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Dr. Patricia Guerra-García of Independence Blue Cross visited AL DÍA News on Dec. 2. Photo: Jensen Toussaint / AL DÍA News
Dr. Patricia Guerra-García of Independence Blue Cross visited AL DÍA News on Dec. 2. Photo: Jensen Toussaint / AL DÍA News

Five healthy habits to practice in 2020

AL DÍA sits down with Independence Blue Cross to talk about cultivating a healthy lifestyle, day in and day out. 

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Usually we only think about our health when there is something wrong. But for Dr. Patricia Guerra-García and other doctors, it’s essential that we all pay attention to our daily habits to better cultivate our health and well-being, long before we find ourselves in a health emergency situation. 

One of her goals as a physician with Independence Blue Cross is to ensure that people have access to the insurance and preventative health care that they need to stay healthy all year long. 

“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a doctor and help people,” Guerra-García said. 

“Most people think about visiting the doctor only when they’re sick, it is important to visit the doctor also to stay healthy. Through preventative care, we’re able to identify illnesses earlier, we are able to manage the conditions more effectively, and treat them before they become more complicated or debilitating,” she added. 

Dr. Guerra-García recommends that everyone make at least one visit to their primary care physician per year, and she also suggests choosing your doctor according to your language needs or other preferences. IBX offers a way to find Spanish-speaking doctors, for example, on their website and mobile app. 

A big part of staying on top of your health needs and making your wellness a priority is having health insurance coverage that enables you to go to regular check-ups to your primary care physician and take care of other routine preventative health needs. 

During a visit to the AL DÍA newsroom on Dec. 2, Dr. Guerra-García, a provider with the Independence Blue Cross Group, stressed the importance of signing up for health insurance before the deadline of Dec. 15, this coming Sunday. 

If you’re interested in exploring insurance coverage with Independence Blue Cross, you can find more information here

In addition to having health insurance coverage, Dr. Guerra-García shared a few essential areas of your daily habits to focus on in order to improve and maintain your health. 

Listen to the full conversation here, and check out Dr. Guerra-García’s tips below. 

If you want to start investing in your health, here are five things you can start focusing on, says the physician: 

  1. Drink water. Sounds simple enough, right? But to consume a good two liters (8 cups) worth of water a day often takes a concerted effort, said Dr. Guerra-García—one that is certainly worth making. You should try to complete your glasses of water before the evening and avoid drinking a lot of water at night to avoid it affecting your sleep (more on that later). 
  2. Eat healthfully. Start with practicing portion control, says Dr. Guerra-García. Stick to one plate’s worth of food at a meal. Ideally, your plate should be one half vegetables, one fourth lean proteins, and another fourth should be whole grains. You also need 2-3 fruits per day. Though it’s important to stay away from eating trans fats and saturated fats, you need healthy fats in your daily diet, of the sort found in olive oil, canola oil, salmon, nuts, eggs, avocado, yogurt, or dairy. The physician says that one way to kick off the new year is by clearing your kitchen of high calorie foods or junk foods, and replacing them with healthier alternatives before the calendar switches over to 2020. 
  3. Exercise. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 150 minutes, or two and a half hours, of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, which includes activities such as walking briskly, dancing, or riding a bike at less than 10 miles per hour. AHA also says that 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (running and high intensity activities), said Dr. Guerra-García. Even if you can’t get to a gym, the physician suggests building movement into your daily routine. “Every little bit adds up,” she says, noting that that might mean parking farther away from the entrance to get in a few extra steps, taking the stairs instead of an elevator, and getting off the bus a stop earlier to walk a little bit farther. “You can get creative, you just have to think about it that you have to get done,” Dr. Guerra-García says.  
  4. Get sleep. The recommended amount of sleep that people should get on average is 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Basic sleep hygiene means you should “try not to bring your worries to your bed,” Dr. Guerra-García says. You should avoid bringing your phone or a bright light to your bed so that you can fall asleep more quickly while experiencing a better quality of sleep. 
  5. Connect with others and take care of your mental health. Socialize. Take care of your relationships. Get some kind of health screening for mental health. Latinos and women especially, Dr. Guerra-García said, can find a lot of support from family members and friends, but sometimes it is necessary to speak up and reach out to a behavioral health provider if you are struggling with your mental health. It’s important, and it’s also connected to your physical well-being. “It’s hard to say what started first, depression to physical health conditions or vice versa—they are intertwined,” says Dr. Guerra-García. “Now we look at patients from a holistic way. An integrated approach.”

For more information on IBX health insurance plans and general health tips, check out the website here. 

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