Heart on Health

by SNAP-Ed

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States. Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for many forms of heart disease. February is American Heart Month! It is a great time to take control of your weight and waist line to promote heart health.

There are many factors to consider if you are trying to lose, maintain or gain weight. Factors that influence the number of calories you need are age, height, gender and your activity level. It is important to balance calories in with calories out! When we eat more than we need our bodies store the extra calories as fat. Balance the foods you eat with the activities you do. Try to be active for 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Use these tips to stay active, eat healthy and feel your best!

• Make little changes! Try just 10 minutes of activity at a time. Take a brisk walk, pass a soccer ball, or do some push-ups. Exercising doesn’t have to be stressful. Have Fun! Do activities that you enjoy. Dance, play basketball at the gym, go sledding, or walk the mall with friends.
• Move throughout the day! Park the car further away, take the stairs, walk to a different bus stop or do yoga stretches while you watch TV! It all adds up!
• Be an active family! Get the whole family moving. Kids need at least 60 minutes of activity every day. Play catch with your kids, visit the park or go for a family bike ride. Remember, you are their greatest role model!
• Limit Screen Time! The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends limiting screen to 2 hours or less each day. This includes: TV watching; playing video games and watching movies.
• Make healthy choices! Choose whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta and whole grain breads. Whole grains keep us full longer and give us the energy to be active! Drink water, low-fat milk or seltzer with a splash of 100% juice! Limit soda and juices. Soda and sugar-sweetened beverages have added sugars that can slow us down and cause weight gain.
• Balance Your Portions! Pay attention to how much food is on your plate! Taking too much food can cause us to eat more than our bodies need. Use smaller plates, cups and bowls. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables first, then add meat and grains. Listen to your body! Notice body cues letting you know when you’re full or hungry.
• Eat slowly! Wait it out! It takes twenty minutes for your mind to realize you’re full after eating.

Tortilla Roll-Ups– Makes 12 servings; ½ tortilla= 1 servings
6 large whole wheat flour tortillas


6 large whole wheat flour tortillas
1 Cup grated low fat cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
1 Cup mild salsa (8 oz.)
1 Cup black beans, drained (½ can)
1 avocado, mashed (optional)


1. Put the tortillas on a plate, cover with a paper towel, and microwave on High for 1 minute (optional).
2. Mix cheese, salsa, and black beans.
3. Spread a thin layer of mixture on each tortilla.
4. Top with a spoonful of avocado (optional).
5. Roll up, cut in half, and serve.

Yield: About 12 servings (½ tortilla each)

Nutrition information:
Calories: 140
Total Fat: 4.5 g.
Sodium: 290 mg.
Carbohydrates: 17g
Fiber: 3g.
Sugar: 1g.
Protein: 6g.

Source: Choose Health: Food, Fun, and Fitness, Cornell University 2015, recipe from Linda Tripp, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia County.

Visit our website for recipe, tips and more at www.southerntieresny.org

From Today for Tomorrow?

A Moment of Reflection
by Lilia M. Fiallo

Samantha remained in a state of lethargy, every day more, it seemed an immovable rock, eating without control everything she wanted and her anxiety, exacerbated in the days in which she worked at night. Since her work did not require exercise, she remained in an almost absolute still so her weight increased and her uniform at times seemed to have been shrunken.

Christmas time was going by as if it were one month more than oblivion, succumbing in the deepest of solitude, which colluded with her low self-esteem that gradually transform her in what it seemed to be a robot walking.

In another point of the planet was Janeth with the same problem. Rising early in the morning to arrive on time to the office, site where she remained sitting for 8 hours, taking short steps around until lunch time, time to continue resting, because in the workplace she did not moved, continuing until her workday was over.

Like an executioner the years go by and reflect the inexorable passage of time in human beings, becoming notorious the abandonment in humans with their long and decomposed hair, with a completely unattractive figure.

Usually when a person goes beyond his/her ideal weight he or she seems to have shrunk due to being overweight, in retrospect looking smaller. Not only that, their health deteriorates as well.

A very strong phrase I heard and that impressed me a lot was: “fat calls for more fat”.

Then, as the person eats, he or she is getting fatter and that fat is a mass that is growing, attracting more fat.

And it is that the ban causes more appetite, they say; and it is real because in the eyes of the vast majority of people, the cakes, the chocolate, the candies, the ice cream, the desserts and everything in a bakery and confectionery draws much attention.

It is like medicines; the vast majority of people don’t like medicines because they taste bad, but if they like liquor that also taste bad and at times burns their throat, but that does not matter.

It is the lack of understanding of human beings. We eat everything that harms us and we ask ourselves, why we are sick. Irrational beings on the other hand teach us to eat a well-balanced meal; for example, cows eat grass and always drink water. But someone said: “Anyways we will die!” Yes, it is true, but with life being so short, why not live it, healthy, calm and peaceful?

Not too long ago, in a TV program they talked about this subject which is very alarming and made reference, that if parents were overweight, they were not stopping to think about their children. They allowed the children without the slightest objection to ate any non-healthy food and presented a couple with their daughter of approximately seven years of age. Together the three of them weights amounted to 457 pounds, so the presenter said: “One does not get fat today for tomorrow”.

Incredibly, after so many years, on her 37th birthday, Samantha made the decision to stop eating junk food and by December of last year, she looked slim and healthy.

Janeth instead, after one and several diets, December surprised her eating all the delicacies of the season, promising that from January this year, she will put an end to that nothing healthy game.

Drinking water? I don´t like it! It is an antidote to hunger. A hot mug in the morning, with a little lemon juice is of great benefit to the body.

Some time ago I heard; two or three cups of hot water with lemon before each meal doesn’t allow us to be overweight, so hands to work and stay healthy!

Lilia M. Fiallo was born in Bogotá, Colombia, where, between tasks and free time, she found a place to write about subjects, somehow forgotten by others. With gold letters engraved in her memory, she began her working life, in the heart of the technical part, of the air traffic control of her native country. In the midst of aeronautical phraseology and codes, the world of aviation gave her one of the highest experiences, because of the precision required by this craft, where a single mistake could cost many lives. It is there, where in her concern to communicate her ideas, she begins to write with dedication, themes a little relegated by society, the Church and the State. Discovering a truth that nobody wants to talk about, but much more real and every day, than it seems. It is thus, as it appears, her first work, “Parir por parir”. You can find her book for sale in Amazon.

Go for it!

Go for it! Three ways of being a productive, mindful, and healthy woman
by Aixa G. Lopez

The word mindfulness means the state of mind of being conscious or aware of something. In the past years, we have heard how this word has been used to describe the importance of being in the present moment and not worrying about the past or the future.

At age 32 while I was running from one meeting to another and being late for the second meeting, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I thought it was the result of my hurry. I started feeling chest pain and all of a sudden, I felt dizzy. They took me to the hospital and my blood pressure was almost 200/100. After several days getting physical exams, I ended up getting a catheterization. My doctor instructed me that I had to slow down and live a mindful life. I had read about mindfulness but never paid too much attention to it. My life had always been measured by accomplishing tasks, and that’s all I knew.

We, women, put tremendous pressure on fulfilling all of our roles “perfectly.” I started trying to be present, working smartly, but for some reason, the implementation was not as easy as it seemed in the books.

There are days in which I still feel overwhelmed, but that’s when I know I have to stop and take some time off for myself to recalibrate. Some techniques I’ve used to manage my stress are:

1. Identify what is important to you: as nurturing women, our family is the most important thing for us. However, we cannot forget that without a healthy mom or spouse, we can’t have a healthy household. Make sure you have an annual physical exam, take time to meditate, exercise, eat healthily, read, travel, volunteer, and do things that make you happy.

2. Do not try to control the future: Trying to control the future is futile, and it creates anxiety. Worrying is the most challenging aspect for me. Dale Carnegie’s book, “Stop Worrying, and Start Living” describes a technique that has helped me. You think about the worst that could happen if something doesn’t go the way you expect. Then, you think about what would happen if the “worst” occurs, and you get mentally prepared for that. Believe it or not, that takes the stress from your mind, and it allows you to shift your focus to the present.

3. Celebrate every accomplishment: Hispanics celebrate everything. However, not everyone is like that. We let our surroundings dictate so much of how we feel. Now, I celebrate everything. I pat myself on the back. I value my efforts. Celebrating small accomplishments will motivate you and will allow you to produce more and better results.

I encourage you to try any of these mindful techniques. You’ll see the difference. Go for it!

Aixa G. López, P. E. is a Consultant, Leadership Development, Digital Marketing, Organizational Process Improvement living in the Elmira, New York Area. She is a strategically minded, analytical Industrial Engineer with 27+ years of experience providing operations management, organizational process improvement, leadership & team development, and digital marketing. She has been recognized for improving organizational effectiveness and efficiency through leadership, aligning business processes to realize cost savings and revenue growth. She’s an industrial engineer who entered the field because of her passion for fixing things. As a new columnist for CNY Latino, Aixa will be sharing with the readers this passion and the lessons she has learnt along the way. You can contact her at aixa_lopez1@hotmail.com, or at www.linkedin.com/in/aixalopez (LinkedIn). Check out her Blog at “http://www.theawakanedengineer.com”.

HIV and PrEP

by Adrian Martinez

HIV is a virus that is spread through body fluids, most often via sexual contact or intravenous drug use. Once infected, a person undergoes an illness that is similar to the flu–fever, fatigue, rash, aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This sickness eventually goes away, but the virus remains in the body and attacks the immune system, eventually causing AIDS if the infected person is untreated. AIDS involves many diseases that are difficult to treat; these include fungal infections, pneumonia, and various cancers. Treatment for HIV infection is expensive and lifelong. In 2012, a new type of drug called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) was approved in the United States to prevent HIV infection in people who are at risk. Studies have shown that PrEP can reduce HIV infection rates by over 90% if taken daily (1).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2016, there were around 40,000 new cases of HIV infection in the American population. Of those people infected, around 25% were Latino (2). The CDC later estimated that approximately 1.1 million Americans are at risk for HIV infection, but only 90,000 prescriptions for PrEP are filled in a year. Looking specifically at the Latino population, approximately 300,000 Latino people are considered at risk, but only 7,600 of the prescriptions are filled by Latino people. This is all especially alarming given the estimate that 1 in 6 Latino people have HIV and are unaware of it (3). With such high infection rates and such low PrEP prescription rates, it is very important for Latino people to start talking to their doctors about HIV testing and PrEP and to talk to their family and friends about this as well.

Who should be on PrEP? Remember, you can only use the drug if you do not have HIV; PrEP does not treat an HIV infection. Anyone at high risk for HIV infection should be on PrEP; this includes people who, in the last six months, have injected non-prescription drugs or have had anal or vaginal sex without a condom, multiple sexual partners, sex while intoxicated or in exchange for money or gifts, a sexually transmitted infection, or sex with a person who is HIV-positive. In order to be on the medication, you have to get blood and urine tests every few months to check for rare side effects of the medication. Once you start the medication, you need to take it every day until you and your doctor agree that you do not need it anymore. Call 1-800-232-4636 for more information on HIV testing and PrEP, or go to www.cdc.gov/hiv/library/hiv-service-locators.html to find PrEP providers near you.

1. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/prep/index.html
2. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/racialethnic/hispaniclatinos/index.html
3. https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2018/croi-2018-PrEP-press-release.html

Adrian Martinez is a Puerto Rican born in California and raised in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Florida. He graduated in 2014 from the University of Florida with a degree in biology and is currently a fourth-year medical student attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He is on the executive board of the school’s chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and is pursuing a career in psychiatry.

What is depression and how do I treat it?

by Adrián Martínez

Mood can affect many things in your life. When you feel down or hopeless, you might also notice changes in sleep, appetite, concentration, or energy. You might feel less interested in everyday activities or hobbies, or you might feel like you are moving more slowly. At your worst, you may also feel like you want to hurt yourself or end your life. If you are regularly feeling any combination of these, you might have depression. You may be inclined to dismiss it or let it continue because you think it will eventually get better. You may think that seeking help is admitting weakness, and you would not be alone in that mentality. Despite whatever you have learned from your family or culture, depression is an illness that is both remarkably common and treatable.

The rate of depression among Latinos in the U.S. is about that of the general population, which is about 7% (1). Among the Latino ethnicities, Puerto Ricans and Cubans are most likely to experience depressive symptoms. Within the same ethnicities, people born in the U.S., second-generation immigrants, or people living longer in the U.S. are more likely to report depression. Compared to white Americans, Latinos with mental health disorders are much less likely to seek mental health specialists for care. Furthermore, undertreated depression is up to four times higher in Latinos without health insurance compared to Latinos with health insurance (2). Needless to say, the Latino population has multiple barriers preventing access to treatments for this common condition, not the least of which are social stigma and lack of insurance.

If you think you may be depressed or are experiencing any persistent issues with stress, anxiety, or substance use, consider going to a mental health provider for help. Your primary care provider would be good to see initially to start medication or to get a referral for a psychiatrist or therapist. Keep in mind that, with few exceptions, what you say to your mental health provider is confidential. Your relationship with your provider should be one of trust and an understanding that he or she is there to help. Remember that there are plenty of options for medication and therapy, so you should not give up if the first treatment you try does not work. If you would like to search for providers on your own, you can go to findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call the National Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-4357) for guidance. If you are feeling suicidal, go to your local hospital, call 911, or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017). Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016.pdf
2. Wassertheil-Smoller, Sylvia et al. “Depression, anxiety, antidepressant use, and cardiovascular disease among Hispanic men and women of different national backgrounds: results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos” Annals of epidemiology vol. 24,11 (2014): 822-30.

Adrian Martinez is a Puerto Rican born in California and raised in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Florida. He graduated in 2014 from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Biology and is currently a fourth-year medical student attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He is on the executive board of the school’s chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and will be pursuing a career in psychiatry.

Healing the Soul- My experience in a Temazcal

by David Alfredo Paulino

Mentors have an uncanny ability to sense our state of being. Perhaps we project it more openly than we care to admit. In my case my mentor, Armando, left a post on my Facebook wall checking up on me and telling me that I would always be welcome in his home. Once I saw that, I remembered our countless conversations about how beautiful Mexico was. Those memories spurred me to reach out and ask him when I could visit. Plus, I felt I needed to get out of New York City for a while. Physically I needed a breather but much more importantly my soul needed to rest. With Armando’s track record, I knew that I would need to get out of my comfort zone; boy was I right.

I was nervous boarding the plane, mainly because Armando had sent a list of expectations that he had for himself, one of those expectations was that he wanted to create a space where I would have intense dreams for the duration of my stay. The night before my flight I had a dream with my cousin whom had passed away three years ago. It made me think twice about going through with the trip, but I could not let that hold me back as I try to be a man of my word.

As soon as I arrived in Mexico City, I bought a ticket to his town called Tepoztlan, it is known as the birthplace of the serpent god Quetzalcoatl. He picked me up at the bus stop. He was as happy as I remembered, with a warm smile and an even warmer heart. Armando’s spirit never ceases to amaze me. I got into his car and he began to show me Tepoztlan and it was marvelous to say the least. The town is situated at the heart of the Tepoztlan valley with the shrine of Tepozteco, dedicated to the god of pulque Tepoztecatl. I was in awe as soon as I saw the town and the mountains served as a backdrop to an already magical place. We arrived to his two story home and as soon as he opened his door he went directly to the wine rack and started pouring a cup for me and for himself. After three hours of drinking and catching up we decided to call it a night, he showed me to my room and told me, “we have a long day tomorrow, we have a ritual to go to…do you wish to partake?” I immediately said “of course!”.

It was around 9:00 am that I woke up to a knock on my door, “David, there’s coffee downstairs, get ready so we can head out”. I got up, brushed my teeth, took a shower, drank coffee and then we got in his car and headed for a village called San Andreas where the ritual would take place. I was told minimal things about the ritual, that I would sweat profusely and that it would be hard on my body and my ability to endure an extreme environment. We arrived to the home of our spiritual guide, we spoke and ate one of the most delicious pastry I have ever eaten, a tamale made of pineapple. I fell in love with it!. After we ate, the guide told us to take bits and pieces of the outer shell of the tamale which is like hay, and make knots. The knots would represent any negative things that people that we love have ever said and did to us. Although they might not have done it out of malice; it still had an impact on us. After that, we followed her to a nearby fire that was heating a pile of volcanic rock. We had reached the Temazcal. A Temazcal is a type of sweat lodge used by many pre-Hispanic indigenous tribes of Mesoamerica. It was used as a place to heal the sick and for women to give birth as well. Now it is mainly used as a place to cleanse the mind, body, and spirit. In order to enter the Temazcal we needed to throw our straws into the fire and walk around the fire. Following that, she blew incense all over our bodies before entering the Temazcal. Little did I know that a Temazcal would be just what my body needed.

As we entered we were directed to a tarp on the floor so that we may sit. We were creating a circle around a little hole in the ground where the volcanic rock would be placed on. Once we were all seated the guide began by introducing herself and instructed us to introduce ourselves and say why we were there. It was a good thing that I was not first, as I needed time to prepare my Spanish. Once it was my turn I stated who I was and that I was here in order to heal my traumas and to discover them at the same time. The ritual had 4 phases each dedicated to one of the directions of the Earth, north, south, east, and west. I began to reflect with the north phase, I could already feel the space beginning to pick up steam. We were all concentrated on our breaths, our chants, and singing. With each new phase, we continued to focus on our breaths, our chants, and our singing with the heat becoming more intense and thus pushing our bodies more and more. When we got to the last phase I was a mess, at this point laying down because of how uncomfortable I was, and I started to lose feeling in my hands. After our last session I asked the guide about it and she told me, “You have no goal to fully grasp on, you are aimlessly scrambling never fully dedicating yourself to one thing. Once you have a goal and direction then you will be where you want to be.” I listened silently trying to absorb everything she said. When we ended the ritual, we headed outside to douse ourselves with cold water.

The cold water felt really good, my body was still affected by the experience, I felt light and lethargic. There was food prepared so we began to eat and getting to know the others that participated in the ritual. After we left and returned home we decided to rest because of the effect of the Temazcal. I slept profoundly and my body felt great. Armando and I spoke about our experiences and what the guide told me. I told him I left with a clearer mind of what I have to do. He asked me what it was and I told him I’d rather not say it just yet.

My trip to Mexico was a magical one that I will always remember. Mexico’s beauty and rich history was simply enchanting and it left me desiring to see much more. I will return to Mexico and would love to experience more of it, it taught me many things, above all I learned about patience and endurance. The anxiety I felt was lifted due to what I learned during my trip. I encourage others to visit a new place by yourself, you never know what you might learn about yourself.

My name is David Alfredo Paulino. I graduated from SUNY Cortland with a international studies major with a concentration in Global Political Systems and my minors are Anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Asia and the Middle East. I was born in Manhattan, NYC, but I currently live in the Bronx with my Mother, little sister, and Stepfather. Although I was born here, most of my fondest memories come from my frequent visits to the Dominican Republic, and always being there. I even stayed there for a year. Due to my constant going back and forth, I grew to love the atmosphere there and sometimes I yearn for it more than the actual city.

How to solve the opioid crisis

by Maximilian Eyle

The prohibition of opioids in the United States has been raging for almost a century. The Anti-Heroin Act of 1924 began the criminalization of importing and possessing opioids. Now, after countless people have been imprisoned and an immeasurable amount of money and resources have spent, have the opioids disappeared? No. On the contrary, we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Each year, the number of fatal opioid overdoses rises, with the CDC’s estimates for 2017 reaching a record 72,000 deaths. Let us be very clear: these are preventable deaths. Through legislative change and the implementation of proven harm reduction strategies, we have the option to adopt a drug policy based on compassion and evidence-based results rather than on punishment and propaganda.

The presence of opioids has become common throughout the United States. Some come from the black market and have been produced illegally and without government regulation, while others are prescribed and produced by registered pharmaceutical companies. A common misconception is that overdoses only stem from illegally produced opioids. In reality, a full 40% of these overdoses are due to prescription opioids. Incredibly, more than a third of Americans used a legally prescribed opioid in 2015. This number does not include illegal opioid use. This brings us to our first recommendation in the fight against opioid overdoses: Narcan should be in every household across America.

What is Narcan? Also known as Naloxone, this drug blocks the absorption of opioids at the receptor-level. Opioids effect our respiration, which is why someone suffering from an overdose may stop breathing. By pausing the effects of the opioids in the body, Narcan saves lives by restoring the person’s breathing. It is FDA approved and can be administered easily via a nasal spray. Even a child can do it. It was intentionally developed for use by those without medical training who may arrive at the scene first, such as friends or family. Narcan is not a replacement for calling 911, but can save the person’s life while EMTs are on the way.

Just as we have a fire extinguisher in every building and house to protect us in the event of a fire, we should also have Narcan readily available at all times. Harm reduction centers will often provide free Narcan kits and training to those who want it, and an increasing amount of other institutions are doing the same. The New York City government has even started distributing Narcan through a range of channels as part of its HealingNYC initiative.

Raising the availability and awareness of Narcan in our society is a powerful anti-overdose strategy. But legislative change must also be brought about if we truly hope to disrupt the opioid epidemic. Prohibition is a primary driver of overdoses and actually exacerbates the harm that these drugs can cause. We know that banning opioids does not make them disappear. On the contrary, it drives their use and production underground which is far more dangerous. Users do not know the content, strength, or dosage of what they are ingesting. Imagine if every time you needed cough syrup – it came in an unmarked bottle and was always either stronger or weaker than the last time you bought it. Obviously, the chances of you accidentally taking too much would skyrocket. Alcohol is also a potentially dangerous drug, but we learned in the 1920s that prohibiting it only made things worse.

Clearly, some form of regulated access would be preferable to the current system. This has already been tried and proven to work in many other countries, particularly in Europe. Switzerland’s program has gained considerable attention as a success story. Starting in the 1990s, “Zurich became the first place in the world where therapy programs handed out heroin prescriptions to heavy and long-term opiate users for whom other substitutes wouldn’t work.” As a result, the rate of new users, new HIV infections, overdoses, and other problems associated with opioid use all plummeted.

It is up to us as voters and individuals to drive this change forward in the fight against opioid overdoses. The steps are relatively straightforward: Equip yourself with Narcan and learn how to administer it (it’s very simple). Vote for candidates who support harm reduction measures and non-prohibitionist approaches to our drug policy. Getting “tough on drugs” has only made things worse – it’s time for compassion and pragmatic change. Lastly, support your local harm reduction centers. By tackling overdose prevention, HIV and HCV testing, sex education, syringe access, and more – these facilities do wonders for the communities they serve.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at maxeyle@gmail.com.