You may ask yourself, “Why do I need to visit my doctor and get my annual physical?” Your quick blood pressure check is a key part of your health care. There is a disease that lies silent in about one-third of the world’s population. It is prevalent here in Rhode Island. It is called hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. The ideal blood pressure is 120 over 80, higher numbers may be a sign of pre-hypertension, hypertension, or a health crisis. A physician may recommend lifestyle changes, visiting a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and/or medications.
Untreated high blood pressure may damage the blood vessels and organs. In extreme situations, it can lead to kidney disease, vision loss, heart failure, or stroke.
The good news is that there are simple lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk of developing hypertension. There have been many studies that link sodium intake to high blood pressure. Sodium is essential for the body to function properly, but we must be mindful of how much we eat daily. People over the age of fourteen should have less than 2300 grams of sodium in their diet, that is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt. Children under the age of fourteen and people with hypertension should have less than 1500 grams of sodium each day.
Below are a few simple tricks I use to reduce sodium in my diet and still have flavorful food. Sodium is a natural preservative and makes things taste good.
1. Reduce the sodium in recipes, or skip table salt. (That includes sea salt.)
2. Add other flavors, such as garlic, onion, peppers, spices, herbs, salt-free seasoning, vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, wine, or low sodium, low-fat broths.
3. Compare food labels, look for low salt, reduced salt or no salt added
4. Eat less processed or packaged foods, especially ones with sauces or seasonings. Add an extra ½ cup of rice or noodles to seasoned rice or noodle packaged products
We all have different levels of stress. Whether you’re looking for an internship,
balancing a college class, looking for a job, or all of the above, managing stress can
become overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
One thing I do when I’m dealing with stress is to put away my phone for 30
minutes to an hour. Although social media is mostly used for entertainment, it can do
more harm than good. Disconnecting from your phone can increase awareness of your
surroundings, and you can spend better quality time with family or friends. Or, if you
prefer to be alone, you really get a chance to have a mental break.
Another tip for stress relief is breathing exercises or meditation. Being able to
take a moment to breathe is crucial when your mind feels clogged with everything that is
going on. The exercise I do the most is called the 4-7-8 breath, and it’s exactly as it
sounds: inhale for 4 seconds through your nose, hold your breath for 7 seconds and
exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. When we are stressed, we tend to take
shallow breaths, leading to inflammation and acidification in our bodies; however,
breathing exercises “cleanse” your mind and body from these negative effects.
Lastly, it’s important to focus on a single task or several small tasks at a time,
rather than trying to do everything at once. A lot of people tend to make the mistake of
procrastinating (myself included,) whether it is school-related or not. Everyone knows
what it’s like to say “I’ll do it tomorrow”
everything in your head. It may sound cliché, but when you reflect at the end of the
week or after a big assignment, you’ll be so grateful that you didn’t wait and put it off.
On behalf of Newport Health Equity Zone, we really wanted to thank everyone for coming out and making the baby shower a success. We had a large turnout and every family went home with a gift bag, informational items, and more. We are planning on making this an annual event and build on what we’ve previously done! Tisha and I also wanted to thank our great team of partners who helped put this event together. Heather Taylor from FGC, Katie Ryan from Boys and Girls Club, Jennifer Gee from Baby Steps.
THURSDAY THOUGHTS: Diabetes Prevention Program
By Penny Fitch
Health can be measured in many ways. A person’s age, physical ability and emotional maturity are considered when evaluating their fitness. One most important and obvious measure is how much they weigh. Over the past 10 years, the United States population has become more overweight than at any time in our history and diabetes is near epidemic proportions.
On January 10th, at the Edward King House Senior Center, five people graduated from a year-long Diabetes Prevention Program. They lost and maintained a total of 80 pounds and increased their weekly physical activity. At the end of the program, they collectively maintained 25 hours of activity each week. That was accomplished through walking, yard work, golfing and participating in exercise programs like yoga and stretch and tone classes.
The Diabetes Prevention Program is a lifestyle change plan that allows each participant to eat whatever they choose and count only a set amount of fat grams and calories. At first this is a tedious task but after a few weeks it becomes easier and a part of each meal. The benefit is stepping on the scale at weigh in before each class and discovering your weight steadily going “down”. The group support and guided lessons help with learning how to manage healthy eating, stress, discouragement, problem solving, social eating and staying motivated.
The group all began January 2018 weighing less than they did on January 2017. This was a first for all of them and a wonderful way to begin their New Year.