Category: Blog

How To Cope With the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Man with Parkinson's disease grabbing a glass of water.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that impacts your movement. It happens when the dopamine-producing neurons in your brain stop activating. When this occurs, the brain is unable to communicate with your muscles. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, your reality will inevitably change. But you can still stay in good health and enjoy your life. Adjusting your daily habits can help you treat and lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s. This can make a big difference in your comfort, health, and overall happiness. Let’s see how this can be made possible. 

The Signs of Parkinson’s Disease You Need to Know

Tremors are one of the most distinct symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. They usually start off in the hands, spread to other limbs, and affect your writing abilities. But this isn’t the only symptom that comes with this disease. Let’s explain the most common side effects of Parkinson’s. 

Bradykinesia and Hypokinesia

Bradykinesia and Hypokinesia are the impaired motor symptoms that derive from Parkinson’s disease. Bradykinesia limits your movement in everyday tasks, like dressing yourself or brushing your teeth. It can also impact the way you talk, making your voice sounds softer and more monotone, slurred, or mumbled. Hypokinesia affects the speed and extent to which you can move. It can cause things like decreased wing span and stiffness of muscles. 

Gait and Balance Problems

Parkinson’s is often associated with the shuffling and freezing of your gate. These symptoms are a result of the stiffness, tremors, and alterations in posture that have already occurred with the disease. As a result, people with Parkinson’s are more prone to falling. Many people who experience these symptoms have to start walking with a cane. They may also undergo physical therapy and have to modify the layout of their homes to reduce risk of falling. 

Non-Motor Issues

Decreased motor abilities are not the only unfortunate symptom of Parkinson’s. This disease can also come with loss of smell, sleep apnea, constipation, memory loss, and difficulty multitasking. And because of the emotional toll it takes on your life, depression and anxiety are not uncommon side effects. As these ailments are markers of many diseases, it’s important to recognize them along with the other symptoms we’ve discussed. 

What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Parkinson’s?

What causes Parkinson’s disease? Like many illnesses, there is no definite Parkinson’s disease cause. Both environmental and genetic factors can have an influence on its development. But the following can put you at a greater risk: 

Age and Sex

Parkinson’s disease occurs most often in patients over the age of 50. Each year the risk increases more, especially when you hit your 80s. This is mostly because bodies become more susceptible to disease when they are older. Bodies also accumulate more cellular damage and yield less dopamine, which we know is the major determinant of Parkinson’s.

Men are more likely to develop this disease. Possible explanations could be that womens’ estrogen is a stronger assailant against Parkinson’s. This may also explain why women in menopause, whose estrogen production has halted, are at a greater risk for Parkinson’s. Another reason why men are more vulnerable is because they are more likely to develop vices like smoking that increase Parkinson’s risk. 

Environmental Exposure

Toxins, pesticides, chemicals, and air pollution are elements that you should already be limiting contact with. But this is especially true if you want to avoid this disease. Specific pesticides like paraquat and rotenone, which are used for treating lakes and lawns, are linked to greater chances of Parkinson’s. Like many other risks, they damage neurons and tamper with the creation of dopamine. Because of their potential to accumulate in the brain, metals like lead and manganese can also be a risk. 

Family History and Mutations

Having a family history of a disorder or illness often increases your chances of getting it. Though Parkinson’s is no exception, specific mutations can also up your risk. Here are some of the most prevalent mutations:

  • SNCA: This is a protein that assembles within the brain and, when mutated, can lead to early onset Parkinson’s disease. 
  • LRRK2: This gene also creates proteins in the brain. And when mutated, LRRK2 can contribute to late onset Parkinson’s and brain cell damage.
  • PINK1: This gene is responsible for regulating mitochondria, which produces energy in cells. When mitochondria doesn’t function properly, it can kill cells and lead to Parkinson’s disease. 
  • DJ-1: When this gene is mutated it can lead to cell damage, which subsequently puts you at a greater risk for Parkinson’s. 

Luckily, doctor’s can do genetic testing to see if you have mutated versions of any of these cells. So if you have a family history of Parkinson’s, you may want to look into this. 

Head Trauma

As neurology plays a big role in Parkinson’s, brain trauma is understandably a major risk factor for this disease. Like many of the mutations we’ve discussed, head injuries damage brain cells. This makes it hard to produce dopamine and control bodily movement. The more brain injuries you acquire throughout your life the more likely you are to develop Parkinson’s—that’s why it’s so important to wear a helmet! If you’ve had a number of concussions, you may want to consult a doctor. 

Maintaining Health and Positivity With Parkinson’s

Living with Parkinson’s is just as much about remaining positive as it is about maintaining good health. This is made easier with a good support system, healthy diet, and regular exercise. Here’s how to implement vitality-improving habits into your life as a Parkinson’s patient. 

Find the Right Type of Support

While having the support of loved ones is priceless, many people find solace in joining a support group with other people who have Parkinson’s. Surrounding yourself with people who deal with the same day-to-day realities that you do can be extremely therapeutic. Sharing stories and resources that have helped you on your journey can alleviate the stress and loneliness that often comes with having a disease. Ask your doctor if they can recommend a local support group or find friends through the online Parkinson’s community.

Choose the Right Diet

While maintaining good nutrition is beneficial to those with Parkinson’s, there’s not a specific diet for people with the disease. That being said, eating plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats is recommended. Antioxidant-rich foods like nuts, seeds, berries, and leafy greens can also help with oxidative stress, a contributor to the loss of dopamine-producing neurons that lead to Parkinson’s. Getting plenty of fiber and hydration is also recommended. And while lean-protein is of great nutritional value, Parkinson’s medication can actually be less effective when consumed with meals that have too much protein. Knowing this, be sure to spread out your protein to many different meals a day.  

Choose the Right Workout Routine

Exercise can be particularly beneficial to people with Parkinson’s because of its ability to improve flexibility, balance, strength, and mobility. Aerobic exercise is of course good for overall fitness. But resistance training like squats and lunges can target specific muscles that have been weakened by Parkinson’s. Obstacle courses, agility drills, and balance-related exercises such as yoga can also help with coordination that’s been lost.

Getting the Most Out of Life With Parkinson’s

Developing a positive outlook and habits are essential for living a fulfilling life with Parkinson’s. As is doing everything you can to limit your risks if you’ve never been diagnosed. Either way, you can live a healthy life and provide support to those who have contracted the disease with the tips you’ve learned today.

Individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s can find additional aid in the form of medication. There are also many surgical options that may make living with Parkinson’s more manageable. Your doctor can evaluate your medical situation and find the best treatment for Parkinson’s disease. 

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The Facts About Kidney Disease: What You Need To Know

For those who don’t know much about kidneys, they are the two bean-shaped organs that sit below your rib cage. They reside on either side of your spine and are the size of your fist. Though they may be small, they deserve special care and treatment. Let’s identify some of the most common kidney diseases and how you can lower your risk by improving your overall kidney health. 

Understanding Your Kidneys and How They Function

Let’s start with the basics of kidney function: what do they do? First, the kidneys make urine by filtering waste and excess fluids. This waste then travels from the kidneys to the bladder where it’s then expelled from your body.

Kidneys maintain homeostasis in the body by regulating fluid and electrolyte levels. Electrolytes are minerals like sodium, calcium, and potassium that help the body function. Kidneys regulate electrolytes by adjusting the amount of water and salt eliminated through urine.

Another job of the kidneys is to control blood pressure. When blood pressure is low, kidneys produce a hormone called angiotensin II. This hormone constricts the blood vessels, thus increasing blood pressure. Kidneys also produce the erythropoietin hormone which creates red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.

The liver produces a vitamin called calcidiol. When calcidiol passes through the kidneys, it’s turned into an active form of Vitamin D. This active Vitamin D can help increase calcium levels in the blood when they’re low, and also helps to maintain strong bones.

Exploring Different Types of Kidney Diseases

Kidneys clearly play an important role in keeping your body healthy. When your kidneys don’t function properly, a number of health issues can occur.

Chronic Kidney Disease

This condition causes the kidneys to increasingly lose their ability to function. It usually derives from existing health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and glomerulonephritis. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) often occurs in people who are over the age of 60 or who have a family history of stroke and kidney or heart disease.

Chronic kidney disease creates dangerous levels of waste, fluid, and electrolyte buildup. Because of this, a common symptom of CKD is decreased or increased urine output. Complications such as anemia, bone disease, and nerve damage can occur in the late stages of this disease. At that point, kidney dialysis or even a transplant may be required.


Glomerulonephritis happens when the filters in your kidneys, called glomeruli, become inflamed. When this happens, toxins, metabolic waste, and excess fluid cannot be filtered out into the urine. They buildup in the body, leading to fatigue and swelling. Glomerulonephritis is often caused by diabetes, lupus, or other underlying health conditions.

Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

This rare syndrome, also referred to as aHUS, occurs when blood clots form in your small blood vessels. This damages the lining of your vessels, reduces blood flow, and thus harms your kidneys. Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is caused by a mutated gene in your immune system. Instead of protecting your body from infection, aHUS tells your body to attack its own cells. Alport syndrome, bartter syndrome, fabry disease, cystinuria, and polycystic kidney disease are also genetic kidney disorders to be aware of.

UTIs and Kidney Stones

Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, happen when bacteria from outside of your body invade your bladder and urethra. It enters your urinary system and leads to infection and inflammation. Though usually a mild condition, UTIs can cause kidney damage if untreated.

Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits created in the ureters, bladder, or kidneys. Your urine may contain excess amounts of crystal-forming substances like calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. If you don’t have enough fluid in your urine to dilute these substances, kidney stones form, which causes pain and damage to your kidneys and urinary tract.

What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Problems?

Not all kidney-related diseases and conditions have the same causes. But many of the symptoms are similar:

  • Urinating more frequently or less frequently than usual
  • Changes in color and consistency of urine
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, or face
  • Feeling unusually tired or weak to the point where daily tasks are harder to perform
  • A buildup of fluid in the lungs leading to shortness of breath
  • Vomiting, loss of appetite, or nausea
  • Itchy, dry, or irritated skin
  • Difficulty falling asleep

If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment with your doctor to get a diagnosis. They can administer a test for kidney disease and give you a blood test. The blood test will see how well your kidneys filter blood. This is called a glomerular filtration test. If the test results are less than 60, your kidneys may have issues and proper treatment is needed.

How to Maintain Good Kidney Health

Whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease, taking care of your kidneys is essential. Here are some preventative steps you can take toward maximizing your kidney health.

Control Your Blood Pressure

If keeping your blood pressure healthy isn’t a goal, you might suffer from a stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease. That’s why it’s a good idea to invest in a blood pressure home monitor. This allows you to check and control your blood pressure at all times. You can buy one at the drug store or online.

Improve Your Diet

Eating a balanced diet will help you escape kidney disease and manage diabetes, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Eat a controlled portion of carbohydrates to keep your blood sugars in check. To season your meals, use herbs and spices instead of salt. Rather than frying food, learn to grill, bake, or boil.

Get Some Exercise

When you exercise several days a week, you can easily manage your blood sugars and blood pressure. If you have not been recently active, talk to your health provider and start engaging in some form of exercise. Try finding activities that you like such as dancing, swimming, jogging or even walking. The goal is to choose something fun that gets your heart beating. 

The Amazing Benefits of Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy

If you want to maintain lifelong health, you have to treat your kidneys right. Taking care of them will help prevent a number of chronic diseases. Living a healthy lifestyle makes it that much easier for your kidneys to work like they should. 

At Preventive Primary Care, our dedicated care team is here for you and offers personalized health care for your needs. To schedule an appointment, contact us at 302-722-6550 or visit us online at

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Understanding Your Risk for Heart Disease

Woman sitting in a field eating an apple

Here’s a sad truth we must confront this American Heart Month: heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Because of this, it’s important to assess your susceptibility. Treating heart disease can be expensive and emotionally draining. But it’s not impossible to live with if you take the right approach. 

Heart disease describes any condition affecting your heart and blood vessels. These conditions reduce blood flow to your heart and increase your chances of stroke and heart attack. Many factors can contribute to the development of heart disease from existing cardiovascular risks to certain lifestyle choices. Luckily, there are actions you can take to reduce your risk. But before discussing preventive measures, let’s explain how, why, and to whom heart disease occurs.

How Does Heart Disease Develop?

To understand heart disease, it’s important to know how the heart works. This all-important organ is made up of the atria and ventricles, both of which there are two. The atria reside at the top of the heart organ, transporting oxygenated blood from right to left. The blood then travels to your left ventricle to pump the blood out of your body. The right ventricle transports blood back to your lungs, giving it the oxygen it needs to survive.

Within the structure of your heart, there is a system of arteries transporting blood. When plaque fills up the arteries, your blood flow is impaired. Plaque consists of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and fibrin. They all pile up within the walls of your arteries. This narrowing of passageways for blood to travel through is called atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis can cause major problems within your heart. A piece of plaque can snap off and flow into your bloodstream. If it gets stuck in another part of the artery, it can cause a blood clot. Blood clots can lead to heart attacks, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism. 

Atherosclerosis is a symptom of all major heart conditions. Let’s get into the different forms of heart disease and their effect on your body.

What Conditions Does Heart Disease Cause?

Several conditions lie under the umbrella of heart disease: 

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Arrhythmia
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Hypertension

Coronary Artery Disease 

Coronary artery disease happens when plaque creates narrowed or blocked arteries, which then reduces blood flow to your heart. Coronary artery disease is a direct result of atherosclerosis developing in your arteries. Chest pain, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and enlarged heart muscles also stem from coronary artery disease.

Heart Attack

Heart attacks are a very serious and deadly form of heart disease that occurs when clots block the blood flow to your heart. When an artery’s blood supply is completely cut off, the heart muscle that it’s connected to begins to die. 

The severity of damage caused depends on the size of the affected heart muscle. The bigger the heart muscle, the greater the injury. And the longer you wait to seek treatment, the more damage occurs. 

Heart attacks can be fatal if the muscle is blocked for too long. When the heart muscle dies, it’s impossible for your heart to pump enough blood to the rest of your body. This then causes organ failure, cardiac arrest, and ultimately death.


Arrhythmia occurs when you have an irregular heartbeat. The electrical signals that regulate your beat don’t work properly. This causes the heart to beat too fast or too slow, thus disturbing blood flow. Arrhythmia decreases your oxygen supply and can lead to cardiac arrest or stroke. 

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is caused by abnormalities that are present at birth when the structure of your heart is misshapen. This prevents normal blood flow to your heart. Abnormalities in the heart walls, valves, and blood vessels often lead to this disease.


Hypertension is any heart condition caused by high blood pressure. When the pressure inside the arteries is high, the heart has to work extra hard to pump blood. This makes the muscle inside your heart too thick to get enough oxygen. This can lead to chest pain and even heart failure. 

Hypertension can narrow your arteries, cause damage to your inner lining, and thicken your blood vessel walls. These interactions with the cholesterol in your blood vessels can cause a heart attack or stroke to occur. 

What Risks Contribute to Heart Disease?

There are many factors that contribute to the development of heart disease. Common vices like smoking, poor diet, and low levels of exercise often play a role. But many people with optimal health habits are also prone to contracting heart disease. Here’s a breakdown of heart disease risks and what you can do to combat them. 


It’s no shock that smoking is bad for you. The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces the oxygen capacity of your blood. Nicotine raises blood pressure, which leads to hypertension. Considering other health problems that cigarettes can cause, quitting smoking can be a positive step in preventing all kinds of ailments including heart disease. 


Foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can cause plaque buildup. High-sodium snacks can also raise blood pressure. Switching to a health plan of nutrients like fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, vegetable oils, and lean proteins are a great way to decrease your risk of heart disease. 


Getting regular exercise, especially cardiovascular, is like recharging the battery of your heart. It lets more blood pump through your body, allowing it to work at its most efficient level. It also helps your arteries and blood vessels stay in optimal shape. This maintains proper blood flow and stable blood pressure. 

Family History of Heart Disease

Your family’s health history can contribute to your risk of heart disease. Arrhythmia is one of the most common inherited disorders. It encompasses the following heart conditions:

  • Long QT syndrome
  • Brugada syndrome
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome 

Common signs of arrhythmia include heart palpitations, fainting, and blackouts. Some people may never experience these symptoms, which is why taking measures towards heart disease prevention is essential.

Avoiding smoking and improving your diet and exercise can be helpful to those with inherited heart conditions. Getting your cholesterol checked is also important, especially if you have a family history of high blood cholesterol.Your cholesterol test results will help you assess your risk of heart disease. For some people, medication and surgical procedures may be necessary. 

Fighting off the Risks of Heart Disease

Lifestyle choices and preexisting conditions can put you at an increased risk for heart disease. Improving your daily habits, getting better nutrition, and seeking medical help when needed can reduce these risks. Following the heart health tips above is a powerful step you can take to improve your cardiovascular health.

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Understanding Hyperlipidemia: What Is It and What Causes It?

male doctor with clipboard smiling and talking to female elderly patient

Most people have heard of high cholesterol, but have you heard of the medical term hyperlipidemia? This is an umbrella term for any health condition caused by an overabundance of lipids in your blood. It’s important to control your cholesterol levels, whether you have hyperlipidemia or not. Here’s how to identify the causes of hyperlipidemia and treat the symptoms.

How Does Cholesterol Influence Hyperlipidemia?

Cholesterol is a type of lipid that your body needs to survive. It helps you with digestion and hormone production. Your liver generates cholesterol on its own, thus your body isn’t completely dependent on the cholesterol you receive from food. But for better or worse, the food you eat affect your cholesterol levels.

Hyperlipidemia occurs when you have too much cholesterol. High cholesterol levels stimulate blockage in the arteries. Plaque piles up inside, making it hard for blood to reach your organs. Because blood transports nutrients and oxygen, organ damage can occur when they don’t get a proper blood supply.

Hyperlipidemia-related organ damage can lead to life-threatening health problems such as:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Diabetes

Understanding the Different Types of Cholesterol

As we’ve established, cholesterol can be good or bad for you. This depends on how much extra you have in your body. It also depends on which of the two types of cholesterol it is: LDL or HDL. 

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is what creates plaque in your arteries. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is a healthier form of cholesterol. It removes plaque and helps transport LDL to your liver where it’s then removed from your body. The more LDL you have in your blood, the lower your risk for stroke or heart disease. 

When you eat foods with cholesterol, what you’re really doing is supplying your body with fat. Fat is an essential nutrient that provides you with energy, but not all fats are good for you. Saturated fats are loaded with LDL. Unsaturated fats can reduce your LDL levels and help lower your cholesterol. 

What Do Cholesterol Blood Tests Do?

Many people with high cholesterol are not aware of it. Most won’t know they have it until they experience a hyperlipidemia-related health problem. The only other way to know is with a blood test.

Getting a cholesterol blood test is a vital part of hyperlipidemia prevention. It checks the levels of different types of lipids you have in your blood. This includes triglycerides, LDL, and HDL cholesterol. Getting your blood evaluated can determine your risk of a heart attack, heart disease, and blood vessel disease. 

What Types of Hyperlipidemia Are There?

Not every case of hyperlipidemia is caused by eating too much cholesterol. Some people with well-balanced lifestyles suffer from familial hyperlipidemia. This form is caused by a genetic mutation that’s passed down.

People with familial hyperlipidemia may show cardiovascular-related symptoms at a young age. Chest pain, cramping in the calves, and unhealed sores are not uncommon. They can even experience a stroke or heart attack in their teens and twenties.

The other form of this condition is called acquired hyperlipidemia. It’s common among people with weight-related issues like diabetes and hypothyroidism. It can also be caused by kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome, or certain medications. In fact, birth control, diuretics, and corticosteroids can contribute to acquired hyperlipidemia.

How to Cope With and Treat Hyperlipidemia

Living with hyperlipidemia is completely manageable. But only if you are taking active steps towards lowering your cholesterol levels. This can reduce your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease—one of the leading causes of death in America. 

Curate a Cholesterol-Optimized Diet

One of the best ways to reduce cholesterol is to change your diet. This means consuming more fiber through whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It is also recommended to  eat more lean proteins and plant-based foods like beans, lentils, and tofu. Try cutting out saturated fats from meat, butter, and cheese. Replace them with healthier unsaturated fats from avocados, seeds, and nuts. You can also up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating foods such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, soybeans, walnuts, seafood, eggs, and yogurt.

Up Your Workout Routine

Both a healthy diet and exercise can lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. Working out also lowers your triglycerides, a type of fat that can up your risk for heart disease. Above all, regular exercise helps you maintain your weight. This is an important factor as obesity is heavily linked to high cholesterol. 

Aim for at least 2 and a half hours of moderate exercise or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise every week. Along with focusing on cardiovascular exercise, add in a bi-weekly muscle-strengthening activity for good measure. 

Kick Your Smoking and Drinking Habits

Smoking and heavy drinking are bad habits that can lead to high cholesterol. Smoke damages your blood vessel walls and leads to plaque buildup. Drinking can also damage your liver, which is an important regulator of cholesterol metabolism. Those who want to treat hyperlipidemia should drink no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. 

Choose the Right Hyperlipidemia Medication

More serious cases of hyperlipidemia may require medication. These medications are referred to as lipid-lowering therapy. Each type of medication has a different method for lowering cholesterol. Here’s how they work:

  • Niacin: This is a B vitamin that raises HDL and lowers LDL. Though niacin is a vitamin found in many foods, it can also be consumed as a dietary supplement.
  • Fibrates: A medication that focuses on decreasing triglycerides. Though it increases your HDL levels, it does not lower LDL. Tricor and Lopid are two of the most common fibrate medications. 
  • Bile acid sequestrants: A lipid-lowering therapy that binds onto bile acids in the intestine. This prevents LDL from being absorbed into your bloodstream. LDL is then excreted from your body in the form of feces. Bile acid sequestrants come in tablet and powder form.
  • Statins: A medication that blocks the cholesterol-producing enzymes in your liver. Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor are statin medications commonly used to treat hyperlipidemia-related conditions.
  • PCSK9 Inhibitors: PCSK9 is a type of protein that breaks down LDL receptors. This allows more cholesterol to stay in your bloodstream. Inhibitors reduce your LDL levels by blocking this protein. Repatha and Paluent are two types of PCSK9 Inhibitors that can be injected into your body with a syringe. 

Note that lipid-lowering therapy works best when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Consult with your doctor to select the best hyperlipidemia medication for you. 

Take Back Control From Hyperlipidemia 

A multitude of health issues stems from hyperlipidemia. Stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and diabetes are just some of the many. That’s why it’s critical to know if you are at risk of developing it and what you can do to control the symptoms. Making healthy lifestyle choices can lessen hyperlipidemia symptoms and improve your overall health.

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Understanding the Basics of Thyroid Health

Bearded man getting thyroid gland checked by doctor

What is a thyroid? If you haven’t had any problems with this area of the body, you may not even know where it’s located. For newcomers to thyroid health, the thyroid is a 2-inch-long gland found in the front of your neck. It lies underneath the adam’s apple, or the piece of cartilage that protrudes from your neck. 

Most people don’t start thinking about their thyroid until a doctor tells them to—but they should. Thyroids affect heart rate, digestion, breathing, and energy levels. So taking good care of it can benefit you in many ways. Let’s explain the role that thyroids play in your overall health.

What Does a Thyroid Do?

Thyroids produce hormones that allow the organs throughout your body to communicate. They disperse hormones into your bloodstream to act as messengers to the rest of your body. These hormones bind to receptors (protein molecules within a cell) to induce a change in activity in that particular cell. 

Thyroids use a nutrient called iodine to produce two hormones: triiodothyronine and thyroxine. These hormones influence your metabolism in multiple ways. They help you burn fat and impact your basal metabolic rate, the fat you burn when you’re not being active. Thyroid hormones also activate glucose production which supplies your body with energy. 

Thyroids also play a role in maintaining consistency in menstrual cycles and regulating body temperature. They tell your body to produce more hormones when you’re cold and less when you’re warm. Essentially, your body could not function without these hormones. The thyroid thus plays a huge role in the homeostasis of your body. 

What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Problems?

Thyroid problems are either caused by an overproduction or underproduction of hormones. Hyperthyroidism is when your body produces too much and uses up its energy too fast. 

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Fatigue 
  • Fast heart rate 
  • Weight loss 
  • Anxiety

Hypothyroidism occurs when you don’t produce enough thyroid hormone. The side effects of this are:

  • Weight gain 
  • Weak muscles 
  • Slowed heart rate 
  • Depression

Some of the most common causes of thyroid problems are iodine deficiency, inflammation, tumors, lumps, and autoimmune diseases. Medical treatments like radiation can also lead to thyroid problems. Thyroid conditions are usually influenced by genetics and commonly occur in patients with a family history of them. Regardless, people with and without thyroid issues should aim to improve the health of their thyroid. 

How To Support a Healthy Thyroid

Many symptoms of thyroid problems resemble other health issues. For example, hypothyroidism has similar side effects to heart disease and diabetes. Similarly to these health issues, diet and exercise can help lessen the symptoms. Here’s how. 

How Diet Influences Thyroid Health

As we’ve mentioned, iodine deficiency is a contributing factor to thyroid problems. And your body cannot produce iodine on its own. So the only way to get more of it is through food like milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and seafood. If you are significantly deficient, iodine supplements can also benefit your thyroid. 

As with many health conditions, junk food can be detrimental to your thyroid. These foods are filled with salt, which can lead to thyroid health risks like high blood pressure. Excess sugar over-activates your thyroid gland. This causes your hormones to burn out and stop working properly. Foods with high-fat content can also slow down the production of thyroid hormones. So cutting back on fatty, over-processed, and high-sugar foods can improve thyroid health. 

Some healthy foods can actually be detrimental to people with an existing thyroid problem. Cabbage, kale, watercress, cauliflower, rutabaga, soybeans, peanuts, and brussel sprouts can cause thyroid gland enlargement. The common thread between these foods is goitrogen. This chemical can hinder thyroid function. Luckily, goitrogen is most potent with raw foods, so cooking these foods will mostly rid them of their anti-thyroid properties. 

The Link Between Exercise and Thyroids

Another impactful way to boost thyroid health is through exercise. That’s because it increases your metabolism by amping up your heart rate. As thyroid hormones impact your metabolism, exercise can also improve your hormone production. Working out prevents weight gain, muscle loss, energy lulls, and depression—all symptoms of hypothyroidism. 

If you’ve experienced these symptoms or have a family history of thyroid problems, there are further steps you can take. Getting a thyroid blood test checks your blood for thyroid hormones and antibodies. If a problem is detected, you may be prescribed thyroid medication. As hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are very different conditions, they require different care plans. For example, those with an under-active thyroid may receive artificial hormone treatment. Patients with hyperthyroidism; however, need medication to decrease hormone levels. 

Keep Your Thyroid Healthy

Taking care of your thyroid is imperative whether you have a thyroid condition or not.  Any lifestyle change towards better thyroid health is good for your overall health. Eating iodine-rich foods and exercising are excellent ways to prevent hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. So keep tabs on potential symptoms and do all you can to maximize the health of one of the most important glands in your body.

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What You Need to Know for the 2022-2023 Flu Season

woman sitting on a couch sick with the flu

The 2022-2023 flu season is underway and it’s already been a brutal one. Hospitals are filling up with cases of the flu, Covid, and respiratory syncytial virus. With the holiday season afoot, this trio of contagious viruses can be distressing. How can you tell which one you have? Or if you have a combination? Let’s unblur the lines of these illnesses and identify what symptoms you should look out for.

Breaking Down the Flu, Covid, and RSV

When you catch the flu you may experience mild symptoms such as sinus and ear infections. But potentially fatal complications can also arise. This includes pneumonia or tissue inflammation. Flu can infect the respiratory tract and cause severe inflammatory reactions. This can lead to sepsis, the body’s potentially fatal response to infection. Furthermore, flu can exacerbate existing medical conditions like asthma or heart disease.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has also been spreading rapidly this year. RSV is an illness that infects the lungs, nose, throat, and breathing passages. It’s most common among babies and young children. But RSV is also known to infect immunocompromised and elderly patients. Mild cases of RSV consist of flu-like symptoms. More severe cases can lead to bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

Along with flu and RSV, contracting Covid is also a major risk this holiday season. So what are the similarities and differences between these ailments? All three are respiratory-related illnesses with symptoms of cough, fever, and runny nose. Getting the flu or Covid can also come with body aches, chills, headache, and sore throat. Covid alone may cause shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste, diarrhea, and nausea. Those with RSV may notice a loss of appetite. People tend to recover from the flu in less than a week. But Covid can last up to two weeks and be infectious for prolonged periods.

You can have one or more of these illnesses at the same time. And catching one virus may cause you to contract another. RSV can increase your risk of getting Covid since it lowers your immunity. Plus Covid and the flu can both be asymptomatic, which means you can spread it without even knowing. Testing is crucial to confirm the proper diagnosis and select the right treatment. The bottom line is all these viruses are contagious. So if you have any of them, you must distance yourself from others. 

What To Do if You Get the Flu

There are several things you can do to stay healthy and even shorten the flu infection period. Staying hydrated with lots of water is ideal. Other liquids like black tea, orange juice, and low-sugar sports drinks work too. Stay away from milk, alcohol, coffee, and high-sugar drinks. These may cause excess mucus, dehydration, or inflammation.

There is no foolproof way of curing the flu. But taking medications and supplements may help. Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, Relenza, Rapivab, and Xofluza can shorten the infection. Using decongestants and antihistamines relieve swollen nasal passages and lozenges for sore throats.

One of the most important pieces of advice from doctors is to rest at home. “Staying home will help in two ways,” says Maryrose Laguio-Vila, MD, an Infectious Disease Specialist with Rochester Regional Health. “It will prevent you from spreading the flu to other people—keeping them healthy and reducing the potential number of people who might need to visit urgent care or hospital for their symptoms. Staying home will also allow you to rest better, leading to a full recovery.” This will require you to take time off from work or miss out on holiday get-togethers. But all in all, it’s better to keep everyone safe.

Is It Too Late To Get the Flu Shot?

Flu season usually occurs throughout the fall and winter. While influenza viruses travel all year, activity often peaks between December and February. But this flu season currently boasts over 50,000 cases per week in New York and is predicted to last until May 2023. 

Fall is the best time to get vaccinated against the flu. Ideally, you should receive your vaccine by the end of October. But with so many cases and infectious viruses going around, getting the flu shot is still worth it. As winter is upon us, peak flu season is just around the corner. Since the vaccine takes two weeks to set in, getting vaccinated now can protect you when it’s most rampant.

How the Flu Vaccine Can Benefit You

Flu vaccinations defend against the four influenza viruses: A, B, C, and D. They protect your body by inducing an immunological response. This creates antibodies against the virus. This year’s flu shot reportedly provides 50% efficacy against the major flu strain. Getting the shot doesn’t mean you won’t have the flu at some point this season. But it does significantly reduce your chances of catching a severe case.

Most flu vaccines are administered through a needle, generally in the arm. For those who fear needles, there is also the option for a nasal spray vaccine. Research has shown that getting the flu vaccination and a Covid injection simultaneously is perfectly safe.

Protect Your Loved Ones by Getting Vaccinated

Whether you’ve already had the flu, currently have it, or are trying to avoid it, we all just want to stay healthy this season. That’s why taking preventative measures and recognizing early flu symptoms is essential. So take care this holiday season and avoid gatherings if you detect an illness. And for those who haven’t gotten a flu vaccination yet—make an appointment as soon as you can!

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How To Manage Weight Gain as You Get Older

women sitting in front of a scale

One of the biggest disadvantages of getting older is that it becomes much easier to gain weight. When we’re young and spry, we can get away with having 3 glasses of wine or 4 slices of pizza with little consequence. But as age increases, our bodies aren’t so forgiving of naughty eating habits like this.

So why is it that we can eat the same things with drastically different results depending on where we are in life? We could be getting regular exercise and eating in moderation most of the time, but our dietary splurges still seem to increase the scale more than they did in our early 20s. Let’s learn why we gain weight when we get older and tips for managing and preventing this phenomenon.

What Causes Weight Gain as We Get Older?

There are many forces working against our ability to maintain a healthy weight in middle age. One of which is changing hormone levels for both men and women. Men and women experience a drop in the reproductive hormones testosterone and estrogen, respectively.

Here’s why each of these hormones is influential for maintaining a healthy weight and why the absence of them causes us to gain weight during middle age.

Lower Levels of Testosterone and Estrogen

Estrogen and testosterone encourage muscle mass growth and enhance fat storage use. That’s why when you gain weight in your younger years, you are better able to disguise it and bounce back from it. When these hormone levels drop, both men and women start developing more fat. This is especially true around their midsections. This redistribution of fat is one of the most recognizable markers of middle age weight gain.

Testosterone binds to fat and prevents it from gathering in unwanted places. It also helps keep metabolism high and restricts insulin sensitivity—thus preventing diabetes. Testosterone is at its highest in puberty and starts to decrease around 30. Men then become vulnerable to midsection weight gain and health problems like heart disease.

The effect that estrogen levels have on women is similar to testosterone in that it peaks at puberty and starts to decline with age. Estrogen plays an important role in maintaining cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It also contributes to blood circulation, collagen production, and brain function. Estrogen is heavily linked to females’ menstruation cycles and fertility. When estrogen levels drop, women are less able to get pregnant or ovulate.

When estrogen levels decrease during menopause, women often develop extra fat around their midsection. Though it may appear to be weight gain, this redistribution of fat is not always added pounds. It is, however, a common and often unwelcome side effect of getting older.

Muscle Mass Loss

Losing muscle mass is an inevitable part of getting older and can be a large contributor to why we gain weight when we age. This process is called sarcopenia and starts around the age of 30. Sarcopenia causes you to lose 3-8% of your muscle mass every 10 years. Once you turn 60, the rate of decline increases even more.

With muscle mass loss comes side effects like increased fat mass. This in turn causes changes in body composition. It can also make you more vulnerable to insulin resistance, decreased bone density, and joint stiffness. Muscle mass loss may increase your risk for serious health conditions. These include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

Slowed Down Metabolism

Muscle mass is the largest determiner of how fast your metabolism rate is. Metabolism processes when your body converts food into energy. Blood circulation, digestion, and waste elimination are all parts of the metabolic process.

Similar to estrogen and testosterone production, metabolisms are fastest during youth. But the older you get, the less energy (or calories) your metabolism needs to run itself. Over our life span, we tend to develop eating habits that don’t change as our bodies do. So when our food intake doesn’t decrease, the excess energy we supply our metabolisms with can result in weight gain.

How To Prevent Weight Gain as You Age

While gaining weight becomes easier, losing weight proves more challenging with age. That’s why we have to develop new lifestyles and dieting habits to counteract this. Here are some tips on how to prevent weight gain as you age.

Get Active the Fun Way

Exercise is an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight. But many people find it to be a chore once they get older and preoccupied with other tasks. That’s why it’s important to find an exercise that you actually like doing.

Did you used to play a sport in your youth but your busy life, job, and family life put a wrench in this pastime? If this activity still has a positive place in your memories, why not start up again?

Find an adult league in your community or search for a local group online. This will help you find people who are also motivated to stay active. And it will allow you to relive the happy times you had while tricking yourself to exercise!

Challenge Your Eating Habits

Gaining weight often comes from an unwillingness to change the way we ate as a younger person. Similarly to having an emotional connection with the sports you used to play, you can have an emotional attachment to the foods you used to eat.

Do you have a latte every morning because that’s what you’ve always done? Or do you have a scoop of ice cream every night because it reminds you of college? Oftentimes we find ourselves stuck in old habits because they bring us comfort. But ditching this habit doesn’t mean we have to ditch the happiness these snacks brought us.

If you practice food journaling, take note of the foods that you often find yourself indulging in. If you consume certain high-fat or sugary foods daily, cut your intake down to weekly or bi-monthly. That way you still get that rush of instant gratification and positive memories every once in a while. Just without the added weight gain that they’ve been causing you in recent years.

Get a Better Nights Sleep

Life gets hectic, we get busy, and our sleep schedule suffers. But even if 8 hours of sleep seems unrealistic, prioritizing weight loss means that you have to make time for it. Lack of sleep could be contributing to your weight gain.

Skipping hours of sleep can give you a bigger appetite, which of course causes you to eat more. This is likely provoked by how sleep deprivation affects your hormones. When out of sorts, your hormones are less able to signal hunger and fullness the way they should.

Additionally, less sleep can cause you to seek foods that are higher in calories and fat. So make it your mission to go to bed earlier or wake up at a later time. This way you’ll be less tempted to overindulge or reach for junk food.

Change Your Habits to Decrease Your Weight

There are many unfair things about getting older. One of which is becoming more vulnerable to weight gain. Changing hormone levels, muscle mass loss, and slowing metabolisms can be a catalyst, but they certainly don’t have to get in the way of attaining optimal health.

The harsh reality of growing older is that you can no longer live or eat the way you used to. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever treat yourself to a cupcake or that you have to exercise all the time. You just have to find a way to enjoy doing more physical activity, get more sleep and scale back on the foods that you may be indulging in too often. If you follow these tips, you can better fight off the factors that are causing you to gain weight as you age.

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Health Screenings You Need in Your 40s and 50s

doctor in white lab coat with graphic illustrative images of health tests needed in your 40s and 50s

As we age, our body’s health needs evolve. We may experience aches that were never there before and develop concerns over health issues that may not have crossed our minds when we were younger. This doesn’t have to mean weekly checkups or constant stress over health risks. It just means being proactive about things that we’re more vulnerable to during middle age.

Being informed can help prepare you and your doctor for possible treatments and lifestyle changes you’ll need to maintain optimal health. Let’s run through a full medical checkup list of everything you should be screening and testing for in your 40s and 50s.

Essential Exams In Your 40s in 50s

Getting a standard physical exam is an important part of maintaining optimal health in your 40s and 50s. Both men and women of this age should be doing this every 1-2 years.

There are many additional exams that should be observed once you hit middle age, some of which you may be unfamiliar with. Here is a rundown of which routine exams you’ll need and why they are important to your health.

Eye Exam

Most peoples’ vision gradually worsens as they get older. By age 40, farsightedness, or difficulty seeing up close, becomes increasingly more common. Getting an eye exam every 2-4 years is crucial for both men and women in their 40s and 50s.

Doing these checkups will help keep your glasses prescription up to date, indicate whether you may have a more serious vision issue like glaucoma, or if you are at risk of vision loss.

Pelvic Exam

While pelvic exams are commonly linked to reproductive health and pregnancy, women past child bearing years should also get this checked regularly. Pelvic exams can test for gynecologic issues such as cervical and ovarian cancer, both of which become more prevalent once women hit their 40s and 50s.

During this procedure, your gynecologist will perform a pap smear and manual exam to determine whether you have any STDs, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, or early signs of cancer. Women in their 40s and 50s should be getting pelvic exams on an annual basis and pap smears every 3 years per your gynecologist’s instruction.

Rectal Exam

Getting periodic rectal exams is a crucial part of maintaining middle-aged health. During this procedure, a doctor will examine the inside of your colon to check for abnormalities. Common medical issues that may come up are inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), hemorrhoids, rectal or colon cancer, and even neurological disorders.

This exam is not the same as a colonoscopy as it does not require any prior preparation such as colon cleansing. However, the two may be performed in succession if the doctor detects signs of colon cancer while performing your rectal exam.

During a colonoscopy, the doctor checks for polyps and other signs of colon cancer. This procedure is also a helpful way of detecting causes for rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, and other intestinal problems.

Annual rectal exams are a recommended health screening by age 50-59 for both men and women. Colonoscopies are encouraged every 10 years from age 45 onward.

Prostate Exam

In accordance with the CDC recommended health screenings by age and gender, prostate exams are unnecessary for females. However, they are an extremely important procedure for men in their mid-40s and onward. Prostate cancer is the second most deadly cancer for men. In fact, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. So the best thing you can do to check for signs of prostate cancer is to get annual exams starting at age 45.

Vital Vaccinations Needed in Your 40s in 50s

Your 40s and 50s is the time to stock up on immunizations that’ll boost daily health and promote longevity. These recommended vaccinations are pretty infrequent and low maintenance but are important to keep up with.

  • Meningitis Vaccine: If not received prior, you will need to get 1-2 doses of MenACWY and 2-3 doses of MenB. Booster shots may be necessary depending on the type of vaccine received. If your risk for Meningitis still persists, you will need to be revaccinated every 5 years.
  • Booster Td or Tdap Vaccine: You will need to get a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis shot every 10 years to follow up on the vaccines you received at a younger age. If you experience any type of puncture wound, you should get an additional booster shot regardless of when your last one was.
  • Zoster Recombinant Vaccination: This is an important vaccination once you hit the age of 50. It helps prevent shingles and can be received regardless of whether you’ve had chickenpox before. It’s recommended that you get two doses of this vaccine, 2-6 months apart.
  • Flu Vaccine: This is an important vaccine at all ages! It is ideal to get your flu vaccine once every flu season between the months of September and October.

Other Tests and Screenings to Consider

The above recommended exams and vaccinations are an extremely helpful way to promote middle-aged health. And there are still additional steps you can take to support a more well-rounded health strategy. Getting these screenings and recommended lab tests by age can have a significant impact on your life, especially if you’re able to catch early signs of diseases or detect major health risks.

Bone Density Test

Bone density tests are recommended for people who:

  • Are at risk of osteoporosis
  • Have experienced frequent fractures or loss of height
  • Have a chronic disease
  • Are a woman approaching or currently experiencing menopause

Regardless, this test should be observed every 2 years by men and women between the ages of 40-59.


Getting regular mammograms is a pivotal preventative step you can take towards warding off breast cancer. Women should receive their first one at 40 and then continue every 1-2 years. Once they reach the age of 50, women should start observing mammograms annually. They should also do regular exams on their own breasts, feeling them for abnormalities or changes.

Skin Cancer Screening

Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers, especially for people who’ve had extensive sun exposure in their life. Starting at the age of 50, men and women should be getting skin cancer screenings every 1-2 years. Getting these done can detect skin cancer cells and melanoma before they become deadly.

Pursuing Impeccable Health in Your 40s and 50s

Taking care of your health is always imperative, but in your 40s and 50s, checking up on the recommended lab tests by age should become a higher priority. This will ensure you have a comprehensive check on your overall health and don’t overlook any issues that could become worse. Though it may seem like a lot of trips to the doctor, you’ll be grateful to know that you’re doing everything you can to live a long and harmonious life.

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Low Glycemic Foods for Diabetes

compilation of low glyemic foods - berries, chickpeas, apples, avocado, yogurt

Although diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, some people are unfamiliar with what this health condition really is and how to distinguish type 1 from type 2. Many know that it’s linked to nutrition in some capacity, but the specifics of how diabetes affects the body and how people live with diabetes on a day-to-day basis may be fuzzy.                                                                  

Diabetes is a chronic disease that impairs the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and thus transform food into energy. Blood sugar is your body’s primary source of energy. The food you eat provides you with the glucose needed to perform daily tasks. Ordinarily, food is broken down into sugar every time you eat. Your blood sugar level then raises and tells your pancreas to produce insulin, which your cells use to give you energy. But people with diabetes cannot produce the proper amount of insulin, causing blood sugar to rise. 

Differentiating the Three Types of Diabetes

There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes are unable to make insulin because their immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreatic cells that try to produce it. Type 1 is most commonly diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood and requires daily insulin shots. 

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind. In fact, 90-95% of diabetic people have it. Type 2 is often an acquired disease as it can be triggered by poor eating habits and lack of exercise. But it can also be genetically inherited by people who have a family history of diabetes. Like type 1, those with type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin. But with improved lifestyle habits like healthy eating, exercise, and weight loss, insulin injections aren’t always necessary to sustain the body’s energy levels. 

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a condition that can be developed during pregnancy, especially for mothers who gain a surplus amount of weight. This type of diabetes can be very dangerous as it increases health risks for newborns. Once a mother gives birth; however, gestational diabetes usually goes away though it can increase her likelihood of developing diabetes later on. Similar to type 2, gestational diabetes can be managed and prevented with healthy lifestyle habits. 

Why Diabetics Should Know About Glycemic Index Scores

If you have or are at risk of developing diabetes, staying informed about nutrition and how different foods can affect your body is advantageous. People with diabetes may particularly benefit from knowing about glycemic index scores, a system of designating numbers to foods based on how much they increase your blood sugar. 

Everything you eat — from sushi to pasta to cheesecake — has a glycemic index score. This score provides us with a way of measuring how fast carbohydrates in food are digested and how much they raise blood sugar levels. Foods with a low GI score take longer to digest and help prevent rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. 

High blood sugar occurs when you consume more sugar than your body actually needs. This happens when you get a sugar crash from having too many sweets or feel sluggish after multiple slices of pizza. High blood sugar is tied to a condition called hyperglycemia but can also be caused by lack of exercise, excessive carb intake, and stress. 

Having low blood sugar causes you to feel weak, exhausted, or even dizzy and is often caused by a condition called hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar can also come from skipping meals, over exercising, or consuming alcohol. When blood sugar levels are low, eating or drinking simple sugars like candy bars or fruit juice can quickly raise you back to a healthy level. 

Watching out for high or low blood sugar is particularly crucial for people with diabetes, but maintaining a diet that promotes healthy blood sugar levels is a practice that everyone can benefit from. That’s why it’s helpful to keep track of the glycemic index scores of the foods you eat. Here is a breakdown of how GI scores work and what foods are best for keeping blood sugar levels balanced. 

How to Measure Your Glycemic Index Values

Glycemic index values range from 1-100 and can be categorized into three groups: 

Low GI: 1-55

Medium GI: 56-69

High GI: 70-100

To keep your blood sugar levels in check, the majority of your energy should be sourced from foods with a low GI score. This can include foods from different nutritional categories including vegetables, fruits, proteins, and dairy. Here are some examples of low GI foods:

Eating too many foods with a high GI score can be detrimental to your blood sugar levels. It’s ok to indulge in them on occasion, but they should only make up a minimal percentage of the foods you consume. Here are some high GI foods that should be eaten in moderation: 

The more informed you are about the foods you eat on a daily basis, the better control you have over your daily energy levels. To find out the scores of your favorite snacks and learn more about low glycemic foods, use this glycemic index chart.

Benefits of Switching to a Lower GI Diet

Limiting foods with a high glycemic index score is key to keeping your energy levels balanced. That’s because too much of these foods can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, causing unwanted side effects like fatigue, headaches, or even chronic health conditions like diabetes. Focusing instead on complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats will usually result in a low glycemic eating pattern. 

For a well balanced low glycemic meal, pair your choice of complex carbohydrate with a protein like beans or a plant based fat like avocados. Both of these foods are low in GI and high in fiber, another nutrient that can help keep your blood sugar levels under control throughout the day. This combination of low GI foods can help you stay energized and maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.

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Breast Cancer: Risk Factors, Symptoms & Prevention

illustration of ways to prevent breast cancer

Breast cancer is when breast cells grow and divide out of control. This can cause a mass of tissue or tumor to develop which can ultimately lead to breast cancer.

Every October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. By taking the time to learn about this disease, it can help with early detection which is when it’s most treatable.

Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most frequent malignancy among American women. 1 in 8 women in the United States has a chance of acquiring breast cancer at some point in her life. 1 in 39 women dies from breast cancer yearly.

Patients are having better results as a consequence of earlier detection, cutting-edge therapy choices, and less invasive surgery.

Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors associated with the development of breast cancer. Here are some to be aware of: 

  • Age. Breast cancer risk can increase with age. Most breast cancer cases are discovered after the age of 50. 
  • Genetic changes. Women who inherit alterations or mutations to particular genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, are more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Reproductive history. Women who start menstruating before the age of 12 and experience menopause after the age of 55 are exposed to hormones for a longer period of time which can ultimately increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Large breast size. Dense breasts include more connective tissue than fatty tissue, which can make cancer detection difficult on mammography. 
  • Family history. If someone in your family has had breast cancer or other non-cancerous breast diseases such as atypical hyperplasia and lobular carcinoma, you may be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
  • History of radiation therapy treatment. Radiation therapy to the chest or breasts before the age of 30 increases the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.


Here are some common breast cancer symptoms to watch out for: 

  • Lumpiness in the breast or underarm area 
  • Swelling of the breast
  • Change in breast size or shape
  • Blood or discharge from nipples 
  • Changes in the skin of breasts (usually redness or flaky skin)
  • Pain in the breasts or nipples 

Check with your primary care physician if you experience any of these symptoms. Mammograms can assist in early detection.


There are certain lifestyle changes that can be made to lower the incidence of breast cancer, even in high-risk women. Here are some things you can do: 

  • Reduce alcohol consumption. You are more likely to develop breast cancer if you drink alcohol. Restrict alcohol use to one drink per day or 2-3 drinks only a few times a week. Even a small amount can increase risk. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Consult with your doctor on what is a healthy weight for your age and body type. Reduce the number of calories you consume each day while gradually increasing the quantity of exercise.
  • Stay active. Physical activity is important in keeping your heart healthy and also assists in maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Breast-feed. The longer you breastfeed, the more protective the impact. During lactation, most women will experience hormonal changes that delay their menstrual periods. This reduces exposure to hormones like estrogen, which can promote breast cancer cell growth.

It is important to be informed about breast cancer. Fortunately, this knowledge can ultimately decrease your risk if you take the right precautions. If breast cancer is caught early on, you have a better chance of living a happy and healthy life.

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