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Don’t Have Measuring Cups? Use Your Hand!

Portion control is a key aspect of managing and prevention diabetes.

It is challenging to constantly measure your food intake, and you may not always have measuring spoons or cups available to guide you. The good news is that your hand is a perfect substitute.

  • Open Palm: A healthy serving of meat or poultry is 3 ounces, which is roughly the size of your palm.


  • Closed Fist: Your closed fist is roughly equivalent to one cup.


  • Thumbs Up: However, if you only need to measure 1/2 cup, place your fingers in the thumb’s up position. The area between your fourth finger and pinky is approximately that amount.


  • Closed Palm: The amount you can pick up in your closed palm is about 1 ounce.


  • Thumb: The distance from your knuckle to the tip of your thumb is about one tablespoon.


  • Index Fingertip: A fingertip’s worth is enough for your toast or to fry an egg, which is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon. (Always use pasture-fed cow butter whenever possible and avoid margarine and other transfat oils.)

More Tips

  • A healthy portion of cheese should be equivalent to two fingers’ worth.


  • A healthy portion of pasta is roughly the size of the front part of your first (four stacked fingers).


  • A healthy portion of sherbet (or ice cream) is a fist-full.


NHCOA’s Salud y Bienestar diabetes prevention and management program is supported by the Walmart Foundation.







Salud y Bienestar: How to Prevent Heart Disease if you are Diabetic

During the month of February, we commemorate American Heart Month to promote heart health awareness and prevention. If you or a loved one is diabetic there are several steps you can take to prevent heart disease, one of several health complications that can result from having diabetes:

Keep your blood glucose under control.

You can see if your blood glucose is under control by having an A1C test at least twice a year. The A1C test tells you your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months. The target for most people with diabetes is below 7. In some people with heart disease or other special circumstances, their doctor may recommend slightly higher levels of A1C.

Keep your blood pressure under control.

Ensure to have it checked at every doctor visit. The target for most people with diabetes is below 140/80, unless their health care provider sets a different target.

Keep your cholesterol under control.

Have it checked at least once a year. The targets for most people with diabetes are the following:

  • LDL (bad cholesterol): below 100
  • HDL (good cholesterol): above 40 in men and above 50 in women
  • Triglycerides (another type of fat in the blood): below 150

Make sure you are eating “heart-healthy” foods.

Include whole foods, especially those high in fiber, such as oat bran, oatmeal, whole-grain breads and cereals, as well as fruits and vegetables. Cut back on foods high in saturated fat or cholesterol, such as meats, butter, dairy products with fat, eggs, shortening, lard, and foods with palm oil or coconut oil. Limit foods with trans fat, such as snack foods and commercial baked goods.

If you are a smoker, quit.

Your doctor can tell you about ways to help you quit smoking.

Ask your doctor whether you should take a daily aspirin. 

Studies have shown that taking a low dose of aspirin every day can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Take your medicines as directed by your doctor.


NHCOA’s signature diabetes prevention and management program, Salud y Bienestar, is sponsored by the Walmart Foundation.


*These guidelines were taken from the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC).

Salud y Bienestar: Taking Action to Fight Heart Disease and Diabetes

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women of most ethnicities in the United States, as well as a main cause of disability. Among Latinas, heart disease is the second leading cause of death, following cancer. Hispanic women face high rates of diabetes, obesity, and physical inactivity, which in turn increases the risk of developing heart disease.

The month of February is dedicated to raising heart health awareness through American Heart Month and the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Campaign that focuses specifically on the impact of heart disease on U.S. women of all backgrounds and ethnicities.

Given that heart disease and diabetes are so closely related, and that diabetes disproportionately affects U.S. Hispanics, NHCOA is joining the millions of people throughout the country who are raising heart disease awareness this month.

While heart disease is scary for both patients and family members, there are ways to control it from worsening as well as preventive measures that can be taken to lower the risk of heart disease.

In order to know what steps to take to help improve your heart health, we must first understand what heart disease entails and what the specific risk factors are.

What is heart disease?

There are several forms of heart disease, the most common form being coronary heart disease or CHD. It is usually referred to as “heart disease” and consists of a disorder in the heart’s blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack. Heart attacks usually occur when an artery is blocked, keeping oxygen and nutrients from reaching the heart. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the affected section of heart muscle begins to die.

Heart disease is a lifelong condition. Once you get it, you will always have it. However, sustainable changes in your daily habits can improve your heart health and the progression of the disease. 

What are the risk factors for heart disease among Latinos and Latinas?

Risk factors are conditions or habits that increase the chances of either developing a disease or the disease worsening. In the case of heart disease, having one or more risk factors dramatically increases the chance of developing it because risk factors tend to worsen each other’s effects. There are two types of heart disease risk factors: those you can control and those you can’t.

Among the risk factors you can’t change are:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Age
  • History of preeclampsia
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity

The risk factors you can change are those that are affected by healthy lifestyle changes, and in some cases, taking medication. These include smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits and diet, stress, sleep apnea, and diabetes and prediabetes.

The link between heart disease and diabetes

An estimated 30% of Hispanics adults have diabetes, but as many as half don’t realize it. When untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications, which includes and is not limited to heart disease. Many of the risk factors for diabetes are the same for heart disease, so it is safe to say that leading a healthy lifestyle that helps you prevent or manage diabetes also protects you from heart disease. Given that the risk of diabetes among Hispanics is almost twice as high than non-Hispanic whites of similar age, protecting your heart and overall health is particularly important.

How to reduce the risk of heart disease and other complications from diabetes

Salud y Bienestar is centered around sustainable healthy lifestyle changes, which includes eating a variety of whole, unprocessed foods that are low in salt and fat, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Food preparation is also key as the Latino diet is inclined towards frying food instead of steaming, baking or grilling. Lastly, portion control and scheduled meals help you nourish your body and help maintain your blood glucose as leveled as possible throughout the day.

Physical activity is another aspect of achieving a healthier lifestyle. Exercise should fit each person’s specific needs and limitations, but also be fun and appealing. Brisk walking, dancing, tai chi, and low-impact aerobics are some of the activities that are appropriate for Hispanic older adults.

Finally, scheduling and attending regular check-ups with your doctor as well as measuring your blood glucose and blood pressure are key to staying healthy. If you have a prescription, take the medicine as prescribed by your doctor. Also, ask your doctor about aspirin therapy to prevent heart disease, and if it works for you.

Outreach and education is another important component of Salud y Bienestar. Through interactive presentations and popular education games, Latino seniors learn about diabetes prevention and management, as well as how to implement the lifestyle changes to improve their health.

Together, we can lead healthier lifestyles to protect ourselves from, or effectively control, diabetes and heart disease.

NHCOA’s signature program Salud y Bienestar (Health and Well-Being) provides participants with culturally and linguistically appropriate tools to prevent and manage diabetes. Salud y Bienestar is sponsored by the Walmart Foundation. 

Salud y Bienestar: How to Stick to Your Health Resolutions and Keep Them


“No more junk food!”

“Cakes, sweets, and chocolates are so 2014.”

“This year will be different.”

You might identify with one or all of these statements. The start of a new year is almost synonymous with resolutions of all kinds, especially those related to exercise, fitness and nutrition. Usually one of the main goals is to shed the extra pounds gained during the holiday season. This is why January is the peak month for gym memberships subscriptions and renewals, but attendance usually tapers off several weeks later along with the willpower to eat “healthier” foods. There are a couple of things to consider if you want to not only keep your resolution, but create a lifestyle change:

Change your mindset

Think about the why instead of the what. Why do you want to lose weight or eat healthier or do more exercise? Motivation is an important part of achieving a goal. If that motivation is finite— that is, tied to an event or situation— you may reach that goal, but afterward there is no reason to keep at it. But what if your motivation focused on a broader and more fulfilling end goal, such as good health in your golden years? If we start to see health, fitness, and exercise as important factors that support the aging process, we are able to pursue a lifestyle that ensures we are in the best health possible at every stage of life— not just for a party or a trip. Your heart will thank you!

Cultivate healthy habits

Lifestyle changes are challenging, but not impossible. And, if your mindset is focused on long-term, life-long health, half the battle is won. The other equally important half is creating— and more importantly, sticking to— habits that will support the lifestyle change. So why can’t many who embark on ambitious resolutions at the beginning of the year make the transition from resolution to habit? The answer is in our brain. While each person is different, science points to a magic number of days needed for our brains to process and adopt a new habit: 21. Curiously, this is usually about the time it takes many people to give up on their resolution. While the reasons may vary, what we can gather from this is that even though we are jogging at a marathoner’s pace, we still need to mark short-term goals to ensure we experience progress.

Keep realistic short-term and long-term goals

Any lifestyle change requires developing and keeping new habits. Goals help us keep up and strengthen these habits. For example, you may want to include weekly exercise as a habit that supports the lifestyle change you are seeking. You can reinforce that habit by setting up short-term goals (I want to walk in the park three times a week) and long-term goals (I want to train for a 5k race). In creating goals we not only appreciate our own progress, but can track it as well.

Keep good company

Lifestyle changes aren’t easy, as we mentioned before. But, if you find family members or friends who share your desire to lead healthier, more active lives, you can keep each other motivated and accountable. Whether it’s your spouse, children, friends, or even grandchildren, having someone to do exercise or cook with helps keep you on course with your goals.

Keep it real

Lastly, we suggest to “keep it real.” Don’t deprive yourself or push yourself too hard. Burn out is one of the reasons many people fail to keep their resolutions. The key here is moderation and the understanding that just because we didn’t walk one day or ate too much cake, we haven’t failed. Each day is a new beginning!

National Wear Red Day Flyer ENG

This Friday, February 6, NHCOA will “go red” for National Wear Red Day, created by the American Heart Association (AHA). Wear something red, snap a selfie and share it through your social media channels with the hashtag #GoRedCorazon. To learn more about the National Wear Red Day and AHA’s Go Red for Women Campaign, visit

What I am thankful for on MLK Day

Washington, DC NHCOA Leaders class of 2012

By Dr. Yanira Cruz

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day to remember Dr. King’s legacy through acts of service. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people are participating in a wide range of projects that strengthen communities, promote leadership, and provide solutions to social issues. As we strive to achieve the democracy and social justice Dr. King envisioned for our country, MLK Day serves a reminder that servant leadership and volunteerism lie at the heart of who we are: a society that believes in giving back, sharing the best of our talents, and empowering others to be the best they can be.

Service and volunteerism at the core of our Hispanic Aging Network, a growing group of individuals, groups, and organizations that carry out our mission of improving the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, in different areas of the county. The commitment and dedication of this intergenerational, multicultural, and bilingual network is the lifeblood that enhances and inspires our work in Washington and in the field. Their volunteerism helps to:

Today I would like to offer my gratitude to those who share the best of themselves—not only on MLK Day, but every day of the year— to improve the lives of others who need encouragement, support, and aide.

¡Muchas gracias!

New Year, New Goal: Don’t Lose Sight of Glaucoma and Eye Disease

slider-program-saludAmong a diabetic’s main concerns are maintaining a healthy diet and blood sugar (glucose) levels. This is because high blood sugar can affect other body functions both permanently and irreversibly. Therefore, there are several preventive measures people with diabetes should take to ensure they are in the best health possible. One such measure is getting a yearly eye check ups to rule out eye diseases, including diabetic eye, cataracts, and glaucoma.

The month of January is dedicated to raising awareness about glaucoma, a disease that can potentially blind its victims and isn’t limited to people with diabetes. In fact, people over age 60 are at a higher risk of getting glaucoma. Quite frequently, by the time people are diagnosed, they’ve already noticed changes to their side, or peripheral, vision.

It’s important not to wait until you notice problems with your vision to see your eye care professional.

“Studies show that at least half of all persons with glaucoma don’t know they have this potentially blinding eye disease,” said National Eye Institute (NEI) director Dr. Paul Sieving. “The good news is that glaucoma can be detected in its early stages through a comprehensive dilated eye exam.”

A comprehensive dilated eye exam is a procedure in which an eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate (or widen) the pupil to examine the back of your eyes and your optic nerve for signs of disease. This exam may help save your sight because when glaucoma is detected early, it can be controlled through medications or surgery.

It is very important that those at higher risk for glaucoma—which includes everyone over age 60, especially Latinos, and those with a family history of the disease—get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every 1 to 2 years.

A low-cost exam may be available to beneficiaries through Medicare. For more information, call 1–800–MEDICARE or visit For additional information about glaucoma, visit or call the National Eye Institute at 301–496–5248.


Salud y Bienestar (Health and Well-Being) is NHCOA’s national flagship program that educates and informs Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers on how to prevent and/or manage diabetes and its complications. The program, sponsored by the Walmart Foundation, has helped thousands of Latino seniors and families over the last several years make healthier lifestyle changes.

Día Nueve: Consejos para Diabéticos en las Fiestas Navideñas

En los próximos 12 días estaremos compartiendo escritos diarios para motivarles a pensar en la salud y el bienestar suyos, de sus padres y abuelos y de toda la familia durante en las fiestas de fin de año. Algunos escritos ofrecerán consejos cortos, mientras que otros llamarán a la reflexión. Esperamos que estas palabras lo inspiren y que las comparta con sus amigos, vecinos y seres queridos.  

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Si es diabético o tiene familiares o seres queridos diabéticos, sabe cuán importante es tener rutinas establecidas para cuidar los niveles de glucosa. Esto puede presentar un gran reto durante esta época por la gran cantidad de comida y postres tanto en los lugares de empleo como en el hogar. Por eso les compartimos unas recomendaciones para estas fiestas navideñas:

  • Tome mucha agua. Es muy fácil deshidratarse por lo que tomar abundante agua a lo largo del día es muy importante. ¿Sabía que muchas veces el “hambre” que sentimos realmente se debe a que tenemos sed?
  • Use zapatos cómodos. Ya sea que vaya al centro comercial para comprar regalos navideños o asista a una fiesta navideña, asegúrese de que sus zapatos sean cómodos para evitar lesiones y cortadas. Antes de dormir, es recomendable revisarse los pies con un espejito, especialmente si siente molestias o dolor.
  • Planee sus comidas de antemano. Si va a una fiesta y sabe que habrán pocas opciones, coma algo antes de ir. Si va a una reunión familiar, lleve comida o pida que le preparen algo aparte. Si va a un restaurante, mire el menú en línea o llame para entender cuáles son los platillos más saludables.


  • Descanse cuando sea posible. Es fácil sobrecargarse en las fiestas navideñas, ya sea atendiendo a familiares de visita, haciendo compras de último momento, cocinando, o preparando para una reunión familiar. Es importante que en medio de sus actividades programe momentos de descanso. Evite el estrés y el cansancio al máximo.
  • Programe su cita de chequeo anual. Comience el año con el pie derecho haciéndose su control anual en enero.

Día Tres: Cuide de su dieta en las fiestas navideñas

En los próximos 12 días estaremos compartiendo escritos diarios para motivarles a pensar en la salud y el bienestar suyos, de sus padres y abuelos y de toda la familia durante en las fiestas de fin de año. Algunos escritos ofrecerán consejos cortos, mientras que otros llamarán a la reflexión. Esperamos que estas palabras lo inspiren y que las comparta con sus amigos, vecinos y seres queridos. 

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Ya se acerca la Navidad, una época para compartir en familia y, muchas veces, alrededor de una mesa. Familiares se desvivirán preparando los típicos platillos navideños que no pueden faltar, incluyendo variedades de dulces y pasteles. Y, en compañeros de trabajo o voluntariado y amigos se reunirán para intercambiar regalos y compartir bocadillos tanto dulces como salados. Por ende, es común que uno termine comiendo más de la cuenta y muchas veces estas delicias están llenas de grasas y azúcares. Si usted es diabético o tiene un familiar que padece de esta enfermedad, controlar lo que come puede ser difícil, pero con un poco de planificación puede disfrutar de las fiestas navideñas y estar en control de su dieta y estilo de vida:

  • Manténgase activo durante la época navideña. Encuentre maneras divertidas para integrar actividad física en su rutina. Por ejemplo, si va a hacer compras navideñas, vaya a un centro comercial para que pueda tener una buena excusa para caminar. Recuerde usar zapatillas o zapatos cómodos para no lastimarse. También puede alegrar el ambiente de sus fiestas navideñas con música bailable.
  • Prepare versiones más saludables de sus comidas preferibles. Muchas de las comidas tradicionales de las fiestas navideñas son ricas en carbohidratos— arroz, puré de papas, postres y panecillos. Reemplace estas comidas por alternativas saludables: arroz integral o quinoa, puré de batatas (papa dulce), frutas, y panecillos integrales. También es recomendable reemplazar la soda y bebidas azucaradas por jugos naturales y agua.
  • Controle sus porciones. Planifique antes de sentarse a la mesa. Si sabe qué va a comer de antemano, le ayudará a controlar sus porciones. Por ejemplo, si va a un restaurante, vea el menú antes y decida qué va a comer. Si va a comer en casa de un familiar o una amistad, pregunte qué comida se preparará y ofrece llevar un o varios platillos que puede comer.
  • Mida su glucosa a diario. Esto debe ser parte de su rutina diaria, no solo en las fiestas de fin de año, ya que es la manera principal de saber si está controlando la diabetes.

Con un poco de disciplina y planificación puede cuidar de su diabetes durante la Navidad sin afectar los momentos únicos y especiales que compartirá con sus seres queridos.

¡Felices Fiestas!

Les compartimos algunas recetas de la Asociación Americana de la Diabetes que son saludables y llenas de sabor latinoamericano:

Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rico)

Asado Tachonado con Ajo y Jalapeño

Budín de Pan (Latino América)

Para más recetas, visite “Mi Consejero De Comida”. En esta aplicación web de la Asociación Americana de la Diabetes podrá conocer las calorías que contiene cada alimento, aprender nuevas recetas y asegurarse que todas las comidas que come se ajusten a su plan de comida.

Day Three: Take care of your diet during the holidays

Over the next 12 days, we will be sharing daily posts to motivate you to think about your health and well-being during the holiday season. Some posts will focus on handy tips, while others will offer a reflexion. We hope these words will inspire you and we invite you to share them with friends, neighbors and family.  

12 Dias-25

Soon enough we will gather around a table alongside our families and loved ones to celebrate the holidays. Family members will slave over stoves and ovens preparing holiday dishes, which include a variety of sweets and desserts.  And,  co-workers and friends will meet up for pot lucks or happy hours to exchange gifts. It’s common to end up overeating during the holidays, and often these tempting dishes can be full of sugars and fats. If you are diabetic or having a diabetic family member, controlling what you eat can be challenging, but a little planning and preparation will help you stay in control of your diet and lifestyle throughout the holidays:

  • Remain physically active. Find fun ways to integrate physical activity into your holiday routine. For example, if you need to do Christmas shopping, put on your sneakers or a pair of confortable shoes and hit the mall. What a great excuse to do some power walking! You can also add some cheer to your holiday gatherings with music you and your guests could dance to.
  • Prepare healthy versions of your favorite dishes. A lot of traditional  holiday dishes are loaded with carbohydrates— rice, mashed potatoes, desserts, and bread rolls. Replace these foods with health alternatives: brown rice or quinoa,  mashed sweet potatoes, fruits and wheat bread rolls. It’s also recommendable to replace sodas and sugary beverages for natural juices and water.
  • Control your portions. Plan ahead— if you know what you will put on your plate beforehand, you can control your portions much better. For example, if you are going to a restaurant, check out their menu before going and choose what you will eat. If you are dining at a relative or friend’s house, ask what is on the menu and offer to bring a dish or dishes you can eat.
  • Measure your blood glucose daily. This should be part of your daily routine, not just during the holidays as it is the main tool to ensure your diabetes is under control.

With a little discipline and planning, you can control your diabetes throughout the holiday season without it standing in the way of creating special and unique memories with your loved ones.

Happy Holidays! 

The American Diabetes Association has a collection of delicious holiday recipes, as well as “My Food Advisor”, a web application that contains recipes, food tips, and a meal planner.

¿Tiene diabetes? ¡Usted no está solo!

Vivir con una enfermedad crónica no es fácil para nadie. Es normal sentirse incomodo, triste, culpable o enojado. ¡Usted no está solo! Hay millones de personas en los Estados Unidos sufriendo de esta enfermedad, incluyendo un porcentaje que no han sido diagnosticados. Lamentablemente, estas personas no están recibiendo la atención y los cuidados médicos que necesitan para controlar la enfermedad y llevar una vida saludable.

Pero su caso es distinto. El conocer su diagnóstico y tomar pasos para controlar la diabetes le da una tremenda ventaja y oportunidad para vivir mejor y más sano. No deje que la diabetes se adueñe y dirija su vida. Al contrario: ¡Ud. tiene todo a su favor para controlar la diabetes!

La diabetes es una enfermedad que usted puede manejar siempre y cuando haga ciertos ajustes y cambio en su estilo de vida. Les compartimos unas recomendaciones:

1. Comparta sus sentimientos y emociones.

El estrés y la preocupación afectan el nivel de azúcar en su sangre y permiten que la enfermedad defina su vida.  La diabetes es una condición médica, no una sentencia de muerte. Comparta sus dudas, temores y estado emocional con sus amistades y familiares cercanos. Si se siente cómodo/a, hasta puede hablar con un terapeuta. Otra alternativa es unirse a un grupo de apoyo de personas quienes también padecen de la enfermedad.

2.  Tenga una rutina diaria establecida.

Crear hábitos y rutinas le permite controlar no solo la diabetes, sino su vida y salud:

  • Siempre tome sus medicamentos a la misma hora y según le indique su médico — aún cuando se siente bien y piense que no las necesita. El hecho de sentirse bien significa que los medicamentos están cumpliendo su función, y por ende, no debes dejar de tomarlas.
  • Examínese los pies para asegurar que no tenga ampollas, llagas, cortes, o inflamación. Llame a su doctor si tiene alguna herida en el pie que no cicatriza.
  • Lávese los dientes y use hilo dental después de cada comida.
  • Mida y lleve un registro de su glucosa y presión arterial. Recuerde llevar esta información a su cita médica. También es importante llevar control de su nivel de colesterol, tanto el LDL, que es considerado el “colesterol malo” y el HDL o el “bueno”.

3. Hágase controles médicos regularmente.

Para poder controlar bien a la diabetes, visite a su médico por lo menos dos veces al año. Recuerde llevar sus registros sobre su nivel de azúcar y presión arterial.

4. Coma sano y con gusto.

La dieta alimenticia es clave para controlar bien la diabetes. Evite comidas con altos contenidos de grasa, azúcar y sal. Reemplace las harinas blancas y almidón por integrales. Tome más agua y evite las bebidas carbonatadas y azucaradas. Coma más frutas y vegetales verdes y otros colores. Evite freír la comida y busque maneras alternas para prepararla: a la plancha, hervido, al vapor o al horno. No dependa del ketchup, la mostaza y la mayonesa para darle gusto a la comida. Pruebe condimentos como el cilantro, la cúrcuma, el orégano y otros para darle buena sazón y sabor a la comida. (Recuerde que debe consultar cualquier cambio alimenticio con su profesional médico.)

5. Practique alguna actividad física.

Es importante en toda etapa de vida mantenerse activo, especialmente si padece de diabetes. Practicar alguna actividad física como caminar, bailar o nadar 2 o 3 veces por semana le ayudará mantener un peso ideal, a incrementar su fuerza muscular y a sentirse generalmente mejor. (Recuerde que debe consultar con su médico antes de iniciar cualquier programa de ejercicios o actividad física.)

En la página web de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC, por sus siglas en inglés) encontrará información que lo ayudará a cuidarse.

El programa Salud y Bienestar de NHCOA ayuda a los adultos mayores, sus familias y cuidadores prevenir y controlar la diabetes. Este programa fue desarrollado con el apoyo delos Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC, por sus siglas en inglés) y es patrocinado por la Walmart Foundation.