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Take steps today to keep diabetes at bay.

You can’t see it, but you’re surrounded by a growing health threat. About 79 million Americans—more than 25 percent of the population—have prediabetes. You, a friend, or a relative might be one of them. Prediabetes increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is linked to a variety of health problems.

November is American Diabetes Month, so it’s a good time to look at five things you can do to reduce your chances of developing prediabetes or diabetes.

Know the Risks

Certain factors make it more likely that you might become diabetic. These include:

  • A family history of diabetes
  • Ethnic and racial background
  • Being over 45 years old
  • High levels of bad cholesterol and/or low levels of good cholesterol
  • For women, experiencing diabetes during a pregnancy (gestational diabetes)

Control Your Weight

You should learn your body mass index (BMI) and see if your weight is appropriate for your age and height. You can find a BMI calculator here, and this chart indicates what weight might put you at risk for diabetes. If you’re overweight, losing just seven percent of your current weight can reduce your risk.

Avoid Certain Foods

Foods linked to diabetes include:

  • Fried foods
  • Fatty and processed meats
  • Whole milk and whole-fat dairy products
  • Lard, shortening, and margarine
  • Crackers and desserts, such as cookies, cakes, and pies
  • Candy
  • Sugary soft drinks or beverages with sugar added
  • Canned foods that are high in salt

Eat More of Healthier Foods

Foods that promote health and lower the risk of diabetes include:

  • Olive, canola, and soybean oil
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocadoes
  • Some fish, such as herring and salmon
  • Whole grains
  • Beans and lentils
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli
  • Fruit

Exercise

To reduce the risk of diabetes, experts recommend that you do 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week. Exercises that you can try include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Strength training with weights or resistance bands

As you can see, preventing diabetes requires monitoring many parts of your health. At North Hills Hospital, we’re ready to help. If you have a health concern or need a physician referral, call 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Here's a few facts you might not know about breast cancer.

September is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and many media outlets focus on the most common risk factors for the disease and its typical symptoms. Meanwhile, breast cancer research continues to explore new causes for the disease, and, because breast cancer can take several forms, some symptoms might not be well known either.

What’s in Your Food

Eating more plants seems to lower the risk of developing cancer, but a chemical found in the soil around them may boost it. In one study scientists saw a link between breast cancer and cadmium. This heavy metal turns up in many fertilizers used to grow our food. Other sources of cadmium include:

  • Burned fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas
  • Burned wood
  • Emissions from incinerating municipal waste and medical waste
  • Crabs and mussels
  • Organ meats

Chemicals in the Air

Certain chemicals in environmental pollutants are similar to estrogen and other hormones. Exposure to those chemicals seems to raise the risk of breast cancer. The chances of breast tissue damage is highest when:

  • An unborn baby's mammary glands are forming
  • A girl reaches puberty
  • A woman is pregnant

Drinking and Hormones

Postmenopausal women who drink alcohol daily and take hormone replacement therapy for five years or more increase their chances of developing breast cancer. One study showed that mixing the therapy with 1.5 drinks per day doubled the risk. The good news is that the risk is lowered when the therapy ends.

The Unexpected Symptoms

Some less well-known symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Swelling of the breast
  • Enlarged lymph node under the arm with associated redness
  • Discoloration of the breast
  • Dimpled texture to breast skin

Some of these symptoms are associated with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare form of the disease.

If you experience any unusual changes to your breast or nipples, don’t hesitate—see a doctor. In most cases, the cause is not cancer, but it’s better to be safe. And if you have questions about women’s health issues or need a doctor,  call North Hills Hospital at 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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Do you want to take control of your health, but are unsure about how to really do that? We asked Dr. Jonathan Snead, OB/GYN, about the basics of living a healthy lifestyle, and he offered some advice that everyone can benefit from.

First and foremost, he suggests that you look at your habits and ditch the unhealthy ones. For instance, stop smoking, no matter what it takes. Even a cigarette or two is bad for you. In addition, resist the urge to overeat and overdo the alcohol.

Another important component is getting enough exercise, but as Dr. Snead notes, “The hardest part of exercise is committing to a routine. Push past the first two weeks; it will get better!  dr.sneadExercise improves cardiovascular health and helps you lose weight, which lowers your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.” He suggests that you exercise 5–6 times each week for at least 30–45 minutes. Switching between cardio and weight training is a good mix, working your heart and building strength.

As for your diet, be on the alert when you eat out. Don’t hesitate to ask how many calories are in the foods or how the meals are prepared. “Portion sizes are out of control at restaurants,” Dr. Snead warns. “You will be amazed at the amount of calories in the choices you think might be ‘healthy.’ ”  He suggests staying away from fried foods such as fries and onion rings, sugary foods such as doughnuts and soda, and fatty meats. Watch the salad dressing, too, since some versions can add hundreds of calories to your healthy greens. Instead, stick with super-fruits such as avocados and blueberries, lean chicken and fish, raw or steamed vegetables, and whole grains. Another nutritious diet staple? Try unsweetened almond milk, which contains up to twice the calcium of regular milk.

Even if you exercise and eat right, your health can be compromised if you’re not getting enough sleep. Though requirements vary from person to person, most experts suggest 7­–9 hours of sleep a night. If you get less than 4–5 hours or more than 11–12 hours of sleep, you may increase your chances of accidents and illness. Lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain, mood swings, cravings for carbs, and heart disease. If you have insomnia, make sure you practice good bedtime habits: make your bedroom a calm and inviting place, and avoid watching TV in bed.

Finally, Dr. Snead suggests that there is a spiritual component to good health. “There are multiple studies that demonstrate prayer (or meditation) may improve people’s health,” he says. So look within yourself to create your healthiest life.

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