How Important is Healthy Skin?

Did you know your skin is the largest organ in your body? Your skin protects you, tells you a lot about your overall health, and it grows and changes with you throughout your life. Our skin has a big job to do, which is why keeping skin healthy is so important.

Here are some useful tips to keep your skin healthy at every age.

Pay Attention to Dry Skin

Dry skin can be the result of environmental factors, or it can be because of what is happening inside our bodies. Either way, pay attention to it and hydrate your skin. Drinking a lot of water – 8 glasses – throughout the day, is one of the best things you can do for your skin (and other parts of your body!).

Dry skin can also become a problem if not treated with itching, flaking, even bleeding from dry skin. Many of us in Arizona have to deal with “hard water”, or water heavy in calcium and magnesium. This can make it harder for soap to wash off your skin, so spend a few extra seconds rinsing your hands, face, and body. Moisturize with ointments, creams or lotions after showers, baths, and handwashing, but make sure they don’t contain alcohol which can have the opposite effect.

Baby’s Skin Can Have Different Needs

Babies are a wonder, and so is their skin! Baby acne, birthmarks, diaper rash, hives, eczema, and others are common in babies, but they are things all new parents and caregivers should be familiar with. The American Academy of Dermatology Association has detailed information about these conditions and many more. If you ever have questions about your baby’s skin, talk to your NOAH provider.

Protect Your Skin from the Sun

The great news is that sunscreen is both the easiest and best way to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Try for SPF 30 and wear it all year on whatever part of you isn’t protected by clothing – think hands, arms, face. Sun can cause skin aging and increase certain types of skin cancer.

Everyone deals with some types of skin troubles during their life. Whether it is acne, blackheads, rashes, or dry skin, it is helpful to know how to protect your skin and when it’s time to call your provider. If you have any questions, make an appointment with your provider.

Healthy Eating Tips for Living with Diabetes

Diabetes can be managed and treated with medicine and changes to what you eat and drink. People living with diabetes need to give their body a little help by being proactive.

For someone diagnosed with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes, making changes to what and how much food they eat can have a big impact. These tips will help people make good decisions about what to eat and how much to eat.

Tip #1 – Portions Matter

In a lot of ways, portions can be deceiving. Larger portions at restaurants and even larger plates in our own kitchens can mislead people about how big their portions should be. A few decades ago, the average American dinner plate was nine inches, today they average around 12 inches.

Diabetes portioning

When you plan out your meals and snacks, a good way to measure the portions is using your hand or basic measuring cups. Here are some examples:

  • The palm of your hand is a good measurement for meat, seafood, and poultry.
  • A cupped hand, about ½ cup, is the right amount of pasta, potatoes, chips, and nuts.
  • At least one heaping cup, or both hands cupped together, for vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, and more.
  • For fats like butter or olive oil, use about a tablespoon per meal.
  • About 1 cup, or a fist, is the amount of milk, fruit, rice, beans, soups, yogurt.

Tip #2 – Swap Your Proteins

Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. The types of proteins eaten, though, are not all the same in their health benefits. Keep the portions from above – about the size of the palm of your hand – and consider which proteins are best.

Best ProteinsProtein to Limit
ChickenFilet mignon
Turkey/lean ground turkeyPorterhouse
Pork SirloinRib eye steak
Fish (not breaded or fried)Ribs
ShrimpPork belly
CrabHotdogs
Tofu or soyBacon
Yogurt (low sugar or plain)Chorizo
Eggs (max 7 yolks/week)Corned beef
Low fat (93/7) ground beefPastrami
Lean beef cuts – names with “loin” or “round”Any fired or breaded meat, chicken or fish
Beans and lentils 

Tip #3 – Feel Free to Snack

Snacks are good! Don’t deprive yourself of nutritious, energy-boosting snacks, especially when you are living with diabetes. There are plenty of ways to enjoy something mid-day without sacrificing health or flavor.

The important thing about a well-chosen snack is that it can be both filling and nutritional. A few snack-specific tips:

  • Think of snacks like mini meals when it comes to portions.
  • Do not snack when bored or while multitasking.
  • Snacking shouldn’t be an everyday habit.
  • Only eat snacks when you are hungry.

If a snack is needed to prevent low blood sugars, talk about this with your doctor or provider.

Here are a few good snack options for you to try.

Diabetes Snacks

Tip #4 – Not all Drinks are Equal

Don’t let what you drink ruin your day. The best drink is always water. It has no calories, carbohydrates, or sugar, and your body will thank you for drinking plenty of water every day. Sometimes, though, we all want something a little different, with a little more flavor.

Many drinks from restaurants or grocery stores are full of a surprising amount of sugar, calories, and carbohydrates. Some ways to take control:

  1. Bring your own drink. Whether it is water, coffee, or something else, if you bring your own with you, you won’t be buying something that could have high amounts of sugar and calories.
  2. Instead of getting pre-sweetened tea, get unsweetened tea and add your own – much less – sugar, or natural substitutes to sweeten it.
  3. Juice can be loaded with sugar and carbohydrates. Consider eating a piece of fruit instead. If it must be fruit juice, cut the juice with water and strictly limit the amount you drink.
  4. Coffee and tea lattes and similar type drinks taste so good and may appear a safe choice – tea is healthy, right – but how these drinks are made changes whether they are a healthy option. Limit sugar, creamer and syrups added.
  5. Smoothies can be a healthy and efficient way to get loads of fruit, which is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Don’t rely on store-bought, pre-packaged smoothies to be low in sugar or carbs, though.
  6. Soda, pop, Coke, no matter how you say it, these drinks are loaded with sugar. In fact, a regular soda can have more sugar than two servings of ice cream!
Diabetes Drinks

Getting a diabetes diagnosis can be a big transition for the person diagnosed and their family. Working with your doctor, healthcare provider, nutritionist, family, and support system together will make changes easier to stick to and improve your health. For more tips on living with diabetes from NOAH, click here.

Take Care of Your Mental Health This Holiday Season

By Katelyn Millinor, LPC, Manager of Behavioral Health Quality

Every holiday season brings different emotions with it. Whether you enjoy every moment and micro-plan activities, are stressed and overwhelmed by everything, or are isolated away from family or friends, this time of year bring a lot with it. It’s important to consider the impact of the holidays and your mental health.

That was before living through the COVID-19 pandemic currently impacting our daily lives.

The 2020 holiday season will be different – and it should for the safety of ourselves, loved ones, and our community – and we should expect some mental and emotional strains as we work together to get past COVID-19. Learn how to navigate this season, how to be proactive, when to ask for help, and more so you have a happy and healthy holiday season.

First Things First – This Is Hard

As we turn the calendar to December, remember we have been living through COVID-19, physical distancing, isolation, and uncertainties for more than nine months! It has been exhausting and the stress, anxiety, and loneliness is still affecting our everyday lives. Now that the holiday season is here, you or a loved one may be experiencing their “First” major cancelled or changed event.

The first birthday, celebration, or holiday we can’t celebrate together is really hard. Try to realize we are all experiencing this together and feeling the emotions because that can help you cope.

We were never taught how to live through a pandemic and we are learning as we go. Let yourself be disappointed, and let others be disappointed as well because everyone is having to experience this individually.

The Highs and Lows of Holidays

People face a lot of emotions during the holidays. This can be from not having family, having lost loved ones, living far away, or feeling overwhelmed by all the expectations and demands of the season. We should expect these feelings in ourselves and others.

Don’t avoid these feelings, recognize them. We can also expect these feelings to come in waves. The first wave will probably be the biggest, emotionally, and then it can become more manageable from there.

The important thing is to know yourself and expect some ups and downs, probably even more in 2020 than before with holidays and mental health combined. But the second most important thing to remember is that it’s best to embrace the feelings, the ups and downs, and work through them rather than trying to stop these feelings altogether.

Take Action

Knowing yourself is key to the entire process of mental and emotional health during the holidays and throughout the year. Try to understand your triggers – something that can make you feel sad, angry, overwhelmed – and be prepared.

The next step is to have coping skills, or actions you take to deal with the highs and lows. These skills will be a big part of working through things as they happen, even more so to help with holidays and mental health. Some coping skills can include:

  • Talking to someone
  • Making a list
  • Doing deep breathing exercises
  • Going for a walk
  • Or something else that works for you

Another way to be proactive is to notice changes in other people and in yourself. Some of the most common changes can be withdrawing from activities, isolating, not contacting people, sadness, and not enjoying hobbies. These can be red flags during the holidays and mental health concerns.

It’s OK to Feel Lonely

It can be very uncomfortable to feel lonely, but it is okay to feel lonely. It is a very normal emotion, even more so when we have expectations of something different. Whether you are truly alone this year, more alone than you want to be because of COVID distancing, or something else is causing the feelings of loneliness, it is okay.

Dealing with this can happen in a few ways.

  1. Throw out the idea of “should”. For example, don’t continually think or say “I should be able to be with my family” or “I should be going on a trip”. It’s fine, and even good, to mourn a lost holiday or celebration with people you care about, but then take those options out. Think about what you can do and focus on that this year.
  2. Change your expectations. This is a good rule any year, but especially this holiday season. We set high expectations of ourselves and of the holidays, which can lead to disappointment. Rethink or lower your expectations to something more realistic.
  3. Use this opportunity to help others who may also be facing loneliness like a neighbor, an elderly friend or family member who has been isolated for months, or one of your kid’s friends who has family that is working during the holidays. Keep safe distancing practices in place, but find ways to show people you care, that they aren’t alone, and make new memories. You will be surprised how much good it does for that person, and for you!

Loneliness is a big factor on holidays and mental health of people everywhere. Efforts in this area can make a big difference.

Know When to Ask for Help

We believe in prevention in healthcare, whether it is physical health or mental health. If you have been struggling throughout 2020 (or longer), it would be good to make an appointment with one of NOAH’s counselors or psychiatrists now.

People who are at a higher risk, or who deal with chronic depression or anxiety, should be seeing someone on a somewhat regular basis, and especially if holiday stress or loneliness would trigger more emotions. Another warning sign is isolation. If you notice yourself isolating more or see changes in a loved one with their moods or interactions, that is a good time to make or encourage an appointment.

Everyone can benefit from counseling.

Find Ways to Enjoy the Season

Now that we are ready to adjust our expectations, embrace the emotions of the season, and know what to expect, we can find new ways to celebrate the season safely for our holiday mental health.

Make your plans – even virtual ones – now! If you want to do a video call with multiple family members, make those arrangements. Remember that some people may not have reliable WiFi or be comfortable on using certain technologies. Making phone calls, doing drive-by visits, and sending cards are ways to share the season with people you care about.

Remember to also be thankful and show gratitude which is helpful to your mental and emotional health all year. Showing gratitude to your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and even strangers can have a ripple effect. So, hold the door open, smile (with your eyes if you’re wearing a mask), give a compliment, or make small talk with the cashier, and you will brighten many people’s day in the process.

If you don’t have a counselor to talk to, reach out to NOAH’s team of experts. Virtual visits are common and can fit in your schedule and lifestyle.

Holiday Tips for Children with Diabetes by Brandon Bolton, RDN

The holiday season should be a joyous time to spend with family and loved ones. This time of year can be tough for children with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It can be difficult for children to manage their blood sugars during the holiday season due to changes to daily routines, holiday meals, increased eating, new foods, and changes in activity levels. Remember, holiday meals are special occasions, it is okay for kids to break their typical routine during the holidays and enjoy themselves. You may see blood sugars fluctuate more during this time. Try not to let holiday eating be a full week-long event, and instead enjoy your holiday meal and then try to return to your normal eating schedule as soon as you can.

Here are some tips for healthy and happy holiday eating:

  • Encourage your child to follow the “MyPlate” method of eating : 1/2 plate non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 plate lean protein, 1/4 plate carbohydrate.
  • During holiday meals, try filling up on non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, celery, zucchini, brussels sprouts, asparagus, cabbage, and many more.
  • Help your child count their carbohydrates. It can be difficult for your child to keep track of everything they are eating during a holiday meal, but do your best as a team. This can help with blood sugar and medication management throughout the day.
  • Don’t force children to finish their meal if they take too much.
  • Sweets are allowed. It is alright for your child to have some sweets during the holidays, just try to monitor intake and stick with small portions.
  • Increase blood sugar monitoring. Since there are a lot of foods, sweets, and activities surrounding holidays, be sure to have your child check their blood sugar more often to stay on top of any changes that might be occurring.
  • Plan for some activity. Take a family walk or plan some games that can get everybody up and moving. Staying active can help keep your child’s blood sugar in a normal range and can be healthy for everyone!
  • Enjoy the festivities with your loved ones, and remember not to be too hard on yourselves.

If you have any questions about helping children with diabetes and about your child’s nutritional needs or how to manage diabetes throughout the holiday season, feel free to reach out to the dietitians at NOAH!

Celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020

This year we have experienced many changes, from the way we celebrate birthdays and graduations, to elbow-bumps in place of handshakes. One of the more challenging differences of living through a pandemic, though, is going to be the holiday season, starting with celebrating Thanksgiving.

Typically, people travel to see family and friends, visit multiple homes on Thanksgiving and the days around it. Many people enjoy getting out with friends to local bars and restaurants. None of that, however, is safe in 2020 with COVID-19 increasing it’s hold on our communities and our health.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020 may not be what we are all used to, but it can still be full of good food, friendly faces, and happy memories without risking anyone’s health and safety.

Tips for Thanksgiving 2020

  • Hold a Thanksgiving dinner just for your immediate family in your home.
  • Enjoy the beautiful Central Arizona weather and visit neighbors outdoors and with some distance between you.
  • Share your favorite recipes with friends and family, rather than making and bringing food to a big group Thanksgiving.
  • Delivering meals to isolated friends, family, or others in the community in a safe way.
  • Virtual Thanksgiving dinner with loved ones near or far.

Remember, that while health is critically important with COVID around, we also need to take care of our mental and emotional well-being. Seeing faces on screens and hearing voices over the phone doesn’t take the place of in-person holiday gatherings, but it is much better than not having that interaction at all. Relationships and seeing people you love – even on a screen that has grandma’s thumb covering it half the time – are so important.

Enjoy and embrace something new when you celebrate Thanksgiving, and remember to call, text, video chat, and safely visit (with masks or at a distance) with people you care about. If you need additional support from a counselor or community resources, reach out to the NOAH team for more information about services to support you and your family so you have a happy, healthy time celebrating Thanksgiving.

How to Talk to Your Teen about Sensitive Topics

By Katelyn Millinor, LPC

As our children grow into independent and curious teenagers, we as parents want to be a guiding light to help our children make smart and informed decisions. Sensitive topics such as intimacy, sexuality, consent, relationships and substance use may be difficult or seem awkward. 

Here are some tips to help facilitate productive and positive conversations:

  1. Create an Open and Safe Space for Communication.

    Initiate conversations regularly with your teenager. What is their favorite musical artist? What is their favorite hobby? What does your teenager do for fun with friends? Getting to know your teen makes it easier to talk about anything. Starting this process early often has greater benefits.

  2. Give Them Privacy.

    We have all been where we want to keep things to ourselves and have time and space alone. Our teens do too. Make sure to allow your teen enough privacy. You may still invite conversations and allow them space until they are ready to share.

  3. Listen More, Talk Less. 

    Allow your teen to fully finish what they are saying before you offer insights or responses. Practice active listening by giving your full attention. Teenagers are more likely to be open when they feel heard. Most of the time, teenagers are not seeking for you to “fix” their problem, they just want a trusted adult to listen. Avoid being critical, judgmental, or getting emotional.

  4. Share Your Own Experiences.

    Don’t be afraid to share some of your own personal experiences with your teenager. Your teenager may see you as more relatable and understanding.

  5. Be Honest.

    Your discussions about sensitive topics may give your teenager the foundation of their understanding on certain topics. If you don’t know the answer to something, seek additional expertise from a professional.

  6. Offer Support and Advice. 

     Don’t Lecture. Phrases such as “If I was in this situation, I would do….” or simply asking “May I offer some advice?” can help facilitate meaningful conversations.

Tackling difficult conversations with your teen is a sign of a healthy relationship. If you know what is going on in your teen’s life, you are better equipped to help. Engaging in these conversations gives you and your teen the opportunity to explore choices and practice important decision making. If you need help talking about sensitive topics, learn about NOAH’s counseling services.

Recognizing the Impact of Antibiotics

By Cody Randel

Antibiotics save and improve countless lives every day. However, antibiotic resistance is something we need to understand and face together. November 18 – 24 is Antibiotic Awareness Week in the U.S. and World Antimicrobial Awareness Week on a global scale. Antimicrobial resistance of any kind can impact everyone.

Antibiotics are part of the antimicrobial family, which also includes antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics. These medicines kill infections and diseases. Without them, humans will have a much more difficult time fighting and surviving diseases. Fortunately, the World Health Organization (WHO) saw this growing problem and has made it a priority. Because diseases become more difficult to treat as antibiotic resistance increases, it will make all antimicrobials less effective.

WHO’s Five Goals to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance

  • Raise awareness 
  • Increase monitoring and research
  • Reduce infections
  • Maximize the use of antimicrobial medications 
  • Sustainable investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines, and other interventions

We rely on antibiotics to help us recover from what may seem like minor illnesses today. But these illnesses could become life-threatening if antibiotic resistance increases.

Preventing Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is increasing in all parts of the world. Changing this is a big job that requires all of us to do our part. Here are six ways you can help:

  • Only use antibiotics prescribed to you by a certified health professional.
  • Never demand antibiotics from your health worker. If you need them, they will prescribe them.
  • Always follow directions for taking medications.
  • Never share any prescriptions.
  • Prevent illnesses by washing your hands and staying away from people who are sick.
  • Get vaccinated and stay up to date on seasonal vaccines like flu.

If you have questions about medications you are taking, or about vaccines you may need, talk to your healthcare provider. If you don’t have a primary care provider, request an appointment with one of our providers.

Supporting NOAH’s Impact – Ways to Give

NOAH works hard every day to impact the lives of our more than 40,000 patients across Maricopa County. From dental, family medicine, and pediatrics, to psychiatry and nutrition services, our more than 100 providers are serving patients and their families with premier care and compassion. You can be part of this important and impactful work through the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit.

Giving to NOAH is one of the most effective ways to put your efforts to use in our community. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) it is our duty and privilege to provide primary care services in underserved areas of Maricopa County. With your support, our impact goes even farther!

Fortunately, Arizona makes it easier to maximize your donation with the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit.

Individuals can donate up to $400 to qualifying charitable organizations and it comes back to them when they file their taxes! For married couples, together you can donate up to $800 and receive the same amount back when you file your taxes.

There is no minimum to donate for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit. So, donate $10 or $400 individually; $5 or $800 as a married couple because every dollar donated makes a difference to NOAH and our patients like Natalie.

Natalie excelled in school and sports. But when her father, who struggled with addiction, walked out of her family’s life, things changed. By 13, Natalie was using, and it progressed from there. When she came to NOAH Palomino Health Center, she was addicted to heroin, but she was ready to change her life. NOAH staff guided her journey to recovery.

“I really thought it was not possible and I thought I was going to end up in jail, institutionalized or dead, and I was not going to accept that. I know my life matters more than that…and so does everyone else’s.”

Are you ready to make a difference for Natalie and others?

Here is How It Works

It’s easier than you may think. It doesn’t matter if you file as an individual or jointly with your spouse, and it doesn’t matter if you itemize or take the standard deduction. If you donate to a qualifying charity, that amount is applied directly to your tax liability. This is NOT a deduction; it is a dollar-for-dollar credit.

Ways to Donate

  • Show your support with a one-time donation.
  • Make a recurring donation to help sustain NOAH’s work year-round.

Either way, your donation to NOAH counts toward your Arizona Charitable Tax Credit.

Be part of the movement to transform our communities through high-quality and accessible healthcare for all. Visit NOAH’s tax credit page here, then, donate! You will get confirmation of your donation to use when you file your taxes.

Every donation helps us make a lasting impact on individuals like Natalie, and the communities we serve.

Diet and Lifestyle Tips for Cancer Prevention

By Mina Goodman, RDN

While there is still much research to be done on what causes cancer, there are still some easy tips for cancer prevention and healthy living.

To reduce your risk, consider these tips:

  •  Limit processed and fatty meats – these include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and lunch meats. Try for more fish, poultry, and plant based proteins (beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan, nuts, seeds, or soy products).
  • Choose foods with more nutrients – limit added sugars, sodium, saturated fats and trans fats. Look for choices rich in vitamins and minerals instead such as fruits, vegetables, and other plant based foods.
  • Eat more plants – these include, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily!
  • Increase (or maintain) your level of physical activity – try to move your body for at least 30 minutes a day, most days. This can be walking, biking, swimming, dancing, online workouts, or whatever you enjoy.
  • Avoid alcohol – if you do choose to drink, limit your intake to one serving a day for women or two servings a day for men. One serving is estimated at 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
  • Avoid tobacco or smoking in any form – if you need help quitting find the resources you need at NOAH
  • Drink plenty of water – drink at least eight 8 oz. glasses per day (64 oz. or 4 bottles of water or to drink half your body weight in ounces (so someone weighing 200lbs would drink 100oz daily).
  • Try a Mediterranean diet – this way of eating focuses on plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. When possible choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat.

Getting started on a healthier lifestyle can be one way to focus efforts on cancer prevention and to prevent other diseases. Working with one of NOAH’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionists is a great first start. Make an appointment today!

National Family Caregiver Month – Take Time for You

By Katelyn Millinor, LPC

Each November, we take the time to honor Family Caregivers – those who devote their lives to providing care for their family members or friends who are elderly, ill, or disabled. The demands of caregiving can be challenging, overwhelming, and tiresome. It can also be rewarding and fulfilling. Caregivers often give so much of themselves to their family member or friend. It is important to remember you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.

Common family caregiver experiences may include:

  • Tiredness – Most individuals caring for a loved one also work outside of the home in addition to their caregiving responsibilities.
  • Depression – The demands of jugging multiple responsibilities or seeing your loved one age or change due to illness or disability can be upsetting. There is no shame in feeling upset or overwhelmed.
  • Diminished relationships – Caregiving is not a 9-5 job. A loved one may need care around the clock. The emotional, physical, and time demands of care giving may interfere with other relationships.
  • Lack of self care – Caregivers often neglect their own self-care in order to provide for their loved one. This can include not attending medical appointments and not participating in leisure activities.

Caregivers provide for their loved one due to a sense of responsibility, their culture, fulfillment and love. We honor those who provide and recognize the increased difficulty of caregiving during a pandemic as this brings its own unique challenges.

If you are a family caregiver, here are some useful tips:

  • Seek support from other caregivers: If you have others that are willing to help try to be open to splitting responsibilities. You do not have to do this alone. Also be sure to check out Family Caregiver Support Groups.
  • Increase your own self-care: Make your own mental and physical health a priority! Reach out to your physician or mental health counselor if needed.
  • Take a break when you can: Whether it’s a quick nap, sleeping in, or doing something that is relaxing, be sure to take time for yourself.
  • Give yourself credit: You are doing one of the toughest jobs out there!

Family caregivers do tremendous work for their family member, neighbor or friend and they deserve support and appreciation. Looking for support in your role as a caregiver, NOAH can help.