Hispanic and Latine cultures have influenced the entire world. There are many different countries, languages and traditions within the Hispanic and Latine experience. And there are some beautiful unifying experiences too!
Members of the Hispanic and/or Latine communities may also experience some obstacles to health and wellness. These obstacles can come from life circumstances or even just genes.
Here is a list of some of those obstacles and ways to move beyond them so you can live your happiest, healthiest life!
Everyone has their own health journey. And not all Hispanic/Latine people have the same challenges. Statistically, people in the U.S. with Hispanic and/or Latine ancestry:
- Have higher risk for high blood pressure (68% of Hispanics, compared to 54% of non-Hispanic whites)
- Report higher rates of hepatitis C and tuberculosis infections
- Smoke cigarettes as much as—or more than—the general population (in the case of Cuban and Puerto Rican men)
- Often pass away from cancer or heart disease (two out of every five Hispanic/Latine people)
- Are more likely to die from diabetes and liver diseases than other ethnic groups with the same conditions
- If born in the U.S., are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer or heart disease, and more likely to become obese or to smoke cigarettes
- Are at higher risk for sexually transmitted infections (including HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis)
- Are three times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be uninsured
Here are some helpful health tips to keep in mind, especially for Hispanic and Latine folks who may be at higher risk for the issues above.
- Eat well. Food is a delicious way to enjoy life and to share culture. Finding lots of tasty options with a Balanced Plate approach will fuel your body with good nutrients. When you cook at home, try using healthier cooking options. Aim for more whole grains, lean proteins and non-starchy veggies over highly processed snacks and treats. Little swaps like this can add up over time and make a big difference for your health! And you can make healthy swaps on any budget.
- Move your body. A little exercise can go a long way. Even just a brisk 30-minute walk or some exercise at home each day can do wonders for preventing disease and keeping blood sugar and blood pressure at healthy levels. Physical activity can also help you reach and/or maintain a healthy weight and even boost your mood.
- Relieve stress. Physical health isn’t the only kind that matters. Mental and emotional health are also crucial for a longer, healthier, happier life. No matter how old you are, what your gender is, or what your role is in your family or at work, everyone can benefit from stress relief. Soothe your mind and body with proven methods like deep breathing, exercise or meditation.
- Limit or avoid alcohol. Cutting back or cutting out beer, wine and spirits is a great way to prevent cancers, heart disease, diabetes and liver problems—all of which affect Hispanic and Latine folks more, or more lethally, than other ethnic groups. Mix it up with unsweetened drinks, no-sugar-added juices or a refreshing glass of water.
- Quit tobacco. Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are a massive risk factor for chronic conditions and premature death. But quitting is easier said than done. If you’d like some tips or need guidance, this resource can help!
- Protect yourself. Sexual health is important for everyone. Regardless of your gender or the genders of your partners, you can take steps to make sure you and they are safe. Talk to your doctor about getting screened for STIs and STDs. Check out this resource to help you and your doctor decide if you’re a good candidate for an HIV-prevention medication called PrEP. Know your status and test often. Communicate your status to your partners. And use protective tools like condoms to prevent infections so you can enjoy yourself with more peace of mind.
- Boost up. Ask your healthcare provider about vaccines. They are proven to help prevent infections.
- Find a safety net. Use your insurance to cover medical costs! If you do not have insurance, you’re not alone. You can call 1-800-318-2596 or visit HealthCare.gov (or CuidadodeSalud.gov) to see if you qualify for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
We all need help and encouragement from time to time. To get more support, you could:
- Ask your family to support you in your health journey
- Connect with friends or coworkers
- Work with a nutritionist or exercise coach to guide you and hold you accountable
- If you feel better communicating in a language other than English, consider using an interpreter service to make sure you’re getting proper care with your doctor or insurance representatives
- Connect with community health workers in your area who can help advocate for those who are elderly, poor, uninsured, have disabilities or do not speak English. Check with your state or county’s public health organization to see what resources may be available to you.