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How does Testosterone Affect Your Health?

How does Testosterone Affect Your Health?

How Testosterone Affect Your Health

Testosterone is a hormone found in both males and females. The production of testosterone speeds up during puberty and slows down around age thirty. Most people understand that men have more testosterone than women, but have little understanding of how testosterone affects their health. We’re going to shed a little light on this important hormone and how testosterone affects your health.

How Testosterone is Produced in Men and Women

Testosterone develops in the testicles in men and in the ovaries in women. However, women produce a much smaller level of testosterone than men. This is why it’s often referred to as the male hormone. Testosterone is typically associated with sex drive and sperm production in men. It can also affect bone and muscle mass and red blood cell production. 

How Testosterone Affects Men’s Health

We just mentioned a few ways testosterone affects men’s health, such as red blood cell production and bone and muscle mass. It also affects the way fat is stored in a man’s body and his mood. Low testosterone levels in men may result in:

  • Weight gain
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Less body hair
  • Low self-esteem
  • Thinner bones
  • Less energy
  • Lower mood and feelings of depression
  • Lower energy levels

Although testosterone levels naturally taper off as men age, other factors can lower it more. Injury to the testicles as well as testicular cancer can result in lower testosterone. Chronic health conditions such as AIDS, liver disease, kidney disease, and alcoholism also decrease testosterone. Stress can also be a factor.

How Testosterone Affects Women’s Health

Like men, women see testosterone levels decrease as they age. Lower testosterone levels in women may result in low libido, reduced bone strength, poor concentration, and depression. Low testosterone in women can be caused by the removal of the ovaries and diseases of the pituitary, hypothalamus, and adrenal glands. Therapy is available, but its effects on sexual and cognitive function is unclear in post-menopausal women. 

Testosterone Facts

Testosterone in men is often a sign of a problem with the pituitary gland. However, in teenage boys, low testosterone is a sign of delayed puberty. On the other hand, boys with high testosterone levels will develop puberty early. Women with high testosterone may develop masculine features. Abnormally high levels of testosterone could be a sign of an adrenal gland problem or cancer of the testes. 

The takeaway: Your testosterone levels are a tell-tale sign of your health. If you are experiencing testosterone-related issues, it’s time for a visit with your primary care provider. Schedule a visit with your Mantachie Rural Healthcare provider at 662-282-4226.

Women’s Health Through All the Stages of Life

We often think about women’s health in terms of reproductive health and mammograms, but women’s health encompasses so much more. Your health journey begins as a teen and extends through your senior years. Think about the impact we can make on our daughters and granddaughters if we teach them to care for their health before they are responsible for the health of other people like children, parents, and spouses.

Women often prioritize caring for the health of others over themselves. During Women’s Health Month it’s time to focus on your wellbeing. Afterall, if your health fails you won’t be able to care for the ones you love as you wish.

A woman’s body and health concerns change with every stage of life. So, where do you start with maintaining a healthy lifestyle? You begin way back in the teen years, but don’t worry if you’re long past that stage in life. Starting now is always the best time to start.

The Office on Women’s Health provides a handy checklist for various stages of women’s health from ages 18-100. We’re including a shortened version of that list here.

Ages 13-18

Healthy lifestyles start early. By taking your teen for a women’s health visit early, you’re teaching her to care for her body. You’re also providing her with access to a trusted medical provider to whom she can ask all those questions she may be too embarrassed to ask you. At this age, your daughter’s visit will mimic a wellness visit. You can expect the doctor or nurse practitioner to check:

  • Blood pressure
  • A1C for Type1 Diabetes
  • Body Mass Index

They will likely also screen for

  • Depression
  • Alcohol use
  • Tobacco use

These visits are the perfect time to take care of immunizations such as flu and meningococcal. For sexually active teens, providers can discuss birth control and test for STDs.

Ages 19-39

Women of childbearing age add a few screenings and tests to their usual well-women checkups. If you fall into this category, be prepared for these screenings:

  • PAP test every 3 years from age 21-30 and every 5 years after age 30
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea for women who are sexually active
  • Syphilis if you’re at increased risk
  • Clinical breast exam starting at age 21
  • HIV screening with follow up as needed

Sounds like a lot, but your doctor or nurse practitioner can cover all these screenings in one short exam. Plus insurance generally covers your yearly women’s health exam which makes checking off your health exam an easy fix.

Ages 40-49

It’s time to schedule your yearly mammogram! Once you hit age 40, you’ll add this screening to your yearly appointment. Luckily, the list of additional screenings isn’t very long after 40. Your doctor will continue to monitor your blood pressure and blood glucose if you’re at risk for high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

Ages 50-64

Although it doesn’t sound like a “women’s health” issue, you’ll add a colorectal screening to your list at age 50. Most women only have a colonoscopy every 10 years so it’s not a routine part of your yearly wellness check. You’re also eligible for the Shingles vaccine at age 50. If you do not have a cervix at this age, you will no longer need a PAP test. Your doctor will likely recommend a lung cancer screening if you smoke. And you’ll want to talk to your doctor about a bone mineral density test.

Ages 65+

Depending on your risk factors your doctor may check your blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol every two years, every year, or more regularly. You may also be able to stop PAP tests for cancer now. 

Talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner about whether or not you still need these tests after age 75:

  • Colorectal screening tests
  • Mammogram

All these tests and screenings help you and your doctor stay ahead of any problems that may crop up in your health, but your health depends on your daily activities to stay strong. Regardless of your age it’s important to talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner or licensed therapist about any mental health struggles you have. Depression, anxiety, and addiction don’t strike based on your age. It’s important to learn how to manage stress in healthy ways through every stage of your life.

Other important factors for women’s health include:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Exercising 2-3 times per week
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Mantachie Rural Health Care offers nurse practitioners and licensed therapists to help with all your healthcare needs. Contact our office at (662) 282-4226 for an appointment.

Healthy Ways to Lose Weight and Reduce BMI

Losing weight sounds easier than it really is. Diet plans often include expensive supplements. Nutrition labels contain confusing information. Daily schedules prevent us from cooking healthy meals. Yet our doctor (and our scales) keep reminding us how important it is to maintain a healthy weight. In today’s blog, we’re breaking down weight loss truths to help you stay healthy.

Truth: It’s not about your weight

Instead of focusing on the number on the scales take a look at your Body Mass Index. Your BMI offers a rough look at how much fat mass you’re likely to have. You can find an online calculator, but it’s best to let your doctor work out that number for you. Left to our own devices, most of us will knock a few pounds off our weight or add an inch or two to our height which can skew results. If you’re super athletic you’re likely to have a higher BMI due to muscle weight. At a glance, it might make you think you need to lose weight when you really don’t. Your doctor can help you figure out what your BMI means to you.

Truth: Your BMI determines your health risks

A BMI of 30+ indicates obesity which increases your risks of getting sick and dying from a whole host of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol. Lowering your BMI improves your overall health and can lead to a longer life with higher quality.

Truth: Small starts count

Maybe you’re not ready to change your entire lifestyle and lose a hundred pounds. We understand that. Big changes are scary and uncomfortable. So let’s start small. Instead of aiming at a big weight loss goal, perhaps your goal is not to gain any more weight. Or maybe you want to start by losing 5% of your body weight. A small percentage of weight loss can add up to big benefits in the health department. It’s not about wearing certain size clothes but choosing a healthier lifestyle.

Truth: Recording your meals works

Whether you prefer pen and paper or an online app, studies show when we record our meals we lose more weight. Why? Because most of us don’t really know how much we eat. For one week write down everything you eat. You’ll likely be surprised by when and how much you eat. You’re not alone. Once you know where and when you’re consuming empty calories you can create a plan to reduce those triggers. 

Truth: Exercise + Healthy Eating = Weight Loss

Let’s define exercise here. You don’t have to spend an hour on a spin bike every other day or run a 5K three times a week. Start small. Create a schedule. Make it easy. Choose an activity you enjoy and commit to doing that activity 2-3 times a week. Maybe it’s taking a 20-minute walk after dinner on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Track your movement. If you’re moving more this week than you moved last week, you’re headed in the right direction.

Truth: Nutrition and meal planning matters

Not all foods are created equal. Some foods contain more nutrients than others. We reduce our calorie intake when we swap out empty calories for foods with a higher nutritional value. We also stay full longer. At the beginning of this article, we mentioned the confusing information on nutritional labels. We have a secret weapon for figuring out how to create a nutrient-rich eating plan. Her name is Erica Witcher. She’s a registered dietitian who works with our patients to create meal plans that support their goals.

If your BMI is keeping you from living a healthy lifestyle and you’re adding more medication to manage more chronic illnesses, we can help. Call our clinic at (662) 282-4226 to make an appointment with Erica or ask for a consultation with her during your next appointment at our clinic.

How Rural Healthcare Clinics are Combatting Social Disparities

How Rural Healthcare Clinics are Combatting Social Disparities

Around forty percent of people living in the United States identify as a minority. Unfortunately, minorities still experience disadvantages when it comes to healthcare. Most of the 11.4 percent of Americans who reported living in poverty in the 2020 Census were minorities. People living in poverty have poor access to healthcare as well as healthy foods and places to exercise or perform physical activity. Rural healthcare clinics are combatting social disparities in a number of ways. 

Rural Healthcare Clinics Make Visits Affordable Even for Patients Without Insurance

Clinics like Mantachie Rural Health Care offer a sliding scale fee based on income to encourage patients who are struggling economically to come in for a visit. This allows patients who do not have insurance to still be able to afford a visit with their medical provider. 

Rural Healthcare Clinics Combatting Social Disparities Help Patients Get to Their Appointment

Many minorities and others with low incomes often don’t have reliable transportation to get them to and from appointments. That’s where groups like North Mississippi Community Services, Inc partner with Mantachie Rural Health Care to give affordable rides to patients who cannot drive or do not have a reliable vehicle. 

Rural Healthcare Clinics Give Patients More Access to Healthcare

Rural healthcare clinics typically offer a variety of health services that are not limited to general primary care. In addition to our general care providers, we have a dietitian and mental health providers to provide nutrition care and mental healthcare. We also have staff that specializes in diabetes to provide diabetic care to patients who can’t get to an endocrinologist. Additionally, we have a dental clinic located near our medical clinic and a school-based clinic to give access to students and school staff members. We even have a program to assist patients with the cost of their prescriptions.

Rural Healthcare Clinics Provide Resources

We’re more than healthcare providers, we are an information hub and resource center. We can provide patients with information on Medicare, Medicaid, and other patient assistance programs. We can also help them complete the necessary paperwork. Our Community Educator provides much-need healthcare education to patients. Our dietitian also offers a program to help patients lose excess weight and learn to eat healthily.

We still have a ways to go before social disparities are no longer a barrier to better health. But, rural healthcare clinics are taking big steps to combat social disparities in our communities. If you live in the Mantachie area and have been avoiding a medical visit due to financial or transportation issues, we can help. Call 662-282-4226 or click here to request an appointment. Let our receptionist know if you need a ride so we can help you make arrangements. 

Healthy Boundaries in Recovery

Boundaries are important in any relationship, but they become especially important when you are in recovery from addiction or other mental health conditions. Today, we’re taking a look at the importance of healthy boundaries in recovery and how to set and enforce them. 

What are Healthy Boundaries?

Boundaries are physical, mental, and emotional limits set to protect yourself and others in a relationship. They help us define who we are while allowing others to be who they are. Boundaries also keep you from being taken advantage of or manipulated. 

Boundaries, like anything else, can be unhealthy. Unhealthy boundaries may include abandoning your personal beliefs or values for acceptance, establishing new relationships without considering how they will affect your recovery, and trusting no one or everyone. Knowing the difference between healthy boundaries and unhealthy boundaries is essential to maintaining your recovery. 

Healthy boundaries basically look like the opposite of unhealthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries include:

  • Carefully evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of each relationship
  • Maintaining your personal beliefs and values regardless of other’s opinions
  • Saying no to gifts, favors, and actions that do not support your recovery
  • Clearly and respectfully expressing what you need or want
  • Developing appropriate trust with others
  • Treating yourself with respect and kindness

Now that you know what healthy boundaries look like it’s time to set the boundaries you need and implement them. Key emphasis on the implementation of these boundaries. Boundaries do no good if you don’t enforce them. Setting and enforcing boundaries looks like this:

  • Establishing a self “bill of rights” such as a right to your own thoughts, emotions, values, and beliefs and right to express how you want to be treated
  • Identifying sobriety risk factors including obvious ones like avoiding a bar if you are an alcoholic and less obvious triggers like watching a football game with friends
  • Setting the boundaries based of your bill of rights and recovery risk factors
  • Enforcing the boundaries and remaining accountable
  • Respecting other people’s boundaries

Need more support in  your addiction recovery? We can help. Call 662-282-4226 to schedule a visit. 

Ditch the New Year’s Resolutions and Choose Healthy Habits Instead

Ditch the New Year's Resolutions and Choose Healthy Habits Instead

Happy New Year and hello, 2022! Can you believe a new year is here again? While we’re still processing 2020 and 2021, another year has rolled upon us, and with it more plans for this to finally be the year you stick to your new year’s resolutions. Great news! We’re here to help you do just that in today’s blog.

Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions…by Ditching Them!

The reason most of us can’t stick to our new year’s resolutions is that we set the bar too high when we make them. For instance, setting a resolution of losing fifty pounds isn’t unrealistic but it is overwhelming without realistic goals set to get there. Instead of setting resolutions we recommend focusing on setting healthy habits that will ultimately help you reach those lofty resolutions.

Healthy Habits and How to Make Them Routine

According to Healthline, it takes anywhere from eighteen to 254 days to create a new habit and around 66 days for the habit to become automatic. So don’t give up if it takes you longer than two and a half weeks to make your habit stick. The best way to do this is to set small habit goals you can actually keep. 

The very first step you should take to reach your goals is to get out a notebook and pen and write your goals down. Multiple studies have shown that writing down your goals brings more success in reaching them. We recommend keeping a journal so you can track your changes and results. Next, add your goals to your daily schedule. All smartphones come with a calendar option that you can use to set reminders and even schedule your goals for your day. Much like simply writing down your goals, adding them into your daily schedule makes it more likely you’ll stick to them.

We’ll stick to weight loss goals for example. First, you don’t want to just set a goal to lose x amount of pounds. There are plenty of ways to lose weight including unhealthy ways like fad diets and dangerous weight loss drugs. While not all weight loss drugs are “bad” even some of those prescribed by a healthcare provider have some not so enjoyable side effects. People who use fad diets and weight loss medicine to lose weight tend to gain that weight back as soon as they stop the diet or drug. 

The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your diet and lifestyle. That seems like another one of those lofty resolutions that are impossible to achieve but the truth is, you can change your lifestyle and diet by making small attainable changes that add up in a big way. If part of your weight problem is that you are inactive, set a small goal to start walking or performing another physical activity for 30 minutes a day, two to three times per week. Once your new physical activity becomes routine for you, you can increase your activity goals. 

If you need to make changes to an unhealthy diet, start with one change at a time like cutting out refined sugar and replacing it with healthy options like honey. Cutting out processed sugar will result in weight loss which will encourage you to stick to your new healthy habit and keep going with new goals like adding one more serving of vegetables to your weekly diet. 

One healthy habit we recommend for all of our patients is the habit of visiting your healthcare provider for checkups even when you are not sick. Wellness visits keep you healthy with important screenings and exams that inform your provider about the current state of your health. Screenings performed during these visits provide early detection of serious conditions and diseases.

Can’t remember the last time you visited your Mantachie Rural Healthcare provider for a checkup? There is no better time than right now to schedule your next visit. Click here to schedule your appointment!

How Vacations Help You Stay Healthy…Plus Ideas for Relaxing Staycations!

Ah,  vacations. Seems like we’re all constantly dreaming of our next getaway. Turns out there’s a good reason for wanting more time off or away. Science says vacations help you stay healthy, even staycations have their benefits! Here’s how:

Vacations relieve stress.

The pressures of everyday life can set off stress hormones including cortisol and epinephrine. Over time, these same hormones can lead to depression, weight gain, poor sleep habits, and other serious health problems. 

Getting away makes you feel happier.

You know how you instantly get in a better mood the minute you hit the road to begin a vacation? That feel-good mood often carries on for weeks after as a post-vacation buzz. The key to staying happy is about how often you get away rather than how long. 

Time off improves your heart health.

Taking time off from work can reduce your risk of coronary artery disease, better known as heart disease. According to WebMD, one study shows that time off for a staycation is linked to lowered blood sugar levels and higher levels of good cholesterol. 

Vacations bring better sleep.

Plan your trip in advance for better sleep before, during, and after your vacation. Take advantage of the break from everyday chores and responsibilities and get in as many naps and late sleep as possible. 

Getaways help you recharge your energy and focus.

Having trouble concentrating at work? It’s time for a vacation. Even a staycation can leave you re-energized and ready to tackle any task coming your way.

Time off strengthens your immune system.

Remember those stress hormones we mentioned earlier? Those hormones can also weaken your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to infections and other illnesses. Taking a break helps keep those hormones in check.

Vacations help you live longer.

From reducing your risk of infections and conditions like heart disease to lowering your stress level, time off or away from the everyday routine can lengthen your lifespan. 

Trips strengthen relationships.

Studies have shown that couples who travel together are happier than those who don’t and are both individually more physically and mentally fit than others. If your relationship with your spouse or another loved one could use room for improvement, try traveling together for the ultimate bonding experience. 

Relaxing Staycations

We get it. There isn’t always room in the budget to save up for a vacation. Good thing there are plenty of staycation ideas that are fun, relaxing, and still offer a break from everyday life. Here are a few of our ideas:

  • Visit your local and state parks. We promise there is a state park within a short driving distance of your hometown. And if it’s still too far, pack a picnic and head to your favorite local park to spend the day basking in the sunlight and feeding ducks. In North Mississippi, try your hand at disc golf at Tombigbee State Park just south of Tupelo or canoe Bear Creek or hike a trail at Tishomingo State Park in Tishomingo County. Camp out at Trace State Park in Belden or hit the highway to Holly Springs for a fun day at Wall Doxey State Park. Wall Doxey and JP Coleman, located at the northeasternmost tip of Mississippi are especially fun for boaters. 
  • Host a backyard campout. Invite a few friends or keep it just the family. Leave the household responsibilities inside, gather your camping gear, and head out back to set up camp. This is possibly the easiest camping trip you’ll ever take because everything you need is already there! You may think your backyard isn’t far away enough but just getting outside improves your mood and your health. 
  • Plan a no-connection day or weekend. Tell your friends and loved ones that you’re cutting ties with all things digital for a day or a weekend if you can swing it. Spend the day reading a book, practicing a hobby, or channeling your creative side. We know you may need to check your phone occasionally for missed calls or texts, but keep those phone checks to a minimum. Simply unplugging for a while can help you recharge and refocus.
  • “Tour” a nearby town. Mississippi and all of the great states that make America have a slew of amazing little towns that are full of surprises. Pick a nearby town on the map and start researching things to do, places to eat and shop, and other fun adventures. New Albany is a great place right here in North Mississippi that offers unique shopping and eating opportunities along with fun outdoor activities like the Tanglefoot Trail. Or you can travel a little closer to Tupelo, North Mississippi’s cultural hub and home of the King of Rock n Roll. Dine on some of the best food in the state, visit the Elvis Presley Museum and Birthplace, and spend some time at Veterans or Ballard Park. 

How to Prevent Lung Disease

Lung disease refers to any disorder affecting the lungs. These illnesses include but are not limited to asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), infections including pneumonia and influenza, and lung cancer. Lung disease is a common cause of death in both men and women. Thankfully, you can prevent or reduce your risk of developing lung disease with these steps.

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Disease

One of the best ways to reduce your risk of a disease is to get educated on its causes and symptoms, as well as ways to prevent it. Signs and symptoms of lung disease include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling like you aren’t getting enough air
  • Persistent, chronic cough
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Pain or discomfort when breathing 

Causes and Prevention

Although it is possible for lung disease to develop with no known cause, most cases can be traced back to a certain cause. Smoking any type of tobacco or marijuana product and exposure to asbestos, radon, and air pollution are the most common causes of lung disease. Preventing these exposures are part of the many steps you can take to reduce your risk of lung disease. Prevention steps include:

  • Quitting or never starting smoking.
  • Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke. Ask smokers to take it outside both at home and in the workplace. Avoid public places that allow smoking.
  • Test for radon. Exposure to high levels of radon can lead to lung disease. Test kits are available in most hardware stores and you can visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website to learn more about dealing with radon
  • Avoid exposure to asbestos. Workers who are exposed to insulation and other materials containing asbestos as well as mechanics who work on car brakes and clutches are at risk for exposure. Wear a mask and protective clothing and ask your employer about other ways to reduce exposure to asbestos.
  • Protect yourself from dust or fumes. Those many masks you bought during the pandemic can also reduce your risk of lung disease by reducing your exposure to dust and fumes during certain household chores or work duties.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Studies have shown that a diet rich in fruits and veggies helps prevent lung disease.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you should get a spirometry test. This test measures how much air you can breathe in and out as well as how fast you can blow air out. 
  • Ask your provider about vaccinations for the flu, pneumonia, and other infections that can lead to lung disease. 

Are you concerned about your risk of lung disease? Your Mantachie Rural Health Care provider can help. Schedule a visit to discuss your concerns and get tested for certain lung conditions. 

The Truth About Drug Addiction Overdose and Recovery

September is National Recovery Month. It’s a time to bring awareness to the importance of recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction or a mental health trauma. 

Why Addiction Recovery and Overdose Awareness is Important for Everyone

Since 1999, nearly 841,000 people have died from a drug overdose. In 2019 alone, over 70,500 overdose deaths occurred in the United States. That number continues to increase each year and our country hasn’t experienced a significant decrease in overdose deaths in many years.

If these numbers aren’t reason enough to care about drug addiction overdoses and recovery, perhaps understanding that drug addiction can affect any person from any walk of life will get your attention. That’s right, you and your family members are not exempt from experiencing drug or alcohol addiction no matter how good of a lifestyle you try to live. It can and does happen to all types of people.

Drug overdoses are a leading cause of injury death in the US among people ages 25 to 64. Adults aren’t the only ones at risk, however. More than 4,770 teens also died from a drug overdose in 2019. Nearly 3,320 teenage boys passed away from a drug overdose that year while just under 1,500 teen girls also died from the same cause. The overwhelming majority of these deaths were caused by opioids. 

What You Need to Know About Opioids and Overdoses

Opioids, especially synthetic opioids, are the number one cause of overdose deaths in the United States. Synthetic opioids, excluding methadone, accounted for nearly 73% of opioid-related overdose deaths in 2019. In total, opioids were involved in nearly 50,000 overdose deaths that same year. 

Overdoses typically occur within 1-3 hours of using the drug and despite what many falsely believe, an overdose can happen the very first time you use a substance like opioids or amphetamines. Mixing opiate drugs with other depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines greatly increases the risk of an overdose death as does combining them with a psychostimulant like methamphetamine. Using pure heroin after regularly using heroin that has been “cut” with another substance like sugar can also lead to an overdose.

The Truth About Recovery and Overdosing

Relapsing after spending time not using your drug of choice also increases your risk of overdose death. That’s why support during recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism is so important to success. Addicts are more likely to relapse if they feel they lack a support system or are still receiving criticism for their past choices from those who should be lending their support. 

Addicts are considered in remission from substance addiction five years after addiction recovery begins. If you relapse and survive, don’t let your recurrence be a reason to wallow in your addiction. Recurrence is normal for most addicts but doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of staying sober. It can take time for an addict to adjust to their new life post-addiction. The important thing to remember is not to give up hope no matter if you are an addict or a loved one of an addict.

Like with other health conditions, early intervention can lead to earlier remission from addiction. If you or someone you love has recently started a new drug addiction, there is still time to get on the path to a faster recovery. 

You should know that there is no one perfect path to recovery. Many addicts find pharmacological, social, and psychological treatments to be helpful while some are able to recover without formal help. Any of these options are acceptable as long as they truly lead to remission. 

Addiction treatment and counseling is one of several behavioral health services we offer at Mantachie Rural Health Care. For more information or to make an appointment, click here.

How Food Choices Affect Your Cancer Risk

“You are what you eat!” We’ve all heard that phrase at some point in our lives and thought it might sound silly, the phrase couldn’t be more true. What we eat influences our health greater than any other influences like our diet, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors. The foods we consume affect every part of our bodies from our brains to our bones. Diet choices can lead to certain health conditions or make them worse. Type II diabetes is a great example of a health condition affected by food choices. Another serious disease your diet can lead to is cancer. That’s right. Your daily food choices affect your cancer risk. 

How Unhealthy Food Choices Affect Your Cancer

Science and the medical community still have many unanswered questions about the links between food choices and cancer. One link we are sure of is between red or processed meat and cancer. Consuming any amount of processed meat and more than eighteen ounces of red meat each week strongly influences your cancer risk. Red meats include beef, pork, or lamb. Processed meats include but are not limited to bacon, sausage, lunch meats, and hot dogs. 

Processed sugar is another food strongly linked to higher cancer risk. Diets that are high in sugary beverages such as sodas, juices, and sports drinks, as well as processed sugary snacks like cookies and candies are bad for your health in a number of ways. Even “healthier” choices like granola and fruit and grain bars as well as “sugar-free” beverages are still high in sugar or artificial sweeteners. 

What to Eat to Lower Your Cancer Risk

Healthy eating habits aren’t just good for your waistline, they can actually lower your risk of developing certain health conditions and diseases including cancer. A healthy diet is rich in plant-based foods, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. A healthy dinner plate is filled with colorful veggies and fruit, whole grains, and one protein-filled food like fish, poultry, or beans. 

Plant-based foods are your best fighters against cancer and other diseases. These foods contain naturally occurring substances called phytonutrients. Phytonutrients include:

  • Carotenoids, or carotenes, found in red, orange, yellow, and some dark green veggies
  • Polyphenols, found in herbs, spices, veggies, tea, coffee, chocolate, nuts, berries, apples, onions, and other sources
  • Allium compounds, found in chives, garlic, leeks, and onions

Plant-based foods are also rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect against oxidants, which cause cellular damage and increases your risk of cancer. Examples of antioxidants include beta carotene, selenium, and vitamins C and E. Other vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iodine, and vitamins A, D, K, and B also contain antioxidants.

Dietary fiber is also essential for lowering cancer risks. Fiber helps nourish a healthy community of microbes, better known as microbiomes. Healthy microbiomes are linked to lower cancer risk. Foods that are high in dietary fiber include whole grains and seeds, whole-grain bread and pasta, beans, lentils, split peas, and fruits and veggies.

Shopping Tips for a Healthier Diet

Before we go, we’ll leave you with a shopping tip for your next grocery store visit. Stick to shopping the outer aisles. Fresh foods like produce, meats, and dairy products are always found in the outer aisles or boundaries of grocery stores. The inner aisles are where you will find the majority of processed, sugary, and high-fat foods. The only inner aisles you should visit are aisles containing coffee, tea, and dry beans and peas. Don’t tempt yourself by visiting other inner aisles like the baking and snack aisles. 

One more shopping tip for healthier eating habits is to make a list before you head to the grocery stores. Sure, you may remember to restock the milk and bananas but keeping a list will help you stay on track and away from impulse buys that often come with unhealthy food choices. If grocery pick-up or delivery is available in your area, consider these options, too. You can shop online according to your list without the temptations of unhealthy foods being all around you. Plus, pick-up and delivery will save you time that could be spent on cultivating a garden of fresh fruits and vegetables or preparing healthy meals for your family. 

Have more questions about your diet and cancer risk? Your healthcare provider is an excellent source of information and advice. Annual wellness visits are the perfect time to discuss diet changes and health concerns with your provider. As an added bonus, patients of Mantachie Rural Health Care can request to speak with our registered dietitian during their appointment for no extra cost. Click here to request a visit with your Mantachie Rural Healthcare provider today. 

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