Tag: prevent chronic disease

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.

Symptoms

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.

Prevention

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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Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease

illustration of girl holding her chest in pain from eating gluten

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a family of proteins mainly found in wheat, rye, and barley. Of the gluten-containing grains, wheat is most commonly consumed. The two main proteins in gluten are gliadin and glutenin.

When flour is mixed with water, these proteins bind into a sticky substance that’s glue-like in consistency. The word “gluten” comes from these glue-like properties. Gluten makes dough elastic and allows bread to rise when heated by trapping gas molecules inside. It also provides a satisfying, chewy texture we all tend to crave.

Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease

Gluten sensitivity, or gluten intolerance is a disorder where your body reacts badly to eating gluten. Gluten intolerance has some of the same symptoms as celiac disease, but doesn’t cause permanent damage to your small intestine.

Celiac disease is a lifelong, genetically inherited autoimmune disorder that when triggered, causes the body to attack itself, damaging the lining of the small intestine and preventing proper absorption of nutrients.

You may be surprised to learn just how many people suffer from celiac disease or some degree of significant gluten intolerance. Research conducted by Dr. Alessio Fasano, Medical Director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, and Dr. Peter Green, Director of the Celiac Disease Center and author of Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, indicates that between 5% and 10% of all people may suffer from a gluten sensitivity of some form.

What Causes Gluten Intolerance?

1. Genes

Unfortunately, if someone in your family has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the chances of you getting these conditions are pretty high. Not all people will inherit this, but genetics do play a vital role in developing the condition.

2. Eating Glutenous Food

While the main cause of the two conditions is not yet identified, eating foods with gluten can play a major role in the upscaling of the disease. If you have high sensitivity towards gluten, adapting to a gluten free diet will be most beneficial to manage this condition and symptoms.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

People with celiac disease tend to experience significant gastrointestinal symptoms. Here are some of the symptoms associated with celiac disease.

• Bloating. This is the most common symptom in both of the two conditions. When you experience bloating, your stomach will feel overly full which may make you feel pretty uncomfortable.

• Headache and abdominal pain. While it might be a common ailment that tends to affect most everyone from time to time, persistent or severe headaches along with abdominal pain might be a sign that you need to schedule an appointment to get evaluated and rule out the possibility of the disease.

• Diarrhea. It’s estimated that around half of adults with celiac disease experience diarrhea, sometimes severe. Keeping properly hydrated is important so that you don’t become dehydrated. 

Symptoms Associated with Gluten Intolerance

  • Constipation
  • Tiredness, fatigue, lack of energy
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Gluten intolerance can also cause iron-deficiency anemia.

Foods To Avoid If You’re Gluten Intolerant

  • Pasta. Including but not limited to macaronis, rigatoni, fettuccine, gnocchi, spaghetti, whole wheat pasta, and refined white pasta.
  • Beer. Most beer contains gluten, but some such as Shiner Bock are safe to drink.
  • Soup. Ask before you order soup, many are thickened with starch or flour.
  • Baked goods. Most decadent desserts will hit you where it hurts if you don’t process gluten well.
  • Oats. While oats are gluten-free, most are processed in plants where gluten grains are all over the plants and might cross-contaminate.
  • Bread. Rye bread, barley bread, whole grain bread, 9-seed bread, white bread. The list of gluten offenders is a long one for this dietary staple.
  • Flour Tortillas. Skip the tortilla, save the calories, and protect your intestines, because this is a no-go for celiacs.

Living with celiac disease and gluten intolerance used to be pretty challenging. But with the continued widespread understanding of the disorder, it doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your lifestyle. Thanks to the growing popularity of gluten-free diets, vast improvements upon gluten-free food products, and a growing understanding of the bodily mechanics behind celiac flare-ups, living with celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be reasonably managed.

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4 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy & Strong

woman visiting her primary care provider

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States? Heart disease is a term used to describe several conditions that affect the heart, including coronary artery disease, angina, heart attack, and congestive heart failure. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet

A heart-healthy diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The American Heart Association recommends the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

1. Recommended whole grains

Whole grains are grains that have not been processed, refined, or milled. Examples include brown rice, oats, quinoa, and barley. They are a good source of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants.

Whole grains can help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure and improving blood sugar control. In addition, they are filling and low in calories, making them a good choice for people trying to lose or manage weight.

2. Recommended vegetables

Some vegetables are better than others at reducing the risk of heart diseases. Here are some veggies at the top of the list:

  • Broccoli: a cruciferous vegetable high in fiber and antioxidants.
  • Carrots: a root vegetable high in fiber and antioxidants.
  • Spinach: a leafy green vegetable that is high in antioxidants, magnesium, and potassium.

3. Recommended fruits

Eating certain fruits may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Fruits such as apples and pears are good choices as they contain high antioxidants which help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Exercise

Next to a healthy diet, the most important thing you can do to keep your heart healthy is exercise. You can reduce the risk of heart disease by exercising aerobically and strengthening your muscles. When choosing an aerobic activity, ensure it is something you enjoy so you will be more likely to stick with it. One type of aerobic activity particularly beneficial is high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT involves alternating between short bursts of high-intensity exercise and brief periods of rest or low-intensity activity. This type of training is more effective than traditional aerobic exercise at improving cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

When it comes to strength training, start slowly and gradually increase the weight and intensity as you become stronger.

Get Your Cholesterol Checked

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is found in the blood. It is important for the body because it helps make hormones and Vitamin D. Cholesterol can also harm the body if there is too much of it and high levels can lead to heart disease.

There are two types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL is bad cholesterol, and HDL is good cholesterol. You want your LDL levels to be low and your HDL levels to be high. You can do many things to help keep your cholesterol levels in check, such as eating healthy foods, exercising, and not smoking.

Keep Your Stress Levels Down!

Everyone experiences stress in their life. For some, it’s a minor inconvenience that is efficiently dealt with and goes away within a short time. For others, stress can be debilitating and impact daily life activities. There are many different ways to deal with stress, but one of the most important is to keep stress levels down. It can be done by eating healthy, getting good sleep and exercising. By following these simple tips, you can help keep your heart healthy and strong for years to come!

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Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle, Prevent Chronic Disease: Here’s How

measuring tape, apple, stethoscope, laptop, vitamins

There are many benefits in caring for your body before it breaks down. Being proactive about your health is important in maintaining a productive and vibrant life. Here’s what you can do to keep your body working properly.

Eat a Healthy Diet

We have all heard the saying “you are what you eat” and there is some truth to it! Consider an organic, whole food diet with few processed foods.

Benefits of eating a well balanced diet:

  • Lowers risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers
  • Keeps skin, teeth and eyes healthy
  • Supports muscles
  • Boosts immunity
  • Strengthens bones

You can also consider adding a supplement or a quality multivitamin or mineral complex to your daily routine. This can help with potential nutrient deficiencies.

Get Proper Sleep

Getting enough sleep has a lot of proven health benefits. Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per day.

Benefits of getting enough z’s:

  • Relaxes your mind and body
  • Reduces stress
  • Hormonal balance
  • Heart health
  • Blood sugar consistency

When you are sleep deprived, your body releases stress hormones that can affect your overall health. If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s rest, try taking a warm bath, meditate or practice breathing exercises to help unwind from the day.

Go For Annual Health Screenings

Over 133 million Americans have an undiagnosed chronic disease. By taking part in annual health screenings, chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes can be identified early on.
With proper care and treatment early on, many chronic diseases can be non-life-threatening and treatable.

Keep Moving!

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
Benefits of exercise:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce your risk of developing certain diseases
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Increase your chances of living longer

According to the CDC, An estimated 110,000 deaths per year could be prevented if US adults ages 40 and older increased their moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by a small amount. As little as 10 minutes more per day could make a significant difference!

Take care of yourself. Doing these important things will have a positive impact on your life and will only extend it!

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