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Staying Healthy in Your 20s

Dr. Adriana Casanova shares tips on how to stay healthy in your 20s.
Staying Healthy in Your 20s
Featured Speaker:
Adriana Casanova, MD
Dr. Adriana Casanova is a considerate and compassionate internist serving the community of Saint Petersburg, Florida. Dr. Casanova attended the Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences, where she received her medical degree, and completed her residency in internal medicine at Mt. Sinai-Cabrini Medical Center. She then continued her studies and completed her fellowship at the University of South Florida. Dr. Casanova is a part of BayCare Medical Group. She is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She gives each patient her focused attention, and she prides herself on delivering the best treatment available. Dr. Casanova is devoted to ensuring the longevity of her patients’ health and developing long-lasting relationships with them. She takes her time to understand symptoms and give correct diagnoses to ensure the continued health of all her patients.

Learn about Adriana Casanova, MD

Melanie Cole, MS (Host):   When you're in your 20s, medical stuff just seems to be that. Medical stuff and not much of a concern. There are many reasons you should concern yourself with healthy behaviors while there's time to change any unhealthy ones that may have been leftover from your teenage years. This is BayCare Healthchat. I'm Melanie Cole and joining me today is Dr. Adriana Casanova. She’s an internist at BayCare. So glad to have you join us today. As I said in my intro, people in their 20s don’t always feel like they need to have annual well visits or that they need to worry about changing those behaviors. Why is it important to look towards the future when they're looking at their health?

Adriana Casanova, MD (Guest):   Right now because you're in your 20s it’s easier to create a very good base that’s going to help you as we get older. So most of the time we’re starting in the workforce. So our priorities do change. We always need to think about how to stay healthy so we can kind of last longer.

Host:   Well, I agree with you. So it’s really important. What do you think are some of the most important things? If you are with somebody in their 20s, what are you telling them? Are you talking about sleep? Are you talking about obesity and exercise, nutrition, vaccinations? What is it that you're telling them?

Dr. Casanova: So actually just to keep yourself healthy, first of all sleep is very important. We take sleep for granted. We usually carve out time from our sleep just so we can finish up stuff that we need to do. So at least getting yourself eight hours of sleep is a great thing to do. Next up is making sure you eat healthy. It’s so easy to just run through anything and grab the first thing you see or eat on the run and then not have a good nutritional base. Something else, like you mentioned, exercise is going to be very important because one, it doesn’t help with strengthening, which we’re going to need as we get older. It helps with endurance. It helps also with brain flow to kind of help you focus, especially when you're doing any type of task. It does help feed into a healthy sleeping habit.   

Host:   So while we’re talking about all of those things—nutrition, sleep, and exercise—are you screening for things like diabetes at that age? Do you discuss weight? Are you talking about those things with people in their 20s? Because they sometimes feel immortal about that stuff.

Dr. Casanova:   Of course they're going to feel immortal. They're young. We do screen for a variety of things. One it’s going to be for sugar, which can lead to diabetes. Of course, cholesterol. Like I was telling before, it’s very important that we keep our nutrition healthy because now is the time that we start kind of getting issues with cholesterol and kind of coating our arteries and leading to atherosclerosis later in life. So that’s going to be important. Also we screen for health issues. Especially if you’ve got a strong family history of certain illnesses we start needing to do it in our 20s.

Host:   So another common thing for people in their 20s, when we’re young our skin is just perfect. What about a person in their 20s? Would you like them to visit a dermatologist? Do you discuss sunscreen because getting through to them at that point might be more of a matter of vanity than it is a matter of looking towards the future and skin cancer.

Dr. Casanova:   No, okay. Well we’re lucky enough that a lot of our products that we use nowadays already have built in sunscreens, but it is very true. We need to also think about the future in regards to skin care, and of course keeping hydrated. Because let’s face it, hydration is also very important for skin care. It really depends on also the risk factors when they’ve been growing up in their childhood or in their teenage years to see if they start needing to see a dermatologist in their 20s. Most of the time we can correct problems, especially if they’ve kept indoors, with routine sunscreen use in their 20s and then kind of maybe lead the dermatologist at a later date.

Host:   Okay. So another thing that I think we’re seeing more is mental health issues—depression, stress. What do you want people in their 20s to know about stress and good stress management and screening for depression. When you feel it’s important that they really discuss with their primary care provider these types of things they're experiencing.

Dr. Casanova:   Actually, no. It’s very important to take mental health seriously, definitely. Especially when we’re going into that workforce in our early 20s. That’s going to be a lot of changing in our life. It’s something that like when I say take it seriously. If you feel like it’s impairing your sleep, it’s impairing your everyday routine, it’s something that you need to talk to somebody about it definitely.

Host:   That’s really important. We’ve already mentioned obesity, but we do see an epidemic in this country. What do you want them to know—people in their 20s—as they are coming out of their teenage years and, as you said, starting the workforce about keeping a healthy BMI? About looking at those healthy foods and getting that exercise. Do you test their BMI at that age? Is there a screening? What would you like them to know about that healthy weight and the importance for so many future diseases?

Dr. Casanova:   Actually it’s very important to screen BMIs so we start screening BMIs in their teenage years. So they're possibly already aware as they're contraining into their overweight or obese state thanks to earlier on. It’s very important to eat for your heart. Pretty much trying to eat clean, avoid any processed foods or anything like that. Also exercise routinely, which would also help kind of keep or maintain a healthier BMI.

Host:   I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but people in their 20s don’t always see such an important need for things like eye exams, dental exams. Tell us about those. And when you're counseling patients, what do you tell them about getting their eyes checked or visiting a dentist? Even their OBGYN, seeing them at this point. What do you tell them about these other providers?

Dr. Casanova:   With female patients, they're very aware of going to their gynecologist just because it’s kind of pretty much engaged in our routine when we’re going through our teenage years. It’s very important because of the screen time we have now as compared to previous decades how important we need to keep our eyes healthy. Screen time does affect our vision and can create fatigue too. So it’s very important that at least they see a provider and get a good eye exam. In regards to getting a good dental exam, I also encourage it because we do know there's a lot of things within our mouth environment that can effect other systems as well, especially heart.

Host:   Really, that’s a great point because you don’t tend to think of that connection but it’s true. Back to the obstetrician gynecologist for just a minute, Dr. Casanova. What about HPV? Are kids in their 20s getting tested for this? Are they the age that already got Gardasil and got this vaccination? How is that all tied together with testing for HPV and good sexual advice about sexual safety and protecting themselves.

Dr. Casanova:   Definitely you always have to practice safe sex because unfortunately you can only trust yourself in that situation, you can't trust your partner because they might not even know what they have. We start vaccinating when they're way much younger. So most of our teenagers going into their 20s, chances are they're going to be vaccinated. Usually we would give Gardasil or the other vaccine up until you hit year 26, but FDA did change it. Now we’re seeing another nice big flow of people getting their vaccine in their 40s.

Host:   So true. So give us your best advice for staying healthy in our 20s and beyond and what you tell people in their 20s about some of the most important best tips that you can give them to stay healthy.

Dr. Casanova:   Best tips would be make sure you're getting enough sleep, eat healthy—so avoid processed foods—keep hydrated, and alcohol in moderation.

Host:   Well that’s really good advice, Dr. Casanova. Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your expertise. That concludes this episode of BayCare Healthchat. Please visit our website at for more information and to get connected with one of our providers. Please remember to subscribe, rate, and review this podcast and all the other BayCare podcasts. For more health tips and updates, follow us on your social channels. I'm Melanie Cole.