Planning for Pregnancy

If you are trying to have a baby or are just thinking about it, it is not too early to start getting ready for pregnancy. Preconception health and health care focus on things you can do before and between pregnancies to increase the chances of having a healthy baby. For some women, getting their body ready for pregnancy takes a few months. For other women, it might take longer. Whether this is your first, second, or sixth baby, the following are important steps to help you get ready for the healthiest pregnancy possible.

1. Make a Plan and Take Action

Whether or not you’ve written them down, you’ve probably thought about your goals for having or not having children, and how to achieve those goals. For example, when you didn’t want to have a baby, you used effective birth control methods to achieve your goals. Now that you’re thinking about getting pregnant, it’s really important to take steps to achieve your goal [PDF – 764 KB]—getting pregnant and having a healthy baby!

Preventive health care can help you stay healthier throughout your life.

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2. See Your Doctor

Before getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about preconception health care. Your doctor will want to discuss your health history and any medical conditions you currently have that could affect a pregnancy. He or she also will discuss any previous pregnancy problems, medicines that you currently are taking, vaccinations that you might need, and steps you can take before pregnancy to prevent certain birth defects.

If your doctor has not talked with you about this type of care―ask about it! Take a list of talking points so you don’t forget anything!

Be sure to talk to your doctor about:

Medical Conditions

If you currently have any medical conditions, be sure they are under control and being treated. Some of these conditions include: sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), diabetes, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases.

Lifestyle and Behaviors

Talk with your doctor or another health professional if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use certain drugs; live in a stressful or abusive environment; or work with or live around toxic substances. Health care professionals can help you with counseling, treatment, and other support services.

Medications

Taking certain medicines during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. These include some prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements. If you are planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the need for any medication with your doctor before becoming pregnant and make sure you are taking only those medications that are necessary.

People may use opioids as prescribed, may misuse prescription opioids, may use illicit opioids such as heroin, or may use opioids as part of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. If a woman is pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the first thing she should do is talk to a healthcare provider. Some women need to take an opioid medication during pregnancy to manage pain or to treat opioid use disorder. Creating a treatment plan for opioid use disorder, as well as other co-occurring health conditions, before pregnancy can help a woman increase her chances of a healthy pregnancy. If you are struggling with an opioid use disorder, take a look at CDC’s and partner resources.

Vaccinations (shots)

Some vaccinations are recommended before you become pregnant, during pregnancy, or right after delivery. Having the right vaccinations at the right time can help keep you healthy and help keep your baby from getting very sick or having lifelong health problems.

3. Take 400 Micrograms of Folic Acid Every Day

Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body at least 1 month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.

Learn more about folic acid »

4. Stop Drinking Alcohol, Smoking, and Using Certain Drugs

Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using certain drugs can cause many problems during pregnancy for a woman and her baby, such as premature birth, birth defects, and infant death.

If you are trying to get pregnant and cannot stop drinking, smoking, or using drugs―get help! Contact your doctor or local treatment center.

Alcohol and Drug Resources

Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a treatment facility locator. This locator helps people find drug and alcohol treatment programs in their area.

Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.)
Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experiences, strengths, and hopes with each other so that they can solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. Locate an A.A. program near you.

Learn more about alcohol and pregnancy »

Smoking Resources

1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)

Learn more about smoking during pregnancy »

5. Avoid Toxic Substances and Environmental Contaminants

Avoid harmful chemicals, environmental contaminants, and other toxic substances such as synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent feces around the home and in the workplace. These substances can hurt the reproductive systems of men and women. They can make it more difficult to get pregnant. Exposure to even small amounts during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, or puberty can lead to diseases. Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from toxic substances at work and at home.

Learn about the effects of toxic substances on reproductive health »

Learn how CDC tracks Children’s Environmental Health »

6. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight

People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for many serious conditions, including complications during pregnancy, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).1 People who are underweight are also at risk for serious health problems.2

The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t about short-term dietary changes. It’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.

If you are underweight, overweight, or obese, talk with your doctor about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant.

Learn more about healthy weight »

7. Get Help for Violence

Violence can lead to injury and death among women at any stage of life, including during pregnancy. The number of violent deaths experienced by women tells only part of the story. Many more survive violence and are left with lifelong physical and emotional scars.

If someone is violent toward you or you are violent toward your loved ones―get help. Violence destroys relationships and families.

Learn about violence prevention »

8. Learn Your Family History

Collecting your family’s health history can be important for your child’s health. You might not realize that your sister’s heart defect or your cousin’s sickle cell disease could affect your child, but sharing this family history information with your doctor can be important.

Other reasons people go for genetic counseling include having had several miscarriages, infant deaths, trouble getting pregnant (infertility), or a genetic condition or birth defect that occurred during a previous pregnancy.

Learn more about family history »

Learn more about genetic counseling »

9. Get Mentally Healthy

Mental health is how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. To be at your best, you need to feel good about your life and value yourself. Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad, or stressed sometimes. However, if these feelings do not go away and they interfere with your daily life, get help. Talk with your doctor or another health professional about your feelings and treatment options.

Learn about mental health »

Learn about depression »

10. Have a Healthy Pregnancy!

Once you are pregnant, be sure to keep up all of your new healthy habits and see your doctor regularly throughout pregnancy for prenatal care.

Learn how to have a healthy pregnancy »

References

  1. NIH, NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Available online:
    http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob_gdlns.pdf (PDF-1.25Mb)
  2. Moos, Merry-K, et al. Healthier women, healthier reproductive outcomes: recommendations for the routine care of all women of reproductive age. AJOG Volume 199, Issue 6, Supplement B , Pages S280-S289, December 2008.
Vector poster Planning pregnancy. 9 steps to prepare for conceiving a child. Illustration of a cute girl.

Smokeless Tobacco: Health Effects

On This Page

  • Addiction to Smokeless Tobacco
  • Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer
  • Smokeless Tobacco and Oral Disease
  • Reproductive and Developmental Risks
  • Other Risks
  • References

Smokeless tobacco is associated with many health problems. Using smokeless tobacco:

  • Can lead to nicotine addiction1,2
  • Causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus (the passage that connects the throat to the stomach), and pancreas (a gland that helps with digestion and maintaining proper blood sugar levels)1,2
  • Is associated with diseases of the mouth1,3
  • Can increase risks for early delivery and stillbirth when used during pregnancy2
  • Can cause nicotine poisoning in children4
  • May increase the risk for death from heart disease and stroke1,3

Using smokeless products can cause serious health problems.
Protect your health; don’t start. If you do use them, quit.

Addiction to Smokeless Tobacco

  • Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive.1,2
  • Because young people who use smokeless tobacco can become addicted to nicotine, they may be more likely to also become cigarette smokers.5

Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer

  • Many smokeless tobacco products contain cancer-causing chemicals.1,6
    • The most harmful chemicals are tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which form during the growing, curing, fermenting, and aging of tobacco. The amount of these chemicals varies by product.1
    • The higher the levels of these chemicals, the greater the risk for cancer.2
    • Other chemicals found in tobacco can also cause cancer. These include:6
      • A radioactive element (polonium-210) found in tobacco fertilizer
      • Chemicals formed when tobacco is cured with heat (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons—also known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)
      • Harmful metals (arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, nickel, mercury)
  • Smokeless tobacco causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas.1

Smokeless Tobacco and Oral Disease

  • Smokeless tobacco can cause white or gray patches inside the mouth (leukoplakia) that can lead to cancer.1
  • Smokeless tobacco can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.1,3

Reproductive and Developmental Risks

  • Using smokeless tobacco during pregnancy can increase the risk for early delivery and stillbirth.2
  • Nicotine in smokeless tobacco products that are used during pregnancy can affect how a baby’s brain develops before birth.2,7

Other Risks

  • Using smokeless tobacco increases the risk for death from heart disease and stroke.1,3
  • Smokeless tobacco can cause nicotine poisoning in children.4
  • Additional research is needed to examine long-term effects of newer smokeless tobacco products, such as dissolvables and U.S. snus.

Other facts about Smoking

  • Smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body.
  • Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States.
  • The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars each year on marketing cigarettes.
  • Smoking costs the United States hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
  • States do not spend much of the money they get from tobacco taxes and lawsuits to prevent smoking and help smokers quit. CDC recommends that states spend 12% of those funds on tobacco control.
  • In 2020, 12.5% of U.S. adults (an estimated 30.8 million people) currently smoked cigarettes: 14.1% of men, 11% of women.
  • Each day, about 1,600 youth try their first cigarette.
  • Many adult cigarette smokers want to quit smoking.

Preventing Childhood Obesity: 5 Things You Can Do at Home

  • Eat the RAINBOW!
  • Move More
  • Slow Down on Sugar
  • Reduce Screen Time
  • Sleep Well

About 1 in 5 American children has obesity. Compared to children with healthy weight, children with overweight or obesity are at a higher risk for asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Children with obesity are also more likely to experience bullying, social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem. While there is no simple solution, there are many ways parents and caregivers can help children reach a healthy weight.

Eat the Rainbow

Having a healthy diet can help children get the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development, and help them reach a healthy weight. A healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat or fat-free dairy.

Unfortunately, very few people get enough fruits and vegetables. In 2017, just 2% of high school students ate enough vegetables, and 7% ate enough fruit. Help your kids eat the rainbow: make half of their plate fruits and vegetables for optimal health.

Move More

Compared to those who are inactive, physically active youth have stronger muscles and better cardiovascular fitness. They also typically have lower body fat and stronger bones. Regular physical activity in childhood also reduces the risk of depression. Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day – try these tips to help your kids move more.

Slow Down on Sugar

Most of us eat and drink too many added sugars, which can lead to health problems such as weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Children under age 2 should have no added sugar in their diet at all, and children over age 2 should keep sugars to less than 10% of their daily calories.

A good way to slow down on sugar is by avoiding sugary drinks like soda, juice drinks, and flavored milk. Help your kids rethink their drink by offering water, plain low-fat milk, or 100% juice instead.

Reduce Screen Time

Adults and children spend over 7 hours a day being sedentary – and that doesn’t include time spent sleeping! Many of these sedentary hours are spent sitting or laying down with a phone, tablet, or computer; watching TV; or playing video games (also known as screen time).

Too much screen time has health consequences: it’s associated with poor sleep, weight gain, lower grades in school, and poor mental health in youth. When you reduce screen time, you free up time for family activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends creating a family media plan, and has examples such as keeping meal times tech-free, charging devices at night outside the bedroom, turning screens off an hour before bed, and many more.

Sleep Well

Good sleep is critical to prevent type 2 diabetes, obesity, injuries, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behavior. Did you know that children 6-12 years old need 9-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night and youth 13-18 need 8-10 hours? Too little sleep is associated with obesity partly because inadequate sleep can make us eat more and be less physically active. Help your children sleep better by making sure they’re active during the day, removing screens from their bedrooms, and setting a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends.

Kids imitate the adults in their lives. Be a role model for them by adopting these healthy habits, and they will too! Finally, remember that obesity is a complex disease with many contributing factors. Learn more about what states and communities can do to make healthy and active living accessible for everyone.

All about borderline diabetes (prediabetes)

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A person with borderline diabetes, or prediabetes, has blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Borderline diabetes is a condition that may lead to type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 10 to 23 percent of people with borderline diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.

Doctors may also refer to borderline diabetes as:

This article looks at how to recognize risk factors for prediabetes, how to manage the condition, and how to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing.

Symptoms

Prediabetes does not have clear symptoms. Some people may not be aware that they have it until:

  • a doctor tests blood glucose and blood pressure levels
  • prediabetes has progressed to type 2 diabetes
  • a complication occurs, such as a heart attack

If a person’s blood sugar level remains high, they may begin to develop some symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Symptoms include frequent urination and increased thirst.

Most people will not know they have prediabetes until they receive testing.

Causes and risk factors

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), a range of other conditions can increase the risk of prediabetes, including:

Other risk factors include:

  • not getting enough exercise
  • having a family history of type 2 diabetes.

According to the American Heart Association, the following lifestyle factors may also be a risk for prediabetes in some people:

  • raised stress levels
  • smoking
  • drinking too much alcohol

Regularly consuming high-sugar drinks may also increase the risk.

One 2017 review found that people who regularly drink sugary beverages face an increased risk of metabolic diseases, such as high blood pressure and high levels of blood glucose and fats.

These metabolic conditions can lead to prediabetes and diabetes.

People who lead an inactive lifestyle are at higher risk of taking in too many calories without burning them through exercise.

Other people who may be at risk of developing prediabetes include those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and those who have experienced instances of high blood sugar levels in the past.

Anyone with any of these risk factors may benefit from a prediabetes screening to identify whether they have the condition.

Diagnosis

A doctor typically diagnoses prediabetes with a blood test, particularly a glucose tolerance test. A glucose tolerance test measures how quickly the body can process the sugar in the blood in a 2-hour period.

Other tests include measuring blood sugar levels after a person has not eaten for a specific period. This is called a fasting blood test.

The doctor may also use an A1C test. This involves measuring the average blood sugar levels over 2–3 months. People do not need to fast or take any special liquids or medications for this test, and it gives reliable results.

According to the American Diabetes Association, a doctor will diagnose prediabetes when test results show the following measurements:

  • fasting blood sugar levels of 100–125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)
  • glucose tolerance levels of 140–199 mg/dl
  • an A1C test result of 5.7–6.4 percent

A doctor will often re-test these levels to confirm that the readings are not due to one-off spikes in blood sugar.

Blood glucose monitors for home use are available for purchase online.

Who should seek screening?

The NIDDK recommend that people with the following risk factors should undergo a prediabetes screening:

  • an age of 45 years or over
  • obesity or overweight, or a body mass index (BMI) over 25
  • a waist circumference larger than 40 inches in males or over 35 inches in females
  • a close relative with diabetes
  • a condition that increases insulin resistance, including PCOS, acanthosis nigricans, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • an ethnic background that places an individual at high risk of diabetes, including people who are African-American, Asian-American, Latino, Native American, or a Pacific Islander
  • a history of gestational diabetes, or diabetes as a result of pregnancy
  • having given birth to an infant weighing over 9 pounds
  • having a disease that harden the arteries
  • recent treatment with glucocorticoids or atypical antipsychotic medications

If a doctor identifies any of these risk factors, they may recommend that the person has a screening for blood glucose levels.

Medical professionals advise repeating screening tests every 1 to 3 years if a person has these risk factors.

The NIDDK has an official resource to check diabetes risk. Click here to take the test.

However, anyone who is concerned that they may have borderline diabetes should visit the doctor for testing and a proper diagnosis.

Treatment

Prediabetes is reversible, but it is often easier to prevent than treat. Lifestyle factors are the primary causes of prediabetes, and making changes in some aspects of life can significantly reduce risk factors.

A balanced, nutritious diet that moderates sugar intake and regular exercise can help reverse borderline diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, diet and nutrition changes should include the following:

  • improving intake of unprocessed high-fiber carbohydrates
  • increasing fruit and vegetable consumption
  • reducing saturated fat and processed meat intake.

Click here to find out more about what to eat with prediabetes.

Exercise is also important. According to a report in Diabetes Care, exercise can help prevent or delay diabetes from developing.

Current guidelines for Americans recommend that adults should:

  • have at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week
  • do muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week, such as lifting weights or doing push-ups

Examples of moderate exercise are fast dancing and brisk walking.

Regular exercise and a healthful diet not only help reduce the risk of developing diabetes but also protect the heart against future diseases.

Diabetes Prevention Program

The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) was a long-term study that aimed to identify practical steps for reducing diabetes risk and reversing prediabetes.

The people who took part in the DPP Lifestyle Change Program aimed to lose 7 percent of their body weight and maintain this loss through dietary changes and activity. After 3 years, the results of the program showed:

  • a 58-percent drop in the risk of developing diabetes regardless of sex or ethnicity, compared with those who took a placebo
  • a 71-percent drop in risk people of developing type 2 diabetes among people aged over 60 years

All the people in the program received motivational support on effective diet and exercise and attended “lifestyle change classes,” for the duration of the study.

Follow-ups took place regularly. After 15 years, people in the DPP Lifestyle Change Program continued to see a delay in the onset of diabetes compared to people who took a medication called metformin or a placebo.

Anyone who developed diabetes during the study received extra medical care. However, diet and exercise remained important in managing symptoms and reducing the risk of complications.

Monitoring borderline diabetes

In addition to lifestyle changes, doctors may recommend other steps for managing the risk of diabetes.

Medical management may include treating related conditions, such as obesity and heart disease.

Managing prediabetes also involves continued monitoring of the risk factors and regular testing of blood sugar levels.

A person can reverse borderline diabetes if they can make and maintain the necessary lifestyle changes.

Takeaway

Borderline diabetes is the stage before type 2 diabetes develops. By this stage, blood sugar, blood pressure, and insulin resistance may start reaching harmful levels.

Prediabetes does not usually cause active symptoms, and most people will not be aware they have the condition until it becomes diabetes and starts causing severe health problems.

It is therefore essential for anyone who is at risk of developing diabetes to receive regular screening. Risk factors include high BMI and waist circumference, an age of more than 45 years, or other cardiovascular diseases.

Prediabetes is often reversible with a sustained exercise program and a balanced, low-sugar diet.

How to Advocate for Yourself and Your Baby During Delivery

Babies are unpredictable. Knowing your rights can help you better prepare for the unpredictable.

After 9 months of nausea, weight gain, back pain, and general discomfort, the day is finally here: delivery day. And, if you’re anything like me, you are more than ready.

I was trying to evict my daughter as soon as she turned 37 weeks.

But before you head to labor and delivery, you should know what your rights are (and aren’t). Because while you may have a well-written birth plan, things change, and it’s important that you know how to advocate for yourself and your baby.

The basics

You have the right to receive full and clear information about the benefits and risks of any medication, treatment, test, or procedure you may receive

Things move quickly in labor and delivery wards, and for good reason. Childbirth can be unpredictable, and most medical professionals act abruptly out of necessity. They simply want to ensure a safe and healthy delivery.

But before receiving any treatment, you can (and should) ask about the risks and results of procedures. It’s your legal right and duty to give permission for care.

You have the right to receive full and clear information about your healthcare professional’s background and qualifications

When it comes to your OB-GYN, transparency isn’t just important, it’s your right.

Ask about their medical training and degree. Inquire how many years of experience they have (and how many babies they’ve delivered), and request any other information which you deem necessary. For example, you can ask how many vaginal and Cesarean births they’ve attended.

You have the right to receive treatment that’s appropriate for your cultural and religious background

This includes refusing certain medical procedures and receiving written correspondence in a language of your choosing.

You have the right to accept or refuse any unnecessary medical test, intervention, or procedure, including continuous fetal monitoring or an episiotomy

While certain birthing situations require intervention — sometimes it’s medically necessary to perform a C-section or monitor your unborn babe — if you’re laboring naturally and there is no fetal or maternal distress, you have the right to accept or refuse any test or procedure.

You have the right to change your mind

If something doesn’t feel right or if you’re having second thoughts, speak up. Period.

The birth process

You have the right to know if you will be induced (and why)

Some pregnancy complications may require you to be induced. In fact, in certain cases, it may be the best way to keep you and your baby healthy.

However, many inductions are unnecessary, and in some cases, can increase your risk of complications.

You have the right to labor in whatever position you choose

Barring any unforeseen problems or medically restrictive devices (such as a catheter), you can — and should — be able to labor in any position.

Some hospitals have various policies in place when it comes to delivery. If you’re planning a hospital delivery, ask about their policies ahead of time.

Newborn care

You have the right to uninterrupted contact with your newborn

There are numerous benefits of skin-to-skin contact, both immediately following birth and in the days and weeks after. As long as you and your baby are healthy, you should be given (and are entitled to) relatively uninterrupted time to bond with your child.

You have the right to breastfeed or bottle feed

While the benefits of breast milk are well-researched and well-known, not everyone can or wants to. (I stopped breastfeeding to resume my regular mental health care regimen.)

Do what is best and right for you.

You have the right to deny unnecessary medical tests or procedures

After your child is born, medical professionals will likely perform a series of tests on your wee one. For example, your newborn will be measured, weighed, given an APGAR test, and blood will be drawn.

However, not all procedures need to be done immediately after birth (or in the hospital). Speak to your OB-GYN or pediatrician in advance to better understand what they recommend doing and when.

You are your own best advocate

You should speak up, ask questions, and remember this is your birth experience and your child.

If something doesn’t seem or feel right, or if you have questions, it’s your right to ask questions and receive answers.

Kimberly Zapata is a mother, writer, and mental health advocate. Her work has appeared on several sites, including the Washington Post, HuffPost, Oprah, Vice, Parents, Health, and Scary Mommy — to name a few. When her nose isn’t buried in work (or a good book), Kimberly spends her free time running Greater Than: Illness, a nonprofit organization that aims to empower children and young adults struggling with mental health conditions. 

2 servings of avocado per week may cut heart disease risk by 16%

Annie Lennon

  • Researchers examined the relationship between avocado consumption and cardiovascular events. 
  • They found that eating 2 or more servings of avocado per week is linked to 16% fewer cardiovascular events over a 30-year period. One serving is half an avocado, or 80 grams (g).
  • The researchers conclude that replacing certain fat-containing foods with avocado could lower cardiovascular disease risk. 
  • The note however that replacing plant oils with avocado is linked to a 45% higher stroke risk. 

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading causeTrusted Source of death worldwide. However, it can be prevented through lifestyle factors like diet

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting 5- 6%Trusted Source of calories intake from saturated fatty acid (SFA), and replacing SFA and trans-fats with monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats for better heart health. 

Avocados are rich in MUFAs and polyunsaturated fats. StudiesTrusted Sourcehave found that their regular consumption reduces triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and total cholesterol level. 

Most studies on avocado consumption have focused on cardiovascular risk factors. Studies investigating the link between avocado consumption and cardiovascular events could improve understanding of the fruit’s health benefits. 

Recently, researchers have investigated the link between avocado consumption and cardiovascular events. 

They found that higher consumption of avocados was linked to a lower risk of CVD and coronary heart disease (CHD). 

“The […] results are significant and strengthen previous findings of avocados’ association with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease [as well as] reducing heart outcomes such as fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction,” Bhanu Gupta, MD, cardiologist at The University of Kansas Health System, not involved in the study, told Medical News Today.

“Point to be noted: avocado consumption does not lower the risk of stroke in the study. Another point to be noted: avocado is not a replacement for healthy dietary fats such as olive oils, nuts, and other plant oils.” 

– Dr. Gupta

The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA)Trusted Source

Data analysis

For the study, the researchers used data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) and the Nurses’ Health Studies (NHS). Both studies are ongoing and began in 1986 and 1976 to examine the effects of health and lifestyle on the incidence of serious illness in male and female healthcare professionals. 

For the present study, the researchers included 62,225 females and 41,701 males who did not have a history of heart disease, stroke, or cancer. 

The researchers examined their medical records for incidence of myocardial infarction and strokeTrusted Source, dietary surveys taken once every 4 years, and risk factors such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes from self-reports and physician diagnoses. Participants were tracked for 30 years. 

By the end of the study period, the researchers noted 14,274 incident cases of CVD including 9,185 CHD events and 5,290 strokes. 

The researchers noted that males and females with higher avocado intake tended to have higher total energy intake and a healthier diet with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. 

After adjusting for major dietary and lifestyle factors, the researchers found that having two or more servings of avocado per week was linked to a 16% lower CVD risk and 21% lower CHD risk compared to those who did not eat avocados. 

They further found that replacing half a serving per day of mayonnaise, margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese, or processed meats with the same amount of avocado was linked to a 19–31% lower risk of coronary heart disease. 

They reported no significant association between stroke risk and avocado consumption. However, they noted that replacing half a serving per day of plant oils with an equivalent amount of avocado was linked to a 45% higher stroke risk. 

Nutrient-rich food 

When asked to explain what might account for the positive effects of avocado on CVD risk, study first author Lorena Pacheco, Ph.D., MPH, RDN, postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told MNT

“Avocados are a nutrient-rich food item with favorable food compounds including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (healthy fats), vitamins, minerals, soluble fiber, vegetable proteins, phytosterols, and polyphenols. There are potential biological mechanisms by which avocados offer cardioprotective benefits.”

“The primary monounsaturated fatty acid present in avocados is oleic acid – healthy fat – and it is suggested that it helps in reducing hypertension, inflammation, and insulin sensitivity.” 

“Additionally, they contain plant sterols that could have favorable effects on lipid profiles. [Also], the soluble fiber intake in avocados can also lead to a better lipid profile, meaning lower ‘bad cholesterol’ levels,” she explained. 

“They also are a source of vegetable protein,” added Penny M. Kris-Etherton Ph.D., professor of nutritional science at Penn State College of Health and Human Development, not involved in the study. “Collectively, it is very likely that this ‘package’ of heart-health compounds accounts for the findings,” said Dr. Kris-Etherton. 

The researchers concluded that replacing certain fat-containing foods with avocado could lower CVD risk. 

Study limitations

The authors noted some limitations to their findings. As their study was observational, they could not establish causation. 

Shannon Hoos-Thompson, MD, a cardiologist at The University of Kansas Health System, not involved in the study, explained for MNT

“To put the findings in perspective, eating less cardiovascular unhealthy food may be the explanation [rather] than the result being specific to avocado consumption.” 

The authors also noted that their study population was primarily non-Hispanic white nurses and health professionals, so their results may not be generalized to wider demographics. 

“The dietary data were self-reported and have some measurement error,” added Dr. Kris-Etherton. “However, the authors used a repeated measurements dietary assessment method and collected intake data over time, which reduces random measurement error.”

Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Sadness, fear, worry, or other emotions can affect us during or after tough situations, like dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of a family member or friend, or experiences related to racism. Dealing with these challenges can weigh heavily on your mental health, and recent data suggest this is the case for many who have sought professional help with their mental health since the pandemic started.

Increases in mental health-related ED visits

Recent research suggests that some racial and ethnic minority groups have been more affected by mental health challenges related to the pandemic. According to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, these groups had significant increases in emergency department (ED) visits for new and existing mental disorders during and after a COVID-19 case surge.

  • Asian adults had increases in the number of visits for most of the mental disorders that the study looked at, including a 21% increase in ED visits with depression during a COVID-19 surge.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native adults had increases in the number of ED visits for multiple mental disorders after a COVID-19 surge, including a 42% increase in trauma and stressor-related visits.
  • There was a 24% increase in ED visits for bipolar disorder among Hispanic adults and a 14% increase in trauma and stressor disorder-related visits among Black adults after a surge.

Mental Health Impact of Stress

It’s natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during challenging times. Feeling strong emotions or being stressed can have negative effects on your health. Stress can cause the following:

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration.
  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, or interests.
  • Problems concentrating or making decisions.
  • Nightmares or problems sleeping.
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, or skin rashes.
  • Worsening of chronic diseases and mental health conditions.
  • Overeating or not eating enough.
  • Increased use of alcohol, illegal drugs (like heroin, cocainemethamphetamine), and misuse of prescription drugs (like opioids).

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress

Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will help you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient. You can help yourself, others, and your community manage stress in the following ways.

  • Take breaks from news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but constant discouraging information can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple of times a day and disconnecting from your phone, TV, and computer screens for a while.

Take care of your body:

  • Get vaccinated and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products. Eating well also means limiting saturated fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.
  • Going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends, can help you sleep better (adults need 7 or more hours per night).
  • Move more and sit less. Every little bit of physical activity helps. You can start small and build up to 150 minutes a week that can be broken down to smaller amounts such as 20 to 30 minutes a day.
  • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  • Limit alcohol intake. Choose not to drink, or drink in moderation (one drink a day for women, two for men) on days that alcohol is consumed.
  • Avoid using prescription drugs in ways other than prescribed, taking someone else’s prescription, or using illegal drugs. Treatment is available and recovery starts with asking for help.
  • Avoid smoking and the use of other tobacco products. People can and do quit smoking for good.
  • Continue with regular health appointments, testing, and screening, especially those for cancer.

Watch for symptoms of COVID-19

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

If You Are Sick

Difference between COVID-19 & Flu

Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.

Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.

While more is learned every day about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, there is still a lot that is unknown . This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.

If you or your family member are at high risk for severe illness, wear a mask or respirator with greater protection in public indoor spaces if you are in an area with a high COVID-19 Community Level. Talk with your healthcare provider about wearing a mask in a medium COVID-19 Community Level.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and have one or more health conditions that increase your risk of becoming very sick, treatment may be available. Contact a health professional right away after a positive test to determine if you may be eligible, even if your symptoms are mild right now. Don’t delay: Treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective.

Type 2 Diabetes

Woman Sitting On Sofa Eating Bowl Of Fresh Fruit

More than 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it.

Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into the cells in your body for use as energy. If you have type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin; this is called insulin resistance. Your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up, and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar is damaging to the body and can cause other serious health problems, such as heart disease,  vision loss, and kidney disease.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

Type 2 diabetes symptoms often develop over several years and can go on for a long time without being noticed (sometimes there aren’t any noticeable symptoms at all). Because symptoms can be hard to spot, it’s important to know the risk factors and to see your doctor to get your blood sugar tested if you have any of them.

Testing for Type 2 Diabetes

simple blood test will let you know if you have diabetes. If you’ve gotten your blood sugar tested at a health fair or pharmacy, follow up at a clinic or doctor’s office to make sure the results are accurate.

Managing Diabetes

Unlike many health conditions, diabetes is managed mostly by you, with support from your health care team (including your primary care doctor, foot doctor, dentist, eye doctor, registered dietitian nutritionist, diabetes educator, and pharmacist), family, and other important people in your life. Managing diabetes can be challenging, but everything you do to improve your health is worth it!

You may be able to manage your diabetes with healthy eating and being active, or your doctor may prescribe insulin, other injectable medications, or oral diabetes medicines to help manage your blood sugar and avoid complications. You’ll still need to eat healthy and be active if you take insulin or other medicines. It’s also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol close to the targets your doctor sets for you and get necessary screening tests.

You’ll need to check your blood sugar regularly. Ask your doctor how often you should check it and what your target blood sugar levels should be. Keeping your blood sugar levels as close to target as possible will help you prevent or delay diabetes-related complications.

Stress is a part of life, but it can make managing diabetes harder, including managing your blood sugar levels and dealing with daily diabetes care. Regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, and relaxation exercises can help. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educator about these and other ways you can manage stress.

Make regular appointments with your health care team to be sure you’re on track with your treatment plan and to get help with new ideas and strategies if needed.

Whether you were just diagnosed with diabetes or have had it for some time, meeting with a diabetes educator is a great way to get support and guidance, including how to:

  • Develop a healthy eating and activity plan
  • Test your blood sugar and keep a record of the results
  • Recognize the signs of high or low blood sugar and what to do about it
  • If needed, give yourself insulin by syringe, pen, or pump
  • Monitor your feet, skin, and eyes to catch problems early
  • Buy diabetes supplies and store them properly
  • Manage stress and deal with daily diabetes care

Ask your doctor about diabetes self-management education and support services and to recommend a diabetes educator, or search the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists’ (ADCES) nationwide directory for a list of programs in your community.

Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Teens

Childhood obesity rates are rising, and so are the rates of type 2 diabetes in youth. More than 75% of children with type 2 diabetes have a close relative who has it, too. But it’s not always because family members are related; it can also be because they share certain habits that can increase their risk. Parents can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by developing a plan for the whole family:

  • Drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables
  • Making favorite foods healthier
  • Making physical activity more fun

Healthy changes become habits more easily when everyone makes them together. Find out how to take charge family style with these healthy tips.

Get Support

Tap into online diabetes communities for encouragement, insights, and support. The American Diabetes Association’s Community page and ADCES’s Peer Support Resources are great ways to connect with others who share your experience.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms can be anywhere from mild to very serious. Your symptoms may be different depending on the germ you swallowed. The most common symptoms of food poisoning are:

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

After you swallow an unsafe (contaminated) food or drink, it may take hours or days to develop symptoms. If you have symptoms of food poisoning, such as diarrhea or vomiting, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration (not having enough water in your body).

When to See a Doctor for Food Poisoning

See your doctor or healthcare provider if you have symptoms that are severe, including:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • High fever (temperature over 102°F, measured in your mouth)
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including little or no urination, a very dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days

Serious Health Problems and Long-Term Effects From Food Poisoning

Most people have only mild illnesses, lasting a few hours to several days. However, some people need to be hospitalized, and some illnesses cause long-term health problems or even death. Infections spread by food can lead to:

  • Chronic arthritis
  • Brain and nerve damage
  • Kidney failure caused by hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)

Symptoms and Sources of Common Food Poisoning Germs

Some germs make you sick within a few hours after you swallow them. Others may take a few days to make you sick. This list provides the symptoms, when symptoms begin, and common food sources for germs that cause food poisoning. The germs are listed in order of how quickly symptoms begin.

Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)

  • Symptoms begin 30 minutes to 8 hours after exposure: Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps. Most people also have diarrhea. Common food sources: Foods that are not cooked after handling, such as sliced meats, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches

Vibrio

  • Symptoms begin 2 to 48 hours after exposure: Watery diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, chills Common food sources: Raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters

Clostridium perfringens

  • Symptoms begin 6 to 24 hours after exposure: Diarrhea, stomach cramps. Usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours. Vomiting and fever are not common. Common food sources: Beef or poultry, especially large roasts; gravies; dried or precooked foods

Salmonella

Norovirus

  • Symptoms begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure: Diarrhea, nausea/stomach pain, vomiting Common food sources: Leafy greens, fresh fruits, shellfish (such as oysters), or unsafe water
  • Other sources: Infected person; touching surfaces that have the virus on them

Clostridium botulinum (Botulism)

  • Symptoms begin 18 to 36 hours after exposure: Double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech. Difficulty swallowing and breathing, dry mouth. Muscle weakness and paralysis. Symptoms start in the head and move down as the illness gets worse. Common food sources: Improperly canned or fermented foods, usually homemade. Prison-made illicit alcohol (pruno).

Campylobacter

E. coli (Escherichia coli)

  • Symptoms begin 3 to 4 days after exposure: Severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Around 5­­–10% of people diagnosed with E. coli develop a life-threatening health problem. Common food sources: Raw or undercooked ground beef, raw (unpasteurized) milk and juice, raw vegetables (such as lettuce), raw sprouts, unsafe water

Cyclospora

  • Symptoms begin 1 week after exposure: Watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Common food sources: Raw fruits or vegetables and herbs

Listeria