Category: Living Well Written by C.L. Price
If you’re not overweight now, you likely will be soon. That’s the news from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which reports that four out of five African American women are overweight today.
Given such alarming evidence, one has to ask if obesity has become the new norm for Black women.
And, if so, shouldn’t we really begin asking “why?”
Our curve-driven culture, dominated by a “thick is sick” mentality, masks trouble ahead, according to minority health experts who worry that too many Black women are actually choosing to be overweight.
Clinging to our ‘big is beautiful’ mantra despite evidence that obesity is a leading contributor to the escalating number of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, stroke and dementia cases reported among African American women is not good for our health.
Neither is supporting wrong-minded thinking that big women want to stay that way, according to minority health experts Marilyn Hughes Gaston, M.D. and Gayle K. Porter, PsyD, founders of the Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center.
The fact is that there are a number of major factors from depression, yo-yo dieting, cravings, poor self esteem, sexual abuse, and emotional eating to access to healthy foods at the root of weight issues among African Americans.
“These and other contributing factors must be addressed quickly,” says Dr. Gatson. “As Black women, we take care of everybody and nobody takes care of us and we don’t take care of ourselves.”
It’s important to take smaller, simple steps toward maintaining better health in order to sustain lasting value, according to Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) Director James K. Haveman.
Haveman unveiled a program, coined “MI Healthier Tomorrow,” aimed at helping Michiganders do just that at a press conference this week.
The campaign focuses on the power of 10.
“We want everyone to understand that losing just 10 percent of your body weight can make significant improvements to both physical and mental health,” says Haveman, who explains that a 10 percent weight loss for those who are overweight can:
- Improve blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Improve heart health
- Decrease risk of type 2 diabetes
- Strengthen the immune system
- Decrease back and joint pain
- Improve breathing and sleep
- Increase energy and stamina
- Improve mood and self-confidence
“The multimedia campaign’s bite size info nuggets and digestible lifestyle recommendations are so easy to incorporate that participants will barely discern a change in their daily routine,” states LivingWELL Magazine Publisher Jackie Berg, who encourages readers to take the online pledge.
Participants will receive a free getting started kit, along with email and text messages to guide them on their weight loss journey. Messages sent out twice a month with motivations, reminders, tips and recipes will support weight loss efforts.
These kinds of small simple steps will lead to a better tomorrow. Let’s start now.
Editor’s Note: Upcoming issues of LivingWELL Magazine will explore weight loss challenges among African American men. Stay tuned.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 14:36
Category: Living Well Written by Daniella Segura, neontommy
About 600,000 Americans die of heart disease each year, which is one in every four deaths.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among adult men and women in America. One of the major factors that contributes to an increased risk of heart disease is your diet. It’s important to eat foods that help your heart and overall health. February is American Heart Month, and in honor of this, below are some heart healthy foods to add to your diet.
Oatmeal is among one of the healthiest foods you can eat for breakfast. Oatmeal can help to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can help prevent heart disease and heart attacks.
There is evidence which shows that tomatoes help reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. The antioxidants in tomatoes, such as lycopene, vitamin C and beta-carotene, work to neutralize free radicals that could potentially damage cells and cell membranes. This neutralization helps to prevent atherosclerosis, an artery related disease.
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University found that pistachios help to lower levels of LDL cholesterol. This benefit is from the antioxidants, good fats and plant sterols found in pistachios.
You know the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but did you know it’s true? Studies have shown that eating an apple or two a day may reduce heart disease risk factors. Apples contain pectin, a soluble fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol levels by blocking cholesterol absorption.
Olive oil is a good alternative for other oils that are high in saturated fats. Olive oil derives most of its health benefits from the monounsaturated fatty acids in the oil. Monounsaturated fatty acids work to help lower your risk of heart disease, such as by lowering overall cholesterol levels.
A study conducted in 2011published by the Journal of Epidemiology, found that there is a correlation between eating citrusy fruits, like lemons, and lower incidences of cardiovascular disease. The study also revealed that those who ate lemons had a lower chance of a stroke.
Spinach, similar to other dark green veggies, contains beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that works to fight heart disease and cancer. Raw spinach is also a good source of vitamin C.
A study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture-Research, Education, found that blueberries help prevent cardiovascular disease. The benefit is from the antioxidant effect of the blueberries, which work to reduce oxidative stress that leads to heart disease.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University conducted a study on the benefits of peanut consumption and found that those who consumed a greater amount of peanuts had about a 35 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease. this effect is a result of the peanuts’ ability to lower cholesterol and its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components.
When consumed in moderation, red wine is beneficial to your heart’s health. Red wine has an antioxidant compound called resveratrol, which works to protect your heart and arteries from the harmful effects of saturated fat. Drinking one to two glasses of wine per day can help you to protect your heart and prevent cardiovascular disease.
Last Updated on Monday, 18 February 2013 11:28
Category: Living Well Written by Sophia Breene, huffingtonpost
It's wintertime and the livin' ain't easy -- for our hair, skin and nails, that is. Whipping winds, dry air and chilly temperatures can really do a number on soft skin and hair. Cold air outside and central heat indoors can strip moisture from strands and pores, making hair rough and skin itchy and dry. But endure cracked hands no more: Items hiding in the back of your kitchen cupboard could just be the answer.
Body Talk -- The Need-to-Know
Hair and skin aren't just for looking pretty -- they're required for specific bodily functions, too. Humans lost body fur a while ago (thankfully), but we still have hair on our heads to keep the brain toasty and protected from occasional bumps. Skin isn't only the barrier between the environment and our insides -- it's a living organ that's responsible for keeping the body cool, protecting it against germs and “invaders,” and many other metabolic processes. It's important to keep these tissues in good condition and working well all year long so they can do their jobs and keep us healthy and safe.
Cracked, flaky, irritated or inflamed skin is normal during winter, though it's not exactly fun. If red, scaly, itchy skin lingers or is causing serious discomfort, be sure to visit a doctor; it might be a more serious dermatological condition like dermatitis, eczema or athlete's foot. Barring more serious issues, there are a few strategies that can give the body a break when the mercury plunges:
A 20-minute long, boiling-hot shower might feel great on a cold day, but stick to warm or lukewarm water for 10 minutes or less. Long exposure to hot water can strip moisture from hair and skin.
When heading into the great outdoors, dress for the weather with a hat, scarf and gloves to avoid windburn and prolonged exposure to cold air.
At the grocery store, fill up a cart with foods full of healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, olive oil, flax, sardines and avocados.
While at the market, load up on vitamin C-rich produce like citrus fruit and dark leafy greens. Vitamin C can help boost the body's production of collagen, a protein that maintains skin and other connective tissues.
It's a good idea to drink plenty of water during winter, but there is actually no scientific proof that guzzling water can rehydrate scaly skin.
Read on for more specific cures and preventative measures to combat winter woes from itchy scalp to frozen fingers and more.
Smooth Sailing -- Your Action Plan
1. Dry Skin
To cure dry skin all over the body, go big or go home. Mix a few drops of olive or grape seed oil in bathwater and hop in, or apply a thin layer of oil to the body after showering (and maybe wear some old PJs to bed). As weird as it may sound, adding a few cups of whole milk to bathwater can moisturize skin. The proteins, fats and vitamins in moo-juice can help soothe rough skin. If feeling lactose-averse, the old chicken pox standby of an oatmeal bath can make red, irritated skin feel better. Immediately after an oil/milk/oatmeal bath, apply plenty of thick cream (or even Crisco or Vaseline for seriously damaged skin) and crank up the humidifier before hitting the hay. Slathering on lotion within three minutes of stepping out of the bath or shower is most effective for trapping in moisture.
2. Red Nose
The holidays are over, so there's no reason to keep dressing up like Rudolph. When outdoors in cold weather, the blood vessels cut off circulation to the nose. After coming indoors the blood vessels dilate quickly, causing a rush of blood (and bright-red color). To bring the nose back to a normal hue, apply a warm -- but not hot -- compress to the skin for several minutes after coming indoors. Sometimes a winter cold and the tissues that come with it can make the nose raw and chapped, too. When the sniffles hit, use extra-soft tissues and blot the nose; don't rub it. Apply a thin layer of moisturizing ointment or lotion to the sensitive area throughout the day.
3. Itchy Dry Scalp
Nope, it's not adult-onset lice. But a dry, flaky scalp is uncomfortable and just a wee bit embarrassing, too. Step one in preventing dandruff is to take cooler, quicker showers to reduce the scalp's exposure to drying hot water. Think about switching to a dandruff or dry scalp specific shampoo. Before hopping in the shower, massage the scalp with Vitamin E, olive or coconut oil. These oils replenish natural scalp oils and can moisturize dry hair, too. Tea tree oil is also a popular treatment for fungal and bacterial infections like dandruff or athlete's foot. Wash the hair and scalp with tea tree oil daily to cure a dry, itchy head naturally. Sometimes, the issue can be caused by product build-up — not winter weather. If you think this may be the case, rinse the hair with apple cider vinegar to clear out the gunk and then wash normally with shampoo.
4. Chapped Lips
Keeping a tube of lip balm in an easily accessible pocket is a good first step, but winter winds can take chapped lips to a whole new level. If lips are flaky, take a clean toothbrush and very gently exfoliate the skin to remove excess skin. Slather on beeswax or a lip balm with lanolin (a natural oily wax extracted from sheep's wool!) and keep reapplying throughout the day. Lanolin is a natural moisturizer that softens skin and reduces evaporation, keeping the skin hydrated. If spending all day with animal product freaks you out, apply some Crisco (aka vegetable shortening) to lips. It's 100 percent vegan and very safe if ingested. For seriously dry lips, apply honey or Vaseline to the lips for 15 minutes and then remove with a cotton swab dipped in hot water.
5. Rough Hair
Hair needs a little extra TLC during wintertime. Shampooing strips moisture from the scalp and hair, so wash strands every other day. Everyone's hair is different -- if washing once or twice a week is normal for you, consider adding some time between shampoos to take dry winter conditions into account. And don't skip the conditioner -- skipping the 'poo and opting for a quick rinse and conditioning treatment works just fine to keep hair clean and moisturized. To prevent breakage or other damage, avoid blow-drying and brushing hair when wet because those locks are most delicate when waterlogged. If strands are really parched, comb hair with a few drops of olive oil and a wide-tooth comb after showering.
6. Dry Hands
It's bad enough to have freezing digits, but cracked and painful skin on the hands is the icing on the cake. To prevent hands from drying out, apply moisturizer after hand washing and at least several times throughout the day. Keep a bottle of lotion by each sink in your home and in your desk at work. If hands are very dry, use cream instead of lotion because the former has a higher oil-to-water ratio. Wearing rubber gloves while washing dishes can prevent hands from getting dried out due to excess contact with hot water, too. To really rehab the skin on hands, use very thick hand cream right before bed and then slip on white cotton gloves -- the enclosed space will help the moisturizer absorb into the skin.
7. Static-y Hair
The only thing worse than winter hat hair is fly-aways that won't stay in a hat to begin with. A dried-out scalp produces fewer oils, which can make hair full of static. Don't skimp on conditioner, and simulate natural scalp oils by combing a bit of vitamin E oil through the hair before bed to replenish moisture. If static is a major problem, consider switching up your grooming routine. Brushes with natural bristles help redistribute oils from the scalp to the rest of the hair and also conduct less static than plastic brushes and combs. Need a quick fix? Run a bit of lotion through strands or run an unscented dryer sheet (really) over the hair before heading out the door. During the winter, stick to cotton hats (which conduct much less static electricity than acrylic and wool).
8. Scaly Elbows
The skin over high-pressure joints like elbows, knees and heels is thicker to cushion the essential bones underneath. It's great to have some extra padding, but ashy, scaly elbows are uncomfortable and unattractive. The key to keeping elbows (and other rough spots) soft is to exfoliate once or twice per week and moisturize every day. Combine a scoop of sugar, a few glugs of olive oil and a drizzle of lemon juice to make a quick scrub. Even shorter on time? Halve a lemon, add a few pinches of sugar or salt, and rub the surface over rough skin. After exfoliating, rinse the skin and moisturize with a thick cream. If the dryness situation is really dire, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the area before bed. When elbows are really itchy, soak them in milk or apply cold compresses. Thick, red skin with flaky white patches that doesn't go away may be psoriasis. If none of the above treatments work, see a dermatologist for more specialized care.
9. Brittle Nails
Dry air saps the moisture right out of nails and leaves them delicate and susceptible to breaks and tears. To treat them, apply olive oil or lotion containing lanolin to nails before bed and sleep with gloves on to help aid absorption. Dudes, it may be time to raid your mother/girlfriend/wife/sister/friend's makeup drawer, because a thin coat of clear nail polish can protect brittle nails from the environment. Also consider adding biotin-rich foods (also called Vitamin B7) to the diet -- this essential vitamin helps the body process amino acids and produce fatty acids. Vegetables (including carrots and Swiss chard) and protein sources including nuts and fish are good ways to pack in enough of the vitamin. Biotin is also very effective when taken in supplement form.
10. Cold Digits
If fingers and toes are still cold despite wooly socks and gloves, it's time for a different strategy. To encourage blood flow all the way to the hands and feet, keep the core toasty warm with plenty of layers. Avoid tight garments or jewelry at joints (hands, ankles and wrists) that could constrict blood flow. Studies have shown that rosemary and gingko biloba can naturally improve blood circulation, too.
Kudos to those who enjoy the great outdoors even when it's frigid outside. Protect sensitive skin by layering on thick face cream with a high SPF -- the only thing worse than windburn is winter sunburn. If red windburn patches don't go away, apply a thin layer of one-percent hydrocortisone cream on irritated spots as needed. This medicated cream contains steroids that reduce inflammation and stop itching in its tracks.
12. Rough And Cracked Feet
Nothing screams “dead of winter” like gnarly, callused feet with cracked heels. Save some cash and skip the pedicure by exfoliating and moisturizing at home. Scrub calluses with a pumice stone in the shower once per week to slough off rough, dead skin. Moisturize feet, especially the heels, every day with thick cream -- lotions containing lactic acid are especially effective -- and wear cotton socks to bed. It may look nerdy, but sporting socks while snoozing can help creams absorb. Warmer feet means sweatier feet (ick) and moisturizers are most effective when applied to warm, damp skin. On the down side, wearing super toasty wool footwear can raise the overall body temperature, sometimes making it difficult to stay asleep all night long.
13. Irritated, Dry Eyes
Wind and dry air are not a good combination for sensitive eyes. Sporting sunnies on a sub-zero day might look weird, but the lenses can protect eyes from glare and wind. Keep a bottle of non-medicated saline tears or eye drops on hand and use it to refresh eye moisture when needed. Prevent irritation by keeping those well-moisturized hands away from the eye area.
14. Dry Face
It's unfortunate (but unavoidable) that the body's most sensitive skin is always exposed to the elements. Definitely take some time this winter to give your mug a little extra lovin'. First thing's first: During winter, avoid any face products with alcohol and switch to a milder face wash and a thicker moisturizer. Need to mix up the routine a bit? Wash your face once a week with Greek yogurt. It sounds weird, but the lactic acid works as a gentle, non-abrasive exfoliator. For a moisturizing face mask, take a look in the kitchen before heading down the beauty aisle: Bananas, avocado, egg yolk and milk can all make great moisturizing face treatments. Another good option? Whole grains and aromatic veggies contain selenium, a compound that gives skin the elasticity to make silly faces. Snack on quinoa, brown rice, onions or garlic when skin gets tight and dry.
What's your go-to solution for treating winter skin and hair woes? Tell us in the comments below.
Thanks to Greatist Expert J. Scott Kasteler for his contributions to this article.
Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 09:00
Category: Living Well Written by Jennifer Motl, Fredericksburg.com
Chocolates come in a heart-shaped box for a reason—certain types really are good for your heart.
Eating dark chocolate regularly is linked to a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. And it’s just plain delicious. So indulge a little.
Like green tea, dark chocolate is rich in flavanols, antioxidants that may product the heart and blood vessels. It’s also a very rich source of magnesium, a mineral critical for a healthy heart as well as for the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar.
But not all chocolates are created equal. Here’s my guide to how chocolate may help your heart and your moods without stretching your waistline, and to which chocolates are best to eat.
CHOCOLATE FOR HEARTS
Eat dark chocolate daily. That’s the prescription recommended by Australian researchers recently for people with metabolic syndrome, who carry extra weight around the waist and have a combination of mildly elevated trigly-cerides, blood sugar or blood pressure, and low HDL cholesterol.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, suggested that dark chocolate could help prevent heart attacks and strokes for these people.
Chocolate’s effects are mild compared to medicines—it may reduce cholesterol by a modest 8 points and blood pressure by 5 points. But less than half of Americans actually take their pills as prescribed, according to the journal
Patients might be more compliant with a prescription for high-quality chocolate with 60 percent cocoa. (Don’t stop taking medications, though—speak with your doctor about any concerns you have and consider chocolate in addition to medicines.)
MORE GOOD NEWS
Eating chocolate frequently was linked to a much lower risk of heart disease in The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study. Of nearly 5,000 volunteers, those who ate chocolate five or more times a week had a 57 percent lower risk of heart disease than folks who avoided chocolate.
And chocolate lovers had 29 percent fewer strokes than chocolate avoiders, according to a study in the British Medical Journal.
European researchers found that chocolate may improve the elasticity of blood vessels and prevent some dangerous clots.
Folks who eat chocolate were 19 percent more likely to have normal levels of the good HDL cholesterol, plus they had a 15 percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome compared to chocolate haters. That’s according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 15,000 Americans.
BOOST YOUR MOOD
Along with helping the heart, chocolate helps the head. Chocolate contains natural mood-boosters such as theobromine. One study of older Finnish men found that those ate chocolate were more optimistic than men who disliked chocolate.
Dark chocolate may help folks with chronic fatigue feel better, too, according to a small study in the United Kingdom.
GREAT TASTE, LESS FAT
People who ate chocolate most frequently had lower rates of obesity, in a startling study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Another study found that women can lose weight while eating small amounts of dark chocolate daily. Published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the study found that during an 18-week program including frequent coaching by dietitians, volunteers were able to lose more than 12 pounds while including sugar-free hot cocoa with their breakfast and two snacks of 60-percent-cocoa chocolate.
The two chocolate snacks provided a combined total of 90 calories and were part of a low-calorie, balanced meal plan.
THE DARK SIDE
There are some down sides to chocolate consumption, too. Some depressed folks eat more chocolate, according to study in Archives of Internal Medicine. Another study found that some people try to self-medicate their depression with chocolate binges.
And your attitude toward chocolate may reflect your overall relationship with food. Women who craved chocolate but felt guilty after eating it were more likely to have eating disorders, according to an Australian study. Women who ate chocolate and felt fine about it were unlikely to have eating disorders.
Consider eating dark chocolate, at least 60 percent cocoa. Dark, not white chocolate, improved blood pressure and insulin sensitivity in an Italian study. Other great options include unsweetened chocolate, cocoa powder, and cacao nibs.
Cacao nibs are cacao beans that have been fermented, roasted and crushed—basically unprocessed baking chocolate. Nibs are slightly bitter and crunchy, somewhat like coffee beans. Try cacao nibs sprinkled on top of oatmeal or granola. Or put them in a tea ball and brew in coffee or tea.
Most chocolate bars and cocoa mixes contain more sugar than chocolate, which can cancel out the benefits. Australian researchers recommend chocolate with at least 60 percent cocoa. That means it’s 60 percent chocolate and 40 percent fillers like sugar and vanilla.
When it comes to hot cocoa, commercial mixes have more fillers than cocoa. Homemade hot cocoa has more cocoa powder, and thus more antioxidants and magnesium. Just heat a mug of milk in the microwave, then stir in two teaspoons of cocoa powder, a few drops of vanilla extract, and honey or sweetener to taste.
Moderate amounts of dark chocolate and cocoa can be healthful, not to mention luxurious.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 February 2013 12:03
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