Skin Cancer Awareness Month

The month of May is nationally recognized as Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Awareness month. Throughout the month, the American Academy of Dermatology and several organizations, like the American Cancer Society and Skin Cancer Foundation, work diligently to educate the nation on the risks, the warning signs, and how to reduce your risk of contracting skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States (US). Skin cancer is the unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells that cause uncontrolled abnormal growth of the cells. The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or sunlamps. There are three main forms of skin cancer. Basal and Squamous cell skin cancers are the most common forms. Melanoma is the least common, of the three, but most deadly form. Other forms of skin cancer include Merkel cell, Kaposi Sarcoma, and lymphoma of the skin.

Protecting yourself from UV rays daily can highly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. UV rays reach the ground daily. Limit or avoid direct exposure to the UV rays; especially when they are the strongest. You can determine the strength of the UV rays through the shadow test: if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s rays are the strongest. One way to accomplish this is to seek shade, inside a building or under a tree. If you will be in sun, wear protective clothing. The most protective clothing options are darker long-sleeved shirts, pants, long skirts, etc. Where your skin is exposed, apply sunscreen. When choosing sunscreen, be sure to read the labels for type of protection and how to properly apply the product. Factors to look for in protective sunscreens include: broad spectrum protection, sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher, and water/sweat resistant.

Early detection of skin cancer increases the likelihood of success of treatments to remove the cancer. Knowing the different signs and symptoms of skin cancer will aid in quick detection. Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC) are cancerous cells that usually develop on the areas regularly exposed to UV rays. Some of the warning signs and symptoms of these skin cancers include: flat, firm, pale or yellow areas that look like a scar; raised, itchy, reddish patches on the skin; small, pink/red, translucent, shiny, pearly bumps that may have bruising around it; pink growths with raised edges and a lower area in their center; wart-like growths; and open sores that do not heal or are reoccurring. Melanoma skin cancer usually appear as new spot (i.e. mole, blemish, sore, or marking) on the skin or a spot that changes in size, color, or shape. Other warning signs of Melanoma include: a sore that does not heal; spread of pigment from the border of a spot; redness or swelling beyond the border of a spot; change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain; change in the surface of a spot like scaliness, bleeding, or appearance.

Examining your skin at least once a month can help with early detection. This can be accomplished at home or by a doctor. You can find helpful tips on how to self-examine your skin at Skin Exams.

Educating ourselves and our communities can help reduce the rate of skin cancer cases. To learn more about skin cancer overall, please visit the following websites Types of Skin Cancer, American Cancer Society – Skin Cancer, and Skin Cancer Foundation.

We are in the final month of the 85th Legislative Session. Sine Die, the final day, of this Session is May 29th. Until then, the Legislature will continue to hold hearings over bills in committees and decide matters in the House and Senate Chambers. To look up and/or track legislation that interests you, please visit Texas Legislature Online. You are able to look up legislation by word, phrase, or bill number in the top-middle section of this page. The left of the page has several links that will connect you to the Texas House of Representatives homepage and to the Texas Senate homepage.

To receive alerts of bills that interest you, please visit My TLO Login. You can create a free account by clicking on “New User” underneath the password box. Once you’ve created your login, you will see a line full of empty boxes. Under “bill”, you type in the bill number and leave the next box as “any category”. This will send you alerts each time the bill moves through the legislative process. You can also add notes. Finally, select “Add Bill”.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

National Stroke Awareness Month

Since 1989, the United States (US) Congress designates the month of May as American Stroke Month. Throughout the month, communities and organizations strive to increase awareness and education of the types, prevention methods, warning signs, effects or risks, and treatments of strokes. The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) work diligently to bring attention to this preventable medical condition that affects millions of Americans annually.

A stroke occurs when blood is unable to flow properly within the brain. When this occurs, brain cells are unable to receive oxygen and begin to die. There are three types of strokes. The most common form is ischemic strokes, accounting for 87% of all stroke cases. This type of stroke occurs due to an obstruction, like a clot, within a blood vessel in the brain. A transient ischemic attack, also known as a “mini” or “warning” stroke, is caused by a temporary obstruction within a blood vessel. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a weakened blood vessel in the brain ruptures. You can find more information on each type of stroke at CDC – Types of Strokes.

Recognizing the warning signs of someone having a stroke can significantly reduce the effects or save the individual’s life. The AHA/ASA created an easy-to-remember method to identity warning signs. If you believe someone is having a stroke, remember F.A.S.T.: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911. It is important to get the individual medical help as fast as possible. The AHA/ASA note that it is helpful to inform the medical staff of when the symptoms first appeared. To learn more visit F.A.S.T.

The effects of a stroke depend on the area of the brain that was not getting blood and the amount of time the blood flow was hindered. If the back of the brain is affected, the stroke will negatively affect the person’s vision. If the right side of the brain is affected, the left side of the body will experience paralysis. Other functions that are affected include the individual’s ability to see and/or result in a quick, inquisitive behavioral style. If the left side of the brain is affected, then the right side of the body may experience paralysis. The person may experience problems in their ability to communicate or speak and/or result in a slow, cautious behavioral style. Memory loss can occur in stroke cases, as well. You can find more information at Tour of the Brain.

Strokes used to be the fourth leading cause of death, but is now ranked fifth! According to the AHA/ASA, the higher survival rates are a result of advances in medical treatments for strokes. The ability to get an individual the right care quickly can save their life and quality of life. The types of treatments available depend on the type of stroke. In the event of a ischemic stroke, the treatment goal is to bust or remove the clot. For a hemorrhagic stroke, the treatment goal is to stop the bleeding within the brain. More information on how these goals are met can be found at Quick Stroke Treatment for Saving the Brain

According to the National Stroke Association, up to 80% of strokes are preventable. Knowing the risk factors for stroke is the first step in preventing a stroke. The leading risk factor that causes strokes is high blood pressure. High cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, excess alcohol consumption, and tobacco use are also significant risk factors that lead to strokes. Each of these risk factors are reversible through proper nutrition and exercise. You can find helpful tips on how to decrease your risk of having a stroke at Brain Health.

Spreading awareness and educating communities of strokes will help to reduce the amount of lives claimed by this preventable medical condition. The AHA/ASA created the Together or End Stroke initiative. You can find helpful resources and tips on how to educate and spread awareness of strokes within your community by visiting < a href="http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/TogethertoEndStroke/Together-to-End-Stroke_UCM_448718_SubHomePage.jsp"> Together to End Stroke.

We are in the final month of the 85th Legislative Session. Sine Die, the final day, of this Session is May 29th. Until then, the Legislature will continue to hold hearings over bills in committees and decide matters in the House and Senate Chambers. To look up and/or track legislation that interests you, please visit Texas Legislature Online. You are able to look up legislation by word, phrase, or bill number in the top-middle section of this page. The left of the page has several links that will connect you to the Texas House of Representatives homepage and to the Texas Senate homepage.

To receive alerts of bills that interest you, please visit My TLO Login. You can create a free account by clicking on “New User” underneath the password box. Once you’ve created your login, you will see a line full of empty boxes. Under “bill”, you type in the bill number and leave the next box as “any category”. This will send you alerts each time the bill moves through the legislative process. You can also add notes. Finally, select “Add Bill”.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The month of May is dedicated to raising awareness of mental health in America. Mental health affects how we think, feel, and behave every day. Mental health can be affected by genetics or life experiences. In many cases, there are ways to prevent and combat mental health disorders.

Mental health is more than the absence of disease. Mental health professionals have determined that mental well-being includes: the presence of positive emotions and moods, like contentment and happiness; the absence of negative emotions, like depression or anxiety; satisfaction with life; and/or fulfillment and positive functioning. The mental well-being of individuals also affects their family, friends and communities.

There are several external factors that contribute to mental health. Some of these include stress, social and economic factors, education, and nutrition. Ways to prevent negative impacts to our mental health are getting enough sleep, developing coping skills (i.e. keeping a journal or listening to music), getting some physical activity, and maintaining a well-balanced diet. Connecting with others, expressing kindness or gratitude, traveling, and discussing mental health can promote mental wellness, too.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), states that 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental health condition every year. Some of the most common conditions are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders, depression, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many mental health disorders or illnesses are treatable. Knowing the early warning signs of these can help the individual suffering get proper help and improve the chances of recovery. Early warning signs include feelings and behaviors like: eating/sleeping too much or too little; pulling away from people and usual activities; having low or no energy; severe mood swings; feeling helpless or hopeless; and/or the inability to perform their usual daily tasks.

There are a number of programs and resources to help prevent and treat mental health disorders. Having a conversation or finding the appropriate counseling services can help those in crisis. You can find more information on how to approach these tasks at American Mental Wellness Programs and the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Find Support.

To learn more about mental health overall, please visit MentalHealth.gov, and National Institute of Health, and World Health Organization. More education and awareness of mental health across the nation can help reduce the prevalence of mental health disorders. Leading to healthier individuals and communities overall.

We are in the final month of the 85th Legislative Session. Sine Die, the final day, of this Session is May 29th. Until then, the Legislature will continue to hold hearings over bills in committees and decide matters in the House and Senate Chambers. To look up and/or track legislation that interests you, please visit Texas Legislature Online. You are able to look up legislation by word, phrase, or bill number in the top-middle section of this page. The left of the page has several links that will connect you to the Texas House of Representatives homepage and to the Texas Senate homepage.

To receive alerts of bills that interest you, please visit My TLO Login. You can create a free account by clicking on “New User” underneath the password box. Once you’ve created your login, you will see a line full of empty boxes. Under “bill”, you type in the bill number and leave the next box as “any category”. This will send you alerts each time the bill moves through the legislative process. You can also add notes. Finally, select “Add Bill”.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

Celebrating Our Military

May is National Military Appreciation Month. The members of the United States (US) Armed Forces continue to play an integral role in the development and protection of our country and freedoms. This month gives us the opportunity to demonstrate appreciation for past and present military personnel and their families for their service and sacrifices.

There are multiple branches of the US military within the US Department of Defense. Each branch of the military is over 200 years old, with the exception of the US Air Force founded in 1947. Each branch of the military has unique roles in protecting our nation. You can find links to the official websites and a brief overview of each branch of the armed forces at Department of Defense.

The month of May has the most days set aside for celebrating and commemorating our military’s achievements. There are several national observances during this month. Loyalty Day, May 1st, is dedicated to the reaffirmation of loyalty to the US and to reflect on the heritage of our American freedom. May 7th-13th is Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW). During PSRW, we honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county, and local government employees. May 8th is Victory in Europe Day, also known as VE Day. On this day in 1945, World War II ended due to Germany surrendering to the Allies. Every Friday before Mother’s Day, May 12th this year, is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. We honor the families of our soldiers and sailors since they keep our Armed Forces strong and our country safe. Armed Forces Day, May 20th, is dedicated to honoring all the patriotic Americans who have made the choice to serve our country. May 29th is Memorial Day. This day is dedicated to honoring our veterans and commemorating those who died while servicing our country.

Our military service members past, present, and future represent the highest caliber of professionalism and should be commended for their service to our country. Throughout this month, I hope you will take the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to our men and women in uniform. To learn more visit National Military Appreciation Month.

We are in the final month of the 85th Legislative Session. Sine Die, the final day, of this Session is May 29th. Until then, the Legislature will continue to hold hearings over bills in committees and decide matters in the House and Senate Chambers. To look up and/or track legislation that interests you, please visit Texas Legislature Online. You are able to look up legislation by word, phrase, or bill number in the top-middle section of this page. The left of the page has several links that will connect you to the Texas House of Representatives homepage and to the Texas Senate homepage.

To receive alerts of bills that interest you, please visit My TLO Login. You can create a free account by clicking on “New User” underneath the password box. Once you’ve created your login, you will see a line full of empty boxes. Under “bill”, you type in the bill number and leave the next box as “any category”. This will send you alerts each time the bill moves through the legislative process. You can also add notes. Finally, select “Add Bill”.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

National Donate Life Month

April is National Donate Life Month. This month is dedicated to educating and encouraging Americans to register as donors of organs, tissue, marrow, and blood. Donating is a generous act that saves thousands of lives annually.

Transplanting organs and tissue is one of the greatest and most successful medical procedures in the history of medicine. Organ transplantations offer patients a chance to return to their families, friends, and communities. It gives the patients a chance at healthier and more productive life, as well.

Nearly 34,000 lives were saved last year due to successful transplants. Organs that can be donated include the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, and intestines. Tissues that can be donated include arteries, bone marrow, eyes (corneas), cartilage, skin, soft tissue, veins, and heart valves and vessels. More than 115,000 men, women, and children are on the transplant waitlist currently.

Anyone can sign up to be a donor despite your age and medical history. In Texas, you can sign up to be a donor at https://www.donatelifetexas.org/register/. You can also sign up to be an organ donor when you apply or renew you Texas Driver’s license through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, too. Instructions to receive the Organ Donor designation on your Driver’s License can be found at Organ Donations in Texas. To donate blood, you can find a blood center or blood bus near you at American Red Cross Donating Blood” or Coastal Bend Blood Center.

Also, the 85th Legislative Session is in full swing! Sine Die, the final day, of this Session is May 29th. Until then, the Legislature will continue to hold hearings over bills in committees and decide matters in the House and Senate Chambers. To look up and/or track legislation that interests you, please visit Texas Legislature Online. You are able to look up legislation by word, phrase, or bill number in the top-middle section of this page. The left of the page has several links that will connect you to the Texas House of Representatives homepage and to the Texas Senate homepage.

To receive alerts of bills that interest you, please visit My TLO Login. You can create a free account by clicking on “New User” underneath the password box. Once you’ve created your login, you will see a line full of empty boxes. Under “bill”, you type in the bill number and leave the next box as “any category”. This will send you alerts each time the bill moves through the legislative process. You can also add notes. Finally, select “Add Bill”.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

Cruise Ship Industry in Texas

The cruise ship industry is a year-round vacation option that has a positive economic impact. This industry has grown each year for over 20 years. During the interim (2016), the Texas Legislature developed a Joint Interim Committee, composed of House of Representative and Senate members, to study the cruise ship industry’s impact. The Committee also included a study on the projected growth of cruise industry in Texas and the economic impact it could have.

Nationally, the cruise industry currently serves 13.6 million passengers annually. The Interim Study Report projects the number of passengers per year will increase to over 20 million and up to 24.5 million people by the year 2036. Texas, Louisiana, and Florida make up the Gulf/Caribbean Region of the cruise industry. This Region served 9.7 million out of the 13.6 million passengers last year. Also, 48% of the cruise passengers reside in this region.

Texas has one major port for cruise ships in Galveston. This port has seen continuous growth each year. In 2010, the Port of Galveston served approximately 900,000 passengers. In 2016, this port served over 1.7 million passengers. 1.1 million of those passengers are Texas residents.

Population growth, a strong consumer market, and good air and roadway connections are projected to drive significant growth in the Texas cruise industry. The Interim Study forecasts the number of passengers to grow from 1.7 million passengers annually to 3-4.6 million passengers annually by 2036.

To enable this projected growth, Texas must develop another cruise home port. There are several benefits of having another cruise port. Another port could provide better access to ships, enable the industry to meet the demand, and create openings for other markets. It also provides competition to other cruise lines allowing diversification in opportunities for the consumers, cruise lines, and itinerary planners. The Texas cruise industry created over 22,600 jobs and produced $1.42 billion in job income. The projected growth will greatly increase these opportunities, as well.

Another cruise ship port will stimulate more positive economic impact across Texas. Cruise passengers and crew members spend money at all stops before and after a cruise. Homeport passengers typically spend $105, overnight passengers spend over $250 prior to embarkation, and the crew members spend around $30 prior to each embarkation. A weekly cruise ship with 3,200 passengers produces around $100 million per year in a community and state. Last year, the Texas cruise industry generated $1.33 billion in direct spending benefitting the state overall.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

Texas Recognizes Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States. Our state also recognizes the importance of preventing child abuse. Child abuse includes: unlawful physical abuse/injury, neglect, sexual abuse, exploitation, endangerment, and emotional maltreatment. Bringing awareness and promoting preventative actions can help prevent these acts, creating a safer and more secure society for our youth.

Nationally, there are over 3,000,000 suspected child abuse cases reported annually. Nearly 1 in 4 of those cases are confirmed. In Texas, there were around 198,000 reports of child abuse and nearly 65,000 confirmed cases of child abuse each year. Abuse affects children’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Many victims suffer from improper brain development which can result in a decline in academic performance and/or behavioral issues throughout their lives.

Texas agencies, like the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), have established partnerships with our communities and implemented programs to address child abuse. Many of these are community-based early intervention and prevention programs that establish after-school activities, parenting classes, mentoring programs, and more. Examples of these programs include the Community Youth Development, Texas Prevention Network, and Texas Families: Together and Safe. A list of these and several more programs, the contacts and availability in our area can be found at Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

To keep the preventative child abuse programs up-to-date, the Texas DFPS’ Office of Child Safety (OCS) analyzes all serious injuries or deaths caused by child abuse in Texas. They assess the root causes of child injuries and fatalities then create, update and implement prevention and intervention programs to address and reduce these crimes. The OCS continuously studies the in-state and national trends regarding serious injuries and fatalities, as well.

Other child abuse prevention education and training resources can be found at Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, Inc., Darkness to Light, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, Prevent Child Abuse America, and Help for Parents. Hope for Kids.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

April Brings Attention to Autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Awareness months are helpful because they help bring public attention to issues facing many of our friends and families. Autism is no different. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the medical term for Autism is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is described as a group of developmental disabilities which can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

The National Institute of Mental Health further characterizes ASD as:
• Ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others
• Repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests or activities
• Symptoms that typically are recognized in the first two years of life
• Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at school or work, or other areas of life.
Further explanation of these characteristics can be found at National Institute of Mental Health.

It is important to note that individuals diagnosed with ASD differ greatly in their learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities. Those abilities can range from gifted to significantly disabling. There has been an increase the number of children diagnosed with ASD since 2004. It is unknown for certain whether this is due to an increased number of cases or to the increased awareness of ASD among the general public.

There are a variety of organizations that provide helpful resources and information regarding ASD. One such organization is the Autism Society which was founded in 1965 by Bernard Rimland, Ph. D, whose own son was diagnosed with ASD. Since its formation the Autism Society has grown from a handful of parents to having local and state affiliate offices in nearly all 50 states. These offices are connected through a network that enables the Autism Society to share resources like referral services and education/awareness programs.

The Autism Society is dedicated to its role of increasing public awareness about ASD, which includes the day to day challenges faced by individuals, families and professionals affected by ASD. If you would like to learn more about the Autism Society you can go to Autism Society. Another organization that serves as a resource for ASD is Autism Now. Other additional resources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Being able to recognize the symptoms of autism in its early stages enables the affected individual to be referred to appropriate resources. Living with autism is challenging, but not impossible. Nonmedical intervention programs are commonly used to treat autistic individuals. Upon a thorough screening evaluation, the individuals and their families have several diverse programs to utilize. Some of these programs include art and music therapy, speech therapy, or animal therapy. The Texas Statewide Leadership for Autism Training created the Texas Autism Resource Guide for Effective Teaching (TARGET). TARGET is a website which enables caretakers to identify a wide range of specific needs that need to be addressed and directs the user to the proper resources. A nationwide resource, similar to TARGET, is the Autism Source.
If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

Nutrition Awareness Month in Texas

March is National Nutrition month. Being informed on the basic nutritional facts is important since our food choices affect our lives in many ways. Nutrition is an important issue in our state. Texas has also been helpful in promoting good nutrition for our citizens.

The diversity of Texas’ geography bountiful amounts of naturally grown foods that are both delicious and wholesome. Our farmers grow nutritious vegetables and fruits in our well-kept Texas soils. This enables these foods to have healthy amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants our bodies need to function properly. Foods rich in these nutrients are broccoli, blueberries, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, peaches, squash, onions, tree nuts (pecans, almonds, etc.), oranges, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and many more. You can find the best times to buy these foods at Texas Produce Availability Chart.

Our meats come from our virtuous oceans, lakes, land, and farms. Chicken/eggs, beef, fish, pork, and turkey are all rich in protein and other vitamins and minerals. Along with our homegrown fruits and vegetables, these foods are unprocessed so none of the nutrients are stripped away, ensuring optimal health benefits.

There are some major ingredients and processed foods to avoid. The most prominent of these is added sugar. This product is very common in many items found at the grocery store. Foods with added sugar are often highly caloric and have harmful effects on our organs. Foods with high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners have been linked to severe health problems like obesity, cardiovascular (heart) disease and type two diabetes. These sweeteners are replaceable! Using foods like raw honey or stevia are better and are very beneficial alternatives to use in baking or iced/hot tea and coffee.

Another food group is artificial trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils. The negative side effects of this group is raising bad cholesterol and lowering the good cholesterol. This could lead to health risks such as high blood pressure which can cause poor blood circulation in our bodies. Regular consumption of trans fats have also been shown to lead to possible diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity.

Taking advantage of all the wonderful whole foods our state has to offer are beneficial in many ways. Making smarter nutritional choices can go a long way. The following links contain more informative nutritional information to help with these decisions Authority Nutrition, EatRight.org, Food and Nutrition Training, What’s In Food, NutritionalValues.org, and My Food Diary.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672

Texas Coastline and Beaches: A Texas Treasure

Texas has over 360 miles of coastline that line the Gulf of Mexico, also known as the Gulf Coast. The coastline and beaches of Texas are important to our great state. These areas are home to wildlife and their natural habitats. Texas beaches are also popular tourist destinations. Preserving these natural areas is essential to our state’s well being.

Texas beaches are home to many creatures like birds, turtles, and fish. The warm climate of the sand, wind, and water of the Texas coast is unique. The climate draws many animals to this area. For example, the ecosystem of our state produces ideal turtle egg-laying and hatching sights. Hundreds of species of birds migrate to this climate each year. Several crabs, snails, oysters, and more can be found on the beaches. One snail that can only be found on Texas beaches is the lightning whelk. The distinctive shell of this snail is the official shell of the State of Texas!

The beaches of Texas are important for our ecosystem, communities, and economy. It is essential to care for the coastline by not leaving trash, and to recycle properly. We must protect against pollution and coastal erosion. Coastal/beach erosion is the displacement or deterioration of sand. We rely on beaches, sand dunes and wetlands, for protection against major storms. These natural barriers mitigate the damages from major storms, like hurricanes. The dislocation of the sand also causes negative impacts to the farming and fishing industries and puts ports, roads and industrial infrastructure at risk. To combat this, the Texas General Land Office, Texas Beach Watch, the Texas Coastal Erosion Data Network, and local organizations work together to create preventative barriers, like jetties, to slow the rate of erosion.

The efforts to keep Texas beaches beautiful have paid off. Texas is nationally ranked in top beach destinations! On the southern coast, Corpus Christi and Port Aransas have several beach locations to visit. These include the Padre Island National Seashore, Mustang Island State Park, J.P. Luby Surf Park/North Packery Beach, Whitecap Beach, Padre Balli Park/Bob Hall Pier, I.B. McGee Beach Park/Horace Caldwell Pier, North Beach, South Packery Channel Beach, and San Jose Island. Each of these locations offers outstanding views and recreational activities. Some of these include fishing, hiking trails, RV access/camping, swimming, windsurfing/kiteboarding, kayaking/canoeing, and birding/wildlife viewing sights. Links to each of these beaches can be found at Visit Corpus Christi, On Padre Island, and Port Aransas Beaches./

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672