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Jesus Eduardo Ortega Ibarra

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Jesus Eduardo is 11 years old and the oldest of four children. He was born two months premature. His deafness was not detected until he turned one, and it was not until he turned five that a nonprofit  group donated a used hearing aid for him. The hearing aids were old, not very effective and broke soon after being donated.

Jesus Eduardo comes from a hard-working family that has very little money. His father drives a tow truck and his mother stays at home, except on weekends when she goes out with her children to sell Jell-O, rice pudding, buñuelos and churros. Jesus Eduardo’s 4th grade teachers said he is very smart despite his troubles advancing in school due to being unable to hear.

When the GROW team met Jesus Eduardo in 2017, they arranged for him to be adapted with two hearing aids. It was an emotional experience as he was finally able to clearly hear his mother’s voice. At school, his teachers immediately saw an improvement in his speech development.

Today, Jesus Eduardo is doing well. With the help of the hearing aids, he no longer has limited verbal skills. Jesus Eduardo speaks fluently and has made marked improvements in school, which keeps him moving forward. His teacher says he now participates in class activities and interacts with other students.  He chooses not to use his sign language, but rather is motivated to speak like his classmates, which means his learning capacity continues to expand.

GROW closely follows Jesus Eduardo’s progress, ensuring he has regular check-ups with the audiologist to do maintenance on the apparatus, note his improvements, and focus on additional treatment that is needed.

Jesus Eduardo is growing up a happy, talented boy thanks to the GROW fund which, one banana at a time, has allowed him to hear and has significantly improved his well-being.

Conny Fonseca

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Conny Fonseca grew up in Colima where her father worked on a farm in the town of Cofradia de Suchitlan while her mother stayed at home to take care of the family. A bright and ambitious student, at the age of nine, Conny had the opportunity for educational sponsorship from the GROW program to ensure she was able to finish primary school. The program helped supply her with school supplies, uniforms, transportation, and tutoring.

 

While the program offered Conny with the chance to pursue her dream career into college, her family initially hesitated to accept the opportunity due to cultural barriers and financial struggles around the decision to continue school. Young women are not normally encouraged to attend school and the act is often seen in a negative light. In addition, young adults are normally feel cultural pressure to start working in the fields to earn additional income or, for young women, to stay home to support the family.

Despite these obstacles, Conny gained her family’s blessing and received a full-ride scholarship including room & board at the University of Colima where she achieved her dream of becoming a doctor. She now gives back to the community she grew up in, serving as the Director of Epidemiology for health centers in half of the municipalities of the state of Colima and is the first GROW scholar to serve on Project Amigo’s board of directors, the non-profit through which the GROW program supports scholars in Colima.

Thanks to the GROW fund, Conny was able to follow her dream of becoming the first in her family to complete primary school and went on to graduate from the University of Colima with a degree in medicine, which has enabled her to return to her home community and give back to those in need.

How Potassium Can Help Blood Pressure and Why You Need Bananas

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High Blood Pressure in America

High blood pressure is a condition that occurs when the force of pumping blood is too intense for the walls of the arteries. With millions of Americans affected each year, it has become one of the leading causes of strokes and heart attacks. While many different factors contribute to the development of hypertension, poor dietary and lifestyle choices have been shown to be largely responsible. 

 

Consuming sodium in excess is the main culprit here. The typical American diet is no stranger to salty foods, leading many to exceed their recommended daily intake. Contrarily, one of the nutrients we are consistently under consuming is potassium. To be specific, we’re only getting about half of our daily value. 

 

Potassium Supports More than Just Heart Health

 

This mineral is critical for our bodies to function properly. In particular, potassium supports strong muscle health and rapid healing from injury. In case you didn’t know, your heart is one of the most important muscles in your body. 

 

Potassium works to relax muscular tissue for the purposes of recovery and injury prevention. In the case of high blood pressure, taking in enough of this nutrient helps ease the walls of your arteries, reducing the excessive stress they are under. Understandably, several studies have indicated a link between low potassium levels and high blood pressure, thus leading to an increased risk of stroke.

 

Not only does potassium work to reduce the damage caused by excess sodium consumption, but it also helps speeds up how our body processes it. Eating too many salty foods leads to a water imbalance in our bodies. Essentially, sodium sucks up the water in our cells and slowly dehydrates us. In this instance, potassium serves as a vasodilator. 

 

That’s a big, fancy word for blood vessel expansion. So, while sodium increases the amount of pressure our blood is putting on our arteries, potassium helps them relax in order to accommodate for the excess force. Not only does this help lessen the immense stress on your heart, but the increased volume of blood helps move the sodium out of the body faster. 

 

How to Get More Potassium Into Your Diet

So, now that we’ve delved into the science behind high blood pressure, here’s how to introduce the solution into your life.

 

It’s fairly well-known that bananas are the glorified poster child in terms of optimal sources of potassium – a title rightfully earned.

 

Bananas contain about 10% of our daily recommended value of potassium. That’s a fairly noteworthy amount, especially because it’s all naturally occurring. While we’re a little bit biased, bananas are pretty much the perfect fruit to incorporate into your diet.

 

How Else Do Bananas Help?

 

So, we know that they’re high in potassium, but what else do they bring to the table? 

 

Well, for starters, they have a relatively balanced carbohydrate content. For the number of calories in a banana, the amount of carbs that you’re taking in is completely reasonable; you get the extra dose of energy without the concern of excess carbohydrates being converted into sugar. 

 

Moreover, bananas have a relatively low sugar content, making them a healthy choice for those struggling with the effects of an insulin imbalance or diabetes. 

 

But, perhaps the most important factor of all, is that bananas hardly have any sodium in them. When you eat the fruit, you’re doing everything to help your body recover from hypertension and avoiding anything that could exacerbate it. 

 

With that being said, diet is only a facet of a comprehensive plan to reduce high blood pressure. Alongside what we eat, our activity levels factor heavily into our risk of hypertension. Those leading a sedentary lifestyle are also at an increased risk of high blood pressure as their heart does not get the proper stimulation it needs to stay strong and healthy.

 

One of the best ways to improve heart health is by incorporating more cardio into your everyday routine. Since bananas help energize the body and digest quickly, this makes them the ideal pre-workout snack. 

 

Sleep and Stress Is a Huge Factor in Health

 

Another important lifestyle factor to consider is sleeping patterns. Our muscles repair themselves while we sleep so it becomes ever so important to get a full night’s rest. As mentioned throughout, your heart is just one big muscle. While it has its variances from other muscles, it will still behave the same way as other ones in your body. 

 

Hypertension places a significant amount of stress on the walls of your arteries and it’s vital to repair any damage before it gets out of hand. Alongside all of their other wonderful qualities, bananas help promote healthy sleep, allowing your muscles to get the rehabilitation they need.

 

Bananas are packed full of tryptophan which produces a head to toe calming sensation. Tryptophan can not only help you fall asleep faster but also allows you to rest longer. This proves to be an invaluable resource when it comes to helping your heart recover. 

 

While physical factors contribute significantly to high blood pressure, mental factors play a role as well. 

 

Stress management is vital to getting hypertension under control. When you’re in a tense state, your body’s healing abilities are one of the first things to go. This is particularly problematic for those already suffering from high blood pressure as it reduces the rate at which your heart and arteries correct the damage associated with the excess force from the blood. 

 

Bananas can help alleviate this as they’re full of vitamins and minerals that can help balance the chemicals in your brain. In addition, this fruit has been shown to promote serotonin production which helps combat the effects of stress. Even if you aren’t able to drastically change the external factors that are causing your tension, eating a banana can help reduce the physiological response that your body experiences.

 

All in all, managing high blood pressure is an ongoing and multifaceted approach. By taking several steps to improve your diet, your physical activity levels, and your mental health, you can successfully manage the condition. If you’re looking for an easy way to prioritize your heart health, we encourage you to start incorporating more bananas into your diet. As a whole food, all its different components will work in their unique ways to alleviate high blood pressure.