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Category : Healthy Lifestyle

Students invited to participate in Genesee Health Plan’s 5th annual Health Heritage Essay and Scholarship contests – Grandblancview

FLINT Genesee Health Plan (GHP) today announced it is accepting entries for its Fifth Annual Health Heritage Essay Contest. This year Sovita Credit Union is sponsoring the contests, which are open to all students in Genesee County.

The essay contest is for elementary (grades 5 and 6 only), middle/junior high and high school students. Two scholarships will also be awarded to high school seniors pursuing a career in the healthcare field.

Knowing your family health history is a key part of prevention and living a healthy life. Our annual Health Heritage Essay Contest is one way we encourage students to think about their health today and in the future, said Jim Milanowski, GHP President and CEO. This year we are excited to announce that Sovita Credit Union is sponsoring the essay and scholarship contests.

Students are encouraged to interview one or more of their family members and write an essay about their findings, as well as their plans for their personal health and their future health. The specific essay guidelines are outlined below and can also be found at

Elementary (grades 5 and 6 only) & Middle/Junior High School

200-350 words

Essay must be typed or clearly handwritten

First place winner will receive a $200 gift card; second place winner will receive a $100 gift card

High School

500-750 words

Essay must be typed

First place essay contest winner will receive a $400 gift card; second place winner will receive a $200 gift card

Health Care Career Scholarship Contest

High school seniors planning to pursue a career in the healthcare field may enter an essay for the opportunity to receive a scholarship. The essay must include information about the health career they plan to choose and why, the importance of good health, their goals and the impact they hope to make in their chosen field. Two $1,500 scholarships will be awarded.

750 words or more

Essay must be typed

The name Sovita celebrates the life of the community, said Jen Shew, Sovita Credit Union Director of Marketing. We serve the healthcare and educational community, so this partnership is a great fit for Sovita. We are honored to support the work Genesee Health Plan does to educate students and families about making healthy lifestyle choices and are very excited to sponsor this years essay contest.

All essay submissions are due on or before Friday, March 27. Both scholarship recipients will be honored at Genesee Health Plans Health Care Hall of Fame Awards Dinner on April 17.

The contest also provides an opportunity for teachers to participate for the chance to win prizes. The middle/junior high school teacher who has the most students from their classes enter the contest will receive a $300 gift card and the high school teacher who has the most students from their classes enter the contest will receive a $500 gift card. Both winning teachers will also be recognized at the Health Care Hall of Fame Awards Dinner.

Essays can be submitted electronically to:

Contact Sherika Finklea at (810) 232- 7740 ext. 217 with any questions.

For more information including specific contest rules and guidelines, visit L.R.

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Students invited to participate in Genesee Health Plan's 5th annual Health Heritage Essay and Scholarship contests - Grandblancview

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What is good for the heart is also good for the brain, report suggests – The Irish News

Keeping the heart and blood vessels healthy reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, a new report suggests.

According to the paper released by the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), cardiovascular problems increase the risk of memory, thinking problems and dementia.

These include factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, an inactive lifestyle and obesity.

Researchers say that the more cardiovascular problems a person has, the greater the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

The Brain-Heart Connection report summarises various research on the topic by the GCBH.

It sets out that factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking, which damage blood vessel walls over time, likely increase the risk of dementia, including Alzheimers disease.

These conditions and behaviours can directly damage the brain through tiny strokes, and their effects will add up over time, according to the paper.

Scientists say it remains unclear how these tiny strokes contribute to the development of Alzheimers disease and other dementias.

However, they agree that regardless of the exact mechanism, keeping the blood vessels and blood flow healthy is key to maintaining your brain function as you age.

A heart-healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of exercise and a healthy diet reduces the risk of cognitive decline, the report suggests.

The GCBH also concluded there is strong evidence to show that it is never too late to start treating those conditions or taking steps to help reduce the risks, even for those in their 70s or 80s.

The earlier a healthy lifestyle is adopted and any cardiovascular problems are treated, the better for a lifetime of a healthier brain.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: Learning more about how to preserve good brain health later in life is extremely important.

Diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels also affect the blood vessels in the brain and can cause damage there.

The good news is that we can take steps to reduce our chances of cognitive decline and we can take positive action to help prevent cognitive decline and dementia.

Having better control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, reducing the intake of salt and excessive alcohol, stopping smoking and taking steps to reduce the risk of having a stroke which is one of the strongest risk factors for dementia all help to reduce that risk.

The experts make a number of recommendations, which include being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight with a balance of good diet and exercise, and making time to manage stress levels.

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What is good for the heart is also good for the brain, report suggests - The Irish News

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Healthier ways transform her outlook on life – The Varsity News


As a college student, my mental health is always teetering.

Some days I am happy and filled with light.

On those days I ate a good breakfast, got to class on time, had a productive day at work, completed my homework at a decent hour and ended the night watching one of my favorite shows on Netflix.

Those days are my best.

Other days I feel low and fail at taking care of myself. I fall off my daily routine.

I will eat too little or eat so much I dont want to move.

I will go to work and everyone will ask if I am okay. I will say yes but we all know the truth.

When I get home I sleep, but not a peaceful sleep.

I wake up every few hours, anxious and sad.

I know I should do my homework, but my accumulating feelings of sadness wont allow me to do anything necessary besides sleep and eat foods that would thrill a kid.

The state of my mental health was not been diagnosed but I would call my mental state in fall semester 2019 anything but healthy.

My health was a concern for me mentally and physically.

My face was rounder.

I noticed my clothes did not fit properly.

I avoided clothing with buttons.

Sweat pants and hoodies are in-style street wear but I wore them because they were the only clothes I didnt feel stuffed in.

The semester was over but my disastrous habits didnt change and the pounds kept creeping up on me.

The final indicator that I had fallen off the deep end was when I realized it had been months since my checkup in September and I still hadnt gotten my bloodwork done.

As the days and weeks passed, my fears took over because I knew what I was feeding my body was not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.

What if my cholesterol or blood sugars were high? What if I am pre-diabetic or, even worse, diabetic?

These questions arent farfetched because most of my family have health issues related to being overweight.

I saw how big I was in the Christmas photos and decided to step on a scale. I was at my heaviest.

So, in January 2020 I committed to a healthier lifestyle.

I didnt want to be on a diet because they didnt seem to last and only made me binge eat.

I wanted this to become a long-term solution.

Granted, those with a severe mental health diagnosis or those who feel the urge to harm themselves should speak to a professional for help.

But I wanted to try to deal with my issues on my own.

I wanted to take back control of my life, so I began with the one thing my family doctor said I needed: exercise.

My new lifestyle change was going to be active.

Though it has only been a month, my new lifestyle of clean eating and exercise is making a remarkable difference in my mental stability.

I exercise three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes and I make no excuses for myself.

If I cant make it to the fitness center or a gym, I exercise at home.

I can feel a rise in my energy levels.

This the best I have felt mentally and physically since the start of my college career.

Seasonal depression and stress are difficult to overturn but I have done it (so far) with fitness.

I have lost ten pounds and my days are a lot brighter.

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Healthier ways transform her outlook on life - The Varsity News

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How to live longer: Eating this superfood could increase your life expectancy – Express

Leaps in scientific progress over the years have shown that the key to longevity is not achieved through superstitious means but by making healthy lifestyle decisions informed by evidence-based research. Among all the protective measures you can take, studies have shown that diet plays one of the biggest roles in determining how long you live. Health bodies suggest that to reap the optimal health benefits from your diet, it is important to focus on specific food groups as opposed to specific items.

That being said, research is increasingly singling out certain food items for their numerous health benefits, making a strong case for including them in your dietary plan.

According to Libby Limon, a nutritionist from, one particularly beneficial superfood is mushrooms.

She explains: While their benefits have gone under the radar for some time, people are starting to wake up to the pronounced benefits they have to offer a persons immune system, energy levels, and cognition.

In fact, evidence hints at the cognitive benefits reaped from eating mushrooms.

READ MORE:Vitamin B12 deficiency: The dementia-related symptoms that may signal you lack the vitamin

According to Limon, many mushrooms, contain polysaccharides, carbohydrate molecules which support the immune system at the cellular level.

They also contain antioxidants which help regulate healthy inflammatory response systems, she says.

Supporting this claim, one study gave people two dried shiitake mushrooms daily.

After one month, their immune markers improved and their inflammation levels dropped.

Study researchers posit that this immune effect might be partly due to one of the polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms.

Furthermore, a mouse study found that a supplement derived from shiitake helped reverse some age-related decline in immune function.

Mushrooms are also a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to have a positive impact on heart health.

In fact, according to a study to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 64th Annual Scientific Session, adults who closely followed the Mediterranean diet were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease over a 10-year period compared to similar adults who did not closely follow the diet.

The study is based on data from a representative sample of more than 2,500 Greek adults, ages 18 to 89, who provided researchers with their health information each year from 2001 to 2012.

Participants also completed in-depth surveys about their medical records, lifestyle and dietary habits at the start of the study, after five years and after 10 years.

Among the study's participants, adherence to the Mediterranean diet was even more protective than physical activity.

The study, echoes previous evidence that posts to the health benefits of following a Mediterranean diet.

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How to live longer: Eating this superfood could increase your life expectancy - Express

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Rush Bowls to offer healthy alternatives at the Downtown Phoenix campus – The State Press

Photo by Jennifer Dam | The State Press "Rush Bowls is one of many brands in a growing market of stores geared toward offering popular health foods like aa bowls." Illustration published on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. By Greta Forslund | 2 hours ago

Rush Bowls, which offers healthy and quick aa bowls and smoothies, is projected to open on the first floor of the Cronkite building at the Downtown Phoenix campus around early March.

The restaurant, founded in 2004, has 26 other locations across 15 states with over 120 more locations on the way. Rush Bowls is one of many brands in a growing market of stores geared toward offering popular health foods like aa bowls.

Husband and wife duo Ted and Elizabeth Bachmeier are co-owners of the new Phoenix store. They own two other Rush Bowls locations in Texas and wanted to expand to Phoenix, where they hope to eventually retire.

Ted Bachmeier said opening a store in Phoenix will give them the chance to cater to a specific audience.

We do best around college kids and young professionals so (we) wanted to be downtown or near Tempe, Ted Bachmeier said. (Our broker) found four or five sites and this is the one we liked the most and this is what we decided to do.

The menu includes around 40 bowls and smoothies that are full meal replacements and typically contain less than 500 calories each. Ted Bachmeier said the store can also adapt its menu items to fit specific dietary needs like keto, wheat-free and soy-free.

It's a very healthy option with all kinds of nutrients in it ... so they hopefully get a fast, friendly environment with good, healthy food that matches their restrictions and helps to lead a healthy lifestyle, Ted Bachmeier said.

Some students who attend ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus said healthy dining options are generally lacking, and the few existing choices are too expensive to take advantage of regularly.

Olivia Cosmi, a freshman studying criminology, said she eats the same things at the Taylor Place dining hall almost every day. The daily meal swipe she is allotted gives her a limited amount of appealing choices, she said.

I feel like there could be a bigger variety of food because it's almost the same food where the pasta section is and everything is almost the same every day, Cosmi said.

She said she likes the idea of having healthier and more affordable options close to campus, especially if they accept Maroon and Gold dollars.

One (restaurant) that would really blow up is one that offers M&G as well, because I only get one meal a day here so a lot of my food is from using M&G and that would honestly be a much healthier alternative for me, Cosmi said.

Ted Bachmeier said that because of qualifications and applications, it could take around 60 days after the store opens to know whether his location will one day accept M&G as a form of payment. He said he is confident the store will accept M&G in the future.

Janae Wade, a freshman studying community health, wants to see more healthy options around the Downtown Phoenix campus and, regardless of payment methods, is looking forward to trying Rush Bowls when it opens.

My friends and I were just doing a fasting thing last week, so that would be perfect for me to try, Wade said. I just want healthier options.

Rush Bowls will cater events, and Ted Bachmeier said he and Elizabeth Bachmeier hope to get involved in the Phoenix community.

My wife has a huge heart for giving and giving back, Ted Bachmeier said. So we do a ton of philanthropy type efforts down in Dallas, so anything that we can help with and can help partner with people, we'd love to do that too.

Reach the reporter at and on Twitter @GretaForslund.

LikeThe State Press on Facebook and follow@statepress on Twitter.

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Rush Bowls to offer healthy alternatives at the Downtown Phoenix campus - The State Press

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Patient health, flu myths, and signs of a strong immune system – Chiropractic Economics

Chiropractic Economics February 12, 2020

Health care experts in the wellness field are scrambling to keep patients well during a hard-hitting flu season and additional worries about a new coronavirus.

Keeping patients immune system in top shape with the signs of a strong immune system, experts say, is a way to combat both.

More than 12,000 adults and 78 children have died during this flu season according to the weekly flu report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the coronavirus has dominated the headlines, the flu is much more likely to impact Americans and should be the main concern saysLibby Richards, an associate professor of nursing in PurduesSchool of Nursing.

Its important to keep in mind that while we currently do not have a vaccine for coronavirus, we do have a safe and effective vaccine for the flu, and its not too late to get one, Richards says. We are still in the peak of flu season, so vaccination is important to protect you and those around you. The flu vaccine helps protect not only you from influenza but can also lessen your chance of flu-related complications.

According to Purdue University doctors, adults and children need to be fever-free for 24 hours without the assistance of over-the-counter or prescription medications before they can return to work or school. Its also never too late to get a flu shot.

Eating right, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting enough sleep are some of the primary drivers of and signs of a strong immune system.

This season the CDC estimates that 9.7 million cases of the flu have been thus far diagnosed.

Also along the lines of creating or maintaining a healthy immune system for patients includes maintaining a healthy weight, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of fluids, meeting physical activity guidelines, not smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption and stress.

Seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended when you are feeling sick, as well as when you are healthy, Richards said. In addition to getting adequate sleep when ill, it is also important to rest during the day and try to avoid overexertion.

If you have a productive cough, do everyone a favor and avoid the gym. Staying home is a perfect way to not spread germs. If you have mild cold symptoms and you feel you have the energy to exercise, go for it as exercise might help you feel better, but consider reducing the duration or intensity of your exercise. If you are having fatigue, body aches, stomach issues, you should stay home and rest as exercise could increase your chance of an injury.

When it comes to children, Richards says, keep washing everyones hands.

Kids touch everything, which is one big way germs are spread, she says. Kids also tend not to understand or value what personal space is and can be in each others faces all the time. Parents, teachers and caregivers can demonstrate proper hand-washing and cough hygiene all year long not just during flu season[And] as much as we love to show affection with kisses, its possible to spread the flu one to three days prior to the start of symptoms.

The human immune system fights off infection, disease, viruses and more. But if the immune system protects you, why do you get sick?

The immune system (tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, thymus gland and bone marrow) consists of the lymphatic system, and your skin and mucus membranes act as the first line of defense, according to Roswell Park, the U.S.s first cancer center. The skin presents the physical barrier, while the mucus membranes that line your bodys openings make and release substances that repel invaders.

Vaccines work with your bodys natural defenses to create immunity to a specific disease, writes Roswell Park. Long ago, people realized that survivors of a disease didnt get that disease again. A British doctor is often credited with the first vaccine (for smallpox) in the 1790s, but a Chinese emperor who was a smallpox survivor himself started an inoculation program against the disease in the mid-1600s.

When someone with the flu coughs or sneezes, flu germs enter the air and are breathed in by other potential carriers. Will they get sick? What are their signs of a strong immune system? It depends on:

There still remains a common mis-perception among patients that they can get the flu by getting a flu shot. This myth leads to the spreading of the flu by un-vaccinated individuals.

The flu vaccine contains an inactive virus and gives the body a preview of what to look for and how to fight it off. Sometimes individuals can feel effects after a flu shot due to the body creating an immune response, as it should. Headaches or low-grade fevers are not out of the ordinary and are sometimes mistaken for the flu but are just natural responses from the body.

The flu season can go well into May, and individuals age 6 and up should get the flu shot which traditionally protects against influenza A (H1N1) and (H3N2), and the influenza B virus. For additional flu info from the CDC go to

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Patient health, flu myths, and signs of a strong immune system - Chiropractic Economics

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Lungs, Heart, Brain: The Health Risks Of Vaping That Doctors Know And The Ones They Don’t – Colorado Public Radio

How do you solve a problem like Colorados teen vaping rate, the highest in the nation?

Thats the question lawmakers are gathering on Wednesday to try and answer. Theyll be asking questions about all things vaping as they consider new measures to stop the epidemic, including what the science shows about health risks.

A group of doctors at Childrens Hospital Colorado had a few insights they'd like to offer.

Among them was lung expert Dr. Robin Deterding who, when it comes to talking about the health risks of vaping, is blunt.

You're inhaling a chemistry experiment, Deterding said. And that's bad for your lungs."

Companies marketed vape pens as a safer alternative to cigarettes, but the research thats emerging suggests some of the potential dangers are similar. Take for example the puffy clouds that come out of a vape device, known as second-hand vapor.

I think we do believe second-hand vape smoke can stimulate asthma exacerbations of asthma problems, said Deterding, who is the medical director of the Breathing Institute and chief of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at Childrens Hospital Colorado.

Those clouds contain potentially harmful substances.

When we asked CPRs audience what they wanted to know about the health risks of vaping, one wondered: What are the long-term side effects of nicotine addiction once a child has started vaping?

Its a critical question, since the magnitude of the number of our youth that are participating in some degree of vaping is extraordinary, Deterding said.

Many teens believe theyre inhaling harmless water vapor. But it can actually contain high concentrations of nicotine as well as particles linked to lung disease and cancer. The doctors say vaping impacts young peoplein at least three key areas: the lungs, the heart and the brain.

First, the lungs, where those foreign substances can harm tiny, delicate airways, Deterding said.

If you're going to do it long term? We're seeing some of these airways you have air tubes that lead out to these air sacs and the cells in those air tubes are also being damaged, she said.

It was this kind of damage that caused the recent rash of vaping-linked lung illness, hospitalizing more than 2700 people and leading to 64 deaths. Health officials blame vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing e-cigarettes, as the culprit in many cases.Another study has found a link between vaping and increased odds of asthma and chronic lung disease. Long-term risks are real because the lungs are so sensitive.

Once you start a scarring process, it's very difficult to reverse, Deterding said.

Beyond the lungs, research suggests vaping may also be bad for the heart as well.

We know that cigarette smoking has a very negative impact on the arteries and the heart, said Steve Daniels, the pediatrician-in-chief at Childrens Hospital Colorado and the chair of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus pediatrics department.

Cigarettes can raise blood pressure and heart rates and can cause vascular disease. Scientists arent sure if the same is true for e-cigarettes, but more and more studies are raising alarms, Daniels said. One last year found adults using e-cigarettes had higher risks of heart attack and coronary artery disease compared with non-users.

Daniels said more research is still needed.

(Vaping) hasn't even been around long enough to know what the chronic effects might be, but maybe we don't even need to know that because we do know that for those who are vaping nicotine, it's incredibly addictive, he said.

That gets to e-cigarettes third big health risk: addiction, to which teens are especially vulnerable. The e-cigarette industry says its products are meant to help adults quit smoking. But Daniels said many young vapers will go on to become smokers.

Kids, as they become adults, may switch to smoking and then we know very well what the impacts of that are, he said.

Nicotine can harm adolescent brain development and alter brain chemistry. Child psychiatrist Joel Stoddard said that, at least in research on young animals, there are permanent changes in neural pathways for attention and memory.

And it makes you more prone to goosing that reward system, Stoddard said.

That means teens who vape arent just at risk for nicotine addiction. Theyre also vulnerable to mood disorders and reduction in impulse control. Nicotine can also impact attention and learning.

So, how do we help young people quit vaping, another CPR listener wondered.

It's a good question, Stoddard said. And a hard one.

There's not a lot of good evidence for any kind of treatment, Stoddard said.

There have been decades of investigation into quitting smoking traditional cigarettes, and Stoddard suspects some of those programs and medications may well work for young vapers.

The goal now is to find out what parts of those work, translate them over for vaping, and to implement those programs on the treatment side. And of course, we need the prevention in the first place, he said.

Another CPR listener wanted to know which is really worse: vaping or cigarettes. Daniels says though more is known about cigarettes, the answer is they're both bad."

"And they may be extra bad because they reinforce each other, and you almost can't think of one without the other," he said.

If you look at all the bodily systems affected, neither has a place in a healthy lifestyle, Daniels said.

With cigarettes, peer pressure and support can help teens quit, Stoddard said. But with vaping, thats a challenge, since so many young people are doing it.

Another obstacle is the scale of the problem, Daniels said.

When you think about 10 percent of middle schoolers and 30 percent of high schoolers (who regularly use e-cigarettes), that's a fair number of kids that need help now, he said. I think it's a public health emergency.

Stoddard agreed, noting one key study that found the rate of teens vaping nicotine had shot up in an unprecedented fashion.

In the 45 years the survey has been going on, no other substance has risen so high in so short a time, Stoddard said.

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Lungs, Heart, Brain: The Health Risks Of Vaping That Doctors Know And The Ones They Don't - Colorado Public Radio

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Texas Has a Serious Food Insecurity Problem, but Texans Have Solutions – Reform Austin

Texas Has a Serious Food Insecurity Problem, but Texans Have Solutions

By Isobella Harkrider

When H-E-B opened its MacGregor grocery store in Houston in December, it changed lives.

The storefront is a new beginning for area residents who previously had limited access to supermarkets and now have more food options after a nearby Kroger closed in 2017. The residents of the historically predominantly African American neighborhood can now purchase their fresh produce and other grocery needs with ease. Unfortunately, simple grocery shopping for healthy food in 2020 shouldnt be such a difficulty, or a wait, but it is in Texas.

Food desert is a term that has grown in popularity over the years, for areas where theres a grocery store shortage, or when a grocery store shuts down and causes limited access to nutritious food, which affects the health of the community, especially for those without an automobile.

Feeding Texas CEO Celia Cole weighs in, Texas has the greatest number of people living in low-income and low-access (LILA) areas at 5 million and ranks sixth in the nation for the highest percentage of its population living in LILA areas at 20 percent.

Sadly, one in seven Texans experiences food insecurity, according to Feeding Texas, a nonprofit formerly known as the Texas Food Bank Network. Texas is also one of 15 states with higher food insecurity than the national average.

In reference to the grand opening of MacGregor market, Scott Packard, Houston Health Department Chief Communications Officer told Reform Austin, we consider the H-E-B MacGregor grocery store to be a great success. The reaction from the community seems to be overwhelmingly positive. Many people in this community have transportation barriers that make it very challenging, sometimes impossible, to make it to a grocery store many miles from home.

When asked about other recent changes to communities in Houston without access to grocery stores, Packard said, our department has conducted a few recent community assessments in the Kashmere Gardens and Fifth Ward communities. These communities also experience challenges with access and proximity to healthy food options. Its difficult to predict where food deserts will become better or worse. To predict forward, we would have to analyze trends in community developmental patterns, housing cost, displacement, wages and other social-economic factors.

An estimated 724,750 food-insecure individuals live in the Greater Houston area, according to the key findings from a 2019 research report from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research on food insecurities. Potential remedies arising from the research include, funders, government policies, the mindset of altruism and backbone organizations that require them to adopt to policies, processes and mindsets that encourage collaborations, promoting flexibility of operations and adopting more behavioral metrics while eschewing competitive actions.

Packard said that addressing food deserts takes a collaborative approach between the public and private sectors, and there are companies in Houston doing great work like building gardens in communities that dont have access to fresh produce.

Today the phrase food desert is well-known because it describes a big public health issue. Usually the closest food source is what influences an individuals or familys food choices, and limited access to nutritious food causes concern for health issues and illnesses, with the greatest negative health effects happening to the elderly and children. In Texas, 14.3% of children live in food-insecure homes.

Regarding the importance of healthy eating habits for children especially, as what children eat when they are young can become a foundation for their eating habits throughout their life, the Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told Reform Austin, Texas agriculture is fundamental when promoting local foods.

The goal is to not only provide locally sourced and healthy meals for school lunches but to pass those healthy lifestyle changes along to students for each meal they choose, Miller said. I want all Texans to make health conscious decisions that will sustain local economies and build a healthier future for the great state of Texas.

What we eat and the access to healthy foods can greatly affect our lifespan, Shelby Massey, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association, told Reform Austin, When people lack access to healthy, affordable food, they are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Texas and in the United States, but is eighty percent preventable by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Access to healthy, affordable food close to where a person lives greatly impacts their ability to make healthy choices.

Packard pointed out an economic effect.

The lack of fruit and vegetables can manifest as chronic diseases in young children, families and the elderly. Managing diseases, prescribing medications and related sick days from work all affect the economic productivity of a community, he said.

From a well-being standpoint, we envision a community where people are free from the impacts of chronic diseases, it begins with creating an environment where making the healthy choice is feasible and easy to do for families in Texas.

Nourishing minds and bodies can also inspire advocacy in areas prone to food deserts.

This past fall, data in a report called the Community Health Needs Assessment, by the Parkland Health & Hospital System and the Dallas County Health Department identified the geographic areas and populations that experience the most significant health disparities and most unhealthy locations of the city.

The Dallas Morning News reported the next step is to tackle the issues of health disparities piece by piece, with a more specific focus on chronic illnesses and other ailments such as pediatric asthma, breast cancer and mental health.

On the topic of food deserts reflecting a communitys health, Feeding Texas Cole adds,Texans living in food deserts face significant barriers to healthy eating, including a lack of financial resources. This can lead to diet-related illnesses and poor health outcomes and drive up state health care costs.

Not every food desert will get a gorgeous 90,000-square-foot H-E-B for their grocery demands.

Large-format grocery stores can be extremely helpful in making food more accessible for folks, but they arent usually universally sufficient solutions for food access problems, said Shelley Parks, the senior public information specialist at the City of Austin.

For example, if the store isnt accessible for someone because they dont have reliable access to a vehicle or it isnt served by transit, we cant say weve solved their food access problem, she said.

There is where Parks said smaller, neighborhood-scale stores can be extremely helpful in serving these kinds of areas.

Austin has a history of inequality and disinvestment in neighborhoods historically populated by people of color, and the current food retail environment reflects that history. The City of Austin is working now to support grocery store expansion in underserved areas, but that work is also part of a broader portfolio of food access work, Parks said.

Understandably, grocery stores want to make a profit and serve as many people as they can. However deciding where or where not to open a store can help or drastically hurt a community. Several years ago when the City of Dallas offered $3 million to any store that would open a large full service grocery store in food desert areas that really could use it, the city received no takers.

In 2017, during Texas 85th Legislature, The Texas Grocery Access Investment Fund, HB 164, failed to pass, it would have provided funds to encourage companies to open grocery stores, mobile markets and farm stands in low- and moderate-income areas to increase access to healthier foods.

When it comes to finding a solution to food deserts, Packard, of the Houston Health Department, said, Strategies that can make a difference in these areas include alleviating transportation barriers, improving food incentive programming, increasing culturally appropriate health options. These are ideas and best practices that should be integrated into a comprehensive approach to equitable food access.

Cole, of Feeding Texas, shared with Reform Austin that numerous solutions to get food into these deserts are being piloted and some of the more effective are coming from grassroots initiatives working directly with the communities they serve.

In Texas, food banks have adopted these primary approaches to improve access to healthy food and move the needle on healthy eating, Cole said.

These include Feeding Texas, which administers a state grant called Texans Feeding Texans that rescues surplus produce from Texas growers that would otherwise go to waste and distributes it to needy families.

Cole explained that food banks operate mobile markets that deliver healthy foods directly to people living in food deserts. Last year, Texas food banks distributed over 42 million pounds of produce to families in need.

Nowadays convenience stores and gas stations sell fresh fruit and vegetables, and when located in a lower-income area, these hubs can be a major force to provide more nutrients to people who live nearby.

For some areas where the option of a supermarket or walkable farmers markets is slim, its taking do-it-yourself nonprofits to fill a void. In southern Dallas, a local nonprofit, Feed Oak Cliff, in a neighborhood that lacks fresh groceries is providing healthy options, and it started with the founders own desire for more salad spots in her neighborhood. Previously she had driven twelve miles to get a salad. Imagine carrying and trekking your groceries back home on foot. How many bags could you carry for a mile? Imagine driving over ten miles or more just to get a simple fresh salad or fresh fruit that every Texan should be able to enjoy and be nourished from.

Back in the Bayou City, Packard provides a view of how a grocery store can become the heart of a neighborhood that needs it most.

This new H-E-B store is right there in the community, more accessible to more people. In terms of community health, a grocery store in a community has countless benefits. The anticipated benefits could range from improved quality of life, increased access to foods, increase social connectedness, and improvements in many other health indicators. A grocery store is a part of the fabric of a community, the benefits will be more pronounced three to five years down the line.

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Texas Has a Serious Food Insecurity Problem, but Texans Have Solutions - Reform Austin

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Housing Fixes Boost Quality of Life, Limited Impact on Outcomes –

February 12, 2020 -Making improvements to public housing may not have an impact on any specific healthcare condition, but housing quality certainly does affect net quality of life, according to data published in the latest issue of Health Affairs.

The healthcare industry has become increasingly concerned with affordable housing in recent years, as industry experts tout the importance of the social determinants of health and access to affordable, quality, and stable housing. Leaders say that individuals experiencing homelessness have more difficulty managing chronic illness as well as a higher likelihood of incurring costly acute care crises.

To address this issue, many hospitals, health systems, and payers have invested billions of dollars into creating affordable housing units. The logic holds that improving access to quality housing will save the stakeholders in downstream healthcare costs.

But what of older affordable housing units that have been serving vulnerable populations for decades? How can addressing the quality, not necessarily the amount, of affordable housing units impact patient health?

This is a real and pressing problem, the researchers explained. Currently, about 1.1 affordable housing units are facing nearly $50 billion in capital needs, per estimates from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Conditions in these buildings including broken elevators, leaks, old heating systems, and lead paint exposurepotentially threaten the health of the roughly 2.3 million low-income children and adults who live in public and other HUD-assisted housing, the researchers said. Moreover, many of these units will deteriorate further and become uninhabitable unless they are renovated.

And while making these repairs may not have a measurable impact on any one healthcare condition, it could have a significant effect on tenants quality of life, a key measure in patient experience and wellness.

Looking at a case study in New York City, the researchers specifically found nominal change in individual outcomes or utilization for asthma, anxiety or depression, injury, hypertension in adults, and acute respiratory infection.

However, they did find improvements in disease burden for each of those diseases, excluding hypertension in adults. This finding illustrates an improvement in quality of life, which is essential on the road to patient wellness and healthy lifestyle.

The researchers specifically looked at a New York City Housing Authority move from back in 2015, during which the Housing Authority sold 50 percent stake in six delipidated housing units to two private real estate development groups, establishing a public-private partnership for housing.

Through the partnership, the housing units received a renovation, including improvements to elevators, stairway handrails, heating and hot water systems, emergency generators, and roofs. The project also tackled more cosmetic changes, such as bathroom and kitchen repairs complete with new appliances, window replacements, painting, and air conditioning units.

The public-private partnership also resulted in exterior improvements.

Finally, New York City Housing Authority relinquished building management responsibilities to the private real estate firms, which revamped rent collection and other management issues.

On the whole, these changes improved patient experiences, quality of life, and in some cases, health.

This pattern of findings was not surprising, since we were examining the impact of broad-based renovations not targeted to address any particular health conditions or populations, and we observed people for only three years after the renovation was completed, the researchers reported.

It is possible that over a longer period and with a larger sample, we might have seen a significant impact on individual diseases as well as larger impacts on overall disease burden.

Of note, measures about emergency department or hospital utilization remained largely unchanged, the team found.

Patterns of health system usesuch as the proportion of residents visiting the ED or hospital appeared to be less sensitive to the renovations than disease outcomes were, the team said. This may indicate that peoples manner of engaging with the health care system is persistent, even when their mix of exposures, conditions, and overall well-being changes.

These housing interventions also made an improvement with overall patient satisfaction with their housing options.

Compared to individuals living in nearby affordable housing complexes, more intervention patients said they would recommend their complex to a family or friend, 54 percent versus 83 percent, respectively. Only 18 percent of intervention residents reported plans to move, compared to 34 percent of those in nearby affordable housing complexes.

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How to Deal With Rejection the Right Way, Including Expert Tips and Strategies –

We've all been rejected at one point or another whether it be from a new love interest, a job you applied to, or a group of friends. Whichever kind of rejection you're facing, the fact of the matter is that rejection hurts and when you put it out all on the line only to get a heartbreaking "no," it's enough to make anyone want to stop trying to put themselves out there for anything.

When you let rejection hold you back like this, though, it can wreak havoc on all aspects of your personal life. In fact, according to Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Bouncing Back from Rejection: Build the Resilience You Need to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down, dealing with rejection in unhealthy ways can not only negatively impact your personal relationships, but can even lead to debilitating conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Fortunately, though, there are ways you can deal with rejection that can help you come out of it stronger. Getting rejected doesn't have to be the end-all be-all, and the experience can actually help you in the long run to become more resilient in your life. So if you're wondering how to deal with rejection from friends, family, coworkers, or a crush, here are some of the best psychologist-approved tips and techniques to help you bounce back from the experience:

Before you learn how to deal with rejection in dating, at work, or in your home life, the first thing to remember is that there's a reason rejection stings so much and it's not because you're weak or too sensitive. In fact, there's an evolutionary reason why we desperately need other people to accept us: According to Lori Gottlieb, M.F.T., psychotherapist and author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, our need for connection traces way back to ancient history, when humans relied on being in groups to survive. "When somebody rejects us, there's a very primal piece to it, which is that it goes against everything we feel like we need for survival," Gottlieb explains.

Beyond an evolutionary standpoint, our response to rejection also depends on something called our attachment styles, or the models in which we develop our relationships with other people. People who interact with their caregivers in a healthy way as infants, Becker-Phelps says, usually develop a secure attachment style in which they view themselves as being worthy and lovable but those with insecure attachment styles come to generally view themselves as unlovable, unworthy, and inadequate. It's no wonder, then, that some of us have a harder time getting through rejection as Becker-Phelps explains, our need of connection is wired into us right from birth!

"In the immediate aftermath of a rejection, we're not really in that space to think about it because we're in so much pain," says Gottlieb. Anger and hurt will probably be your immediate reactions after a rejection, but contrary to popular belief, releasing your anger (for example, screaming or hitting a punching bag) doesn't help bring the negative emotion down in fact, it's likely to even increase it.

In these moments, Becker-Phelps says that self-care is truly important: Activities like exercising and going for a run, doing yoga or meditating are great ways to get in a balanced place, so you think more clearly about the situation instead of getting into the rut of emotional thinking. And if those activities aren't really your thing, try engaging in anything that makes you feel good and helps you calm down whether it's baking, taking a bath, or listening to music.

After you've taken some time to calm down and get grounded, it's important to pay attention to what you're feeling and a great way to do this is write it all down in a journal. One exercise you can do, says Becker-Phelps, is to write down all the emotions you're feeling and then pair them with the thoughts that are going with those emotions. "Just by doing that, you're getting some distance, and then you can cope with the rejection better, because you're not just all tangled up in it," she says.

And whenever you are paying attention to your emotions, remember that it's never helpful to feel like you shouldn't feel a certain way. "Your emotions are never right or wrong, they just are," notes Becker-Phelps.

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Beyond simply acknowledging your emotions, try writing down some things that are positive about yourself in other words, come up with a list of some of your strengths and values, and start your morning off each day by reading them out loud to yourself. "This doesn't mean just talking yourself up, but thinking about what makes you, you," explains Becker-Phelps. By helping you hold onto the things that are a part of you, these self-affirmations will help you feel stronger just by recognizing who you really are and how you identify yourself, especially in the face of self-doubt that often comes with rejection.

When you're faced with a rejection of any type, one of the most important things is to remember that there's more to life than the one rejection from that one person or thing and that there are plenty of other people who are on your side. To remind yourself that you haven't been completely shunned by the world, spend some quality time with friends and family, and make sure that you're still feeling truly connected with other people around you. If you're trying to figure out how to deal with rejection from a crush, for instance, you might want to turn to your friends for moral support and some quality BFF time.

"Connection is so important because it reminds us of all the things that we can't remember in that moment: It reminds us of how lovable we are...that people care about us...that we're worthy," Gottlieb says.

Even if you can't actually spend time with a loved one at the moment, try taking some time to just think of someone who's important in your life. In fact, you can even find a picture of them preferably a photo of you two enjoying your time together and set some time to look at it each day while reminding yourself that this person supports you.

"Sometimes by repeating that and seeing the pictures, you start to take it inside and then you kind of carry it in your heart more strongly," says Becker-Phelps. "So when a difficult situation comes up and you feel rejected, you can go back to the image of that person even just in your mind and feel comforted by them because you've been practicing feeling comforted."

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We tend to beat ourselves up over the things that might have led us to be rejected, but this habit inevitably causes us to feel worse. "The first thing a lot of people do when they get rejected is to be unkind to themselves, and they start coming up with all kinds of ideas about what's wrong with them," Gottlieb notes.

Instead of constantly thinking about what might have gone wrong and dwelling on these negative emotions (a process called rumination), Gottlieb recommends looking at the situation more objectively and asking yourself if there's anything you can learn from the experience and doing so with compassion towards yourself.

Whether you're trying to figure out how to deal with rejection from family or from coworkers, sometimes it's just everyday things in your home or work life that might influence how you respond to rejection maybe you didn't get enough sleep, or haven't been eating well lately. These things can definitely make it harder to handle rejection in a healthy way so one thing you can do to cope better is to work on leading a healthy lifestyle. That means eating well, exercising frequently, and staying hydrated, all of which can help you stay strong in the face of rejection. "The healthier your lifestyle, the more resources you have then to deal with difficult situations," notes Becker-Phelps.

If there's one important skill to learn from rejection, it's that you should never let it stop you from your future endeavors getting rejected is just an inevitable part of life, after all, and every single successful person has experienced it at one time or another (yes, even people like Oprah Winfrey and J.K. Rowling!).

So the next time you're turned down for a date or don't get that job you applied to, remind yourself that rejection happens to everyone and instead of allowing yourself to be devastated and beat down, ask yourself what you can do going forward. Says Gottlieb: "The most important thing is to not sit in the rejection, but to say, is there anything I can learn from this experience? And then what can I do moving forward? Where can I go?"

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