e-mail.

Budgeting Basics

Make a budget worksheet to evaluate which expenses are flexible and which are fixed for at least two or three consecutive months. This will give you an idea of how you are spending your money and changes you can make to improve your situation.

Download a FREE interactive, budget worksheet at:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-1020-make-budget-worksheet.pdf

Fixed Expenses

Fixed expenses are items you have little or no control over. You will pay a fixed amount for these expenses each month. Remember, you have some control over certain expenses before you sign a contract, for example, a short-term or payday loan, car loan, or home mortgage. You should shop for the best value before committing to the payments.

Examples include: health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, homeowners or renters insurance, rent or mortgage, auto loan or lease payment. 

Flexible Expenses

Flexible expenses are expenses that you can control – think about what you need and what you want. This will help you control your spending in this category. What are some ways that you could control the costs of these expenses?

Examples include: groceries, coffee, restaurants, utilities, gasoline, internet, cable, phone or cell phone, car or home repair, activities or hobbies, savings, and emergency savings.2 


References:

  1. https://www.mymoney.gov
  2. https://www.mycreditunion.gov/tools-resources/Pages/Personal-Budgeting-Worksheet.aspx
Stress and Heart Health

Stress and Your Heart’s Health

You may be surprised to learn that you might be bringing unnecessary stress into your life by your own choices and lifestyle habits. It’s important to remember, even during times of stress, anxiety, or depression, that your heart health is vital to both your mental and physical wellbeing.

During stress, your body releases adrenaline, the hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up, and raises your blood pressure1. These are normal reactions (the “fight or flight” response) that help you prepare to face the stressful situation. Constant stress, however, can have negative wide-ranging effect on emotions, some of which include:

  • Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
  • Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
  • Unexplained or frequent “allergy” attacks
  • Chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse
  • Depression, frequent or wild mood swings
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts
  • Increased frustration, irritability, edginess2

Prolonged, or chronic stress increases cortisol, the stress hormone, and can wreak havoc on your health by compromising your immune system and contributing to many diseases including high blood pressure. Research shows that excessive stress can affect lifestyle behaviors and factors that increase the risk of heart disease3.

  • Sudden stress increases the pumping action and heart rate resulting in rising blood pressure.
  • Stress alters the heart rhythms posing a risk for rhythm abnormalities in people with existing heart rhythm disturbances.
  • Stress causes certain blood cells to become stickier.
  • Stress impairs the clearance of fat molecules in the body making it more difficult to lose weight.
  • Stress that leads to depression appears to be associated with increased intima-medial thickness (a measure of the arteries that signifies worsening blood vessel disease)2.

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths and remains the number 1 cause of death in the United States4.


Stressors, any event that causes the release of stress hormones, can be different for each person. Stressors can be helpful during emergency situations, meeting deadlines or reaching your goals. But stressful situations, such as divorce or job loss, can produce a long, low-level stress that over time wears down the body’s immune system and increases the risk of heart disease and a variety of other health problems5.

When stress persists, it can often affect various organs and tissues all over the body including:

  • Nervous system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Respiratory system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Endocrine system
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Reproductive system6

Tips to Reduce Stress

While we’re unable to rid ourselves from all inevitable stressors, fortunately there are lifestyle changes and stress-reduction techniques you can practice to improve your response to stress, and help minimize its damaging effects on your heart and overall health.

  • Exercise. When you exercise, your body releases natural, mood-lifting chemicals that help you feel better. Your workout doesn’t have to be extreme; a short walk every day is all it takes.
  • Nutrition. Eating meals that are balanced and portion-controlled will keep you mentally and physically healthy.
  • Sleep. Poor sleeping habits can have a harmful effect on your mood. It is important to get plenty of sleep and rest. Most people need about seven to eight hours each night.
  • Social Support. Talk with friends and family frequently. Think about joining a special-interest class or group. Volunteering is a great way to meet people while helping yourself and others.
  • Deep Breathing. Taking a deep breath is an automatic and effective technique for winding down.
  • Meditation. Studies have suggested that regular meditation can benefit the heart and help reduce blood pressure.
  • Humor. Research shows that humor is an effective mechanism for coping with acute stress. It is recommended to keep a sense of humor during difficult situations. Laughter can release tension and help you maintain perspective, but it can also have physical effects that reduce stress hormone levels in your body.
  • Avoid Alcohol Use. If you are going to drink alcohol, limit how often you drink, and practice moderation as alcohol may increase your risk of depression.
  • Recognize When You Need Help. If you continue to have problems, are unable to overcome the difficult circumstance, or are thinking about suicide, talk to a professional counselor, psychologist or social worker2,7.

Adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors is instrumental in preserving your health and preventing disease. Health is more than just the absence of disease; it is a resource that allows you to reach your goals, satisfy your needs and cope within your environment for more good years®.


References

  1. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/StressManagement/HowDoesStressAffectYou/Stress-and-Heart-Health_UCM_437370_Article.jsp#.WV0hu1GQxQI
  2. A.D.A.M. Stress
  3. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/StressManagement/HowDoesStressAffectYou/How-does-depression-affect-the-heart_UCM_460263_Article.jsp#.WVo-IlGQxQI 
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/
  6. https://www.stress.org/stress-effects/
  7. nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus
Healthy grilling

Grill Like a Pro & Stay Safe This Summer

Cooking outdoors was once only a summer activity shared with family and friends. Now more than half of Americans say they are cooking outdoors year round. Did you know that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases, according to the CDC? Use these simple guidelines for grilling food safely.

From the Store

  • When shopping, buy cold food like meat and poultry last, right before checkout.
  • Separate raw meat and poultry from other food in your shopping cart.
  • To guard against cross-contamination – which can happen when raw meat or poultry juices drip on other food – put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags.
  • Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store.
  • You may want to take a cooler with ice for perishables. Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours or within 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F.
  • At home, place meat and poultry in the refrigerator immediately.
  • Freeze poultry and ground meat that won’t be used within 1 or 2 days; freeze other meat within 4 to 5 days.

Thaw Safely

  • Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly.
  • Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water.
  • For quicker thawing, you can defrost the food in a microwave if will be placed immediately on the grill.

Marinating

  • Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
  • Poultry and cubed meat or stew meat can be marinated up to 2 days.
  • Beef, veal, pork, and lamb roasts, chops, and steaks may be marinated up to 5 days.
  • If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade before putting raw meat and poultry in it.

Transporting

  • When carrying food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth.
  • Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40°F or below.
  • Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home.

Keep Everything Clean

  • Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters.
  • To prevent foodborne illness, don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food.

Precooking

  • Precooking food partially in the microwave, oven, or stove is a good way of reducing grilling time.
  • Just make sure that the food is immediately placed on the preheated grill to complete cooking.

Cook Thoroughly

  • Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside.
  • Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.
  • NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.

Keep Hot Food Hot

  • After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served at 140°F or warmer.
  • Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.
  • At home, the cooked meat can be kept hot in an oven set at approximately 200°F, in a chafing dish or slow cooker, or on a warming tray.

Leftovers

  • Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers.
  • Discard any food left out more than 2 hours and 1 hour if temperatures are above 90°F.

Healthy Grilling Tip

Processed and breaded meats such as hot dogs, bratwursts, burgers, and chicken are typical barbeque entrees. Burgers are often made with high-fat ground beef. All of these foods are high in unhealthy saturated fats and calories. The more processed a meat is, the more sodium it has.

  • Opt for leaner options such as: grilled chicken or turkey (without the skin),
  • Use burgers made with lean ground turkey or beef (at least 90% lean), or fish.
  • Grill kabobs made with peppers, onions, mushrooms and other vegetables.
  • Veggie and black bean burgers are a great protein alternative with big flavors!

References

Impact of Alcohol on Health

Impact of Alcohol on Health

We know nutrition and exercise are ways to improve our health, but it’s also important to discuss alcohol consumption and the impact of excessive alcohol use on our health. Drinking excessively is harmful, but it can be controlled and prevented. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use leads to about 88,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and shortens the life of those who die by almost 30 years.1

What’s considered a ‘drink’?

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol by volume)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol by volume)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol by volume)
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits such as vodka, whiskey, gin, etc. (40% alcohol by volume)

Do you know the signs of excessive alcohol use?

Signs of excessive alcohol useSource: CDC1

Binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the U.S. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.2

Who binge drinks?

  • One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
  • Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 years old.
  • The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women.2

The Cost of Excessive Alcohol Use

Excessive drinking cost the American economy $249 billion in 2010:

  • Workplace productivity: $179 billion (72%)
  • Healthcare: $28 billion (11%)
  • Criminal Justice: $25 billion (10%)
  • Collisions: $13 billion (5%)3

Binge drinkers account for most of the cost at $191 billion (77% of the total cost). For more details, visit the CDC.

Short-Term Health Risks

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following:

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.4

Long-Term Health Risks

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
  • Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.
  • Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism.4

By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.

Life-Threatening Signs of Alcohol Poisoning Include:

  • Inability to wake up
  • Vomiting
  • Slow breathing (fewer than 8 breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness5

Alcohol Poisoning Deaths

According to the CDC, most people who die of alcohol poisoning are non-Hispanic whites (68%). Additionally, 76% of deaths are men and 24% are women. Alcohol poisoning deaths vary by state and are most common among middle aged adults.5

Alcohol poisonings by state

Image Source: CDC5

What is Moderate Drinking?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. In addition, the Dietary Guidelines do not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason.

However, there are some people who should not drink any alcohol, including those who are:

  • Younger than age 21.
  • Pregnant or may be pregnant.
  • Driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, and alertness.
  • Taking certain prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol.
  • Suffering from certain medical conditions.
  • Recovering from alcoholism or are unable to control the amount they drink.

By adhering to the Dietary Guidelines, you can reduce the risk of harm to yourself or others.

Alcohol Use Disorders

Alcohol use disorder is when your drinking causes serious problems in your life, yet you keep drinking. You may also need more and more alcohol to feel drunk. Stopping suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms.

You may have an alcohol use disorder if you:

  • Have little or no control over the amount you drink, when you drink, or how often you drink.
  • Tried to limit or stop your drinking but found you could not.
  • Had withdrawal symptoms when you tried to stop drinking. (These symptoms include tremors, anxiety, irritability, racing heart, nausea, sweating, trouble sleeping, and seizures.)
  • Have put yourself in a dangerous situation (such as driving, swimming, and unsafe sex) on one or more occasions while drinking.
  • Have become tolerant to the effects of drinking and require more alcohol to become intoxicated.
  • Have continued to drink despite having memory blackouts after drinking or having frequent hangovers that cause you to miss work and other normal activities.
  • Have continued to drink despite having a medical condition that you know is worsened by alcohol consumption.
  • Have continued to drink despite knowing it is causing problems at home, school, or work.
  • Start your drinking early in the day.6

Screening Tests

There are many screening tests that doctors use to check for alcohol use disorders. Some of these tests you can take on your own. The CAGE test is an acronym for the following questions. It asks:

  • Have you ever felt you should CUT (C) down on your drinking?
  • Have people ANNOYED (A) you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or GUILTY (G) about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning, to steady your nerves, or to get rid of a hangover (use of alcohol as an EYE-OPENER [E] in the morning)?
  • If you responded “yes” to at least two of these questions, you may be at risk for alcoholism.6

Screening in the Doctor’s Office

Primary care doctors should screen adults for alcohol misuse, according to guidelines from the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Health care providers can give people identified at risk brief behavioral counseling interventions to help them address their drinking.

Medications for Alcohol Use Disorders

Oral naltrexone (ReVia, generic) and acamprosate (Campral, generic) are effective medications for treating alcohol use disorders, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Alcoholism Resources

The following organizations are good resources for information on alcoholism:


References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/pdfs/alcoholyourhealth.pdf
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/onlinemedia/infographics/cost-excessive-alcohol-use.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/alcohol-poisoning-deaths/infographic.html#infographic
  6. A.D.A.M., Inc.
Grocery shopping tips

Master the Grocery Store and Shop Healthier

If you are like most people, navigating the grocery store can be a daunting and frustrating task especially when you are trying to make healthier meal choices. This can be especially difficult when you are in a time crunch or forget the grocery list at home. However, changing the way you think about the grocery store and the way you see food can be a helpful way to manage this task. Creating a plan and having a strategy in place when you enter the grocery store will help you avoid filling your cart with junk and instead with the foods that will help nourish your body.

Prior to entering the grocery store door, you should have a plan in place to keep you focused and on track. Time and time again we enter the grocery store with one specific item in mind and walk out buying five other things and forgetting the one thing we actually needed. Having a plan for the store can not only keep you focused on purchasing only the food you need, but can save you time and money! If you are unsure on where to start with building your grocery store plan, consider these tips.

1. Create a Master Grocery List

  • Have your family write down things you need throughout the week on one master list so that at the end of the week you can take the list to the store and purchase the things you need without playing the guessing game down the aisle.
  • Keep the list in an easily accessible place such as the refrigerator and remember to bring it with you to the store with a pen to easily cross off items you have already put in your cart.
  • Separate your list into categories such as produce, meat and protein, and dairy to increase your efficiency in the grocery store and take less time overall to get back home.

2. Look for Sales

  • Before you head to the grocery store review the store’s sales ads. Look for produce that is on sale; typically, this means that it is in peak season and will be the freshest. Buying food that is currently on sale will not only save you money, but also help you plan meals based on the ingredients you purchased.
  • Also, don’t forget to look for coupons as they can save you additional money at the grocery store! Stores often have additional incentives on their website or easily available on their app available on your mobile phone.

3. Prepare Yourself

  • Whatever you do, avoid the grocery store when you are hungry. Chances are, we are all familiar with what occurs when we step into the grocery store when we are hungry and leave the store with double the amount of junk food which are often high in calories, sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.
  • Make sure when you plan your trip to the grocery store you wear comfy shoes and allow yourself adequate time to get everything on your list.

Tips for Mastering the Aisles

We all know by the end of the week there are a lot of things that have piled up on the grocery list, so once you step into the grocery store try these tips to successfully shop.

1. Stick to the List

Your shopping list is your best friend at the grocery store and will keep you from getting into trouble at the checkout and once your shopping is complete, in your pantry.

2. Shop the Perimeter of the Store

The perimeter of the store is often where you can locate the foods you need to stay on track with properly nourishing your body and managing your weight. Foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, seafood, and low-fat dairy products can typically all be found without stepping down a center aisle where temptations may sprout.

3. Buy in Bulk

If you have a family more than likely you understand the concept of buying in bulk when you have several mouths to feed. Buying in bulk often saves you money as the per unit price is lower with the larger quantity. Buying in bulk is especially helpful when food you regularly eat is on sale. For example, if chicken breast is on sale this week purchase extra to freeze for next week when it is no longer on sale.

4. Read the Labels

FDA Nutrition Facts Label

Learning to read the Nutrition Facts Label can help you gain freedom from strict diet planning as you are aware of how to make healthy choices and tell the difference between a food that is healthy and the one that only appears to be.

  • Check the label for serving size, calories, total saturated fat, total sugar, and sodium content (see example to the left;  Visit FDA.gov for details).
  • Reading the ingredient list is also another great method to avoid buying products that appear to be healthy when they truly are not. If there is a list of ingredients you are unable to pronounce, it is not a good choice.
  • In general, purchase whole foods as much as possible that have not been processed or preserved.

5. Plan to be Busy

We all know life happens and things don’t always go as planned. In addition to your grocery list make sure you:

  • Add 1 or 2 healthy options that you and your family can take on the go, for example, ingredients to make a healthy snack wrap or fresh prepared salads offered in the deli section of the grocery store.
  • Avoid frozen convenience foods as a go-to meal.

Tips on How to Fill Your Cart

1. Fruits and Veggies

  • Fresh produce is always a winner in the grocery cart and can be incorporated into every meal or snack to provide you with essential nutrients your body needs to thrive. Aim for half your plate to be fruits and vegetables for every meal.
  • If you find yourself limited on time for meal preparation, grocery stores offer pre-cut fruits and vegetables at a slightly higher price.
  • Frozen steam bags are also another quick method to incorporate veggies into your diet regularly.

2. Protein

  • Meat is a great source of protein; however, it is important to consider the saturated fat content and choose low-fat options by reading labels and looking for those that specifically say lean.
  • Purchasing skinless meats, turkey, very lean beef, lean hamburger, sirloin steaks, and pork loin are great additions to your grocery cart!

3. Dairy

  • Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt can provide protein and calcium which is essential to you body.
  • Look for low-fat and skim milk options to get the most benefit from this food group!

4. Grains

  • When buying grain items like bread, cereal, or pasta choose those that are whole grain to provide you with the most nutrients and fiber.
  • Make sure you read the labels to ensure that the first ingredient is whole wheat or another whole grain such as whole barley or whole buckwheat for example. Oatmeal is also another great example of a whole grain. Make sure you choose plain oats that do not have added sugar.

As times change, so does the way we shop. If you find yourself strapped for time, several grocery stores now offer a delivery service that allows you to shop from the comfort of your own home. Simply look up the food items you want to purchase and add them to the cart on your computer or smart phone and wait for them to arrive promptly at your front door. This method ensures that you cannot be tempted with store displays or hunger cravings as you get only what you placed in your cart.


References:

  1. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate
  2. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/smart-shopping/save-time-and-money-at-the-grocery-store
  3. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/smart-shopping/supermarket-psychology

 

Root Cause of Disease

Treating the Root Cause of Disease, Not Just the Symptoms

Our country is amid a population health transformation. Healthcare is moving from treating symptoms to finding and treating the root cause of disease. With healthcare costs on the rise and 51% of all mortality1 being directly attributable to lifestyle choices, people have more control over their health than they think. For example, 85% of all type 2 diabetes diagnoses (and the side effects associated with the disease) are preventable!1

The ultimate goal is to reduce healthcare utilization and costs by improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. U.S. Preventive Medicine (USPM) has a vision to Empower Communities to Add Life to Their Years and Years to Their Life…One Person at a Time!  We approach population health management as a population of one. It starts with one, it starts with you. It starts with each one of us.

There are three tiers of preventive medicine that when combined, can create sustainable healthy individuals and workplaces:

  • Primary: Wellness/Health Promotion
  • Secondary: Early Detection
  • Tertiary: Early Intervention Care Management

While many wellness companies address primary and secondary prevention, they fail to address disease acuity and risk management. This is where the highest costs can come from. Care management includes treating the chronic conditions with a personalized care plan, care coordination, and treatment plan adherence.

Even with an interactive web portal or a convenient wearable device, technology alone is not enough to drive sustainable behavioral change. The personal touch of coaching and care management combined with innovative technology drives a much higher level of engagement. USPM’s coaching philosophy recognizes the unique circumstances, environments, experiences, and social impacts that affect individuals. This recognition helps us view each individual as a complex, multidimensional person who can make decisions for him or herself.

The Preventive Plan® wellbeing program provides a customized roadmap for everyone to follow to better manage their health. The Plan outlines the risks, action items and educational information that are meaningful to an individual, and avoids short duration, high-intensity programs and cookie-cutter approaches that don’t last or deliver high levels of sustainable behavioral change.

A personalized plan can only be created once all the factors are taken into consideration for each individual. Someone who has a medical condition such as asthma, back and neck pain, coronary artery disease (CAD), or depression will have a tailored and unique set of action plans to address health risks.

This is why U.S. Preventive Medicine believes and supports the high-touch model of wellness. Our team of health coaches and care managers provide a supportive, non-judgmental learning experience and help identify barriers, assist with strategies and goal setting, monitor progress, and provide positive feedback to guide individuals toward a better quality of life by reducing risks and achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

In addition, USPM offers programs to increase member resiliency to everyday stress. We have partnered with the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute to evolve traditional wellness into whole-person wellbeing. By integrating precision analytics to include stress and mental health conditions, we address the root-cause of illness.

In one health system over 6 months, our work on reducing and managing participant stress resulted in:

  • 35% decrease in perceived stress
  • 29% decrease in depersonalization
  • 27% decrease in emotional exhaustion

“Higher levels of resilience were found to have beneficial effects on worker’s perceptions of stress, psychological responses to stress, and job-related behaviors related to stress regardless of difficult environments. Faced with especially difficult work environments, workers with higher levels of resilience seem able to avoid absences and be more productive than workers with low resilience.”2

Evolve beyond wellness to comprehensive population health management. Address the root cause of risk and rising health care costs with evidence-based interventions, precision analytics, and a guaranteed quantifiable return on investment.


References

  1. Mokdad AH, et.al. Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. JAMA. 2004; 291:1238-1245.
  2. “The Positive Effect of Resilience on Stress and Business Outcomes in Difficult Work Environments”, Andrew Shatte´, PhD, Adam Perlman, MD, MPH, et al. JOEM: Volume 59, Number 2, February 2017.
June is Men's Health Month - Take Charge of Your Health

Men: Take Charge of Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month and we would like to focus on increasing awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Take charge of your health now by seeking regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. Men can proactively take care of their health as they age with annual physicals and screenings, a well-balanced diet, exercise, and keeping up-to-date with flu shots and vaccinations.

Did you know?

Compared to women, men are more likely to:

  • Smoke
  • Drink alcohol
  • Make unhealthy or risky choices
  • Put off regular checkups and medical care1 

The good news is it’s never to late to start taking better care of your health.

What can you do to take charge of your health?

See a doctor for regular checkups even if you feel fine. This is important because some diseases don’t have symptoms at first. Plus, seeing a doctor will give you a chance to learn more about your health.

You can also take care of your health by:

  • Getting screening tests that are right for you
  • Making sure you are up to date on important shots
  • Watching out for signs of health problems like diabetes or depression
  • Eating healthy
  • Getting and staying active

It’s not too late to start healthier habits. Make eating healthy and being active part of your daily routine. A healthy diet and regular physical activity can help lower your:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar
  • Cholesterol
  • Weight

By keeping these numbers down, you can lower your risk of serious health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Help prevent health problems by:

  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Quitting smoking

If you have a concern about your smoking or alcohol consumption, talk with a doctor or health care professional for advice.

Make small changes every day.

Small changes can add up to big results – like lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

  • Take a walk instead of having a cigarette.
  • Try a green salad instead of fries.
  • Drink water instead of soda or juice.

Talk about it.

Don’t be embarrassed to talk about your health. Start by talking to family members to find out which diseases run in your family. Share this information with your doctor.

Get preventive care to stay healthy.

Many people think of the doctor as someone to see when they are sick. But doctors also provide services – like shots and screening tests – that help keep you from getting sick in the first place.

Get screening tests to find problems early.

Screenings are medical tests that doctors use to check for diseases and health conditions before there are any signs or symptoms. Screenings help find problems early, when they may be easier to treat.1

  • Get your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years.
  • Talk to your doctor about getting your cholesterol checked. You could have high cholesterol and not know it.
  • If you are age 50 to 74, get tested regularly for colorectal cancer. Ask your doctor what type of colorectal cancer screening test is right for you.
  • If you are a man age 65 to 75 and have ever smoked, talk with your doctor about your risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
  • If you feel stressed, anxious, or sad, ask your doctor to screen you for depression. Most people with depression feel better when they get treatment.

Ask your doctor about taking aspirin every day.

If you are age 50 to 59, taking aspirin every day can lower your risk of heart attack and colorectal cancer. Talk with your doctor about whether daily aspirin is right for you.

Men’s Cancer Screenings 

Every year, more than 300,000 men in the United States lose their lives to cancer.2 The most common kinds of cancer among men in the U.S. are:

    • Skin cancer
    • Prostate cancer
    • Lung cancer, and
    • Colorectal (colon) cancer

Colorectal (colon) cancer: If you are 50 to 75 years old, get tested. Talk to your doctor. The schedule depends on the type of test used.

Lung cancer: If you are 55 to 80 years old and are a heavy smoker or a past smoker who quit within the last 15 years, ask your doctor about a low-dose CT scan every year.

Prostate cancer: Talk to your doctor. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against PSA screening for men who do not have symptoms.

Skin cancer: Talk to your doctor. The USPSTF has concluded that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against routine skin cancer screening.

Eating Healthy: The Basics

Eating healthy means getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients – and limiting unhealthy foods and drinks. Eating healthy also means getting the number of calories that’s right for you (not eating too much or too little).

Be sure to get plenty of:

  • Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products
  • Seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, seeds, and nuts

It’s also important to limit:

  • Sodium (salt)
  • Added sugars – like refined (regular) sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and honey
  • Saturated fats, which come from animal products like cheese, fatty meats, whole milk, and butter, and plant products like palm and coconut oils
  • Trans fats, which may be in foods like stick margarines, coffee creamers, and some desserts
  • Refined grains which are in foods like cookies, white bread, and some snack foods3

To get a personalized Daily Food Plan to help you choose healthy foods, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.


References

  1. https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/population/men/doctor-visits/men-take-charge-of-your-health#the-basics_1
  2. https://blogs.cdc.gov/cancer/2016/06/13/mens-cancer-screening-cheat-sheet/
  3. https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/diabetes/eat-healthy
Depression affects more than we think

Depression Affects More Than We Think

Depression is a common but serious medical condition that can cause severe symptoms affecting how you think, feel, and act. The CDC estimates that more than 1 out of 20 Americans 12 years of age and older reported depression symptoms in 2009 – 2012.

Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.

  • Each year about 6.7% of U.S. adults experience major depressive disorder.
  • Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime.

Depression has also been associated with several chronic diseases, making it one of the most common complications of chronic illness. People diagnosed with a chronic medical condition (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.) have a higher risk of depression, and it’s also true that people with depression are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and Alzheimer’s among others.

Chronic mental health conditions are becoming increasingly widespread across the U.S. and if not addressed could cost up to $3.5 trillion by 2030 – $3.4 trillion in medical costs and another $140.8 billion in societal costs. Like other chronic illnesses, mental health conditions contribute heavily to productivity losses, but can also worsen unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness and incarceration.

Learn the signs and symptoms of depression and promote the benefits of early identification and intervention. Once diagnosed, a person with depression can be treated in several ways. The most common treatments are medication and psychotherapy.

Signs and Symptoms Include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

To Help a Friend or a Relative

  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
  • Talk to him or her, and listen carefully.
  • Never dismiss feelings, but point out realities and offer hope.
  • Never ignore comments about suicide, and report them to your loved one’s therapist or doctor.
  • Invite your loved one out for walks, outings and other activities. Keep trying if he or she declines, but don’t push him or her to take on too much too soon.
  • Provide assistance in getting to the doctor’s appointments.
  • Remind your loved one that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.

If you have depression, you may feel exhausted, helpless, and hopeless. It may be extremely difficult to take any action to help yourself. But as you begin to recognize your depression and begin treatment, you will start to feel better.

To Help Yourself, Keep Busy

There is a lot to do in life. There is a lot to do every day! Staying busy can help direct your thoughts away from what may be troubling you. Try to focus on important daily routines:

  • Work and hobbies
  • Household projects
  • Social and family gatherings
  • Volunteering in the community

If you get overwhelmed, consider delaying tasks, setting priorities and breaking up projects into manageable bits.

Exercise Regularly

Some people find that regular aerobic exercise improves their symptoms as much as antidepressant medication. Others find that their mood improves by getting out in the sun more often. You might combine the benefits of both by increasing your activity outdoors.

People new to regular exercise should increase their activity level gradually. A good place to start is to add steps to your daily commute, errands and chores.

Get Enough Sleep

Deep sleep helps the body’s cells grow and repair themselves from such factors as stress. So, getting enough sleep may improve your ability to function while awake. To improve the quality of your sleep, be sure to eat healthy foods, exercise at least moderately on most days, and create a sleep-friendly environment:

  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants during the day.
  • Block out light and noise.
  • Establish a bedtime routine: Go to bed at the same time each night and do something relaxing before getting into bed (take a warm bath, listen to pleasant music).
  • Reduce screen time before bed

Talk to a Friend, Have Some Fun

Don’t try and deal with what you are going through alone. Talk to someone on a regular basis. And while you are at it, put some fun into your life!

In case of an emergency, call:

  • Your doctor.
  • 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
  • The toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.

For more information, call:

  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: 800.826.3632
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 800.950.6264
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): 866.615.6464

References

Transforming healthcare - Healthy choices

Transforming Health Care Holistically

What’s the difference between wellness and wellbeing? While wellness refers to the physical health of an individual, wellbeing is the holistic view of the individual’s health. Illness and chronic disease don’t just affect physical health, but also the mental and emotional state. And if one suffers, so will the other.

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  ~ World Health Organization

Whole-Person Health & Wellbeing

Wellbeing includes wellness of the whole individual which includes not only the physical health, but also the psychological (mental and emotional health), occupational, social and financial health. Each part of wellbeing influences and is influenced by the other parts. In order to maintain a balance of health, all five elements of wellbeing have to perform at their peak:

  1. Physical: Physical health and vitality, disease risk and injury
  2. Psychological: Overal mental and emotional health, behaviors, beliefs and resiliency
  3. Occupational: Work environment, safe and healthy working conditions
  4. Social: Interaction with family, friends, coworkers and other people
  5. Financial: Budget, income, savings, expenses

“Today, we accept that there is a powerful mind-body connection through which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect our health.”* – National Institutes of Health (NIH) MedlinePlus

It’s no doubt what the power of prevention can do for an individual’s wellbeing. At USPM, we have seen individuals lose weight, come off their medications, lower numerous health risks, and some even reverse their chronic conditions. Treating the individual’s wellbeing holistically is the key in transforming healthcare. While technology solutions are critical to drive engagement and usability, technology alone is not enough to create sustainable behavioral change.

USPM strongly believes that human interaction is important to drive behavioral change that results in positive outcomes. USPM employs health coaches and registered nurse care managers to engage and empower individuals to succeed on their journey of health and wellbeing. Our passion for better health and mission of More Good Years® is what drives us to collaborate together to ensure we address the whole person and their health needs by taking into account the physical, mental and emotional, social, occupational and financial concerns.


References

(*) https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/winter08/articles/winter08pg4.html

Get motivated to start or amp up your physical activity

Create an Active Lifestyle for More Good Years

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month to raise awareness of the importance of active living. Physical activity is for everyone. No matter what shape you are in, you can find activities that work for you. Together, we can rise to the challenge and become more active during the month of May and beyond! Some activity is better than none. The more you do, the greater the health benefits and the better you’ll feel.

The physical activity guidelines recommend that adults:

  • Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Moderate activity includes things like walking fast, dancing, or swimming.
  • Do muscle strengthening activities like lifting weights or using exercise bands at least 2 days a week.

If you haven’t been active before, start at a comfortable level. Once you get the hang of it, add a little more activity each time. Then try getting active more often.

What kinds of activity should I do?

To get all the health benefits of physical activity, do a combination of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

  • Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and cause your heart to beat faster. Walking fast is an example of aerobic activity.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger. Muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and doing push-ups.

Did you know?

When you are not physically active, you are more likely to:

  • Get heart disease
  • Get type 2 diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high blood cholesterol
  • Have a stroke

Build up over time

Start by doing what you can, and then look for ways to do more. If you have not been active for a while, start out slowly. After several weeks or months, build up your activities—do them longer and more often.

Walking is one way to add physical activity to your life. When you first start, walk 10 minutes a day on a few days during the first couple of weeks. Add more time and days. Walk a little longer. Try 15 minutes instead of 10 minutes. Then walk on more days a week.

Pick up the pace. Once this is easy to do, try walking faster. Keep up your brisk walking for a couple of months. You might want to add biking on the weekends for variety.

Do it your way

Pick an activity you like and one that fits into your life.

  • Find the time that works best for you.
  • Be active with friends and family. Having a support network can help you keep up with your program.
  • There are many ways to build the right amount of activity into your life. Every little bit adds up and doing something is better than doing nothing.

Make physical activity a part of your life

Physical activity experts say that spreading aerobic activity out over at least 3 days a week is best. Also, do each activity for at least 10 minutes at a time. There are many ways to fit in 2 hours and 30 minutes a week. For example, you can do 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day, for 5 days.

On the other 2 days, do activities to keep your muscles strong. Find ways that work well for you. Talk to your health care provider about good activities to try.

Keep it up, step it up

  • To get more health benefits, add more time of aerobic physical activity.
  • Try to move from 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-level activities a week to 5 hours or more a week.

To learn more, visit www.healthfinder.gov and type “activity” in the search box.

My Drive to Exercise WorksheetFREE Worksheet

Download a FREE My Drive to Exercise Worksheet to help get you going to exercise. Identify the benefits you hope to achieve from active living as well as any potential roadblocks.

 


References:

  1. https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/diabetes/get-active
  2. https://health.gov/PAGuidelines/pdf/adultguide.pdf?_ga=1.180799588.236832206.1486744829
Opioid, painkillers, substance abuse epidemic in the workplace

Opioid and Substance Abuse & Addictions – A Hidden Workplace Epidemic

Each day, 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers in the U.S. Additionally, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.1

Close to 19,000 people fatally overdose on opioids each year, which has caused poisonings to overtake motor vehicle crashes as the no. 1 cause of unintentional death among adults in the U.S.2

“Drug poisonings, largely from opioid painkillers, now eclipse car crashes as the leading cause of preventable death among adults. Nearly half of Americans are personally impacted by prescription drug addiction, with 44% knowing someone who is addicted to a prescription pain reliever. Seventy-five percent of those struggling with a substance use disorder are in the workforce, revealing a hidden epidemic that many employers are struggling to address.”3

Key findings from the employer survey conducted by the National Safety Council3 include:

  • 81% of respondents’ policies are lacking at least one critical element of an effective drug-free workplace program.
  • 88% are interested in their insurer covering alternatives to pain relief treatment so that employees can avoid taking opioids.
  • 70% would like to help employees struggling with prescription drug misuse return to their positions after completing treatment.

Painkiller Prescriptions by State

Painkiller Prescriptions by State

 

Source:  https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/pdf/2014-07-vitalsigns.pdf#page=3

Why are Opioid Painkillers Risky?

People who take opioid painkillers for too long and in doses too large are more at risk of addiction and more likely to die of drug poisoning. Opioids are being overprescribed. According to National Safety Council, four out of five new heroin users started by misusing prescription painkillers.4

Who is At Risk of Addiction?

Research5 indicates that certain factors increase risk, such as:

  • Personal or family history of addiction or substance abuse
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Long-term use of prescription opioids
  • Taking or using multiple drugs, especially drugs for anxiety, depression or other mental health issues

“Addiction should be viewed as a treatable chronic condition like diabetes or heart disease rather than (as) a moral failing. Some people may be more susceptible to addiction due to genetic factors. Organizations that handle this well provide support through their employee assistance programs by offering access to counseling and recovery services that may include medication-assisted treatment, when appropriate.” said Gregory Eigner, MD, FAAFP, USPM Board of Directors.

What Can You Do

  • Avoid taking prescription painkillers more often than prescribed.
  • Dispose of medications properly, as soon as the course of treatment is done, and avoid keeping prescription painkillers or sedatives around “just in case.”
  • Help prevent misuse and abuse by not selling or sharing prescription drugs. Never use another person’s prescription drugs.
  • Talk to your children about proper use of prescription medicines.
  • Get help for substance abuse problems at 1-800-662-HELP. Call Poison Help 1-800-222-1222 if you have questions about medicines.

The National Safety Council provides a free Prescription Drug Employer Kit to help employers establish policies and manage opioid use at work. To request the kit, visit http://safety.nsc.org/rxemployerkit.

For more resources about prescription drug abuse, visit nsc.org/rxpainkillers.


References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/opioid-prescribing/
  2. http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/prescription-painkillers-issues-with-chronic-noncancer-pain.aspx
  3. http://www.nsc.org/Connect/NSCNewsReleases/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=182
  4. http://www.nsc.org/learn/nsc-initiatives/pages/prescription-drug-abuse.aspx
  5. http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/prescription-painkiller-risks.aspx
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/opioid-prescribing/
Does a Laugh Per Day Keep the Doctor Away?

Does a Laugh Per Day Keep the Doctor Away?

The average adult laughs 17 times a day while a child laughs 300 times a day.1 There is a reason why we have always heard that laughter is the best medicine. Both humor and laughter can be effective self-care tools to help us cope with stress, especially in the workplace. Finding humor and laughter in stressful situations can give us a sense of perspective on our problems. And it’s good for our health.

“Studies from around the world have shown that an atmosphere of humor results in better patient cure, less anesthesia time, less operating time, and shorter hospital stays.”1

Here are just a few health benefits related to laughing.

  • Improves your mood – can lessen depression, anxiety and help you relax.
  • Improves your immune system – positive thoughts from laughter release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses. Laughter boosts the number of antibody-producing cells, which leads to a stronger immune system.2
  • Activates multiple organs – stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles.

“Laughter causes the release of beta-endorphins in the hypothalamus, which leads to the release of nitric oxide, which dilates the vessels. And there’s more. Nitric oxide is a chemical that also protects the heart by reducing inflammation and preventing the formation of cholesterol plaque.”2

Laughing is much more than an emotional response to something funny, it also evokes a physical response. Laughing exercises several muscles in the body, including your abdomen, back, shoulders, and facial muscles. Also, laughter is a great workout for your respiratory system! Much like physical activity, such as running, which increases the endorphins that are released by your brain, laughter has the same effect on your body.

So in addition to healthy eating and exercise, add some time for laughter throughout your day to improve your health.

Make Time for Humor Daily

  • Catch up on your favorite TV comedy show
  • Practice laughing for 5 minutes
  • Play with children or pets
  • Host game night with friends
  • Find humor in a stressful situation
  • Share a good joke or a funny story
  • Go to a “laughter yoga” class
  • Listen to a comedy show while working out
  • Spend time with people who make you laugh

References

  1. http://www2.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/factshts/hsw-caw-807.pdf
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2013/02/want-a-healthy-heart-laugh-more/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2762283/
  4. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/video/laugh-therapy

 

 

Children Running

Helping Children Maintain a Healthy Weight

Did you know that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years? In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat.

To help your child maintain a healthy weight, help them balance the calories they consume from foods and beverages with calories used up through physical activity and normal growth.

Remember that the goal for overweight and obese children and teens is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Children and teens should NOT be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.

There is no secret to healthy eating. To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits:

  • Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
  • Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
  • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
  • Serve reasonably-sized portions.
  • Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.

Remove calorie-rich temptations of high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks and replace them with easy-to-prepare, low-fat, and low-sugar treats that are under 100 calories:

  • A medium-size apple
  • A medium-size banana
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 1 cup carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers with 2 tbsp. hummus

Enjoy these 10 tips for making great tasting snacks:

  1. Create a yogurt sundae. Top plain, low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, like bananas, strawberries, or peaches. Sprinkle whole-grain cereal on top for crunch.
  2. Make pita pockets. Stuff a small whole-wheat pita with sliced bell peppers, salsa, and a slice of low-fat cheese. Melt in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.
  3. Jazz up your favorite cereal. Make a trail mix. Stir 1/4 cup of unsalted nuts, 1/4 cup of dried raisins or cranberries, and 1/4 cup of whole-grain cereal together.
  4. Make a fruit sandwich. Cut an apple into thin slices. Spread peanut butter or almond butter between two slices to create apple sandwiches.
  5. Dip your veggies. Create veggie treats by dipping slices of cucumbers, peppers, and carrots into a low-fat salad dressing or hummus.
  6. Pack fresh fruit like bananas and oranges for after their school activities.
  7. Try a piece of cheesy toast. Toast a slice of whole-wheat bread and top a slice of your favorite low-fat cheese.
  8. Freeze your fruit. For a frozen treat on hot days, try freezing grapes or bananas. Don’t forget to peel bananas and pull grapes from the stem before freezing.
  9. Power up with roll-ups. Roll a slice of low-salt deli-turkey around an apple wedge or around a slice of low-fat cheese.
  10. Build a fruit salad. Mix your favorite sliced fruits such as pineapple, grapes, and melon.

For more helpful tips and resources for children and parents, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.


References

https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/audiences/Tipsheet1_MakingGreatTastingSnacks.pdf

Debunking the Weight Loss & Diet Myths

Debunking the Weight Loss & Diet Myths

Learn the facts and tips about weight loss, nutrition, and physical activity to help you make healthy changes in your daily habits. Speak to your health care provider who can help you answer questions about weight loss. A registered dietitian may also give you advice on a healthy eating plan and safe ways to lose weight and keep it off.1

Myth: Fad diets will help me lose weight and keep it off.

Fact: Fad diets are not the best way to lose weight and keep it off. These diets often promise quick weight loss if you strictly reduce what you eat or avoid some types of foods. These diets may help you lose weight at first, but they are hard to follow. Most people quickly get tired of them and regain any lost weight.

Fad diets may be unhealthy. They may not provide all of the nutrients your body needs. Also, losing more than 3 pounds a week after the first few weeks may increase your chances of developing gallstones (solid matter in the gallbladder that can cause pain). Being on a diet of fewer than 800 calories a day for a long time may lead to serious heart problems.

TIP: Research suggests that safe weight loss involves combining a reduced-calorie diet with physical activity to lose 1/2 to 2 pounds a week (after the first few weeks of weight loss). Make healthy food choices. Eat small portions. Build exercise into your daily life. Combined, these habits may be a healthy way to lose weight and keep it off. These habits may also lower your chances of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

Myth: Grain products such as bread, pasta, and rice are fattening. I should avoid them when trying to lose weight.

Fact: A grain product is any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain. Grains are divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel—the bran, germ, and endosperm. Examples include brown rice and whole-wheat bread, cereal, and pasta. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins.

People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet may lower their chances of developing some chronic diseases. Government dietary guidelines advise making half your grains whole grains. For example, choose 100 percent whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, and brown rice instead of white rice.

TIP: To lose weight, reduce the number of calories you take in and increase the amount of physical activity you do each day. Create and follow a healthy eating plan that replaces less healthy options with a mix of fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein foods, and low-fat dairy: 

  • Eat a mix of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. 
  • Limit added sugars, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and saturated fat. 
  • Eat low-fat protein: beans, eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts, and poultry. 

Myth: Some people can eat whatever they want and still lose weight.

Fact: To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat and drink. Some people may seem to get away with eating any kind of food they want and still lose weight. But those people, like everyone, must use more energy than they take in through food and drink to lose weight.

A number of factors such as your age, genes, medicines, and lifestyle habits may affect your weight. If you would like to lose weight, speak with your health care provider about factors that may affect your weight. Together, you may be able to create a plan to help you reach your weight and health goals.

TIP: When trying to lose weight, you can still eat your favorite foods as part of a healthy eating plan. But you must watch the total number of calories that you eat. Reduce your portion sizes. Find ways to limit the calories in your favorite foods. For example, you can bake foods rather than frying them. Use low-fat milk in place of cream. Make half of your plate fruits and veggies. 

Physical Activity Myths2

Myth: Lifting weights is not a good way to lose weight because it will make me “bulk up.”

Fact: Lifting weights or doing activities like push-ups and crunches on a regular basis can help you build strong muscles, which can help you burn more calories. To strengthen muscles, you can lift weights, use large rubber bands (resistance bands), do push-ups or sit-ups, or do household or yard tasks that make you lift or dig.

TIP: Government guidelines for physical activity recommend that adults should do activities at least two times a week to strengthen muscles. The guidelines also suggest that adults should get 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense or vigorous aerobic activity each week—like brisk walking or biking. Aerobic activity makes you sweat and breathe faster. 

Myth: Physical activity only counts if I can do it for long periods of time.

Fact: You do not need to be active for long periods to achieve your 150 to 300 minutes of activity each week. Experts advise doing aerobic activity for periods of 10 minutes or longer at a time.

TIP: Plan to do at least 10 minutes of physical activity three times a day on 5 or more days a week. This will help you meet the 150-minute goal. While at work, take a brief walking break. Use the stairs. Get off the bus one stop early. Go dancing with friends. Whether for a short or long period, bursts of activity may add up to the total amount of physical activity you need each week.

For more helpful information, tips, and tools on healthy eating and physical activity, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.


References

  1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/myths/Pages/weight-loss-and-nutrition-myths.aspx
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/myths/Pages/weight-loss-and-nutrition-myths.aspx 
Fruits and Veggies: More Matters

Fruits and Veggies: More Matters

Did you know that adults in the U.S. only consume fruit about 1.1 times per day and vegetables about 1.6 times per day?Eating fruits and vegetables has many health benefits. People who eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help lower their risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. Eating healthy can also prevent obesity and high blood pressure.2

You’ve probably heard it all your life — eating fruits and vegetables is important for good health, however, most of us still aren’t getting enough. Fewer than 1 in 4 adults eat the recommended amount of fruits and fewer than 1 in 7 adults eat the recommended amount of vegetables every day.2

Fruits, vegetables, and legumes (dry beans and peas) may reduce the risk of several chronic diseases. Compared to people who eat few fruits, vegetables, and legumes, people who eat higher amounts as part of a healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancers in certain parts of the body (mouth, throat, lung, esophagus, stomach, and colon-rectum).3

The fiber in fruits, vegetables, and legumes is important. Diets rich in fiber-containing foods may reduce the risk of heart disease. Many fruits, vegetables and legumes are also rich in vitamins A, C and K, folate, potassium and magnesium.

Additionally, many fruits, vegetables and legumes are low in calories and high in volume and nutrients so eating more fruits and vegetables can help you feel full without eating too many calories. As a result, this may help you lose a few pounds along the way.

How Much Should You Eat?

myplate_white_halfBy making fruits and vegetables the focal point of every meal, you will be able to meet your recommended amount each day. Easiest way to do this is by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.4

The number of cups of fruits and vegetables your family needs depends on caloric needs, which are determined by age, gender and activity level. Visit fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org for more details.

Become a Label Reader!

One caution about buying packaged (canned, dried, or frozen) fruits and vegetables is they may contain added sugars, saturated fats, or sodium—ingredients you may need to limit. There are three places to look on a package that give you clues about what is in the food: the ingredient list, the Nutrition Facts label, and the front label of the package. 

Added sugars can appear on the ingredient list as brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, maple syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, and syrup.

If fruits and vegetables are canned, dried, or frozen, use the Nutrition Facts label to check the calories, the nutrient content, added salt (sodium), and sugar. Use the percent Daily Value (% DV) to determine how much dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium, are in the food you select; 5% DV or less is low and 20% DV or more is high. If you want to meet recommended intakes for certain nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium, look for food high in those nutrients. For nutrients that you need to limit your intake of, such as sodium and saturated fat, select food that is low in those nutrients.

In addition, the label on the front of the package may contain claims about the product put there by the manufacturer. Use the claims on fruit and vegetable packages to identify foods with little salt (sodium) or added sugars. Examples include “low sodium,” “no added salt,” “no added sugar,” and “unsweetened.”3

Tips for Eating More Fruits & Veggies

At Home
  • Add more fruits and vegetables to a favorite recipe (for example, add vegetables to your favorite pasta, grated carrots or zucchini to meat loaf, or fruit to a homemade dessert).
  • Add vegetables to your sandwich at lunch.
  • Add canned, dried or fresh fruit to your salad (for example, canned mandarin oranges, dried cranberries or fresh apples).
  • Add vegetables to your soup, rice, or pasta at dinner.
  • Cut up vegetables for easy access in your refrigerator.
  • Try a new method for cooking vegetables (for example, grilling, roasting or sautéing).
At Work
  • Bring fruit to have on hand, and eat a piece when you get hungry.
  • Keep a snack bag of dried fruit (like raisins or cranberries) in your purse or desk.
  • Bring your lunch to work, and include at least two servings of fruits or vegetables.
Eating Out
  • Ask your server if you can choose vegetables for a side dish with your order.
  • Enjoy a side salad with your lunch or dinner.

References:

1. http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/downloads/State-Indicator-Report-Fruits-Vegetables-2013.pdf

2. https://healthfinder.gov/nho/SeptemberToolkit2.aspx

3. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/toolkit/healthfacts/fruits.htm

4. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/dietary-guidelines-for-americans

Investing in Our Future: Our Children

Investing in Our Future: Our Children

It’s easier to establish healthy behaviors during childhood than having to change unhealthy behaviors during adulthood. Chronic conditions are becoming increasingly common among children and adolescents in the U.S. Did you know that about 1 in 4 adolescents suffers from a chronic condition such as diabetes and asthma?1

Obesity On the Rise

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The percentage of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 years who were obese increased from 7% in 1976-1980 to nearly 18% in 2011-2014. The percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 21% during the same period.”1

Developed by the CDC, The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model brings together public health, education, and school health to improve health and learning. Children with chronic conditions may miss more school days which reduces their time for learning and may result in lower academic achievement. It’s important to manage these conditions effectively with the right nutrition and ample physical activity. Healthy behaviors are practices ingrained early in childhood and it’s essential that children and adolescents have a healthy school and healthy environment in order to succeed.

Physical Activity

Schools and parents can help increase the quantity and quality of physical education and physical activity during and after school hours. Benefits of physical activity have been proven to help build muscles and healthy bones, and improve strength and endurance. Physical activity can aid in managing weight, reducing stress and increasing self-esteem – which may positively impact children’s academic performance.

Diet and Nutrition

Creating healthy eating habits early in childhood life helps set the path to a healthier adulthood. Healthy eating along with physical activity help support proper growth and development and can prevent health problems such as obesity, diabetes, etc. Teaching and including children in healthy meal preparation and cooking is a great way to reinforce healthy eating habits as well.

Focus on Prevention

Did you know that:

  • 51% of all causes of death in the U.S. are attributable to lifestyle behaviors many of which are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviors?2

  • 85% of all type 2 diabetes and its side effects are preventable?2

While some life events are out of our control and cannot be prevented, it’s clear that we can prevent many of the health problems by engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors. Schools, parents, and health care practitioners can help educate children and adolescents to make smart food choices, exercise to build strong bodies and monitor their health and any chronic conditions they may have.

Manage Chronic Conditions

To reduce school absenteeism schools, parents, and health care practitioners can help by using proven practices to better manage chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, food allergies, etc. For more information about managing chronic conditions, visit www.cdc.gov, then click on Diseases & Conditions.


References

  1. CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/healthy-schools.htm
  2. Mokdad AH, et.al. Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. JAMA. 2004; 291:1238-1245
Raising Awareness of Rare Diseases

Raising Awareness of Rare Diseases

Seven thousand may not seem like such a big number. But 30 million definitely is. According to the National Institute of Health, about 7,000 rare diseases exist, but they affect about 30 million Americans. Looking closer at the numbers, that means about 1 in 10 Americans face such a diagnosis. Rare Disease Day, the last Day of February each year, seeks to raise awareness for these diseases to propel more research and treatment options for patients.

What is a Rare Disease?

A rare disease, also called an orphan disease, means there are less than 200,000 diagnoses annually in the United States. These diseases can consist of any kind of disorder, syndrome, condition, or cancer. For cancer cases alone, about 50% of patients are battling a rare cancer.

Unfortunately, treatments for these diseases are also seemingly rare. Only 5% have treatments currently, with less than 500 FDA-approved treatments available. But there is still hope. In the past few years, cancer research has seen a facelift with huge undertakings to accelerate the pace and bring us closer to potential cures.

The Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 Initiative, for example, is an unprecedented collaboration spearheaded by Former Vice President Joe Biden. This project’s goal is bringing together pharmaceutical companies, academics, oncology researchers, governmental agencies and more to rapidly accelerate cancer research and treatment efforts. Though this project is focused on cancer specifically, other research projects like the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are working toward changing how we treat and manage all diseases; they’re working towards better prevention and treatment to hopefully eliminate such suffering. For rare diseases like mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that typically sees about 3,000 diagnoses each year, research like this provides so much hope. Many rare disease patients face poor prognoses or a lot of uncertainty with how to approach treatment, so research is crucial.

Steps You Can Take

Rare diseases are notably very difficult to diagnose, and many patients face misdiagnosis for months. Since 80% of rare diseases are genetic and about half of these diagnoses occur among children, newborn screenings are so important. Early detection can allow for life-saving intervention and treatment. If a family has a history of a disease, genetic counseling can also help evaluate and determine the potential risks of an inherited disease.

For the diseases that aren’t genetic, prevention is the best approach. Following some preventive tips, like simply adhering to a healthier diet, can greatly reduce our risk of developing certain cancers. Educating yourself and becoming more aware of preventable cancers and diseases can also be the most important step to reducing your risk. For example, mesothelioma’s only known cause is exposure to asbestos; educating yourself on asbestos and its dangers, as well as where to find it, could essentially eliminate your risk of developing those asbestos-caused diseases.

Get Involved

We can all help support patients and their families suffering from a rare disease by simply raising awareness. Being better educated can truly help save lives, and a simple tweet could inspire someone to take more preventive measures. You can also help by donating to some of the ongoing research projects mentioned above or to disease specific organizations. Funding is essential to research and making a cure a reality.

If you want to learn about other ways to get involved, be sure to check out these suggestions from the National Organization of Rare Diseases, and spread the word on Rare Disease Day and beyond!

MAA_spreadhope_x2_v02



 


Article by Tonya Nelson, health advocate for the rare cancer, mesothelioma

6 Preventive Tips to Help Lower Cancer Risk

6 Preventive Tips to Help Lower Cancer Risk

Did you know that 96% of all Medicare spending is spent on chronic conditions that have lifestyle health risk factors?1 You have more control over your health than you realize! Here are a few tips to help lower your risk of most cancers and chronic conditions. Practice these habits to build lasting changes for your health and wellbeing journey.

1. Know Your Numbers

Excess body fat has been shown to increase the risk of the following cancers: colorectal, esophageal, kidney, breast (in postmenopausal women), uterine, stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, ovarian thyroid, meningioma and multiple myeloma. Also, there have been suggested links to prostate cancer, breast cancer in men and non-Hodgkin lymphoma with excess weight.

Extra fat around your belly may increase health risks more so than having extra fat around your hips and thighs. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight can help lower health risks, including cancers.

A BMI (body mass index) of 18.5 to 24.9 and a waist circumference of less than 40” for men and less than 35” for women will help lower your health risks. Calculate your BMI on the CDC website.

2. Eat Healthy and Exercise

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight requires both physical activity and a healthy eating plan. Any extra physical activity and healthier food choices can make a difference in improving overall health! Always check with your physician first to confirm that a new exercise or activity will be safe for you.

Avoid packaged, processed and fast foods. If it comes in a package, look for whole food options. Examples include steel cut oats instead of packaged quick oats or homemade soup and salad for lunch. Eliminate the boxed macaroni and cheese and roast a variety of vegetables in the oven instead. For dessert try making a recipe from scratch rather than from a box or better yet choose fresh fruit instead of packaged treats.

3. Sleep Well

Insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes and obesity. The light emitted from electronic devices tends to wake up the brain and decrease melatonin production. Our bodies have a great capacity to continually heal and repair cellular damage and most of this occurs at night while we are sleeping.

Turn off all electronics 15 minutes earlier each night. Try reading a book rather than watching TV. Practice meditation, prayer, deep breathing or gentle stretching or yoga to help reduce stress and increase relaxation. Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning, aiming for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night.

4. Cut Down or Reduce Alcohol

Alcohol affects every organ in the body. The risk of cancers, along with other health problems can increase with the amount of alcohol consumed. Along with disrupting sleep, alcohol can result in weight gain, elevate blood glucose and increase triglyceride levels in the body. For most women, no more than one drink per day and for most men, no more than two drinks per day is recommended.3

Rather than meeting a friend for a drink, skip the alcohol and go for a walk together. If you typically have two glasses of wine with dinner, have only one. If you decide to have more than one alcoholic beverage at a sitting, sip on a full glass of water in between. Instead of alcohol, choose unflavored sparkling/seltzer water, add fresh berries or fruit slices and serve it in your favorite crystal or stem ware. And if alcohol helps you to unwind before bed, try replacing it with gentle stretching or yoga, listen to relaxing music, and enjoy a soothing cup of decaf chai tea.

5. Avoid Tobacco

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and cigarette smoking causes almost all cases. “Compared to nonsmokers, current smokers are about 25 times more likely to die from lung cancer. Smoking causes about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths. Smoking also causes cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, voicebox (larynx), trachea, bronchus, kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, and cervix, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.”4 

Visit smokefree.gov to learn how you can quit smoking.

6. Eliminate or Reduce Chemicals

Pesticides, industrial pollutants, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and medications all contain chemical substances that can increase our risk of cancers and other health problems. The synthetic chemicals within these products can disrupt the normal functioning of our endocrine system resulting in reproductive and immune problems, obesity and increased inflammation throughout the body. Try to minimize or eliminate chemical products in your environment.

Use the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 produce lists when shopping for fruits and vegetables. 

  • Check the labels on your cosmetics, shampoos, and lotions for parabens, a chemical preservative commonly used in personal care products, that mimics the hormone estrogen and can result in a much stronger effect and more aggressive growth of some cancer cells.
  • Check out EWG’s Skin Deep website or download the app to find safer options for your favorite products.
  • Switch out plastic food storage containers for glass. And stop microwaving food in plastic. Pickle and spaghetti sauce jars work great for food storage, without any additional cost.
  • Break a sweat! Sweating through exercise or sitting in a dry sauna are great ways to remove toxins from the body. Always check with your physician first to confirm that a new exercise or activity is safe for you try.

References

1. Partnership for Solutions, Chronic Conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing Care (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2004).

2. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/867919?nlid=109048_2981&src=wnl_dne_160826_mscpedit&uac=259999BR&impID=1185765&faf=1

3. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/prevention.htm

4. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/prevention/other.htm

Journey to Better Stress Management

Journey to Better Stress Management

Stress! This one word may set your nerves on edge. Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Some people cope with stress more effectively than others. You have the power to prevent and effectively manage stress. By doing so, you can help lower your risk for serious conditions like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression.

What is stress?

Stress is the brain’s response to change. Stress is different for everyone. Many things can cause stress and may be recurring, short-term, long-term and for example, may include your commute to work, searching for a job, or moving to a new home. Some changes are more serious than others, and for example, can include serious illness, loss of a loved one, marriage, or divorce.

How does stress affect the body?

Not all stress is bad. “Stress can motivate people to prepare or perform, like when they need to take a test or interview for a new job. Stress can even be life-saving in some situations. In response to danger, your body prepares to face a threat or flee to safety. In these situations, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity—all functions aimed at survival.”1 

Different people may feel stress in different ways. Some people experience digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger or irritability. People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold.

When under stress you may feel:2

  • Worried
  • Angry
  • Irritable
  • Depressed
  • Unable to focus

Physical signs of stress include: 

  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Problems sleeping
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Tense muscles
  • Frequent or more serious colds

What are the benefits of lower stress? 

Over time, chronic stress can lead to health problems and lead to chronic disease. Managing stress can help you:

  • Sleep better
  • Control your weight
  • Get sick less often and feel better faster when you are sick
  • Have less neck and back pain
  • Be in a better mood
  • Get along better with family and friends

How can I cope with stress?

The effects of stress tend to build up over time. Taking practical steps to maintain your health and outlook can reduce or prevent these effects. The following are some tips that may help you to cope with stress.

  • Seek help from a qualified mental health care provider if you are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope, have suicidal thoughts, or are using drugs or alcohol to cope.
  • Get proper health care for existing or new health problems.
  • Stay in touch with people who can provide emotional and other support. Ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations to reduce stress due to work burdens or family issues, such as caring for a loved one.
  • Recognize signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.
  • Set priorities—decide what must get done and what can wait, and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload.
  • Note what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
  • Avoid dwelling on problems. If you can’t do this on your own, seek help from a qualified mental health professional who can guide you.
  • Exercise regularly—just 30 minutes per day of gentle walking can help boost mood and reduce stress. Schedule regular times for healthy and relaxing activities.
  • Explore stress coping programs, which may incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises.

If you or someone you know is overwhelmed by stress, ask for help from a health professional. If you or someone close to you is in crisis, call the toll-free, 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.


References:

1.National Institute of Mental Health:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml#pub3

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/manage-stress#the-basics_2

Cutting the Risk of Chronic Disease with Physical Activity

Cutting the Risk of Chronic Disease with Physical Activity

Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of these chronic diseases including high blood pressure, stroke, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and many more. As you age, it’s important to protect your bones, joints and muscles. Not only do they support your body and help you move, but keeping bones, joints and muscles healthy can help ensure that you’re able to do your daily activities and be physically active. Physical activity can help your thinking, learning and keep your judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression, help you sleep better and give you a longer, healthier life.

Physical Activity vs. Exercise 

  • Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles resulting in energy expenditure or simply put, moving!
  • Exercise is planned, structured, repetitive and intentional movement intended to improve or maintain physical fitness.

Measuring Physical Activity Intensity

The talk test is a simple way to measure relative intensity. In general, if you’re doing moderate-intensity activity you can talk, but not sing, during the activity.

If you’re doing vigorous-intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

Examples of Moderate-Intensity: 

  • Walking fast (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
  • Bicycling on level ground or with few hills (slower than 10 miles an hour)
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Yoga
  • General gardening
  • Pushing a lawn mower

Examples of Vigorous-Intensity: 

  • Race walking, jogging or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Bicycling fast (10 miles per hour or faster)or on hills
  • Jumping rope
  • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing)
  • Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack

Rule of thumb: 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity.

Exercise Helps Control Weight: Exercise helps prevent excess weight gain and helps maintain weight loss. Engaging in physical activity helps you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day by taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Exercise Combats Health Conditions and Diseases: No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular physical activity helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and more.

Exercise Boosts Energy: Regular physical activity improves your muscle strength and boosts your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, which gives you more energy to go about your daily chores.

Exercise Improves Mood: Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

  • Children 6 to 17 years old: 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day.
  • Adults 18 years to 64 years old: 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Plus 2 or more days of muscle-strenghtening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
    • Or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week. Plus 2 or more days of muscle-strenthening activities that work all major muscle groups.
    • Or an equivalent mix of moderate – and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strenthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.
  • Older Adults 65 years or older: 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Plus 2 or more days a week of muscle-strenthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.)
  • Healthy pregnant or postpartum women: 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread throughout the week.

Walking Is a Good Start, So, Where Do I Begin? 

The first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. This is especially important if you have not been regularly active or have a chronic illness that may limit the amount of time you exercise. Once your doctor says it’s okay, put on a pair of well-fitting sneakers and start walking!

To receive the most benefit, you should take 10,000 steps a day, which can be measured by a pedometer or by adding an app on your phone. About half of your 10,000 steps can come from everyday physical activities like walking the dog, climbing stairs (instead of taking the elevator), gardening, housework (especially sweeping, mopping or vaccuum cleaning floors), and washing your car are just a few.

How To Get Started 

  • Initial goal: Walk at a comfortable pace for about 10 minutes, three times a day 5 to 7 days per week (for ex., to a neighbor’s house and back).
  • Step it up: Walk at a comfortable pace for 15 minutes twice a day (for ex., to the end of the street and back).
  • Add distance: Walk for 15 minutes twice a day to a distance of a street and a half. (This means you have to walk a little faster to cover the increase in distance).
  • Increase frequency: Walk the new distance three times (three laps) once a day in less than 30 minutes.

Being active is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Start improving the quality of your life today and increase your life span by starting a plan to do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.


References

Keep Your Heart Healthy from Heart Disease

Keep Your Heart Healthy from Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.

You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease.

To lower your risk:

  • Monitor and control your weight.
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get active and eat healthy.

 Am I at risk for heart disease? 

You are at higher risk for heart disease if:

  • You are a woman over age 55
  • You are a man over age 45
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before age 55
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65

As you get older, your risk for heart disease and heart attack increases. But the good news is that heart disease can be prevented.

 What is heart disease? 

When people talk about heart disease, they are usually talking about coronary heart disease (CHD). It’s also called coronary artery disease (CAD). This is the most common type of heart disease.

When someone has CHD, the coronary arteries (tubes) that take blood to the heart are narrow or blocked. This happens when cholesterol and fatty material, called plaque, build up inside the arteries.

Plaque is caused by: 

  • Fat and cholesterol in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Too much sugar in the blood (usually because of diabetes)

When plaque blocks an artery, it’s hard for blood to flow to the heart. A blocked artery can cause chest pain or a heart attack.

What is a heart attack? 

A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is suddenly blocked. Part of the heart may die if the person doesn’t get help quickly.

Common signs of a heart attack include: 

  • Chest pain (or feeling pressure, squeezing, or fullness in your chest)
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body – like the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach (above the belly button)
  • Trouble breathing (while resting or being active)
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or unusually tired
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

Not everyone who has a heart attack will have all the signs. Don’t ignore changes in how you feel. Signs of a heart attack often come on suddenly. But sometimes, they develop slowly – hours, days, or even weeks before a heart attack happens.

Talk to your doctor if you feel tired for several days, or if other health problems (like pain or trouble breathing) bother you more than usual. Call 911 right away if you or someone else has signs of a heart attack. Don’t ignore any signs or feel embarrassed to call for help. Acting fast can save a life. Call 911 even if you are not sure it’s a heart attack.

 Keep Your Heart Healthy

Take steps today to lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Follow the tips below to help prevent heart disease.

  1. Eat healthy and get active.
  2. Monitor and control your weight.
  3. Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  4. Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  5. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  6. Talk with your doctor or nurse about steps you can take to prevent type 2 diabetes.
  7. Manage your stress.

When it comes to your heart, what you eat matters. Follow these tips for heart-healthy eating.

  1. Eat less saturated and trans fat. Stay away from fatty meats, fried foods, cakes, and cookies.
  2. Cut down on sodium (salt). Look for the low-sodium or “no salt added” types of canned soups, vegetables, snack foods, and lunch meats.
  3. Get more fiber. Fiber is in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. To save money, buy vegetables and fruits that are in season, frozen, or canned.
  4. Look for fat-free or low-fat milk products. Or choose soy products with added calcium.
  5. For breads, cereals and grains with more than one ingredient, make sure whole wheat or another whole grain is listed first.
  6. Choose lean cuts of meat and other foods with protein.

References

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/heart-healthy-foods-shopping-list

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: http://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/keep-your-heart-healthy

How to Create Healthy Eating Habits for Life

How to Create Healthy Eating Habits for Life

An eating pattern can be defined as the combination of foods and beverages that make up an individual’s complete dietary intake over time. It represents all of what individuals habitually eat and drink, and these dietary components work together to impact health. A healthy eating habit should be tailored to the individual’s personal, cultural and traditional preferences as well as food budget. An individual’s healthy eating pattern will vary according to their calorie level. Healthy eating habits can help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient needs, and reduce risk for chronic disease. The most nutritious or nutrient-dense foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, unsalted nuts and seeds, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and poultry – all with little or no saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

  1. Create healthy eating habits across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choosing a healthy eating habit at an appropriate calorie level can help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient needs, and reduce risk for chronic disease.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across all food groups in recommended amounts.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Create an eating habit low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.1

Key Recommendations1

Create healthy eating habits that account for all food and beverages within an appropriate calorie level and include:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups— dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits:

  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Added sugars, and
  • Sodium

Several components of the diet should be limited which are of particular public health concern, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating habits within calorie limits:

  • Consume less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 1 teaspoon of salt per day

If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation – up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men – and only by adults of legal drinking age.

How much should you eat?

You should eat the right amount of calories for your body, which will vary based on your gender, age, and physical activity level. Find out your daily calorie needs or goals with the Body Weight Planner by visiting www.supertracker.usda.gov/bwp.

Nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods. Individuals should aim to meet their nutrient needs through healthy eating patterns that include nutrient-dense foods. Foods in nutrient-dense forms contain essential vitamins and minerals and also dietary fiber and other naturally occurring substances that may have positive health effects. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful in providing one or more nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less than recommended amounts.

Healthy eating patterns are adaptable. Individuals have more than one way to achieve a healthy eating pattern. Any eating pattern can be tailored to the individual’s socio-cultural and personal preferences.

Consult with your healthcare professional before making significant changes in diet and nutrition.

Tips to Save More at the Store2

Stretch your dollar with these helpful tips:

  1. Eat before you shop. Grocery shopping hungry can lead to impulse buying and unhealthy food choices.
  2. Read the sales flyer. Sales flyers are usually released mid-week and can be found at the store’s entrance, in the newspaper, or on their website.
  3. Use coupons – but only for items that you know you’ll use. If you don’t need an item right away, save the coupon and see if it goes on sale.
  4. Look up and down for savings. Stores often stock the priciest items at eye level. You can save big by looking at the upper and lower shelves too.
  5. Check for store brands. Most stores offer their own brand of products that often cost less than name brands.
  6. Choose fresh foods. Stores typically stock shelves from back to front, placing the newest items behind the older ones. Reach in the back for the freshest items especially in the produce, dairy, and meat aisles.
  7. Ask for a rain check. If a sale item has run out, ask the store for a rain check. This allows you to pay the sale price after the item is restocked.
  8. Join your store’s loyalty program. Most stores offer a free loyalty program. Get special offers and discounts that non-members do not.

References:

  1. Health.gov, Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/healthy-eating-patterns/
  2. ChooseMyPlate.gov: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget-save-more
Effects of Smoking on Your Health & Free Resources to Help You Quit

Effects of Smoking on Your Health & Free Resources to Help You Quit

Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Since the first Surgeon General’s report in 1964 more than 20 million premature deaths can be attributed to cigarette smoking. Research continues to identify diseases caused by smoking, including such common diseases as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and colorectal cancer. Additionally, exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke has been causally linked to cancer, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases, and to adverse effects on the health of infants and children.**

CDC Risks from Smoking

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/infographics/health-effects/index.htm#smoking-risks

Smoking can cause cancer and block your body from fighting it:

  • Poisons in cigarette smoke can weaken the body’s immune system, making it harder to kill cancer cells. When this happens, cancer cells keep growing without being stopped.
  • Poisons in tobacco smoke can damage or change a cell’s DNA. DNA is the cell’s “instruction manual” that controls cell growth and function. When DNA is damaged, a cell can begin growing out of control and create a cancer tumor.*

Doctors have known for years that smoking causes most lung cancers. It’s still true today, when nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking cigarettes. Smokers have a greater risk for lung cancer today than they did in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes. One reason may be changes in how cigarettes are made and the chemicals they contain. Although cigarette smoking has declined significantly since 1964, very large disparities in tobacco use remain across groups defined by race, ethnicity, educational level, and socioeconomic status and across regions of the country.

Treatments are getting better for lung cancer, but it still kills more men and women than any other type of cancer. In the United States, more than 7,300 nonsmokers die each year from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke – combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers.

Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body including: blood, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney and renal pelvis, larynx, liver, lungs, mouth and throat, pancreas, stomach, trachea, lung, and bronchus. Men with prostate cancer who smoke may be more likely to die from these diseases than nonsmokers. Smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco, also causes cancer, including cancers of the esophagus, mouth and throat, and pancreas.*

How Can Smoking-Related Cancers Be Prevented?*

Quitting smoking lowers the risks for cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, esophagus, and larynx. Within 5 years of quitting, your chance of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. 

Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer drops by half. If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.

Quitting smoking improves the outlook (the prognosis) for people with cancer. People who continue to smoke after diagnosis raise their risk for future cancers and death. They are more likely to die from cancer than nonsmokers and are more likely to develop a second (new) tobacco-related cancer.

Help With Quitting Smoking 

For support in quitting, including free coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). There are also free online resources at https://www.smokefree.gov.


References:

(*) https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/cancer/index.htm

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/

(**) https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf

Diabetes: Prediabetes, Risks, and Prevention

Diabetes: Prediabetes, Risks, and Prevention

Did you know that more than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes? There are 1.4 million new cases each year alone in the U.S. In addition, 86 million Americans are living with prediabetes, the stage just before diabetes when not all the symptoms are present that warrant a diagnosis.1

Diabetes Facts and StatisticsWhat Are the Risk Factors? 

  • Age: As we age we are more at risk for developing diabetes. Specifically, being over the age of 45 puts you at higher risk.
  • Weight: Being overweight can put you at risk for diabetes. The more fat we have in our bodies the more resistant our cells are to insulin, a hormone produced by our pancreas.
  • Family History: Has anyone in your immediate family (mother, father, sister or brother) been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Race: Diabetes occurs more often in individuals who are African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino-American, and Pacific Islander backgrounds.
  • Physical Inactivity: Exercising less than 3 days a week can put you at risk.
  • History of Gestational Diabetes: Were you ever diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy? Or had a baby who weighed 9 pounds or more?
  • High Blood Pressure: Have you been told that you have high blood pressure, a reading of 140/90 or higher?
  • Low HDL Cholesterol: Is your “good” cholesterol less than 35 mg/dL?
  • Abnormal Triglyceride Levels: Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood stream. Levels of triglycerides above 250 mg/dL can put you at increased risk.

 

Are You at Risk? 

To find out if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, complete the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test on American Diabetes Association website. 

There are several ways to diagnose diabetes. Each way usually needs to be repeated on a second day to diagnose diabetes. Testing of your blood glucose levels should be carried out in a health care setting (such as your doctor’s office or a lab) and you should follow the advice and instructions of your health care professional.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. When you have prediabetes, your blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal but are not high enough to be called diabetes. Diabetes can lead to many health problems, so it’s better to prevent it in the first place. You can take steps to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and heart disease.3

How Can You Prevent or Delay Diabetes?

You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes from developing by:

  • Cutting back on calories and saturated fat.
  • Losing weight.
  • Increasing your daily physical activity.4

If you’re overweight, losing 7% of your total weight can help you a lot. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose 14 pounds.

How Do You Decide What to Do? 

You don’t have to make big changes. Small steps can add up to big results. Talk with your health care team to make a plan. Always consult with a health care professional before starting any exercise program. A good goal for most people is:

  • Walking briskly for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Being more active throughout the day by parking further from the store, or taking the stairs.

Make a plan to eat less fat and calories. You can meet with a dietitian to talk about what to eat and how to lose weight. You might try:

  • Starting each dinner with a salad of leafy greens. Salad provides nutrients and fills you up. Then you might eat less of any high-calorie foods that might come later.
  • Switching from regular soda and juice to no-calorie water.

Visit diabetes.org/prediabetes to learn more about managing your prediabetes. For recipes and meal planning, visit Recipes for Healthy Living


References:

1. http://www.diabetes.org/

2. http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/adm/adm-2016-fact-sheet.pdf

3. http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/prediabetes/

4. http://professional.diabetes.org/sites/professional.diabetes.org/files/media/All_About_Prediabetes.pdf

Cervical Health Awareness & Cervical Cancer

Cervical Health Awareness & Cervical Cancer

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and there’s a lot people can do to prevent cervical cancer. HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that can cause cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.1

Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer.1

What Are the Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer?

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex. There are many types of HPV. Some HPV types can cause changes on a woman’s cervix that can lead to cervical cancer over time, while other types can cause genital or skin warts.

HPV is so common that most people contract it at some point in their lives. HPV usually causes no symptoms so it can be difficult to determine if you have it. For most women, HPV will go away on its own; however, if it does not, there is a chance that over time it may cause cervical cancer.2

Other things can increase risk of cervical cancer:

  • Having HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems.
  • Using birth control pills for a long time (five or more years).
  • Having given birth to three or more children.
  • Having several sexual partners.

The good news?

  • The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
  • Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care. A Pap test can help detect abnormal (changed) cells before they turn into cancer. Most deaths from cervical cancer can be prevented if women get regular Pap tests and follow-up care.

In support of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, National Cervical Cancer Coalition encourages:

  • Women to start getting regular Pap tests at age 21
  • Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12

It is recommended that teens and young adults get the HPV vaccine if they did not get vaccinated as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine. Visit www.nccc-online.org to learn more.


References:

  1. https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/PDFs/JanuaryNHOToolkit.pdf
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/risk_factors.htm
Create Your Healthy New Year

Create Your Healthy New Year

It’s that time of the year when we evaluate and set our health goals. Goal setting can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be. Goals help us kick off the new year and should be set throughout the year to help keep us on the path of better health.

To create a happy and healthy new year, you should identify what you want to accomplish and how you will carry out your plan. This is a very important step when planning to make positive changes that help you succeed.

 Set S.M.A.R.T. short-term and long-term goals.

  • S Specific
  • M Measurable
  • A Attainable
  • R Relevant
  • T Time-based

Short-Term Goals

Identify at least two or three of your own short-term goals and write them on the personal goal-setting worksheet. If you have more goals, write them down as well. Remember that each goal should be S-M-A-R-T—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Setting these short-term goals will help motivate you to make the program a regular part of your life.

Examples: 

  • I will talk to my doctor about starting a healthy eating program.
  • I will buy the equipment I need and get ready to exercise within 2 weeks.
  • I will schedule into my calendar 2 or 3 45-minute blocks of time for exercise each week.
  • I will invite my spouse/friend/family member to join me in these exercises.

Long-Term Goals

Identify at least two or three long-term goals and write them on the personal goal-setting worksheet. If you have more goals, write them down as well. Listing your goals will help you stay with the program, see your progress, and enjoy your success. (Remember to use the S-M-A-R-T technique.)

Examples: 

  • I will do each exercise 2 or 3 times each week. Within 3 months, I will do each exercise with 5 lb. weights.
  • I will lose 20 pounds over next 5 months, focusing on one pound per week.

4 Tips to Help You Reach Your Goals

  1. Establishing a social support network is essential for reaching your health goals. Your social support network should consist of friends, family and co-workers who know about you, your health journey and the goals you have set for yourself. They work to keep you motivated, provide support and accountability to keep you on track and moving forward toward your goal. Start by selecting a few chosen people within your social network and bring them along on your journey to a new and improved you.
  2. Setbacks are only temporary. If your goal is focused on eating better and you have a day when you get off track, don’t throw your entire plan out the window. Instead, recognize that you had a slip and focus on the areas where you could have made better choices. Record your strategies to avoiding slips in a journal or your smart phone and revisit them when you are faced with a similar situation again.
  3. Baby step your way to achieving your goals. We didn’t learn to walk in 30 days, so why should you set short timelines for yourself with big goals? Set smaller tasks that you can accomplish in a shorter amount of time that will help build your confidence toward achieving your goals.
  4. Stick to the plan. Set your goal date and stick to it. Even if you have some setbacks, keep moving toward your goal. There are always things you can do to modify your plan, but stay the course.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/phcommunities/resourcekit/evaluate/smart_objectives.html

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/

Financial Fitness: Essential to Your Employees’ Wellbeing

Financial Fitness: Essential to Your Employees’ Wellbeing

About half of Americans believe they are unprepared for a sudden financial need such as the purchase of a new car, appliance or furniture or a significant home repair, according to Gallup Daily tracking survey through 2015.1

So how can we get financially fit? How do we find balance between spending and saving – between living in the present and saving for life’s unexpected financial needs? And why is this important?

First let’s define financial wellbeing – it is defined as a state of being wherein you:2

  • Have control over day-to-day, month-to-month finances;
  • Have the capacity to absorb a financial shock;
  • Are on track to meet your financial goals; and
  • Have the financial freedom to make the choices that allow you to enjoy life.

Organizations that don’t implement financial wellbeing into their wellness programs are missing the  mark. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, money is a somewhat or significant source of stress for 64% of Americans but especially for parents of children below the age of 18 and younger adults (77% of parents, 75% of millennials, ages 18 to 35, and 76% of Gen Xers, ages 36 to 49).3

The added financial stress has a significant impact on many Americans’ lives.

“Some are putting their health care needs on hold because of financial concerns. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans say that they have either considered skipping (9 percent) or skipped (12 percent) going to a doctor when they needed health care because of financial concerns.”3

Many adults are coping with health and lifestyle challenges and are beginning to recognize the connection between stress and physical and mental health.

  • Money and work remain the top two sources of very/somewhat significant stress, but in 2015, for the first time, family responsibilities emerged as the third most common stressor (54 percent).
  • The majority of adults report having at least one chronic illness (67 percent). In addition, many adults lack exercise and remain sedentary for much of the day. More than 10 percent of adults also report having a mental health-related diagnosis (13 percent for anxiety disorder and 16 percent for depression).
  • About two in five adults (39 percent) report overeating or eating unhealthy foods in the past month due to stress, compared to 33 percent in 2014.
  • Adults in urban areas have a significantly higher reported stress level on average than those in suburban and rural settings (urban: 5.6 on a 10-point scale, vs. 5.0 for suburban and 4.7 for rural).
  • Almost one-third of adults report that stress has a very strong or strong impact on their body/physical health and mental health (31 and 32 percent in 2015, compared to 25 and 28 percent in 2014, respectively).4

To help employees improve their financial fitness, organizations should provide financial education, programs, and other content into their wellness programs.

Here are 6 ways employees can improve their financial wellbeing:

  1. Make a simple plan to monitor and track your spending habits and to gain control over your financial decision making.
  2. Have a budget and stick to it. Set short-term and long-term goals to provide structure for your financial decision making. For example, set a spending budget for the holidays. More stuff doesn’t mean less stress.
  3. Spend some time researching before making major financial decisions to ensure you make the most-informed financial decisions.
  4. Get smart about money – Use free educational resources available at http://www.consumerfinance.gov.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to your own standards. Don’t purchase things to keep up with the Joneses. Instead think about long-term impacts of every purchase.
  6. Avoid impulse shopping. Keep your spending under control by stopping to think about whether you need that purchase or postpone the purchase to a later date if you can.

References

  1. Gallup, Inc. “Half of Americans Unprepared for Sudden Financial Need.” http://www.gallup.com/poll/188009/half-americans-unprepared-sudden-financial-need.aspx?g_source=FINANCIAL_WELLBEING&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles
  2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “Financial well-being: The goal of financial education.” January 2015: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201501_cfpb_report_financial-well-being.pdf
  3. American Psychological Association. “Money Stress Weighs on Americans’ Health” 2015, Vol. 46, No.4 http://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/04/money-stress.aspx
  4. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2015/highlights.aspx
5 Things We Can Do To Cut The Prevalence of Chronic Disease

5 Things We Can Do To Cut The Prevalence of Chronic Disease

Today’s health care costs in the United States are a consequence of poor health. Poor health has cost consequences to organizations, industry and our economy. The impact of poor health on employers includes not only the medical and pharmacy costs but also costs from productivity losses. “As of 2012, 117 million Americans have one or more chronic illnesses, which account for 75% of all health care costs and 70% of deaths in the United States.”1,2

However, there is a light at the end of the health care cost crisis tunnel, and that is prevention. In fact, 96% of all Medicare dollars are spent on chronic conditions that have lifestyle health risk factors.3

Michael Roizen, M.D., Chair Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, has determined that there are five behaviors that mitigate chronic disease:

  • walking 30 minutes a day,
  • eating healthy,
  • not smoking,
  • having a waist size that is less than half of your height, and
  • drinking alcohol only in moderation.

If an individual engages in these five behaviors, they typically spend 33% to 50% less on health care costs compared with people who have health risks. Currently, only 4% of Medicare beneficiaries possess these five health behaviors. If 75% of all Americans had these characteristics, more than $600 billion and perhaps up to $1 trillion per year could be saved.4,5,6,7


Dr. Roizen and Dr. Loeppke VideoWatch this video where Dr. Roizen from the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Loeppke from U.S. Preventive Medicine discuss the 5 things you can do to reduce your risk of chronic disease.

Watch Video!

 

 


Be part of the movement to prevent the health risk factors that lead to chronic disease, to help us move from a reactive sick care system to a proactive health care system.

Here’s to More Good Years®!


References:

  1. Shin-Yi Wu and Anthony Green, Projection of Chronic Illness Prevalence and Cost Inflation (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Health, 2000).
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,“ Chronic Disease Overview,” 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/overview.htm
  3. Partnership for Solutions, Chronic Conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing Care (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2004).
  4. Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Ted Spiker, This Is Your Do-Over: The 7 Secrets to Losing Weight, Living Longer, and Getting a Second Chance at the Life You Want (New York, NY: Scribner, 2015), introduction, xxiii.
  5. Agneta Åkesson et al., “Low-Risk Diet and Lifestyle Habits in the Primary Prevention of Myocardial Infarction in Men: A Population-Based Prospective Cohort Study,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 64 (13) (2014): 1,299–1,306.
  6. Andrea K. Chomistek et al., “Healthy Lifestyle in the Primordial Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Among Young Women,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 65 (1) (2015): 43–51.
  7. Meir J. Stampfer et al., “Primary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease in Women through Diet and Lifestyle,” The New England Journal of Medicine 343 (2000): 16–22.
Employee Wellness Program

5 Ways to Spread Workplace Wellness

Look around and you’ll notice we are spending the greatest amount of our time at work; most full-time employees will spend over 2,000 hours at work every year, some even more. This not only minimizes the amount of time we have to spend with family and do the things that make us happy, it also makes it more difficult to fit in the required physical activity and to make healthier nutrition choices.

We are seeing rates in health care spending on the rise – but also increased rate of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, heart failure, hypertension, and obesity; many of these could be prevented with a few behavior modifications in our nutrition and physical activity.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States spends far more on health care than any other nation, yet the life expectancy of the average American is only 78.3 years, which is lower than the average and the lowest among the top health care spending nations. Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths every year in the United States, and treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of our nation’s health care costs.¹ Our lifestyle choices in this country are partially to blame.

Spending more on health care is not making us healthier nor bringing us longevity; we are realizing that prevention is considerably cheaper than managing any health condition and/or chronic disease. As a result, wellness is getting a lot of attention lately as we become more aware that we own our health and have complete control of our wellness.

Many businesses are adopting new approaches and beginning to implement workplace wellness programs – which are proving essential for creating and maintaining healthier, happier, hard-working employees, while reducing the costs of health insurance claims, absenteeism and receiving maximum productivity in return. Happy, healthy employees are more productive. It’s nothing short of a win-win symbiosis.

So, what is a workplace wellness program? A successful workplace wellness program enables employees to increase control over, and improve, their health by offering healthier opportunities and empowering them to make healthier choices with ease.

The wellness program may offer risk assessments, screenings, flexibility for time to exercise, healthier snacking options in vending machines, behavior modification, educational and tobacco cessation programs, and much more. Access to a wellness program gives the employee the opportunity to take care of their health on a more regular basis and reduce stress. Offering incentives may also be used to encourage employee participation and increase engagement.

Here are a few low-cost tips to get you started on spreading workplace wellness and transforming your organization into one of the best places to work:

  1. Healthy Pantry Club: Start a healthy pantry stocked with the healthy choices essential to a healthy diet and productivity at work. Keep it junk-food free by stocking it with healthy snacks, fresh fruits, vegetables and low-sugar, low-sodium drinks. A contribution box for employees to donate to keep the pantry stocked is a great way to get everyone involved.
  2. Fitness Trackers: Fitness trackers can encourage employees to increase their steps while being more active through participation in challenges that will keep them motivated and mindful of their health and nutrition choices. Office challenges are a fun way to increase steps and also build camaraderie. Award prizes for the top stepper, wellness champion, best effort, etc.
  3. Office Gym or Gym Memberships: Transform an unused office or space into a gym by adding yoga mats, free weights and other fitness equipment. This helps the strapped-for-time employee fit exercise into their busy schedule. Subsidize or reimburse gym membership fees bringing fitness within reach for all employees to help create a routine they can stick with.
  4. Walking Meetings: Incorporate moving meetings to stimulate creativity and new ideas by walking around the building. Physical activity gives you energy and makes you feel more alert.
  5. Wellness Communications: Communication is the key to a successful wellness program. Get employees excited and engaged by sending wellness communications that provide ideas, strategies, short articles, tips, recipes, reminders and more. Create awareness posters and flyers to display around the office and coordinate your content with the seasons of the year, and monthly health observances.

Remember, it’s not the amount of extravagant perks you offer, it’s how successful you are at fulfilling the employees’ basic human and emotional needs to foster a healthy, conscious, and happy environment that inspires employees to be their best.


References:

http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/

https://data.oecd.org/healthres/health-spending.htm

http://www.oecd.org/unitedstates/Briefing-Note-UNITED-STATES-2014.pdf

http://stats.oecd.org/index.aspx?DataSetCode=HEALTH_STAT

http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/health-data.htm

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