Thursday, January 11, 2018

AAHI's January 2018 newsletter is out!

The January 2018 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, January 3, 2018

Cervical Health Awareness Month

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the Asian American Health Initiative wants you to know that there is a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can usually be cured if it is found and treated in the early stages.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV do not know they are infected. Vaccines that protect against infection with these types of HPV can greatly reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Having a Pap test to check for abnormal cells in the cervix or a test to check for HPV can find cells that may become cervical cancer. These cells can be treated before cancer forms.

The good news?
  • The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
  • Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care.
In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, AAHI encourages:
  • Women to start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
  • Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12
Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they did not get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.

Taking small steps can help keep you safe and healthy. The Women's Cancer Control Program provides free mammograms, clinical breast exams, and pelvic exam/pap tests to low income uninsured women 40 to 64 years old who are Montgomery County residents. The program is for low income families who are uninsured. Proof of residence in Montgomery County and proof of income is requested. Online users may apply by creating a Service Request or call 240-777-1750 for more information.

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