Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Healthy Eating Tips

As the holiday season approaches, these healthy eating tips may be useful for you to have a enjoyable holiday without overdoing it.

The first step in staying healthy is to eat healthy. Healthy eating is about eating a variety of foods that give you the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary to maintain good health, give you energy, and stabilize your mood. Healthy eating is not a diet. Diets are temporary and often lack nutritional value. Eating healthy is about maintaining an enjoyable life-long eating habit. Healthy food choices can reduce the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the second leading cause of death for Asian Americans. Furthermore, Asian Americans are almost twice as likely to develop diabetes as the general population in the United States, and of those who develop diabetes, more than 95% are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Healthy eating does not need to be difficult and in this column, we will discuss a few simple nutrition basics that you can apply to your eating plan.

In order to maintain good health a healthy eating plan should be adopted. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, a healthy eating plan should:

  • Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;
  • Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts;
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars;
  • Stay within your daily calorie needs.

Drastically changing your food choices may be difficult at first, so it is better to gradually introduce new foods into your new eating plan. Do not think about foods that you cannot have; think about the abundance of new foods that you can have!

  • Fruits – Be adventurous and try new fruits that you have not tried before! Try to stay away from canned fruits that contain added sugars and syrups. Fresh fruits naturally contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help protect you from disease and are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. Research shows that people who eat more fruits have reduced risk for some chronic diseases.
  • Vegetables –Try something new such as grilling, roasting, or steaming your vegetables. When having canned vegetables, make sure to avoid vegetables with added salt, butter, or cream sauces. Frozen vegetables are also a quick, easy, and healthy option. Like fruits, vegetables naturally contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help protect you from disease. When choosing your veggies, choose ones that are rich in color like tomato, bell pepper, squash, kale, and eggplant.
  • Healthy carbohydrates – Experiment with whole grains and find a favorite to replace white rice and white breads. You can include a wide variety of whole grains in your eating plans, such as whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley. The general rule is that half your grains should be whole grains.
  • Protein – Protein can be found in various different sources, such as fish, poultry, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, eggs, and soy. Experimenting with different types of protein will allow you to have an abundance of variety during meal times. In fact, it is recommended to eat more plant protein foods and seafood, instead of meat, twice a week. 
  • Healthy fats – You can find healthy monounsaturated fats from nuts and plant oils such as canola, peanut, and olive oils. Polyunsaturated fats (including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids) can be found in fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines.
  • Calcium – While most people get calcium from dairy products, many Asian Americans are lactose intolerant. However, there is still an abundance of non-dairy foods you can eat that are rich in calcium, like soy, leafy green vegetables, beans, and legumes.

Healthy eating is all about balance, which means that you do not have to completely give up your favorite foods.  According to the CDC, the key to eating foods high in fat, calories, and added sugar is moderation. Think of these foods as occasional treats and not as everyday foods.  When you do have them, make sure you balance them out with healthy foods as well as physical activity.  However, moderation may be difficult to maintain for certain individuals. If that is the case it may be best to completely avoid these foods until a healthy eating plan is maintained.

Some general tips for cutting back on foods that are high in fat, calories, and added sugars:

  • Prepare the food with healthier alternatives. If the recipe requires butter, try swapping it with a healthy fat such as olive oil, or if the recipe requires full fat milk, replace it with lower fat milk.
  • Eat them less often. Try to limit these types of foods to once or twice a month.
  • Eat smaller amounts. 

Once you add these simple eating habits to your eating plan you will find that healthy eating is not too difficult to maintain. These small changes will help you feel better and your overall health will
likely improve.

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services’ Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI) encourages you to take steps now towards adopting a healthy eating plan for your health and overall well-being. Talk to your doctor if you would like more information on a healthy eating plan. If you are a Montgomery County resident, low-income, and uninsured, you can learn more about eating healthy by contacting Montgomery Cares Clinics through the County’s non-emergency information line, MC311, at 240-777-0311.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

AAHI's November 2017 newsletter is out!

The November 2017 issue of AAHI's newsletter is now available online! Please click the image below to read a full-size version of the newsletter. Subscribe to our mailing list today to receive our quarterly newsletters via email!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tackling Diabetes in the Asian American Community

November is National Diabetes Month! Diabetes is a prevalent health concern for Asian Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death for this group. Among Asian Americans, Asian Indians have the highest rates of diabetes. Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Korean Americans also have higher diabetes rates than non-Hispanic whites despite having lower body weight. Research shows that genetics and the Western lifestyle have led to the high risk of diabetes in Asian Americans. 

Diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar (also known as glucose) levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat turns into glucose for our bodies to use as energy. The pancreas, an organ near the stomach, releases a hormone called insulin into our blood. Insulin helps glucose enter cells in our bodies. If our bodies do not make enough insulin, or the insulin does not work the way it should, glucose stays in the blood and does not reach the cells. Too much glucose in the blood can have negative health consequences such as heart disease, kidney disease, as well as foot, skin, or eye complications. 

According to the CDC, signs and symptoms for diabetes may include: 
• Frequent urination 
• Excessive thirst 
• Unexplained weight loss 
• Extreme hunger 
• Sudden vision changes 
• Tingling or numbness in hands or feet 
• Feeling very tired much of the time 
• Very dry skin • Sores that are slow to heal 
• More infections than usual 

Some people with diabetes do not have any of these signs or symptoms. The only way to know if someone has diabetes is to have his/her doctor do a blood test. 

The three main types of diabetes are Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. Diabetes can be developed at any age and affects both men and women. 
• Type 1 – In Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells, which are the only cells in the body that make insulin. 
• Type 2 – Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition where cells do not use insulin properly. Gradually, the pancreas loses its ability to produce insulin. 
• Gestational diabetes – Gestational diabetes results in glucose intolerance diagnosed during pregnancy. If not treated, it can cause problems for mothers and babies. 

Researchers are unsure how exactly to prevent Type 1 diabetes since it is mainly caused by genetics, but it is still important to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. When it comes to Type 2 diabetes, prevention is critical. It is especially important to make diabetes prevention a priority if a person is at increased risk of diabetes, for example, if a person is overweight or has a family history of the disease. Making a few simple changes in a person’s lifestyle may help him/her avoid serious health complications, such as nerve, kidney, and heart damage. Preventing or delaying Type 2 diabetes starts with eating healthier foods and being more physically active. It is recommended to lose a small amount of weight (5% to 7% of total body weight) through a well-balanced diet and 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. 

The CDC recommends that people age 45 and older get tested for diabetes. Those over age 45 with normal blood glucose levels, should continue to get tested every three years. Those under age 45, but at high risk of developing diabetes, should be tested more frequently. Some risk factors include obesity, family history of diabetes, hypertension, and diagnosis of gestational diabetes. 

If you are a Montgomery County resident, limited-income, and uninsured, you can contact Montgomery Cares Clinics to learn more about diabetes screenings. Please call Montgomery County’s non-emergency information line, MC311, at 240-777-0311. You can also contact the Asian American Health Initiative for more information at 240-777-4517 or info@AAHIinfo.org.

Friday, October 27, 2017

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This October, AAHI is proud to participate in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.

The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.
  • If you are a woman age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them.
  • If you are a woman age 50 to 74, be sure to get a mammogram every 2 years. You may also choose to get them more often.

Talk to a doctor about your risk for breast cancer, especially if a close family member of yours had breast or ovarian cancer. Your doctor can help you decide when and how often to get mammograms.

Eligible low income, uninsured Montgomery County women can receive breast and cervical cancer screenings. These screenings include a yearly clinical breast exam and a free mammogram, and a cervical cancer screening exam including a pelvic exam and Pap test. Diagnosis, nursing case management and follow up care is provided as needed. The program helps link women to other community and state resources and provides cancer outreach and education.

  • To apply: Call 240-777-1750 or apply in person at the program offices, 2424 Reedie Drive, Suite 218, Wheaton, MD  20902.  
  • Eligibility Requirements:
    • Women must be between 40 and 64 years of age
    • Montgomery County resident
    • Uninsured and have household income at or below 250% of the federal poverty guidelines.
    • Proof of income such as pay stubs and income tax returns.  

For more information, visit AAHI's Resource Library at http://aahiinfo.org/resources/resource-library/ and click on "Cancer Screening Guidelines".

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Recap: ECHO Workshop #14 "Maintaining Health and Financial Security as We Age"

On October 17th, AAHI, in partnership with the African American Health Program, the Latino Health Initiative, and the Community Action Agency, hosted our 14th Empowering Community Health Organizations (ECHO) Workshop! This workshop, "Maintaining Health and Financial Security as We Age", is the last of our three part series focusing on the needs, impacts, and opportunities of an aging community. A new series will begin in the spring of 2018.

Our ECHO Project is a series of professional and practical training workshops designed to build the capacity and sustainability of community organizations.

Prior to the workshop, attendees were able to visit our resource for information on various services and programs available for older residents.

The workshop was conducted in a panel discussion format and representatives from the Montgomery Department of Health and Human Services Aging and Disability Services, the Social Security Administration, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), and the Coalition for the Advancement of Financial Education (C.A.F.E. Montgomery MD) were invited to talk about the importance of planning ahead as we age and understanding the health and financial demands that may arise along with aging.

Over 70 attendees, representing close to 40 organizations, came to the workshop. Thank you to our wonderful panelists, Steering Committee, and staff for making this a successful event. We look forward to seeing you again in our spring 2018 ECHO Workshop!

Please click here to read the Workshop Summary (5MB) where you will find electronic version of the handouts from the workshop.
Please click on the image below to see more photos from the night!