Meet Nikky

Our goal at NOAH is to provide compassionate, quality healthcare for our community. The truth is that doing this can and should look different for every person. Some people benefit from nutrition services to help tackle medical concerns. Others find relief from migraines through our dental team. Because comprehensive healthcare is individualized, NOAH takes the time to understand patients, and meet them where they are.

Meet Nikky

When Nikky was introduced to NOAH, it was at one of the lowest points in her life. She had recently left the hospital after an overdose. The mother of three had struggled for years with addiction, despite having had a happy childhood and a family she loved. Addiction impacts many people regardless of their income, education, address, or other factors.

After the third of fourth person from NOAH called to check on Nikky after being discharged, she paused and wondered if maybe NOAH was different. She was right; NOAH was different, and her life would never be the same.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic changing everyone’s lives and stress levels, Nikky found stability and support in early 2020 from Pamela, her Peer Support Specialist at NOAH. Peer Support Specialists are uniquely qualified, caring team members. Five months after their first conversation, Nikky is seeing the amazing woman she was all along. Pamela is just a text or phone call away, but the progress Nikky has made is her own.

Watch Nikky’s Video

True Comprehensive Healthcare

NOAH offers services that treat the whole person. There is no one-size-fits-all way to help someone live a healthy life, especially if other challenges are standing in the way. Beyond medical, behavioral health, and dental services, NOAH offers community resources and a team working to ensure patients have other needs met with resources like income assistance, health insurance enrollment, and referrals to other programs.

Learn more about the services NOAH offers the community.

Understanding Thyroid Disease

The thyroid is a very important organ that – frankly – doesn’t get the attention it deserves, until something goes wrong, like getting diagnosed with thyroid disease. Here at NOAH, we want to turn our focus here for Thyroid Awareness Month.

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped organ in the front of your neck that wraps around your trachea (throat or windpipe). Its job is to create and release important substances to help your body function. In the case of the thyroid, its job is to release hormones that control your metabolism.

Why is the thyroid important?

The thyroid has an important job to do – regulating your metabolism. Your metabolism is how your body turns food into energy. When your thyroid is working correctly, you don’t think about it. It adjusts the amount of hormones it releases to meet what your body needs. Then, the thyroid creates more hormones and continues the process. Pretty nice.

But like with many things, we don’t notice or appreciate it when it works correctly. However, when the thyroid has trouble doing its job, the results can be serious.

What happens when the thyroid doesn’t work correctly?

Thyroid disease can be caused by two different types of problems with the thyroid: making too much hormones or making too little.

  • Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid makes too much of the hormones needed to regulate your metabolism. Then, your body uses the hormones too quickly. It can cause people to feel anxious, lose weight too quickly, have trouble sleeping, and make your heart beat faster.
  • Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid doesn’t make enough of the hormones needed to regulate your metabolism. With too little hormone, you can also feel overly tired, gain weight, experience forgetfulness, and feel discomfort with cold temperatures.

Both are serious medical conditions and should be diagnosed and treated by your medical provider.

How do you get thyroid disease?

The risks for thyroid disease are broad and it effects around 20 million Americans. It can be genetic and passed down from family members, but other risk factors include having another medical condition. It’s worth noting that while anyone can have thyroid disease, women are five times more likely to be diagnosed than men, and people age 60 and older are also at a higher risk.

Are there diagnoses and treatments?

Because the signs and symptoms for thyroid disease can look like other illnesses, it is important to talk with your doctor if you have any new symptoms. Your medical provider will do physical exams and most likely blood tests to confirm a thyroid condition.

Treatments will depend on what type of thyroid disease you have and how serious it is. Most patients are prescribed medications.

Many people live healthy, normal lives with thyroid disease, but this thyroid awareness month it is important to learn all about it for yourself and for others. Working with your medical provider and integrated care team at NOAH will make it easier to navigate this or any other health concern or diagnosis.

Celebrate Soup Month With These Five Favorites

Winter weather calls for soup! There is nothing better on a cold night than a big bowl of homemade soup for dinner. That’s probably why January is National Soup Month!

When it comes to soup, there are so many options. It can be vegetarian or meat-based, it can be spicy or mellow, it can even be hot or cold. We have gathered our most popular soup recipes from our NOAH registered dietitians to celebrate National Soup Month.

Here are our five great soup recipes – all full of healthy ingredients – to get you through the cold(ish) nights here in Arizona’s winter months.

1. Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple and Sage Soup

This cozy soup recipe definitely gives fall feelings any time of year. This recipe is a great one to prep ahead of time – chopping squash and apples – and making plenty for leftovers.

2. Vegetarian Lentil Tortilla Soup

Made in the slow cooker, this easy and flavorful soup is filled with healthy lentils and other veggies. It is packed with fiber and protein to keep you full.

3. Tortellini Soup with Turkey and Kale

This creamy tortellini soup is easy to prepare – just a few ingredients – and ready in about 30 minutes.

4. Tuscan White Bean Soup

Filled with vegetables and herbs, this soup will fill you up. We highly recommend enjoying this with some whole wheat bread on the side.

5. Hearty Winter Minestrone Soup

The combination of pasta, vegetables, and flavorful broth, this minestrone soup is a favorite for every crowd.

If you enjoy these easy and healthy recipes, be sure to browse our collection of recipes here.

Understanding & Preventing Some Birth Defects

By Dr. Lindy Truong

Birth defects are not uncommon. Every year, one out of every 33 babies is born with some kind of birth defect ranging from minor, to those with life-long challenges. Some are preventable, and many can be managed better with proper care and support from a medical team.

There are, however, some factors that increase the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, so here are ways to increase the chance of having a healthy baby. This year’s theme is “Best for you. Best for baby.”

Healthy Moms for Healthy Babies

One of the most important steps a patient can take to having a healthy baby is to make sure they are healthy themselves prior to getting pregnant and throughout pregnancy. One of the most important ways to do that is to maintain a healthy weight before becoming pregnant, since women will gain weight during pregnancy. Babies born to obese women have an increased risk of having birth defects, such as heart and spinal cord defects.

Folic Acid During Pregnancy

Folic acid plays a big role in a baby’s development during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant or might become pregnant should try to have 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. In early development, folic acid helps form the neural tube—a structure that begins forming in the first 3 to 4 weeks after conception. Later, the neural tube becomes the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid is important in preventing birth defects that affect the baby’s brain (anencephaly) and spine (spina bifida).

Prenatal Care

Starting prenatal care as early as possible during a pregnancy has shown to increase healthy, full-term deliveries. If someone is pregnant, they should start prenatal care as soon as they think they might be pregnant. It will be important to continue all prenatal appointments throughout the pregnancy. These appointments ensure that both baby and mom are healthy, monitor any medications because some can cause birth defects, and so much more.

Preventative Health

Being current on vaccinations is important to protecting both mother and baby. The two most important vaccines to have during pregnancy are the Flu and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis a.k.a. whooping cough) vaccines. When mothers get these vaccines during pregnancy, it also protects them from the flu and whooping cough for a short period post-delivery as well!

What to Avoid

Last, but not least, it is very important to avoid substances like alcohol, smoking, and recreational drugs. These can seriously increase the risk for birth defects. Drinking any alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome and defects. Smoking and recreational drugs similarly increases the risk that the baby will be born smaller and with birth defects.

Expecting a baby can leave the parents with many questions, which is why having a trusted medical home for you and your baby is so important. If you plan to get pregnant, take care of yourself and do what is best for you, because it is also what is best for the baby.

You can schedule a preconception visit with your healthcare provider before you even become pregnant, which is a good place to start. Being healthy before pregnancy sets a good foundation for a healthy pregnancy. Continue with regular prenatal visits for close monitoring along the way. These are simple yet important things one should do to prevent birth defects in their baby.

Know More About Sugar

By Brandon Bolton, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

This week is Sugar Awareness Week. It is a time to spread awareness and prevalence of sugar and the damaging too much sugar can have our bodies. During Sugar Awareness Week, we should set a few goals to help reduce how much sugar we eat and drink – especially with added sugar. A great place to start is to understand sugar a little more. These healthy habits can carry forward for the rest of the year!

Natural sugars are found in foods such as fruit and milk. Added sugars are found in processed foods like soda, fruit juice, candy, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, condiments, and much more. A diet high in added sugars can cause weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, fatty liver disease, and much more.

The American Heart Association recommends most women consume no more than 24 grams of added sugars (6 teaspoons) daily, and men should consume no more than 36 grams of added sugar (9 teaspoons) daily. Children ages 2-18 should try to eat less than 24 grams of added sugar daily. For reference, the average person in the United States consumes around 71 grams of added sugar per day (17 teaspoons). Be sure to check your food label to get a better understanding of how much sugar is in your food.

Here are some tips on how to decrease your intake of added sugars:

  • Swap sodas, juices, sweetened teas, and energy drinks for water or unsweetened seltzers.
  • Drink your coffee black or use a zero-calorie sweetener such as Stevia.
  • Try plain yogurt and add fresh or frozen berries.
  • Consume whole fruits and vegetables instead of sugar-sweetened smoothies.
  • Replace candy with a homemade trail mix of fruit, nuts and a few dark chocolate chips.
  • Use olive oil and vinegar in place of sweet salad dressings like honey mustard.
  • Look for cereals, granolas, and granola bars with under 4 grams of sugar per serving.
  • Use natural nut butters instead of sweet spreads like Nutella.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages that are sweetened with soda, juice, honey, sugar, or agave.
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, focusing on fresh, whole ingredients.
  • Try to prepare meals at home, it can be hard to tell how much sugar is in foods when eating out.
  • Consume a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Check nutrition labels to see how much sugar is in your product.

If you have any questions regarding sugar or any other nutrition related concerns, please reach out to one of NOAH’s Registered Dietitians!

Healthy Weight Week: Healthy is More Than Your Weight

By Mina Goodman, Registered Dietitian 

The name Healthy Weight Week can be somewhat misleading. What most people think of with “healthy weight” might be getting on the scale, setting a new weight goal, or starting a 2021 crash diet. This week is more so about finding your healthy weight which can be determined by making small and personalized diet and lifestyle changes. Although Body Mass Index (BMI) and weight changes might give us an idea of health, it is only one piece of the puzzle to a healthy life. That’s why it is important to recognize other factors that affect weight, health, and happiness.  

Instead of counting calories or restricting how much you eat, try these to help achieve to a healthy weight: 

  • Accept your body shape and size.

Each body is not the same shape and size, which may be important when setting expectations for realistic weight loss goals. It’s difficult to judge a book by its cover when it comes to health because it is assumed that people at higher weights are sicker or live shorter lives. Research has shown that people in overweight and obesity class I BMIs may have improved longevity compared with normal weight, underweight, and obesity class II or greater BMIs.  

  • Find movement you enjoy.

Exercise doesn’t have to be training for a marathon. Taking a walk with friends, family, or a good playlist is a good option. Experiment with online work out videos, swimming, biking, roller skating/blading, yoga, tai chi, gardening or other home projects, and whatever other activity you can think of. No matter your weight, physical activity is important to do on most days.  

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, and energy for our body to use. Eating more whole and plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds can reduce risk of chronic diseases and help to maintain or lose weight.  

  • Try to stress less.

If our bodies are in a constant state of stress, it can be difficult to maintain weight. Here at NOAH, we have behavioral health services like counseling and psychiatry to help manage stress, anxiety, and depression that may be affecting how difficult is to lose weight.  

  • Sleep quality matters.

Sleep is another factor affecting weight and health. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per day and that should be quality sleep not altered by drugs or alcohol. Having a nighttime routine can help improve the quality of sleep. This can include turning off screens a few hours before bed or having a hot cup of herbal tea at the end of the night – you can make the routine your own or look online for other common routine tips and ideas.  

  • Drink enough water.

Most adults need at least half a gallon of water daily, which is 64 fl oz. Others may need up to a gallon per day. The body cannot work as well without being properly hydrated so look for ways to increase your fluid intake through herbal/sugar free teas, naturally flavored seltzers, or herb/fruit infused waters. If plain water works for you, try carrying a water bottle wherever you go, setting reminders on your watch or phone, or leaving bottles/glasses in places you usually sit or by your bed to start drinking first thing in the morning. 

Remember, being healthy isn’t necessarily about what the scale says. Many people can be healthy, or at least healthier, by making a few of these intention changes in their daily lives. If you want additional assistance, guidance, and support to living healthier, contact NOAH about our Nutrition Services.

Sleep Awareness Week – Healthy Sleep Hygiene

By Katelyn Millinor, LPC | Behavioral Health Quality Manager

Healthy sleep, also known as sleep hygiene, describes good sleep habits. Guidelines and tips NOAH offers patients for better sleep comes from years of expert research and experience. And, while there are medications that can help with sleep, they are usually only helpful in the short-term. Your NOAH provider can talk about the best ways to get better sleep, but in general, we recommend healthy sleep hygiene as the main most important step.

Healthy Sleep Tips

  • Consistency – One of the best ways to sleep well is to go to bed and get up at the same time every day (even on the weekends). This regular rhythm will help you feel better and help to set your biological clock.
  • Exercise – Regular exercise is a good idea regardless, but it also helps with sleep making it easier for your body for you to fall asleep and have deep sleep. Avoid exercising 3-4 hours before bed time. Morning walks are a great way to start the day feeling refreshed.
  • Don’t Toss & Turn – If you cannot fall asleep after about 15-20 minutes, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy again (in another room if possible). Sitting quietly on the couch or reading something are good options.
  • Limit Light – Avoid certain lights before going to bed, particularly screens. Cell phones, computers, televisions, and other devices have blue light that disrupts sleep. Change the settings on your device to switch the light at a set time every night, and turn off overhead lights or lamps.
  • Don’t Watch the Clock – People who struggle with sleep often watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock can wake you up more and reinforce negative thoughts.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet – A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well. But when you eat matters! Do not go to bed hungry because that can disturb sleep. Also, a big meal before bed can also disturb sleep. If you are hungry before bed, try a light snack and be sure to avoid greasy or heavy foods near bedtime.
  • A Bed is a Bed – Don’t allow your bed to become your kitchen, dining room, office or other multi-functional space.
  • Avoid Naps – Avoid taking a nap so you are tired at bedtime. If you must take a nap, make sure it is only for 20-60 minutes and is at least 6+ hours before bedtime, ideally no naps after 3 p.m.
  • No Alcohol, Caffeine, or Nicotine – If you plan to have caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine (cigarettes, cigars, etc.) don’t have any 4-6 hours before going to bed. These substances act as a stimulant and interfere with the ability to fall or stay asleep.
  • Fewer Beverages – Try not to have too many beverages in the evening. This will limit the night-time trips to the bathroom.
  • Set The Mood – The right environment is important. Your bed and bedroom should be comfortable for sleeping; a cool, quiet, and dark environment is best.
  • Shower or Bath – Having a hot shower or bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can help you relax and get a better sleep.
  • Routines – Having an evening routine before bedtime can prepare the body and mind for sleep. You can develop your own routine such as stretching, baths, or breathing exercises. Daytime routines are equally as important to having healthy sleep, so try to keep those the same.

As always, if you are trying these tips with little or no success, give your NOAH provider a call and we’ll gladly meet with you to discuss options in achieving a good night’s rest. At NOAH, we’ll work with you and your family to choose the best path for overall health and wellness. You may also request an appointment online.

Get in Shape in 2021

by Dr. Ryan Stempniak, Resident PGY 1- Heuser Family Medicine Center

The new year is here which means New Years resolutions. For many of us that means introducing more exercise into our daily routine. Due to the pandemic, going to the gym may not be the ideal choice of exercise for a lot of people so I wanted to share some safe ways to get back into shape and provide some information to help you feel safer and healthier in this new year.

Tips for getting in shape:

  • The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or both spread throughout the week. This equates to about 20-25 minutes per day of walking or riding a bike, or 10-15 minutes of running, hiking uphill, fast walking or swimming per day.
  • For school aged children and teens the recommendation is 60 minutes of moderate-intensity to vigorous exercise per day, and for toddlers about 3 hours of active play on their feet each day.
  • Although being outdoors may pose less of a risk of contracting COVID 19, remember to keep at least 6 feet apart from others while exercising and wearing a mask while exercising may better prevent spread through aerosolized particles. Avoid crowds and close contact with others and take advantage of the beautiful Arizona weather and countless walking trails throughout the valley.
  • According to the American Heart Association, CDC, and Mayo Clinic, physical activity can help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, dementia and Alzheimer’s, several types of cancer, and some complications of pregnancy. It can also improve sleep, memory, bone health, balance and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Strength training or lifting weights can help strengthen your muscles and bones and prevent falls and osteoporosis. Some weight replacements that can be used around the house include canned goods, gallons of milk, laundry detergent or bottles of water. Also remember to assist your bone health by enjoying some of that Arizona sunlight which provides Vitamin D, and spend 10-20 minutes daily in sunlight (while wearing SPF 15 sunscreen or higher of course).
  • Be sure to contact your primary care provider for additional tips on how to get fit this new year and how to find the right exercise plan for you. Ask your provider about additional diet tips from our wonderful Nutrition team at your next visit as well.

Although 2020 has been an unprecedented year, there is hope on the horizon with the new vaccine. Continuing to wear masks, washing hands, and social distancing will ultimately be our best bet to a safer and healthier 2021. For more information about Arizona’s current COVID numbers, precautions, restrictions and more, visit the Arizona Department of Health Services Coronavirus page.

I hope everyone has a safe, healthy, and exciting new year!