Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness Month

By Larissa D. Wiley, PA-C

April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month also known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and we all need more awareness about this issue. Awareness of STDs, prevention efforts, and appropriate treatment for STDs are critical for an individual’s health. According to the CDC, there are 20 million new STD diagnoses every year in America, however, most Americans aren’t aware that they are on the rise.

A problem on the rise

Adolescents make up over half of newly diagnosed STDs but represent only 25% of those who are sexually active.  Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STD at 14 million new cases per year, followed by chlamydia at 2.8 million cases.  All demographic groups are seeing increases in diseases.

In 2018, Maricopa county ranked among the highest for chlamydia and gonorrhea cases. According to Arizona Department of Health Services, gonorrhea has increased 94% in the last five years!

Based on the increase and our 4.4 million residents in Maricopa county, in 2018 there were 27,045 chlamydia cases, 9,085 gonorrhea cases and 801 primary and secondary syphilis cases. That means Maricopa county – just one county – was responsible for 1.5% of all chlamydia and gonorrhea cases and 2.2% of all primary and secondary syphilis cases in the entire country!

What a positive diagnosis means

Many STIs have no symptoms, but they can still be passed to other people, and some STDs have lifelong consequences.  Early diagnosis and treatment are critical! Many STDs can be cured or easily managed by your medical provider.

If these diseases are not addressed:

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can result in reproductive cancers.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is incurable and leads to a constellation of health complications including AIDS.
  • Syphilis can cause blindness, paralysis, heart damage and various neurological complications, as well as serious complications when spread from mother to baby.
  • Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia infections can result in infertility.

Prevention is key

Thankfully, sexually transmitted diseases are largely preventable. The Gardasil9 vaccine prevents nine different high-risk forms of HPV. The HPV vaccine also reduced genital warts and cervical cancer rates by over 71% from 2006 to 2016. There is also a Hepatitis B vaccine which is available for all age groups and is over 98% effective.

Medications like the Pre-Exposure (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) reduce HIV infections; PrEP is started prior to HIV exposure and PEP is for HIV-negative patients who were exposed to someone with HIV. More information about this is available from the CDC here.

Sexually transmitted disease awareness is important to your health, and safety measures can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Use a latex or polyurethane condom, limit your number of sexual partners, avoid sexual behaviors that could compromise condom effectiveness, and test for STDs before becoming sexually active with a new partner.

If you do contract a sexually transmitted disease, seek treatment early rather than waiting; this could reduce permanent damage and spread.  Please talk to your primary care provider about any questions you may have.  At NOAH, we are here to help and answer question about all aspects of your health, including your sexual and reproductive health. Talk to a NOAH provider today!

Myth or Fact – Understanding the COVID Vaccine

Everything about COVID-19 came at us quickly in 2020. From how the virus spreads to vaccine options, we have learned so much about. But it’s also no surprise that there are questions and misunderstandings. That’s why NOAH experts are responding to some of the most common COVID vaccine myths.

Myth #1 – It’s too soon to know if the vaccine is safe and effective.

Fact – Approved vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson – did not skip any necessary step. The two initial vaccines approved in the U.S., Pfizer and Moderna, were about 95% effective in trials. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is 66.3% effective in preventing all COVID-19. All available vaccines are highly effective at preventing infection, as well as preventing hospitalization and death from the virus.

The vaccines are safe. Other than expected side effects like headaches, chills, and arm pain, severe allergic reactions are extremely rare. All patients are monitored for 15 minutes after receiving their vaccine to monitor for any signs of these rare reactions so they can receive immediate treatment if needed.

Myth #2 – If I had COVID, I don’t need the vaccine.

Fact – People can – and have – gotten COVID-19 more than once. Plus, this virus can have serious and lasting health risks. We also don’t yet know how long natural immunity (from having COVID-19) will last. Early evidence shows that natural immunity may not last long enough to stop the spread. The evidence scientists are seeing from the vaccine tell us that the vaccine may offer better protection than natural immunity.

Myth #3 – I don’t need to wear a mask after getting the COVID vaccine.

Fact – Fully vaccinated people can still carry and spread the virus to unvaccinated people. By wearing masks and continuing to give physical distance from people that don’t live in your home, you are protecting them from infection, and from you getting the virus and carrying it to other unvaccinated people.

At this time (4/5/2021), none of the vaccines are approved for children under 16. Those trials are underway but are not fully approved yet. Wearing your mask will continue to protect children and other unvaccinated individuals.

Myth #4 – The vaccine causes infertility in women.

Fact – None of the available COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility. This myth happened because a false social media report (*read more on this at the end) was shared saying that the spike protein on the coronavirus was the same as another spike protein that is involved in placenta growth and attachment during pregnancy.

The spike protein in the coronavirus is what allows it to enter the cell and replicate. The vaccine targets this spike protein.

The false report said the COVID vaccine would target the protein in a woman’s body that helps with healthy placenta growth and harm her fertility. The COVID vaccine ONLY targets the specific spike protein of the coronavirus because it is completely different. The vaccine won’t interact with a woman’s fertility or fertility treatments. More information from Johns Hopkins Medicine on this topic is available here.

Myth #5 – The COVID vaccine gives you COVID.

Fact – The COVID vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technology and do not use any form of any virus. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine uses what is called a viral vector to carry the information to our body. This vector is a harmless version of a different virus. None of the vaccines can give someone the virus because none of the vaccines contain any part of the virus. What all of the vaccines will do, though, is tell our healthy cells how to respond to COVID-19.

Any side effects from getting the vaccine, like arm pain where you received the shot, a fever, body aches, chills, or a headache are actually a good thing! We know they aren’t fun, but they are temporary and show that your body is responding to the vaccine and building protection. Many people don’t experience any side effects.

Myth #6 – The mRNA technology is new and changes your DNA.

Fact — The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology to give instructions to our bodies on how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. The mRNA does enter the cell, but does NOT enter the part of the cell that contains our DNA, so it cannot change our DNA.

This mRNA technology is not new to science or medicine; it has been used and studied for almost 20 years. The COVID-19 vaccine is the first time, though, mRNA is being used in a vaccine. Scientists were able to create the vaccines happened faster than if scientists were using a new technology because of past experience and studies.

NOAH’s own Dr. Bell shares a helpful and easy-to-understand information about COVID-19 and the vaccine in this brief YouTube video.

So much has happened around COVID-19 in just one year. Ensuring our patients and community understand how to stay safe and healthy is important. Your NOAH provider can answer any questions you have about COVID, the vaccine, or any other health and wellness concerns. Check out the NOAH COVID-19 page on our website for additional information.

*Social media allows us to stay connected and to share helpful, fun, and important information with people in our lives. However, the prevalence of misinformation shared across social media platforms can cause real and harmful outcomes. At NOAH, we only share our NOAH provider’s (doctors, physician assistants, nutritionists, counselors, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, dentists, etc.) expert insight and knowledge, or trusted third-party sources of information. We will never share questionable information, rumors, or unverified medical insights in our blogs or on our social media platforms.  

Is Nutrition Really that Important to my Health?

Yes. Yes, it is!

Nutrition is the foundation on which overall health and wellness is built. People fight diseases, prevent health problems, feel better overall, and live healthier lives with good nutrition. This is why NOAH is committed to the key role our Nutrition Services team plays in our integrated care.

Why nutrition matters

When your body gets the minerals and vitamins it needs, everything works better, especially when those nutrients come from what you eat and drink.

Many people think the main benefit of eating healthier is losing weight. And that can be a wonderful benefit because losing weight can impact someone’s overall health. However, the real benefits are:

  • Reduced high blood pressure
  • Reduced high cholesterol
  • Improved energy level
  • Improved ability to recover from injury or illnesses
  • Better able to fight off illnesses
  • Reduced risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, and more.

During this National Nutrition Month, NOAH’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) have shared their expert insights about:

Why? Because they see every day how improving nutrition can improve someone’s life.

How nutrition fits into healthcare

At NOAH, we provide comprehensive, integrated care which means all of our departments and providers work together. And nutrition can greatly impact so many patients at any stage of life.

Some examples:

  • Medical providers might be concerned about a patient’s blood pressure. Nutrition will be one of the ways to make improvements. But many people think they have to change their diet and lifestyle overnight to reach their goals. That isn’t the case. A NOAH RDN will learn about the patient, meet with them, and create a plan together. Maybe nutrition alone can help, or maybe it’s a combination of diet and medication. Regardless, it’s always an important step to take.
  • If a patient has reactions when they eat certain foods like dairy or the gluten often found in many breads, pastas, and cereals, an RDN can help. A patient may be lactose intolerant, or it can depend on how much dairy they have. Similarly, maybe a patient has tested positive for gluten intolerance or celiac disease. These individuals will benefit by adding a RDN to their medical team. There are many delicious options available, and ways to prepare food with different ingredients so patients enjoy what they love and are doing what is best for their health.

Do you have questions for our RDNs? Talk to your healthcare provider at your next appointment and get to know how our Nutrition Services team can help you.

Alcohol Facts

Drug & Alcohol Facts Week

By Brandon Bolton, RDN |Nutrition Educator

This week is Drug and Alcohol Facts Week; a time to share facts and awareness about drugs and alcohol with our communities. This article will take a closer look at the truth about alcohol.

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 86% of people 18 and older said they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime, 69.5% reported that they drank in the past year, and 55% reported that they drank in the past month.

What is binge drinking?

What is more serious, is that this survey also showed that 26% of people 18 and older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol level to 0.08%, also usually looks like 5+ drinks for men, 4+ drinks for women at one setting (night out, at a party, etc.) in about a 2-hour timeframe.

What is heavy drinking?

Heavy drinking is considered 15+ drinks for men, 8+ drinks for women each week. The difference between binge drinking and heavy drinking is that binge drinking is a large amount in a very short time. Heavy drinking is a higher than healthy amount on a regular basis.

Bottom line

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to poor overall health. People who drink too much alcohol are also be more likely to eat poorly. Alcohol can also affect digestion and how your body absorbs nutrients. Too much alcohol can lead to deficiencies in important vitamins like B-complex and many more.

My advice

Talk to your doctor or medical provider to see if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. If you do choose to have alcohol, drink in moderation. Drinking less is better for overall health than heavy drinking or binge drinking. The CDC describes safe, moderate alcohol consumption for most adults as 2 drinks or less for men, and 1 drink or less for women per day.

But make sure you understand what is considered 1 drink.

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

Following these guidelines will support good nutrition, and that plays an important role in your health. Following nutrition guidelines and eating a balanced diet can help ensure our bodies are getting all the nutrients to keep us feeling healthy both physically and emotionally.

Good nutrition means:

  • Eat a wide variety of foods.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Half of your grains coming from whole grains like 100% whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
  • Vary your protein and eat protein rich foods like:
    • Lean meats: 95% lean ground beef, pork tenderloin, skinless chicken or turkey (limit red meats to one time per week)
    • Fish such as salmon and tuna at least once per week
    • Eggs
    • Nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, edamame
    • Legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • Switch to low fat or fat-free dairy milk or yogurt.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 days per week.

Living a healthy life means considering the many ways we can improve and maintain our health. Alcohol can be safely consumed for most adults, but moderation is important. Reducing or eliminating alcohol from your diet is a great way to improve your overall health. To learn more, call NOAH at 480-882-4545, or fill out this form to meet with one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.

Understanding Colorectal Cancer

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Around 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2021. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the US for men and women combined. The more we understand this disease, the better chance of catching it early and beating it.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is cancer in the colon, rectum, or both. It can be diagnosed as bowel cancer, rectal cancer, or colon cancer. A majority of this type of cancer first develops as abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum. These growths can become cancerous later if they aren’t removed.

Who gets it?

The American Cancer Society estimate that about 1 in 21 men and 1 in 23 women in the United States will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. People who get a form of this cancer are typically – but definitely not always – diagnosed between the ages of 63 and 72.

Black Americans are at a 20 percent greater risk of developing colon, bowel, or rectal cancer. The devastating reality is that Black Americans are 40 percent more likely to die from it as well.

What causes colorectal cancer?

There are many causes or risk factors. Some may be connected to other health conditions and diseases resulting from long-term health disparities in different communities. Some risk factors include:

  • Low-fiber, high-fat diet
  • Diabetes
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Intestinal conditions like colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Obesity
  • Smoking or heavy alcohol use

How to recognize signs and symptoms?

There are several consistent signs that something may be wrong with a person’s bowel, colon, or rectum.

  • Regular or constant stomach discomfort including pain, gas, bloating, or cramps
  • Occasional or regular changes in bowel habits like constipation or diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood in stool

When to see a doctor?

Earlier is ALWAYS better. The sooner a problem is identified the better the outcome, and that’s the same whether it is abnormal growths in the colon, or if it has become cancer. These symptoms may indicate colorectal cancer, or it can indicate a number of other health conditions that need medical attention.

However, these cancers can develop with no symptoms at all. This is why screenings and regular check-ups with your medical provider are so important. If you have any concerns, talk to your healthcare provider.

If you need an appointment, call 480-882-4545 or request an appointment online.

Physical Activity for Every Age

By Daniel Smoots, MD Family Medicine 

Physical activity and exercise can seem like one more item to add to the to-do list, but there are good reasons why striving to get daily movement and exercise on to your family’s schedule is so important. There are many benefits to look forward to, from better physical and mental health, to quality family bonding time. Developing good exercise habits with your children provides an opportunity for encouragement and positive feedback which builds self-esteem and confidence, and helps motivate and maintain good habits as they grow. 

Why should we exercise?

  • Exercise is shown to improve physical health: controls weight, strengthens bones and muscles, gives you more energy, and leads to more restful sleep 
  • Activity and exercise are good for mental health: reduces anxiety, depression, and leads to higher self-esteem, and improved mood

How much exercise should a child get (CDC recommendations)? 

  • Children of different ages need different amounts of exercise, according to the CDC
  • 60 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each day (ex: fast walking, playing)
  • Vigorous-intensity activities 3 times a week (ex: running, playing fast-moving sport)
  • Muscle and bone strengthening activities 3 times a week (ex: climbing, push-ups, jumping)
  • Toddlers should engage in active play throughout the day 

How much exercise should an adult get?

  • 150 minutes (or 30 minutes 5 days a week) moderate-intensity aerobics each week 
  • Muscle and bone strengthening 2 times a week (resistance or weight training)

What are good ways to exercise together as a family?

  • Take a family walk, go to the park, hike, bike ride or rollerblade, play a game (ex: tag, hide and seek), try yoga, go swimming
  • Play sports. Soccer, basketball, tennis, racquetball can be played at varying levels depending on your family’s ages and skill levels

How to make exercise more engaging for children?

  • Make an activity chart to pick from or check off, spin a wheel to choose the activity, have them create and lead a new game, or build an obstacle course (add some competition for timing for who gets through the fastest)
  • Have them count the steps. Take the stairs, park further away in parking lots 
  • Have a dance party (helps get the “wiggles” out, and also a good aerobic activity when done for at least 10 minutes to upbeat music)

Make it a time that the family looks forward to by keeping it simple and fun, trying new things, and learning new skills. Find a way to get moving together as a family and feel and see the benefits!

Honoring Black History in Healthcare: Week 4 – Enslaved Women and Modern Gynecology

Throughout February, NOAH will share and honor Black History Month with snapshots of just a few of the important, impactful, and life-saving stories of Black history in healthcare in America. One of our primary goals at NOAH is ensure quality healthcare for every member of our community. To do that, we will look at where we have been, what we have accomplished, and how we will collectively achieve this goal.

Enslaved Women and Modern Gynecology

By By Jennifer Perry, MD, PGY-3

Dr. James Marion Sims has been named the “father of modern gynecology” for his contribution of tools, such as the speculum, and surgical techniques related to women’s health. He was named president of the American Medical Association in 1876 and president of the American Gynecological Society in 1880. However, Dr. Sims’ success has overshadowed the suffering of enslaved women that contributed to his work.

Seven women participated in Dr. Sims’ experimentation over a four-year period. Lucy, an 18-year-old who was unable to control her bladder after a traumatic birth, was his first subject. She had a vesicovaginal fistula, a connection between the bladder and uterus which wasn’t uncommon for women who endured traumatic deliveries in the 19th century. Dr. Sims placed naked Lucy on her knees and elbows with her head in her hands for the procedure while several male doctors watched. The entire surgery was conducted without anesthesia. As imagined, Lucy experienced extreme pain as Dr. Sims operated. A sponge was placed in Lucy’s bladder to drain the urine, which led to severe infection. Lucy almost lost her life, but this did not stop Dr. Sims from performing a similar procedure on six other enslaved women.

Enslaved women were considered property and did not need to give their consent for medical procedures. Dr. Sims performed more than 30 surgeries on one woman, Anarcha, without anesthesia. Despite reports of displayed agony, including screaming, it was believed that Black people did not experience pain like White people, so anesthesia was not utilized. However, once Dr. Sims perfected his technique, he performed surgery on White women under anesthesia.

Statues of Dr. Sims have been erected in Central Park and Philadelphia in dedication to his contribution to medicine. Those statues have sparked many protests because of the controversy of honoring a man who performed non-consensual medical experiments on Black women. The New York City statue was moved out of Central Park in 2018, and to Dr. Sims gravesite in Brooklyn, NY. In the same year, the monument in Philadelphia was removed and replaced by a plaque that educates the public of the origins of the monument and the Black females whose bodies were used for the advancement of medicine.

To learn more about the medical ethics involved with this story, read this article from the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Read our other Black History in Healthcare stories:

Week 1: The Innovations of Dr. Charles Richard Drew

Week 2: Understanding the Tuskegee Study

Week 3: The Lasting Impact of Henrietta Lacks

Dental Tips for National Children’s Dental Health Month

By Nicollette Villescaz, Pediatric Dental Assistant

Even as the shortest month, February brings a lot of holidays and awareness topics. One awareness topic not to be missed is National Children’s Dental Health Month! My name is Nicollette and I am a professional pediatric dental assistant here at NOAH. I’m going to share pediatric dental tips on how parents and caregivers, along with your child’s dental team can work together to prevent tooth decay, which is the number one dental problem for preschoolers with around 50% of children having one or more cavities by age 5.

Dental tips to prevent tooth decay in your child

The best way to ensure healthy teeth is to prevent problems before they start. Things like having a healthy diet, proper brushing and flossing habits, and not having sugary drinks from baby bottles can help protect your child’s teeth.

Rethink your drinks

As parents and guardians of young children, we know that a healthy diet is important, and we shouldn’t give them candy and sweets too often. However, it’s actually what children drink, not what they eat that is more dangerous to their teeth. I have heard and seen our NOAH dentists and medical doctors express repeatedly how bad juice, soda, energy drinks, Gatorade, and lemonade are for children. They aren’t bad for kids just because of the artificial flavors, and dye colorings, but also because of the high amounts of acid and sugar. These drinks have too much sugar and acid for kids of any age. The only fluids a child needs are plenty of water (especially in this desert heat) and milk for nutrients like calcium. When parents and caregivers give children acid and sugars to eat and drink we are putting them at a greater risk for tooth pain caused by cavities.

Brush and floss

Children and parents need to know the right way to brush and floss those little teeth because baby teeth are so important to keep healthy. Our top priority when children and parents or caregivers come to NOAH Dental is education and prevention. There are stages to this as kids grow:

  1. As soon as teeth appear, it’s time to brush! A few tiny baby teeth need just a small amount of cleaning.
  2. When more teeth arrive, increase brushing. Parents and guardians need to help children brush their teeth twice a day. Kids can’t brush all the cavity-causing germs and crumbs away by themselves.
  3. Once a child is old enough to brush their own hair or tie their own shoes, then they can start to brush and floss on their own.
  4. Stay consistent at every stage. A dental hygiene routine is vital to healthy teeth.

Ditch the bottle

The biggest contributor to cavities in our infant and toddler patients is the bottle! Babies should never have anything other than water or milk. Once a child is a year old, they should only have milk with meals, not nap times or throughout the day – stick to water for that! Letting kids drink milk or juice any time of the day, puts them at risk for tooth pain caused by cavities.

Care for those baby teeth

Too often I hear parents or guardians say, “They are just baby teeth, it’s not so serious,” and “They will be falling out anyway.” This is where our dental education is so important! Children experience the same effects of a toothache exactly how an adult would, with cold sensitivity, difficulty drinking or eating, throbbing pain, swelling, infections, and difficulty sleeping. Children need healthy teeth to help them chew and speak clearly. Plus, baby teeth hold the space for their adult teeth to come in correctly.

Cavities and dental pain are preventable in children. The NOAH Dental team works together with parents and guardians to keep away tooth decay and pain away in children. To learn more, visit our NOAH Dental page for helpful videos and tips. If you are ready for you or your child to see a NOAH dentist, make an appointment today!

ACA Open Enrollment is Here!

Having health insurance is one of the best ways to take care of yourself and your family. Whether it’s through an employer, the Health Insurance Marketplace, or Arizona’s Medicaid offering AHCCCS, there are different insurance options available. Knowing the best plan for you and your family is important and NOAH is here to help during Open Enrollment.

Starting February 15, you can enroll in a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace that fits your needs. NOAH Community Resource Specialists can provide you with information about several different options and can help complete paperwork virtually with you to see if you qualify for some of the available plans.

The Health Insurance Marketplace

Often referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace or Obamacare, the Health Insurance Marketplace helps more Americans have access to health insurance. If you aren’t covered under an employee plan, or don’t qualify for Medicaid/AHCCCS, you can get insurance through the Marketplace. In Arizona, there are several different providers to pick from, and different plans to fit your healthcare needs and finances. NOAH’s Certified Application Counselors are available to help you understand your options, eligibility, assist virtually with paperwork, and help with your enrollment in a Health Insurance Marketplace plan.

For health insurance coverage through the Marketplace, the enrollment deadline is August 15.

Other Health Insurance Options

  • Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) – AHCCCS is Arizona’s Medicaid program. There are free and low-cost plans available for individuals and families. To qualify, you need to meet income requirements and be an Arizona resident. AHCCCS is open for enrollment year-round but does need to be renewed annually.
  • KidsCare – If parents are covered under an employer insurance, but kids are not, the KidsCare program can help! KidsCare, often referred to as CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) is offered through AHCCCS and is available for Arizona children under age 19 who meet the income requirement. Like AHCCCS, this health insurance is also open for enrollment year-round. If your family already qualifies for AHCCCS, you don’t need to worry about the separate KidsCare coverage for your children.

If you’ve recently received a letter reminding of your recertification date for AHCCCS or KidsCare, or have had changes to work, income or other health coverage, the NOAH Community Resources Specialists can help with your AHCCCS eligibility and enrollment.

Enrolling in ACA

Health insurance can be complicated. Whether you are enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace for the first time, are renewing your AHCCCS plan, or have changes to your policy, it is nice to have support along the way. NOAH has trained, certified team members here to help you with 2021 ACA/Obamacare/Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment, so give us a call at 480-882-4545, or fill out the form here and select “Community Resources – Eligibility” under Type of Appointment. 

REMEMBER – Open enrollment starts Monday, February 15th and closes Sunday, August 15th!

Enjoy Snacking Even More During Snack Food Month

By Stephanie Olzinski, MS, RDN |Nutrition Supervisor

Nutrition comes in all forms, colors, and quality. Most of the time we think of snack food as something less healthy and make our major meals the place to get all those good nutrients we need like proteins, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables. But snacks have a place in healthy lifestyle, especially during National Snack Food Month!

Here are some benefits of snacking and recommendations for fun and satisfying snacks.

Benefits of snacking

  1. Satisfying hunger: Being hungry between meals is not a bad thing! If you body is signaling hunger it usually means it is time to eat. But listen to your body. If you started eating at night because it’s a habit, or turn to a snack during a stressful day, your body might be looking for another form of self-care.
  2. Controlling blood sugars: Diabetes or not, it is important to maintain your blood sugars throughout the day. If we go too long between meals without eating, we risk having our blood sugars drop which can cause shakiness, sweating, lightheadedness, and anxiety. Leave no more than 3-4 hours between eating is recommended.
  3. Meeting calorie and nutrient needs: While calories do not need to be counted every day for most people, remember that all of our organs and body systems need enough calories every day to function properly. We can help by eating enough throughout the day and including good portions of each food group at our meals. Snacks supplement our needs between meals like an extra serving of a fruit, vegetable, or something from the list below.

The best snack choices

Whatever you like! It is best to make pairings just how we do for meals – if we just eat something like chips or celery on its own it won’t keep us full for long. Instead choose a base of a protein or healthy fat which will make the snack more filling. Here are some great examples:

  • String Cheese
  • Turkey Jerky
  • Trail Mix or any type of nut or seed
  • Hummus + Veggies
  • Avocado Toast
  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Natural Peanut Butter + Celery Stalks + Raisins
  • Cottage Cheese + Veggies or Fruit
  • Edamame
  • Greek Yogurt + Fruit or Peanut Butter
  • Greek Yogurt Dip (plain yogurt with garlic powder, dill, chives, and paprika)
  • Brown Rice Cake + Almond, Peanut, or Sunflower Butter
  • Smoothie (protein base of yogurt, soy milk, protein powder, then add any fruit or vegetable)
banana and peanut butter snacks

Try some the NOAH Nutrition Services team’s favorite snacks:

Banana and Peanut Butter Bites – this snack is quick, easy, and full of protein and potassium (among other nutrients) to help you feel full.

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – this flavorful snack is filling and gives a great kick to keep you satisfied for a while.

Oatmeal Energy Bites – these little bites pack a punch of flavor and energy to start your day or get you through a busy afternoon.

Visit our NOAH recipe page for more snack and meal ideas!