National Liver Awareness Month

National Liver Awareness Month

October is National Liver Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to learn more about liver disease and cancer.

Inflammation is an early sign of liver disease that points to the body fighting an infection or healing. Treatment at this stage can prevent worse problems.

Liver cancer is one of the deadliest kinds of cancer, and it’s one of the only cancers that’s on the rise. Hepatitis B or C virus (HBV or HCV) infections are the most common cause of liver cancer.

Fighting Hepatitis B and C Infections in the Liver

 

Liver cirrhosis has been tied to liver disease, cancer, and failure. Cirrhosis is when liver cells are damaged and replaced by scar tissue. It’s most often caused by alcohol abuse or HBV and HCV infections.

Causes of Liver Cirrhosis

 

Another cause of cirrhosis that damages the liver is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is when fat builds up in the liver. Obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure and cholesterol can all cause this issue.

Obesity-Related Diseases and Your Liver

 

If not properly treated, liver disease can lead to liver failure, which is life-threatening. Doctors have to try to save what they can of the liver, or else a liver transplant would be required.  

The Dangers of Liver Failure

 

Unfortunately, there’s no standard screening to catch liver cancer early, although for people at higher risk, doctors sometimes use ultrasound exams.

Diagnosis: Liver Cancer

 

Learn more about liver issues, find support, or help further research and treatment.

Make a Difference in Liver Health for All

National Seafood Month

National Seafood Month

It’s National Seafood Month, so it’s the perfect time to lighten up classics with your favorite seafood in these healthy seafood recipes.

First up is a pretty and simple Smoky Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salad.

Smoky Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salad
Image and Recipe via The Modern Proper

 

Make this Taco Tuesday seafood-themed with Blackened Cod Fish Tacos with Sriracha Lime Crema.

Blackened Cod Fish Tacos with Sriracha Lime Crema
Image and Recipe via The College Housewife

 

Lighten up the southern classic with this Cajun Shrimp Étouffée recipe.

Cajun Shrimp Étouffée
Image and Recipe via Little Spice Jar

 

This Sesame Seared Tuna with Lime Ginger Vinaigrette is the perfect refreshing meal.

Sesame Seared Tuna with Lime Ginger Vinaigrette

Sesame Seared Tuna with Lime Ginger Vinaigrette

 

Craving comfort food? This healthy take on Spanish Seafood Paella will hit the spot.

Spanish Seafood Paella

Spanish Seafood Paella Recipe (Healthy)

 

Dinner will be easy with this Mediterranean Baked Fish with Artichokes and Olives.

Mediterranean Baked Fish with Artichokes and Olives
Image and Recipe via The Forked Spoon

 

Skip the takeout with these colorful and tasty Chipotle Lime Shrimp Bowls.

Apple Month

Apple Month

Apples don’t just have to be for dessert this fall. Make the most of your produce this Apple Month with these healthy, savory apple recipes.

First up, try this Apple Cider Chicken Skillet for a dish that is packed with fall flavors.

Apple Cider Chicken Skillet
Image and Recipe via Well Plated

 

This simple Cauliflower Salad with Fennel & Green Apple is the perfect dish to bring along for holiday meals.

Cauliflower Salad w/ Fennel & Green Apple

 

Try Scallops with Apple Sauce for a light meal that is one of the most unique ways to use an apple.

Scallops with Apple Sauce
Image and Recipe via Bon Appetit

 

Pumpkin Pasta with Sausage and Apples has all your favorite seasonal flavors in one tasty dish.

Pumpkin Pasta with Sausage and Apples Image and Recipe via Melanie Makes

 

Savory Apple, Oat, and Herb Scones are best served with a bowl of hot butternut squash soup.

Savory Apple, Oat, and Herb Scones
Image and Recipe via cannelle et vanille

 

This Bacon-Wrapped Fig and Honeycrisp Salad is rich enough for fancy dinners or an afternoon craving.

Bacon-Wrapped Fig and Honeycrisp Salad

Bacon Wrapped Fig and Honeycrisp Apple Salad with Salted Caramel Pecans.

 

This Seared Salmon with Caramelized Apples and Onions is the perfect combination of sweet and savory.

Seared Salmon with Caramelized Apples and Onions
Image and Recipe via Shape

National Pork Month

National Pork Month

It’s National Pork Month, and we can help you make the most of it with fall flavors in healthy pork recipes.

Get a taste of classic autumn flavors with One-Pan Pork Chops with Apples and Onions.

One Pan Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

 

Dinner will be done quickly and easily with these tasty Lemon Basil Grilled Pork Chops.

Lemon Basil Grilled Pork Chops

 

Skip the takeout and make Healthy Crockpot Pulled Pork at home. 

Healthy Crockpot Pulled Pork
Image and Recipe via The Clean Eating Couple

 

Whip up these savory Grilled Pork Chops with Asparagus and Pesto before grilling season’s over.

Grilled Pork Chops with Asparagus and Pesto

 

Quick Thai-Style Pork and Broccolini Stir Fry is the perfect family weeknight dinner.

Quick Thai-Style Pork Broccolini Stir Fry {Paleo}

 

Go big this weekend with this beautiful Honey Dijon Roasted Pork Tenderloin.

Honey Dijon Roasted Pork Tenderloin

 

Pork Chops with Roasted Vegetables is a beautiful one-dish meal you can whip up in no time.

Pork Chops with Roasted Vegetables
Image and Recipe via MyFitnessPal

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Millions struggle with substance abuse, including underage drinking, alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, and illicit drug use. It costs our communities an estimated $193 billion. Learn more with us for National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

Caring adults that children can trust and talk to can make all the difference in helping prevent substance abuse in young people. Support the young people in your life.

Supportive Adults and Substance Abuse

 

Self-confidence, self-image, and self-control are all key qualities that can help individuals avoid substance abuse, especially in young people.

Self-Confidence and Substance Abuse

 

Being comfortable in social situations can help you avoid substance abuse too. Having the confidence and ability to tell people no, avoid peer pressure, and make responsible choices in social situations is very important to never trying drugs or abusing alcohol.

Making Smart Social Choices

 

Don’t become isolated. Make sure you build a community of support for all things in your life. Not only is this an important factor in reducing symptoms of depression, but it’s also a key factor in preventing substance abuse.

Build Community to Prevent Substance Abuse

 

Some people may be predisposed toward substance abuse based on genetics and heredity. Know your family’s history and keep this in mind when talking to your doctor about prescriptions and making personal choices around substances like alcohol.

Family History and Substance Abuse

 

Opioid use is on the rise, and back pain is a leading cause of it. Learn more about avoiding substance abuse while treating your pain.

My Healthy Journey: Chronic Back Pain

Making Sense of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement

Vantage Point: Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage? What’s the Difference?

Have you ever had a conversation with a friend or family member where you were both thinking that you’re talking about the same thing, but then you realize (usually after much confusion and the conversation has drifted a bit), that you’re in fact not talking about the same thing?

The conversation comes to the point where you find that you’re talking about two different things, an “apples and oranges” conversation.

I think that there are a lot of “apples and oranges” conversations when it comes to what Medicare Supplement and  Medicare Advantage plans are. We’re talking about insurance with both, but they are different things.

Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, work with Original Medicare, which is Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) coverage. They help pay for all or part of the 20% that Original Medicare doesn’t pay for, depending on what plan you choose. Medicare Supplement plans do not include prescription drug coverage, so if you want that, you’ll have to pick up a prescription drug plan separately.

Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, are plans where a private insurance company replaces Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans have the same Part A hospital coverage and Part B medical coverage that you’d get with Original Medicare. (Remember, you’d still pay your Part B premium if you get a Medicare Advantage plan.) Plus, Part D prescription drug coverage is included in many Medicare Advantage plans. That means you’d have hospital, medical, and drug coverage together in one plan. Medicare Advantage plans may come with extras as well.

Now that the Annual Enrollment Period is here, you’ll be better equipped to have the “apples and oranges” conversations if they come up. If you still want more direction when it comes to your options, there’s a great local service available called SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors). SHIBA is a free service of the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Consumer Protection Division and can be reached at 509-902-1114 or 1-800-562-6900  It has great volunteers who can help you.

You can also come into our local office in Creekside Business Park, and we can go over anything you’re confused about in person, bit by bit.

We at Health Alliance Northwest in Yakima are here to help our community learn what the various parts of Medicare are to help each person make informed decisions that are the best for them. (The best choice might not be us, and we’re okay with that!)    

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.

Helping Your Loved Ones with Advance Directives

Long View: Helping Your Loved Ones Even After You’re Gone

I have been very self-directed for quite some time, which is one of the reasons I recently got all my advance directives in place. It took some education and investigation, but I feel comfortable with the decisions I’ve made. I was relieved to be done with it until a longtime friend asked, “Hey, what about your obituary?”

Ok then. It took some consideration, but I started to realize it was my opportunity to share what was important in my life — the special people I have known and loved and what I was passionate about. Maybe everyone didn’t know my favorite color was orange but might think it’s okay if they found out after the fact.

This was also my opportunity to suggest where donations, if any, should go and why I felt a particular charity warranted their attention. Many of you can guess it would be food-focused in nature.

I would also get to share all the places I have lived, including Mobile, AL, Eugene, OR, and Perth, Western Australia, among others. Listing these remote locations would make it seem that I was slightly more fascinating in life than most people would have suspected.

I also made arrangements to have my earthly remains (ashes) sent to family in Mobile to be scattered into the Gulf of Mexico, which is close to the place where I was born. I understand there may be laws that prohibit this activity, but my family is resourceful and will honor my wishes I am sure.

In short, I am comforted to know that my wishes will be known and respected after I am no longer concerned with such issues. These types of directives are most useful to those we leave behind. Relieving a little of the burden from your loved ones is probably one of the kindest actions you can take now. All it takes is a little planning, information, and forethought.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. He is known for his inability to parallel park, and if you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange (and he paints!)

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