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Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Duke study finds differences in Diabetes and obesity rates within Black Churches

Black men who attend church almost daily are nearly three times more likely to have obesity than those who never (or very rarely) attend, a new study shows.

Moreover, the study found health differences across denominations: Among black Americans, Catholics and Presbyterians had lower odds of diabetes than Baptists.

The obesity epidemic, like many deleterious outcomes in America, has disproportionately affected the black population, researchers say. While nearly one-third of all men and women have obesity, the rate jumps to nearly one-half (48.4%) among African Americans, putting them at greater risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Previous studies have noted a connection between religious attendance and obesity. However, the new report in the Journal of Religion and Health explores that relationship with a specific lens on black Americans who, based on a 2014 study from Pew Research Center, are more likely than other racial and ethnic groups to believe in God, consider religion important, attend church frequently, and read prayer and scripture.

Self care and faith

“Historically black churches have been a source of spiritual and social support, but greater religious engagement must also support good health behaviors,” says lead author Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards, assistant professor of general internal medicine, associate director of research, and director of the health equity working group at the Cook Center at Duke University.

“Both men and women who are active members of their churches are being pulled in a lot of directions outside of their faith community, which can make self-care a lower priority than what is warranted. We want them to make faith and health priorities in their lives, rather than faith or health.”

Researchers used data from the National Survey of American Life to study the intertwining of faith behaviors and health outcomes for more than 4,300 African American and Afro-Caribbean Christians.

The findings show that black men who attend services “nearly every day”—the shortest interval tracked—were roughly three times as likely to have obesity than those never attending or attending less than once a year.

Detecting the reason for this high obesity rate—and, specifically, the negative relationship that exists for men but not women—will require further inquiry, the authors say.

Denominational differences

Researchers have begun to understand how obesity can spread through social networks. For those frequenting the church, the authors write, the space “may facilitate the transfer of obesity” through shared social norms.

The authors also built upon prior research that showed, when considering multiple races across Christian denominations and other faiths, obesity is most prevalent among Baptists. While the authors note no faith-based disparities in obesity rates in their study of black Christians, they found Baptists are significantly more likely to have diabetes than either Presbyterians or Catholics.

The researchers hope that future studies comparing other diabetes risk factors will help explain the increased prevalence of the disease among Baptists. They also posit that denominational differences in attitudes towards one’s body—for example whether one considers the body “a vessel through which members serve God”—may drive these results.

Above all, the researchers suggest the importance for greater finesse in religious health interventions, including the need to potentially tailor these strategies through faith, rather than a uniform approach.

“Although researchers and practitioners have used historically black churches as sites for health promotion initiatives, the nuances within and between denominations are often lost, which may impact the effectiveness of their programs,” Bentley-Edwards says. “We need novel understandings of the indicators that protect and diminish health outcomes.”

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities funded the work.

Source: Duke University

We Must Develop A Mindful Eating Lifestyle In These Stressful Times

A report from amfAR, the Foundation for Aids Research, indicates that 22% of U.S. counties are disproportionately Black, and those counties account for 52% of COVID-19 cases and 58% of COVID-19 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in April 2020 that 33% of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 were Black, although they made up just 18% of the community being evaluated.

There are many reasons why black people are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The historical economic and social disparities that has created a constant state of stress in our communities, should make us more mindful of our health and wellness and what we need to do as a people to combat the onslaught of the virus and did-ease. It all starts with what we eat.

Mindful eating is merely eating with your full awareness of your food and the entire eating process.

Most people sit down for a meal and mindlessly fills themselves up. They often overeat because they aren’t paying attention to whether they’re full or not. They eat unhealthy food because they haven’t given serious thought to their meal’s nutritional value they’re about to eat.

Their mind isn’t on their meal. They’re thinking about the bills that need to be paid. They might be watching TV. They might even be driving down the road while eating a meal.

Mindful eating is a robust process that delivers significant results to your health, life experience, and psychology. Eating is the most crucial input you have to influence your body. When you’re mindful of the food that you eat, you’re going to have positive results.

There’s no downside to mindful eating. If you take the time to master this skill, you’ll see numerous benefits in all parts of your life.

What you learn from eating mindfully can be applied to other parts of your life. Mindful eating affects your mind, body, and life experience for the better.

As we watch the news, it seems that every day there is some calamity. Just watching the news can cause stress. Dealing with this current pandemic is a stressful situation for everyone. Being locked in, not being able to go anywhere, will cause many people to eat more.

There are biological reasons that so many people eat when stressed. When a person is physically or emotionally stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol does a lot of things, including increasing food cravings for foods high in sugar or fat.

Stress also increases the hormones that produce feelings of hunger. Stress is harmful to your mind and body.

It’s essential to be mindful during those periods you’re experiencing stress.

Stress is a part of life now more than ever. It’s easy to allow your eating patterns to get out of control when you’re stressed. You’re more likely to crave unhealthy foods or eat when you’re not even hungry. Stress and poor eating habits are strongly linked.

Use these strategies to avoid the tendency to eat poorly during stressful times:

  1. Keep track of your food intake. If you’re feeling stressed regularly, and many people are these days, it’s an excellent time to track your food intake. There are plenty of free apps, such as MyFitnessPal, making it very easy to keep track of your calories, macronutrients, and even exercise.
  2. Assess your hunger. Are you really hungry? Take an objective look at your hunger. Did you eat recently? Have you been engaged in a lot of physical activity since you last ate? Do you feel hungry, or do you have the urge to eat?

• If you’re not hungry, do your best not to eat. If you have to eat despite not genuinely needing to, try eating something healthy but has minimal calories. Lettuce, other greens, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower are a few examples of practically calorie-free foods.

  1. Make healthy choices. If you’re feeling stress, but it is time to have a meal, focus more than ever on eating healthy foods. It’s so easy to eat poorly during stressful times that your food selection is essential.

• Healthy foods will allow your mind and body to deal with stress more effectively. And the last thing you need is to create even more stress by eating poorly and becoming sick.

  1. Relieve your stress in other ways. If you don’t have a legitimate biological need to eat, it’s best not to eat. Regardless of how tough you are, it would be best if you dealt with the stress that’s pushing you to eat, or you’ll eventually fail. You’ll eventually give in if you don’t find something else to do. Some stress-relieving ideas are:

• Go for a walk.
• Read a book.
• Find a yoga class on TV and participate.
• Call someone.
• Clean your garage.
• Meditate.
• Take a nap.
• Take a hot shower or bath.

Stress-related eating is prevalent, but that doesn’t mean you have to allow stress to affect the way you eat. Stress affects the way you feel compelled to eat, but you can choose to eat mindfully instead. Mindful eating is a way to combat stress-related eating and its adverse effects on your diet and health.

Few people eat in a manner that anyone could label as “mindfully.” Given the critical role that food plays in your health, it’s important to eat mindfully and intentionally.

The times we live in have a significant impact on social opportunities, personal finances, businesses’ health, and individual health. No one can be certain what the future holds, but there are some things you can control.

One of those things is your diet. Eating healthy foods in adequate amounts at effective times will have a massive impact on your health. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to eat mindfully.

Eating mindfully will teach you a lot about yourself. It will also provide the opportunity to change your eating habits positively. It can also lead to dramatic changes in your health and aid in weight loss.

Becoming mindful in all aspects of your life can significantly increase life satisfaction. Get the most from your life with mindfulness.

Sleeping too much or too little may affect stroke risk differently based on race

by American Academy of Neurology

How many hours people sleep at night may affect their risk of stroke differently based on race, according to a study published in the October 3, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found that black men who slept less than six hours per night were less likely to later have a stroke when compared to black men who were average sleepers. White men who slept nine or more hours a night were at an increased risk of stroke when compared to white men who were average sleepers. There were no differences in stroke risk by sleep duration for black or white women.

“These results suggest that short and long sleep duration may have different consequences for people depending on race and sex,” said study author Virginia J. Howard, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “More research is needed to determine the mechanisms behind these relationships. In the meantime, this emphasizes how important it is to better monitor and control cardiovascular risk factors in middle-aged to older people who have long sleep periods.”

The study involved 16,733 black and white people with an average age of 64 who had no history of stroke or problems with their breathing during sleep. A total of 37 percent of the participants were black. The participants were asked how many hours of sleep they usually got on work days and non-work days. Then the participants were followed for an average of six years to see who had a stroke.

Of the participants, 10 percent were short sleepers, which was defined as getting less than six hours of sleep, and 60 percent of those were black. A total of 7 percent of participants were long sleepers, which was defined as getting nine or more hours of sleep, and 30 percent of those were black. A total of 460 strokes occurred during the study, with 172 in black people and 288 in white people.

Black men who were short sleepers were about 80 percent less likely to have a stroke than black men who were average sleepers. This protection for short sleepers was not present for black women, white men or white women.

In contrast, white men who were long sleepers were at 70 percent higher risk of stroke than white men who were average sleepers, without a significant increased risk for white women, or blacks regardless of sex.

In their analysis, researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect strokerisk, such as smoking status, diabetes and heart disease.

The researchers found no interaction between sleep duration and age or sex alone.

Limitations of the study were that sleep hours were self-reported and people may not have remembered correctly and that the questions about sleep were asked only once and people’s sleep habits may have changed over time.

6 Key Behaviors That Prevent Chronic Disease

Everyone is looking for health advice. There are many varieties of methods available to gain optimal health. 

Health advice can be complicated, but I’ve found that the road to health and wellness is not as complicated as it seems. I have identified 6 health behaviors that can dramatically reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Unfortunately, Black Americans are generally at higher risk for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS, according to the Office of Minority Health, part of the Department for Health and Human Services.

Too many of us are too focused on helping others and not focused enough on our own care. You can’t do much for others if you’re not taking good care of yourself. Make yourself a priority, and you’ll be more useful to those in your life.

First, you’re probably wondering what these 6 super habits are. Here’s the list:

  • Exercising
  • Eat Clean Foods
  • Sleeping well
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Not smoking.
  • Stress Management

Currently more than 98% of Americans engage in at least one of these behaviors, but only 6.3% are fully compliant. It’s a big deal because about half of all adults have at least one chronic condition, and many have two or more.

If you’re serious about your health, take a look at how to join the ranks of the fittest American adults. Small lifestyle changes can add up to a big difference.

Exercise Regularly 

Enjoy yourself. It’s much easier to stick with a workout program if you enjoy what you’re doing. Pick a variety of activities that will hold your interest. It’s good to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. 

Exercise in the morning. Performing your exercise routines before you do anything tells your body to go into efficient mode. Therefore, your metabolism is higher all day.

Train for strength and endurance. Increasing your muscles and stamina pays off. Your body will burn more calories even when you’re at rest.

Do more cardio. 

Cardiovascular exercise is one of the most effective ways to burn calories! Try to include cardio in your fitness routine as often as possible for the best results. If you only have time for either a cardio workout or weight training, choose cardio if you want to lose weight.

Avoid injuries. If you want to intensify your workouts, do it gradually. That way you’ll be less likely to suffer accidents that could interfere with your plans.

Eat Clean Foods

Change to a plant based eating lifestyle. Want to eat more food and weigh less? Make vegetables and fruits the majority of your daily diet. Try to eat at least 5 servings a day.

Focus on whole foods. When you’re grocery shopping, start with the outer aisles of the store. The perimeter is where you’ll usually find foods in their more natural state. Cutting back on chips, cookies, and most frozen foods will help you avoid excess fat, sugar, salt, and additives.

By eating clean foods over time you will gain these health benefits:

A lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Those that eat a plant-based diet are less likely to suffer from heart attacks and strokes. You could potentially be healthier and live longer by eating more plant foods and less meat.

Lower body weight. Meat is a calorie-dense food. Reducing the amount of meat in your diet can lower your body weight. This is great for your appearance and your health. Obesity is associated with numerous health issues.

You’ll eat fewer hormones. Most of the meat available in the store contains hormones that were fed to the animal. These allow the animal to grow faster, which makes it cheaper to raise. Some of these hormones can be unhealthy. Your body would prefer to manage its own hormones without outside interference.

You’ll be less likely to suffer from type II diabetes. Diabetes is incredibly hard on your organs and blood vessels. Eliminating high-calorie foods like meat can help to prevent developing this dangerous disease.

You’re likely to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. Meat and obesity can raise your cholesterol and blood pressure. Both are bad for your blood vessels and can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Adequate Sleep

Be consistent. Go to bed and rise at about the same time each day. Try to keep on schedule during weekends, holidays, and travel.

Redo your bedroom. Your environment plays a big role in determining the quality of your sleep. Block out car alarms and stereos with a fan or pink noise machine. Upgrade your mattress and pillows if you’re tossing and turning because your back aches.

Adjust the light. Darkness helps your brain to become drowsy. Shut off those bright screens on your phone and computer at least an hour before retiring. Turn your alarm clock toward the wall if it has a lighted display.

Quitting Smoking and Limiting Alcohol

Try again. It often takes more than one attempt to give up smoking or change your drinking behavior. Even if you’ve had a hard time in the past, give yourself another chance. Your next attempt could be the one that succeeds.

Create substitutes. Figure out your personal triggers, the events and situations that make you reach for a cigarette or a cocktail. Create new habits that will satisfy you without breaking your resolutions.

Seek support. Let your family and friends know how they can help you make positive changes. They may want to join you. Talk with your doctor about medication and therapies that could reduce your discomfort and help you succeed.

Reduce your risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions by focusing on just 5 behaviors. You’ll enhance your quality of life, and may even live longer.

For men under the age of 40, smoking is the most significant cause of erectile dysfunctions— and studies show that men who smoke more than 10 cigarettes daily are at an increased risk for Erectile dysfunction.

Relieve your stress and regain your focus:

We still do not recognize how stress can result in sickness and distress in our bodies. Being in a constant state of trauma can weaken the immune system that can later cause chronic diseases.

Many times our body respond to long term stress of trauma with simple signs like aches,pains and swelling of joints. 

The route you take to healing can help you gain valuable benefits from your challenging experiences. Here are a few steps you can take to relieve yourself from stress as trauma. 

Meditate. It’s not necessary to be an experienced yogi to use meditation as a tool in your life. Anyone can learn to meditate. It’s just a specialized way of paying attention.

Be mindful. There’s nothing mystical about being mindful. It’s simply paying attention to what you’re doing. Whether you’re driving your car or typing on your computer, keep your mind on the topic at hand. You’ll do a better job and relieve much of your stress.

Hugging, kissing, and sex are also effective stress relievers. This might not be a viable option in the workplace, but it might be just the ticket at home. Interestingly, just talking about sex has been shown to reduce stress.

Are You Performing These Important key behaviors to reduce chronic diseases?

By focusing on these key behaviors you will be on the road to health and wellness. It will also show the that you care about yourself. More importantly, they show you that you care about yourself.

It’s important to take care of yourself. No one is more interested in your health and wellness than you are.

10 Supplements All Women Should Consider Taking for Good Health

The human body requires specific vitamins and minerals to function optimally. A well-balanced diet can reduce or even eliminate the need for supplementation. However, supplements can be a valuable addition to a healthy diet.

The needs of women are similar to, but not the same as those of men. Women must understand the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for women and follow it to the best of their ability.

Consider these supplements to optimize your health:

  1. Vitamin D. Many women are deficient in this critical vitamin. Your skin is indeed able to produce vitamin D in the presence of sunlight, but that might not be sufficient if you don’t spend enough time outdoors regularly.
  • Vitamin D has many functions, but among the most important are its roles in calcium absorption and boosting your immune system.
  • The current RDA for women under 70 is 600 IU per day. That number increases to 800 IU per day for those over 70.
  1. A multivitamin. Ideally, all the vitamin needs of the human body would be met by the diet. However, it’s not always easy to eat a balanced diet that addresses every vitamin and mineral. A simple multivitamin can help to ensure that all of your daily requirements are met.
  2. Calcium. Calcium is a primary component of bones. Osteoporosis is a real threat to all women as they age.
  • Women under 50 years of age require 1,000 mg per day.
  • Those over 50 need 1,200 mg per day.
  1. Fiber. Fiber aids in gut motility and may help to lower cholesterol. Certain types of fiber also serve as food for gut bacteria. A healthy diet provides plenty of fiber, but if you’re not eating a healthy diet with ample fiber-rich food, a supplement can help.
  • The current recommendation for women is 25 grams of fiber each day.
  1. Fish Oil. While you can live without most dietary fats, it is necessary to consume essential fatty acids. These are most easily consumed in fatty fish or fish oil supplements.
  • There is no set recommendation for essential fatty acid intake. It doesn’t take much. As little as a gram, a day could be sufficient. Follow the label instructions.
  1. Probiotics. Many health issues are believed to start in the gut. A healthy gut dramatically increases the odds of having a healthy mind and body.
  • Again, follow the label instructions.
  1. Vitamin B-12. This vitamin does many things in the body, including the building of DNA and red blood cells. If you eat a lot of meat, you probably don’t need a vitamin B-12 supplement. However, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, supplementation will likely be necessary.
  • The Mayo Clinic recommends that all adults consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 per day.
  • Vitamin B-12 is unique because it is water-soluble, so it harmlessly passes in the urine if you take too much. But it can also be stored in the body in relatively large quantities. This means that taking B-12 weekly or monthly is acceptable, provided the dose is sufficient.
  1. Iron. Menstruating women lose blood, which contains iron. One of the primary roles of iron is oxygen transport in the blood.
  • Premenopausal women are advised to consume 18 mg/day.
  • Postmenopausal: 8 mg/day
  1. Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is part of the sleep process. If you sleep well, melatonin supplementation is unnecessary. On the other hand, if you have difficulties sleeping, a melatonin supplement might help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Try 1-2 mg to start, 30 minutes before bed.
  • A total of 3-4 mg can be taken if necessary.
  1. Folate. Folate is necessary for pregnant women to prevent a particular type of congenital disability. Folate has several other roles in the body, too.
  • For women without risk of becoming pregnant: 400 mcg/day.
  • Women with a risk of pregnancy: 800 mcg/day.

Of course, the best place to start is a talk with your physician. Follow your doctor’s advice.

It’s also important to realize that it’s easy to get too much of a good thing. Taking too much of any supplement can be much worse than not taking it at all. Follow the directions on the label.

Become familiar with the foods that are high in the nutrients above. Several of the supplements listed above may be unnecessary for you if you eat a nutritious diet.