HEALTH & WELLNESS

Black Doctors

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Gary A. Johnson, Founder and Publisher

Understanding a Veteran with PTSD

Servicemen and women oftentimes face unique challenges when leaving active duty and readjusting to civilian life.

As explained by U.S. Veterans Magazine, these challenges include

  • discovering ways to re-establish their roles within the family,
  • having to find and obtain a civilian job (sometimes for the first time ever, such as when enlisting after graduating from high school),
  • and adjusting to a life that involves making their own choices versus being told what to do, how to do it, and when.

However, sometimes soldiers also return home with challenges related to their mental well-being as a result of what they’ve witnessed while on active duty. And one of the most common mental challenges is post-traumatic stress disorder (commonly known as PTSD).

PTSD and the Military

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains that PTSD is “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” In the case of military personnel specifically, these types of events typically occur during times of war when soldiers find themselves face-to-face with not only their own mortality, but that of their fellow comrades as well.

In fact, PTSD is more common for military personnel than for the general population. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 7 to 8 percent of the population will experience PTSD at some time in their lives. Yet, this rate is much higher for military veterans, and the exact amount depends largely on which conflict they endured.

For instance, those serving in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have somewhere between an 11 and 20 percent of developing PTSD. However, it is estimated that approximately 30 percent of Vietnam War veterans developed or will develop this particular mental health condition. So, what is it like for veterans who are living with PTSD?

Living with PTSD

The NIMH says that individuals suffering from PTSD often have flashbacks of the traumatic event, bad dreams, and other frightening thoughts. They may also develop avoidance symptoms whereby they purposely stay away from anything that reminds them of the experience. This can mean avoiding certain places and objects that serve as a reminder of what they’ve experienced.

With PTSD also often comes what the NIMH refers to as arousal and reactivity symptoms. These include being easily startled, feeling on edge, and displaying angry outbursts. Trouble sleeping is also common with PTSD. According to the National Sleep Foundation, this is generally due to the individual feeling like they need to be alert, which is a result of the anxiety that sometimes comes with the nighttime and subsequent darkness, or the nightmares the person seeks to avoid.

Veterans with PTSD may notice cognitive and mood changes as well. For instance, they may find it difficult to remember the entire traumatic event or feel guilt associated with their part in it. Sometimes, they have negative feelings toward themselves or the world at large, or they lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.

These are all trademarks of PTSD and all of these types of responses must be present on some level for a professional to render a diagnosis. But why do some military personnel develop PTSD where others don’t, even if they’ve witnessed the exact same event?

Organizations Helping PTSD Veterans

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can sometimes occur when an individual experiences a traumatic event like combat, military sexual trauma, violence, and terrorism. It is normal for most people to have a stress reaction after a traumatic experience. But, if the reaction doesn’t dissipate or begins to disrupt daily life, then you may have PTSD. According to the National Center for PTSD, eight out of every 100 veterans have PTSD.

If you or a fellow comrade is struggling with PTSD, here are nine organizations that can help in no particular order:


National Center for PTSD

A part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Center for PTSD provides resources and information to improve patient care through research, education, and training in the diagnosis of PTSD.


Military OneSource

This organization provides free, confidential, non-medical counseling 24/7 to veterans coping with PTSD. Counselors can refer service members to services in their local community or provide support via face-to-face, online, or phone consultations.


National Alliance on Mental Illness

This website provides veterans with a comprehensive list of resources. They provides the answers to questions many are afraid to ask such as: Who should I tell? How will asking for treatment affect my career? What are the dangers of not disclosing?


PTSD United

Their mission is to “empower and provide support for anyone affected by post-traumatic stress.” PTSD United offers an anonymous support network for veterans to connect with others who have experienced trauma. Individuals will learn about available resources to cope with PTSD, heal through shared interaction, and grow as individuals.


Give an Hour

This organization has developed a national network of professional volunteers capable of delivering mental health care to veterans, service members, and their families. They work with various government, corporate, and non-profit partners at the local, state, and national levels. Give an Hour provides a range of mental health services to local communities throughout the nation.


BraveHeart: Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative

A collaboration between Emory University and the Atlanta Braves, the BraveHeart: Welcome Back Initiative is based in the southeastern United States. They provide healthcare resources and specialists for service members and veterans returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.


PTSD Foundation of America

The PTSD Foundation of America is a non-profit dedicated to mentoring both combat veterans and their families experiencing PTSD. They offer counseling and peer mentoring, both individually and in a group setting. The organization also works to raise awareness of the needs of military families coping with PTSD through community awareness.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

If you or someone you know is at-risk for suicide, this organization provides 24/7 free, confidential support to those in distress. It also offers resources for loved ones such as a checklist of warning signs and risk factors.


National Resource Directory

A partnership among the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Labor, and Department of Veterans Affairs, this website pools information from federal, state, and local levels. They provide a comprehensive resource for veterans, military, and their families on everything from PTSD services to caregiver support.

Suffering from PTSD can be a lonely and isolating experience. The first step to getting well and learning how to manage your symptoms is to ask for help. There is absolutely no shame in admitting that you may not be able to cope by yourself. Know that you are not alone and use these resources to contact professionals who are ready to help.


About The AuthorKristen Baker-Geczy is a communications specialist, active duty military spouse, and former MWR marketing coordinator. She was also deployed to Southwest Asia as an Air Force contractor.

PTSD in Military Veterans

For all too many, returning from military service means coping with symptoms of PTSD. But you’re not alone and there are many things you can do to start feeling better.

Distressed soldier sitting outside

Understanding PTSD in veterans

Are you having a hard time readjusting to life out of the military? Or do you constantly feel on edge, emotionally numb and disconnected, or close to panicking or exploding? For all too many veterans, these are common experiences—lingering symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s hard living with untreated PTSD and, with long V.A. wait times, it’s easy to get discouraged. But you can feel better, and you can start today, even while you’re waiting for professional treatment.

What causes PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sometimes known as shell shock or combat stress, occurs after you experience severe trauma or a life-threatening event. It’s normal for your mind and body to be in shock after such an event, but this normal response becomes PTSD when your nervous system gets “stuck.”

Your nervous system has two automatic or reflexive ways of responding to stressful events:

Mobilization, or fight-or-flight, occurs when you need to defend yourself or survive the danger of a combat situation. Your heart pounds faster, your blood pressure rises, and your muscles tighten, increasing your strength and reaction speed. Once the danger has passed, your nervous system calms your body, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, and winding back down to its normal balance.

Immobilization occurs when you’ve experienced too much stress in a situation and even though the danger has passed, you find yourself “stuck.” Your nervous system is unable to return to its normal state of balance and you’re unable to move on from the event. This is PTSD.

Recovering from PTSD involves transitioning out of the mental and emotional war zone you’re still living in and helping your nervous system become “unstuck.”

Symptoms of PTSD in veterans

While you can develop symptoms of PTSD in the hours or days following a traumatic event, sometimes symptoms don’t surface for months or even years after you return from deployment. While PTSD develops differently in each veteran, there are four symptom clusters:

  1. Recurrent, intrusive reminders of the traumatic event, including distressing thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks where you feel like the event is happening again. You may experience extreme emotional and physical reactions to reminders of the trauma such as panic attacks, uncontrollable shaking, and heart palpitations.
  2. Extreme avoidance of things that remind you of the traumatic event, including people, places, thoughts, or situations you associate with the bad memories. This includes withdrawing from friends and family and losing interest in everyday activities.
  3. Negative changes in your thoughts and mood, such as exaggerated negative beliefs about yourself or the world and persistent feelings of fear, guilt, or shame. You may notice a diminished ability to experience positive emotions.
  4. Being on guard all the time, jumpy, and emotionally reactive, as indicated by irritability, anger, reckless behavior, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, and hypervigilance.

Suicide prevention in veterans with PTSD

It’s common for veterans with PTSD to experience suicidal thoughts. Feeling suicidal is not a character defect, and it doesn’t mean that you are crazy, weak, or flawed.

If you are thinking about taking your own life, seek help immediately. Please read Suicide Help, talk to someone you trust, or call a suicide helpline:

  • In the U.S., call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • In the UK, call 08457 90 90 90.
  • In Australia, call 13 11 14.
  • Or visit IASP to find a helpline in your country.

PTSD in veterans recovery step 1: Get moving

Getting regular exercise has always been key for veterans with PTSD. As well as helping to burn off adrenaline, exercise can release endorphins and improve your mood. And by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can even help your nervous system become “unstuck” and move out of the immobilization stress response.

Exercise that is rhythmic and engages both your arms and legs—such as running, swimming, basketball, or even dancing—works well if, instead of continuing to focus on your thoughts as you move, you focus on how your body feels.

Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. Many veterans with PTSD find that sports such as rock climbing, boxing, weight training, and martial arts make it easier to focus on your body movements—after all, if you don’t, you could injure yourself. Whatever exercise you choose, try to work out for 30 minutes or more each day—or if it’s easier, three 10-minute spurts of exercise are just as beneficial.

The benefits of the great outdoors

Pursuing outdoor activities in nature like hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing can help challenge your sense of vulnerability and help you transition back into civilian life.

Seek out local organizations that offer outdoor recreation or teambuilding opportunities, or, in the U.S., check out Sierra Club Military Outdoors. This program provides service members, veterans, and their families with opportunities to get out into nature and get moving.

Step 2: Self-regulate your nervous system

PTSD can leave you feeling vulnerable and helpless. But you have more control over your nervous system than you may realize. When you feel agitated, anxious, or out of control, these tips can help you change your arousal system and calm yourself.

Mindful breathing. To quickly calm yourself in any situation, simply take 60 breaths, focusing your attention on each ‘out’ breath.

Sensory input. Just as loud noises, certain smells, or the feel of sand in your clothes can instantly transport you back to the combat zone, so too can sensory input quickly calm you. Everyone responds a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you. Think back to your time on deployment: what brought you comfort at the end of the day? Perhaps it was looking at photos of your family? Or listening to a favorite song, or smelling a certain brand of soap? Or maybe petting an animal quickly makes you feel calm?

Reconnect emotionally. By reconnecting to uncomfortable emotions without becoming overwhelmed, you can make a huge difference in your ability to manage stress, balance your moods, and take back control of your life. See our Emotional Intelligence Toolkit.

Step 3: Connect with others

Friends talking

Connecting with others face to face doesn’t have to include a lot of talking. For any veteran with PTSD, it’s important to find someone who will listen without judging when you want to talk, or just hang out with you when you don’t. That person may be your significant other, a family member, one of your buddies from the service, or a civilian friend. Or try:

Volunteering your time or reaching out to someone in need. This is a great way to both connect to others and reclaim your sense of power.

Joining a PTSD support group. Connecting with other veterans facing similar problems can help you feel less isolated and provide useful tips on how to cope with symptoms and work towards recovery.

Connecting with civilians

You may feel like the civilians in your life can’t understand you since they haven’t been in the service or seen what you have. But people don’t have to have gone through the exact same experiences to relate to painful emotions and be able to offer support. What matters is that the person you’re turning to cares about you, is a good listener, and a source of comfort.

You don’t have to talk about your combat experiences. If you’re not ready to open up about the details of what happened, that’s perfectly okay. You can talk about how you feel without going into a blow-by-blow account of events.

Tell the other person what you need or how they can help. That could be just sitting with you, listening, or doing something practical. Comfort comes from someone else understanding your emotional experience.

People who care about you want to help. Listening is not a burden for them but a welcome opportunity to provide support.

If connecting is difficult

No matter how close you are to someone, having PTSD can mean that you still don’t feel any better after talking. If that describes you, there are ways to help the process along.

Exercise or move. Before chatting with a friend, either exercise or move around. Jump up and down, swing your arms and legs, or just flail around. Your head will feel clearer and you’ll find it easier to connect.

Vocal toning. As strange as it sounds, vocal toning is a great way to open up to social engagement. Find a quiet place before you meet a friend. Sit up straight and simply make “mmmm” sounds. Change the pitch and volume until you experience a pleasant vibration in your face.

Step 4: Take care of your body

The symptoms of PTSD in veterans, such as insomnia, anger, concentration problems, and jumpiness, can be hard on your body and eventually take a toll on your overall health. That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself.

You may be drawn to activities and behaviors that pump up adrenaline, whether it’s caffeine, drugs, violent video games, driving recklessly, or daredevil sports. After being in a combat zone, that’s what feels normal. But if you recognize these urges for what they are, you can make better choices that will calm and protect your body—and your mind.

Take time to relax. Relaxation techniques such as massage, meditation, or yoga can reduce stress, ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression, help you sleep better, and increase feelings of peace and well-being.

Find safe ways to blow off steam. Pound on a punching bag, pummel a pillow, go for a hard run, sing along to loud music, or find a secluded place to scream at the top of your lungs.

Support your body with a healthy diet. Omega-3s play a vital role in emotional health so incorporate foods such as fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts into your diet. Limit processed and fried food, sugars, and refined carbs which can exacerbate mood swings and energy fluctuations.

Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation exacerbates anger, irritability, and moodiness. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night. Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual (listen to calming music, take a hot shower, or read something light and entertaining), turn off screens at least one hour before bedtime, and make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible.

Avoid alcohol and drugs (including nicotine). It can be tempting to turn to drugs and alcohol to numb painful memories and get to sleep. But substance abuse can make the symptoms of PTSD worse. The same applies to cigarettes. If possible, stop smoking and seek help for drinking and drug problems.

Step 5: Deal with flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts

For veterans with PTSD, flashbacks usually involve visual and auditory memories of combat. It feels as if it’s happening all over again so it’s vital to reassure yourself that the experience is not occurring in the present. Trauma specialists call this “dual awareness.”

Dual awareness is the recognition that there is a difference between your “experiencing self” and your “observing self.” On the one hand, there is your internal emotional reality: you feel as if the trauma is currently happening. On the other hand, you can look to your external environment and recognize that you’re safe. You’re aware that despite what you’re experiencing, the trauma happened in the past. It is not happening now.

State to yourself (out loud or in your head) the reality that while you feel as if the trauma is currently happening, you can look around and recognize that you’re safe.

Use a simple script when you awaken from a nightmare or start to experience a flashback: “I feel [panicked, overwhelmed, etc.] because I’m remembering [traumatic event], but as I look around I can see that the event isn’t happening right now and I’m not in danger.”

Describe what you see when you look around (name the place where you are, the current date, and three things you see when you look around).

Try tapping your arms to bring you back to the present.

Tips for grounding yourself during a flashback:

If you’re starting to disassociate or experience a flashback, try using your senses to bring you back to the present and “ground” yourself. Experiment to find what works best for you.

Movement – Move around vigorously (run in place, jump up and down, etc.); rub your hands together; shake your head

Touch – Splash cold water on your face; grip a piece of ice; touch or grab on to a safe object; pinch yourself; play with worry beads or a stress ball

Sight – Blink rapidly and firmly; look around and take inventory of what you see

Sound – Turn on loud music; clap your hands or stomp your feet; talk to yourself (tell yourself you’re safe, and that you’ll be okay)

Smell – Smell something that links you to the present (coffee, mouthwash, your wife’s perfume) or a scent that recalls good memories

Taste – Suck on a strong mint or chew a piece of gum; bite into something tart or spicy; drink a glass of cold water or juice

Step 6: Work through survivor’s guilt

Feelings of guilt are very common among veterans with PTSD. You may have seen people injured or killed, often your friends and comrades. In the heat of the moment, you don’t have time to fully process these events as they happen. But later—often when you’ve returned home—these experiences come back to haunt you. You may ask yourself questions such as:

  • Why didn’t I get hurt?
  • Why did I survive when others didn’t?
  • Could I have done something differently to save them?

You may end up blaming yourself for what happened and believing that your actions (or inability to act) led to someone else’s death. You may feel like others deserved to live more than you—that you’re the one who should have died. This is survivor’s guilt.

Recovering from survivor’s guilt

Healing doesn’t mean that you’ll forget what happened or those who died. And it doesn’t mean you’ll have no regrets. What it does mean is that you’ll view your role more realistically.

  • Is the amount of responsibility you’re assuming reasonable?
  • Could you really have prevented or stopped what happened?
  • Are you judging your decisions based on complete information about the event, or just your emotions?
  • Did you do your best at the time, under challenging circumstances?
  • Do you truly believe that if you had died, someone else would have survived?

Honestly assessing your responsibility and role can free you to move on and grieve your losses. Even if you continue to feel some guilt, instead of punishing yourself, you can redirect your energy into honoring those you lost and finding ways to keep their memory alive. For example, you could volunteer for a cause that’s connected in some way to one of the friends you lost. The goal is to put your guilt to positive use and thus transform a tragedy, even in a small way, into something worthwhile.

Step 7: Seek professional treatment

Professional treatment for PTSD can help you confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past. When working with an experienced therapist or doctor, treatment may involve:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or counseling. This involves gradually “exposing” yourself to thoughts and feelings that remind you of the event. Therapy also involves identifying distorted and irrational thoughts about the event—and replacing them with more balanced picture.

Medication, such as antidepressants. While medication may help you feel less sad, worried, or on edge, it doesn’t treat the causes of PTSD.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This incorporates elements of CBT with eye movements or other rhythmic, left-right stimulation such as hand taps or sounds. These can help your nervous system become “unstuck” and move on from the traumatic event.

Helping a veteran with PTSD

When a loved one returns from military service with PTSD, it can take a heavy toll on your relationship and family life. You may have to take on a bigger share of household tasks, deal with the frustration of a loved one who won’t open up, or even deal with anger or other disturbing behavior.

Don’t take the symptoms of PTSD personally. If your loved one seems distant, irritable, angry, or closed off, remember that this may not have anything to do with you or your relationship.

Don’t pressure your loved one into talking. Many veterans with PTSD find it difficult to talk about their experiences. Never try to force your loved one to open up but let them know that you’re there if they want to talk. It’s your understanding that provides comfort, not anything you say.

Be patient and understanding. Feeling better takes time so be patient with the pace of recovery. Offer support but don’t try to direct your loved one.

Try to anticipate and prepare for PTSD triggers such as certain sounds, sights, or smells. If you are aware of what causes an upsetting reaction, you’ll be in a better position to help your loved one calm down.

Take care of yourself. Letting your loved one’s PTSD dominate your life while ignoring your own needs is a surefire recipe for burnout. Make time for yourself and learn to manage stress. The more calm, relaxed, and focused you are, the better you’ll be able to help your loved one.

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Last updated: June 2019.

 

4 Best Cell Phones for Hearing Impaired (Amplified for Seniors)

Normal cell phones can really be a nuisance for hearing impaired people. It has a limited volume, poor seal for background noise, and annoying transmissions that interferes with the hearing aid. Gladly, there are Android cell phones for hearing impaired people. It has the features that a person with hearing impairment would likely appreciate as it can greatly help their ways to communicate.

What are the features to consider on the Android Cell Phones?

When you are about to choose the right cellphone for your hearing impairment, you have to check the following feature considerations:

  • Compatible with hearing aids
  • Allows additional amplification
  • Cell phone and earpiece design
  • Text mode
  • Video chat and calls if sign language is needed
  • Vibration alert
  • Speakerphone or hands-free function

A smartphone with a hands-free function is a catch for those who have hearing impairments. It is useful to be able to adjust the volume of your phone to make it easier to hear. However, if you still have difficulties with the volume, we recommend you to download some of the best volume booster apps for Android.

We have listed a couple of Android cell phones for impaired hearing people, and we assure you that these phones will meet the criteria. Of course, these are the best in class!  Click Here To Read More

The Herbal Infusion “Plank Challenge” is gaining in popularity.  Last week the store issued a challenge to the community to get 500 people to join them and “plank” for a minimum of 2 minutes.  The youngest “planker” is 3-year old Olivia (see below).

Black or African American is defined by the Office of Management and Budget as “a person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.”1 There were over 40 million African Americans in the United States in 2016—approximately 13% of the U.S. population.2

Although African Americans usually smoke fewer cigarettes and start smoking cigarettes at an older age, they are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases than Whites.3,4,5,6,7,8

Tobacco use is a major contributor to the three leading causes of death among African Americans—heart disease, cancer, and stroke.3,4,5

  • Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death among African Americans.4 The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for cigarette smokers than nonsmokers.10

Patterns of Tobacco Use

  • African American youth and young adults have significantly lower prevalence of cigarette smoking than Hispanics and Whites.11
  • Although the prevalence of cigarette smoking among African American and White adults is the same, African Americans smoke fewer cigarettes per day.3,6
  • On average, African Americans initiate smoking at a later age compared to Whites.3,6

Secondhand Smoke Exposure

African American children and adults are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke than any other racial or ethnic group.12

  • During 2011–2012, secondhand smoke exposure was found in:
    • 67.9% of African American children aged 3–11 years.12
    • 54.6% of African American adolescents aged 12–19 years.12
    • 39.6% of African American adults aged 20 years and older.12
  • African American nonsmokers generally have higher cotinine levels (an indicator of recent exposure to tobacco smoke) than nonsmokers of other races/ethnicities.12

Quitting Behavior

Most African American adult cigarette smokers want to quit smoking, and many have tried.10,13

  • Among African American current daily cigarette smokers aged 18 years and older:
    • 72.8% report that they want to quit compared to 67.5% of Whites, 69.6% of Asian Americans, 67.4% of Hispanics, and 55.6% of American Indians/Alaska Natives.13
    • 63.4% report attempting to quit compared to 56.2% of Hispanics, 53.3% of Whites, and 69.4% of Asian Americans.13
  • Despite more quit attempts, African Americans are less successful at quitting than White and Hispanic cigarette smokers, possibly because of lower utilization of cessation treatments such as counseling and medication.3,13

Click Here To Visit the Center for Disease Control Website To Learn More

Are You Ready To Quit Smoking?  Click Here To Learn More From BlackNote.com

70+ Wonderful Uses of White Vinegar

 

A cancer diagnosis can be heartbreaking without adding financial worries to the mix. If bills pile up and wages grind to a halt, it can become impossible to manage expenses and can lead to an unbearable degree of stress. Amid crushing medical bills and smaller paychecks, you and/or a loved one may even face the harsh reality of a home loss.

These financial realities can wreak havoc on even the most savvy investor’s savings, but there are various assistance options that can help. If you’d like to stay in the comfort of your own home while undergoing cancer treatment, it can be a wise move, as cancer can be a temporary condition.

Sarah Manes, vice president of programs and community relations for the Angel Foundation, assists adults in active cancer treatment who live or receive treatment in the Twin Cities, Minnesota metro area. The Angel Foundation provides emergency financial assistance for non-medical expenses, and Manes says she sees a lot of families who are concerned about groceries, utilities, gas for vehicles and mortgage payments — the basics. “They’re worried about, ‘How am I going to get gas in my tank because I’m going to the Mayo Clinic five times a week and it’s 100 miles away?’” Manes says. “Or, ‘I’m one payment away from losing my house.’”

In one 2017 Duke University survey, more than one-third of 300 cancer patients who were interviewed reported that they spent more on their treatments than they had initially anticipated. Sixteen percent of those interviewed reported high or overwhelming financial stress. These individuals, who had health insurance, said they spent about a third of their total household income on health care-related costs, not including insurance premiums. More than 60% of this particular group claimed that private insurance was their primary source of health care.

A 2017 report from the Cancer Action Network reported that U.S. cancer patients paid nearly $4 billion out of pocket for cancer treatments. The U.S. spent a total of $87.8 billion in 2014 on cancer-related health care through employers, insurance companies and taxpayer-funded public programs like Medicare and Medicaid and through cancer patients and their families.

Assess your financial situation

If you’ve been recently diagnosed or if you’ve been dealing with a cancer diagnosis, now might be the time to take a few steps to evaluate whether some resources can help you straighten out your finances, help you avoid bad credit as well as foreclosure.

Step 1: Do an income and insurance evaluation.

Understand how you can manage your job and how your employer can help during a cancer diagnosis. According to cancerandcareers.org, it’s a great idea to do the following:

Know everything you can about your insurance policy. Understand what your insurance covers, and what it doesn’t. If you have your health insurance with your employer, don’t let your health insurance lapse, and always pay premiums on time. Know the details of your plan, including whether a provider is in-network or out-of-network. If you don’t have health insurance through your employer, ask yourself if you need Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance company. Do your research so you understand the most minute details.

Know your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that guarantees certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year with no job loss threat. Employers are also required to maintain health benefits for FMLA-eligible workers.

Learn about your company’s disability plan. Understand both short and long-term disability policies. If there comes a time when you will not be able to work, you can apply for disability benefits.

Step 2: Know the costs of your treatment.

It’s best to ask questions about the expenses you’ll incur during your cancer treatment. The list of expenses from American Cancer Society can include:

  • Provider visits
  • Lab tests
  • Clinic visits for treatments
  • Procedures
  • Imaging tests
  • Radiation treatments
  • Drug costs
  • Hospital stays
  • Surgery
  • Home health care

Health insurance won’t cover everything, so ask your doctor and insurance company about cancer costs. It’s also possible to be proactive and ask about alternatives. For example, instead of an expensive chemo pill, your oncologist may be able to prescribe a generic drug that is just as effective.

Step 3: Calculate your monthly expenses.

Use a monthly expense calculator to analyze how your cancer care expenses will fit into the context of your overall budget. After you’ve completed these steps, you might find that you’re short on money and your home could be in jeopardy.

If you’re not sure where look for support, there are a number of programs that can help you find the right path. Kathy Conley, stakeholder engagement specialist for GreenPath Financial Wellness, offers support and guidance for people who seek to buy and keep their homes. “It’s a people-centered, holistic approach. We help people with financial wellness. We look at the whole picture as well. If you’ve got increased medical expenses, we put that into the context of the client’s whole financial picture,” says Conley.

Manage housing costs

Mortgage payments are likely one of your biggest living expenses and it can be an enormous challenge to keep up payments while fighting cancer. It’s important to work with your lender or servicer upon diagnosis. Learn about your options, which could include a short-term repayment plan, forbearance agreement, loan modification and more.

Conley says that once GreenPath gets in contact with a client, specialists do a snapshot of the financial challenges a client is facing, how long it’s been going on, what their current financial situation is and also take a look at their goals. Conley says one option could be to do a loan modification or re-amortization. More specifically, you could change the terms of your mortgage, which involves extending your mortgage term. An example could be turning a 30-year loan into a 40-year loan.

There are several ways you can shrink your mortgage payments:

  1. Recalculate your escrow payment. Have your mortgage company check how much you’re putting away for taxes each month. If your homeowner’s insurance or property taxes are lower, your escrow amount could be lowered and your overall payment can be lowered, too.
  2. Drop PMI. If you have private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is required when you put less than a 20 percent down payment on your home, find out from your lender how it would be possible to eliminate it.
  3. Appeal your home’s assessed value. Talk to your county officials and get your home’s assessed value lowered by checking that the county has all the information correct about your home, particularly if you think your taxes are too high.
  4. Look for a cheaper homeowners insurance policy. Your payments will be reduced if you lower your homeowner’s insurance rate.
  5. Refinance. Refinancing does cost more initially because of application fees, the cost of an appraisal, origination fees, document processing fee, underwriting fee, credit report charge, title research and insurance, recording fees, tax transfer fees, etc. but refinancing offers a long-term solution to more affordable payments. Try using a Mortgage Refinance Calculator to see how much you’ll save over the long term.

Seek additional mortgage help

You can also check to see if you qualify for mortgage assistance through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), or Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), or Freddie Mac, are government-sponsored enterprises which back many mortgages in the United States. If you have a loan through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Flex Modification Program can reduce your mortgage payments through a few different options:

  • You can add your past due amount to your unpaid loan balance and recalculate your monthly payments over the new loan term.
  • Adjust your interest rate.
  • Forbear some of the principal balance, which means a temporary payment suspension or loan modification.

To explore your eligibility, check out Fannie Mae’s loan lookup tool or Freddie Mac’s loan lookup tool.

The Hardest Hit Fund could also be a resource; it offers mortgage payment assistance if you’re unemployed or underemployed, advocates for principal reduction for more affordable mortgages, offers help when transitioning out of your home and into more affordable living.

Paying for home modifications

It may be necessary to make certain physical changes to your home during and after cancer treatment, including:

  • Easy-to-reach safety rails
  • Ramps instead of stairs
  • Shower seats
  • Hospital beds
  • Over-bed tables
  • Patient lifts and slings
  • Trapeze bars
  • Lift chairs
  • Safety rails
  • Lift chairs
  • Elevated toilet seats
  • Handheld showers
  • Grab bars

Centers for Independent Living (CIL) are nonprofit agencies run by people with disabilities within local communities. CILs are free and they provide information, peer support, skills training and can also utilize assistive technology programs that can also evaluate changes to your home to help meet your needs. They generally do not sell products or charge a fee for their services.

Loans, home improvement grants and other assistance programs may be just the ticket to help you fund your modifications. Check out these websites for more information:

Bill and utility assistance

Manes acknowledges the widespread help among government agencies and nonprofit organizations, and the Angel Foundation provided nearly 2,000 emergency financial assistance grants in 2018. “We refer to our services as the bridge that gets you to the next point,” Manes says. “A family will list out what they need help with, whether it’s mortgage or utilities, and that includes gas, water, electricity,” Manes says. “The check is cut directly to the bank or the landlord. We never give the cash or check directly to the patient. We want to make sure the money is going to the correct places.”

Similar to the Angel Foundation, utility companies often have funds to assist individuals and families. Homeowners, renters and subsidized housing tenants may be eligible for government programs and local programs in your area, and resources include:

If you need to downsize

If it’s necessary to downsize in order to manage your monthly payments, a short sale or deed in lieu could be an option to avoid foreclosure. In a short sale, also known as a pre-foreclosure sale, you sell your home for less than the balance remaining on your mortgage. If your mortgage company agrees to a short sale, you can sell your home and pay off all (or a portion of) your mortgage balance with the proceeds.

A deed-in-lieu occurs when you transfer the ownership of your property to the owner of your mortgage in exchange for a release from your mortgage loan and payments. There are some options to help you leave the home immediately, to stay in the home for up to three months without paying rent or lease the home (at market rates) for up to one year.

Other resources

Many financial aid programs and cancer organizations can help you determine the best course of action and some may also help with specific mortgage and utilities-related expenses. Do your research to find programs that fit the needs of your financial situation:

The bottom line

Ultimately, if you’re struggling with a cancer diagnosis, don’t feel as if you have to fend for yourself.

Manes says she sees people who have to make hard choices and sacrifices every day. “‘I’m sitting on $12,000 on medical bills. I’m going back to school. I have a car that broke down. I  don’t think I can pay for a taxi,’” she says. “It doesn’t matter what type of cancer you have. People have to be able to get help and they need to get help now.”

 

Why African Americans Are More Likely to Have Diabetes

Freelance Contribution by Sally Writes

The risk of developing diabetes is 77% greater among African Americans, according to information published in the journal Clinical Diabetes (2012). However, a recent study by researchers at Northwestern University (2018) has put an end to the mystery behind the phenomenon, finding that when all biological factors are taken into account, blacks and whites actually have the same risk of developing diabetes by middle age. The main factor that drives the difference in rates, is nothing other than obesity. The findings trumped two decades of research that had led scientists to believe that there was an unexplained reason for the differing rates.

Diabetes the Result of Cumulative Weight Gain

The study showed that if a black woman and white woman weighed the same in their 30s, their risk of diabetes at that time was the same. However, if a black woman gained more weight in the next decade or two, this would significantly increase her chance of developing diabetes. The researchers noted that the results were key, because the diabetes rate is significantly rising in black children/youths aged between 10 and 20. The causes of obesity are multiple, and include biological, social, economic, and behavioral factors. To tackle diabetes, obesity must be reduced as well, though this requires many changes that lie beyond the individual – i.e. food needs to be accessible, and there need to be enough opportunities for exercise. Greater awareness of the effects of obesity on Type 2 diabetes is also needed, so that parents can work on changing behaviors that can contribute to both conditions.

Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle

Studies have shown that a healthy diet is one akin to the Mediterranean diet, which comprises lean proteins, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and health Omega-3-rich fats, as well as whole grains. From their earliest years, children should become accustomed to the texture and flavor of whole foods, obtaining their sugar from healthy snacks and beverages like smoothies, made with fruits that are low on the glycemic index – including berries, melons, peaches, apples, pears, oranges, tropical fruits like pineapple, and dried cranberries and blueberries. These can be sweetened with stevia instead of sugar, to keep glucose levels low.

Good Sleep is Key

We have mentioned the importance of exercise and a sound diet to keep obesity and Type 2 diabetes at bay, but don’t forget the importance of a good night’s sleep. If possible, sleep in line with your body’s natural circadian rhythms. This involves sleeping when it is dark, at the same time every night. A published in the journal Diabetologia found that black women who work night shifts have a higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes. This effect is even more pronounced in younger as opposed to older women. If you are male, don’t think you are out of the woods. A University of Chicago Medical Center study showed that black men and women sleep less than whites, men sleep less than women, and the poor sleep less than the wealthy. 

We know that black people have a higher rate of Type 2 diabetes than white people, but there is no longer a mystery to be solved. The key is higher obesity rates, caused by multiple factors. To keep diabetes at bay, greater access to healthy food and more opportunities for safe and affordable exercise space are key. Finally, individual homes should work to battle diabetes through regular physical activity, a Mediterranean-style diet, and a good night’s sleep.

The Ultimate Guide to Hearing Health

Damage that occurs to our hearing and our auditory system can be irreversible, and once it happens, it can have devastating effects on our daily lives.

Hearing loss has been linked to declines in the quality of our relationships, depression and even other health concerns like heart disease.

Over time and as part of the aging process we naturally experience hearing loss at some level, but for the most part, this is a gradual decline that’s not very noticeable.

For some people, that decline can happen more dramatically than for others, or it can occur more quickly.

While it’s difficult to stop the effects of aging on hearing, there are certain things that we expose our ears to on a daily basis that might cause damage or could lead to more rapid declines in the functionality of our auditory system.

So, How Loud Is Dangerous?

One question a lot of people have is, “How loud is too loud?” If you work in noisy environments, love to go to concerts, or have been exposed to a loud blast, you may be at risk for noise-induced hearing loss.

The human ear is a fragile system, but there are measures that you can take to protect your hearing if you know you will be in a noisy situation.

85 dB SPL, which is about the sound level of heavy city traffic, is considered the upper limit for what is safe for your ears for an extended period of time.

Normal conversation usually falls around 60 dB SPL. Beyond 85 dB SPL, you should be careful to wear hearing protection for any amount of time.

The higher the noise level, the less time you should be near it without hearing protection.

Many people have experienced a temporary hearing loss or ringing in their ears after being exposed to loud noise.

This is called a Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS).

Image Source: wikimedia.org

Although it may seem harmless, a TTS is no joke.

Over time, this noise exposure will add up to cause permanent damage and irreversible hearing loss.

If you’re ever questioning if you should be wearing protection in a noisy environment, chances are, you should.

When it comes to your hearing, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Hearing protection has advanced so that it comes in many forms, including electronic earmuffs and earplugs made specifically for working, music listening, and recreation.

3 Reasons Why Asthma is More Critical for Black People

The following is a freelance contribution by Sally Writes

African Americans have a higher rate of being diagnosed with asthma in comparison to white people. Genetic factors, socioeconomic status and its effect on affordable and accessible health care, and air quality are all contributors to the increased incidence. Not only is asthma more prevalent in black people, there are some specific factors that make asthma a much more critical condition.

Acute Asthma Attacks

Asthma itself isn’t caused by poor air quality, but it can be worsened when exposed to allergens and irritants. When things like mold are present, asthma attacks are more severe and frequent because of increased irritation to the lungs and airway. While all asthma is a result of inflammation in the respiratory system, the inflammation present in African Americans is different and unique to them, according to a study by Dr. Sharmilee Nyenhuis. This causes a more critical condition from acute attacks, with blacks being 2-3 times more likely to be hospitalized. Eliminating mold, dander, and other irritants that can cause acute attacks is an important part of managing the condition.

Medication Response

African Americans are not only likely to experience more severe acute attacks, but they are less responsive to conventional medications used for treatment of asthma. Despite taking similar amounts of the same prescription medications, blacks still exhibited the aforementioned unique type of eosinophilic inflammation at an increased rate compared to whites. Evidence suggests that this difference in inflammation may impair the function of typical medications, which was supported by a study conducted at the Chicago school of medicine. This resistance to medication causes the condition to be more difficult to treat. Exploring other treatment options aside from corticosteroids should be a priority for those with difficult-to-treat asthma.

Healthcare Disparities

In addition to being difficult to treat due to medication resistance, treating asthma can be more difficult for those that are uninsured or underinsured. Black people are two and a half times more likely to fall below the poverty level; this contributes to a healthcare disparity among those whose employers do not offer coverage, and who cannot afford other options for healthcare. Access to regular check-ups, emergency care, and medication are all vital components in managing asthma. The Affordable Care Act does provide options for those with low-income, but still, people fall through the cracks, causing inconsistent treatment. Subsidies and patient advocacy play essential role in receiving stable care.

There is clearly an unfortunate distinction in the diagnosis and severity of asthma in African Americans. To combat the effects of the condition, it’s important to be armed with the knowledge to control the condition, as well as advocate for proper care and treatment.

Warning:  Watching This 12-minute Video May Dramatically Change Your Life!

The Quiet Epidemic: Our seniors are developing drug & alcohol addiction at an alarming rate. We provide information, resources and treatment for care providers and seniors battling addiction and related conditions.  Click here and on the banner below to get help and learn more

Don Cornelius & The Black Male Suicide Stigma

Don Cornelius & The Black Male Suicide Stigma

In 2012, longtime host and producer of the iconic television show, Soul Train, died by suicide at the age of 75. Media reports have suggested that Mr. Cornelius took his own life due to severe pain as a result of chronic health illnesses.

One of the most prevalent views within the African-American community is that we do not intentionally kill ourselves.  Many of us also believe that suicide is something only white people or spiritually-weak people do, that suicide is a cop-out, and that to even consider it is a “punk move”.  However, these apparent suicides and clinical research clearly indicate that African-Americans do commit suicide.

The Sad (And Real) Facts On Black Suicide

According to the American Association of Suicidology, suicides were completed by African-Americans and that suicide was the third leading cause of death among African-American youth.  The Centers for Disease Control reported that between 1999 and 2004, young African-American males had the highest rate of suicide.  This latter finding is consistent with research that males are more likely to complete suicides whereas females are more likely to attempt suicide.

One reason for the difference is that men tend to choose more lethal means of death than women.  But please do not take this to mean that African-American women do not commit suicide; the same 2005 data from the American Association of Suicidology reports of the 1,992 completed suicides among African-Americans that 371 of those deaths were by females. It is also important to note that, generally, there tends to be a underreporting of this behavior, so the numbers may be higher than those cited.

Why Are We Killing Ourselves?

So why do people commit suicide?  At the heart of suicidal behavior is the strong desire to be free from suffering, whether that be emotional, mental, and/or physical pain.  When we are hurting, we typically engage in behaviors to eliminate or at least lessen the pain. There are several risk factors that may suggest that a person is at a higher risk of committed suicide than others.  Some of these risk factors are:

  • male
  • elderly
  • chronic pain
  • substance use and abuse
  • chronic illness
  • lack of social support
  • poor response or an unwillingness to engage in mental health treatment
  • having a friend or family member that committed suicide
  • members of the Armed Forces who have had multiple deployments within a short time span

What To Do If Someone You Know Is In Trouble…

If a friend of a loved one has threatened to harm themselves, do not make the assumption that they are simply seeking attention.  In many cases of suicide, the victim made it known to others that they were thinking about ending their lives.

Additional warning signs include:

  • feelings of worthlessness
  • no hope for the future
  • giving away prized possessions
  • withdrawing from others
  • impulsive behaviors
  • feeling trapped
  • significant changes in mood

If any of these are present in you or a loved one, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The Black Suicide Stigma MUST Change

One of the main differences I have observed in people who have committed or have attempted suicide and others is access to a wide range of resources and the belief they can utilize them.  In treatment by a qualified mental health professional, one learns various coping skills to address the causes of their suffering and is provided the support and guidance to put these skills into practice.

The deaths of bright celebrity starts, including Seau and Cornelius are truly heartbreaking…as are the countless deaths of others in the African American community who felt they had nowhere else to turn. Until the Black community takes bolder steps to abandon this crippling suicide stigma, many of the medical community fear that these tragic statistics will only increase.

Black Doctor.org

Are You Having a Midlife Crisis?  Mr. Free Spirit Explores This Topic

Image by © Rick Gomez/Corbis

Mr. Free Spirit ends 2018 with a subject that will address men before and during that age of retirement.  Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Mr. Free Spirit has told you about the “UP” side of retirement, however some prerequisites loom in retirement, like a midlife crisis!  What is midlife crisis?  A midlife crisis is different things to many people!  Let’s talk about a midlife crisis for men.

Here is one definition of a midlife crisis from Wikipedia:

midlife crisis is a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 45–??? years old. The phenomenon is described as a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight a person’s growing age, inevitable mortality, and possibly shortcomings of accomplishments in life. This may produce feelings of depression, remorse, and anxiety, or the desire to achieve youthfulness or make drastic changes to current lifestyle.

The term was coined by Elliott Jaques in 1965. More modern research has shown this is not a phase that most middle-aged people experience, and some have questioned the existence of this phenomenon.

When it does occur, a midlife crisis is not actually experienced during the midpoint of one’s life, which for most average human lifespans would be after the age of 50.

Crisis vs. Stressors

Academic research since the 1980s rejects the notion of midlife crisis as a phase that most adults go through. Personality type and a history of psychological crisis are believed to predispose some people to this “traditional” midlife crisis.  People going through this suffer a variety of symptoms and exhibit a disparate range of behaviors.

It is important to understand the difference between a midlife crisis and a midlife stressor. Midlife is the time from years 45 to where a person is often evaluating his or her own life. However, many midlife stressors are often labeled as a midlife crisis.

Day-to-day stressors are likely to add up and be thought of as a crisis, but in reality, it is simply an “overload.”.[4] Both women and men often experience multiple stressors because of their simultaneous roles as wives/husbands, mothers/fathers, employees, daughters/sons, etc.

Many middle-aged adults experience major life events that can cause a period of psychological stress or depression, such as the death of a loved one, or a career setback. However, those events could have happened earlier or later in life, making them a “crisis,” but not necessarily a midlife one. In the same study, 15% of middle-aged adults experienced this type of midlife turmoil. Being of a lower educational status is related to feeling stressors to a greater degree than those of a higher education level during midlife.

Studies indicate that some cultures may be more sensitive to this phenomenon than others; one study found that there is little evidence that people undergo midlife crises in Japanese and Indian cultures, raising the question of whether a midlife crisis is mainly a cultural construct. The authors hypothesized that the “culture of youth” in Western societies accounts for the popularity of the midlife crisis concept there.

Researchers have found that midlife is often a time for reflection and reassessment, but this is not always accompanied by the psychological upheaval popularly associated with “midlife crisis. Those who made career or jobs changes early in life were less likely to experience a crisis in midlife.

The condition may occur from the ages of 45–?  Midlife crisis last about 3–10 years in men and 2–5 years in women. A midlife crisis could be caused by aging itself, or aging in combination with changes, problems, or regrets over:

  • work or career(or lack thereof)
  • spousal relationships (or lack thereof)
  • maturation of children (or lack of children)
  • aging or death of parents
  • physical changes associated with aging

Midlife crisis can affect men and women differently because their stressors differ. An American cultural stereotype of a man going through a midlife crisis may include the purchase of a luxury item such as an exotic car, or seeking intimacy with a younger woman. Some men seek younger women who are able to procreate, not necessarily with an intention to produce offspring. A man’s midlife crises is more likely to be caused by work issues, a woman’s crisis by personal evaluations of their roles. Even though there are differences between why men and women go through a midlife crisis, the emotions they both encounters can be intense.

One of the main characteristics of a midlife crisis perspective, is one assumes that their midlife is about to be eventful, usually in a negative way, and potentially stressful. Psychologist Oliver Robinson’s research characterizes each decade of life by describing frequent occurrences or situations particular to those age periods. He describes that a crisis can begin in a person’s early 20s, when they usually try to map out their whole life. Moreover, the later age period, between 50 and 60, may be a time of illness or even the thought of death. Such a deadline may convince a middle-aged person that their life needs to be lived as expected.[8]

Individuals experiencing a midlife crisis may feel:

  • a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
  • a fear of humiliation among more successful colleagues
  • longing to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
  • need to spend more time alone or with certain peers
  • a heightened sense of their sexuality or lack thereof
  • confusion, resentment or anger due to their discontent with their marital, work, health, economic, or social status
  • ambitious to right the missteps they feel they have taken early in life.

Mr. Free Spirit found out via some research technology of the 21st century has heightened midlife crisis to the point where everything is much easier with the use of the computer. However, keep in mind some men have no intentions of following through, they are just curious.

Once a man starts to satisfy his curiosity with the knowledge of his interest, he most often will never complete and/or follow through. However, a mate often becomes annoyed and seeks a permanent solution (i.e. divorce) for a temporary problem.

Empty nest syndrome may cause a man to deviate from logical thinking or wanting the children to leave home is equally as bad. Many men may want that exotic car but will only go as far as reviewing the price tag! That new-found young lady is just a dream. The grass may look greener on the other side, but the amount of water it takes to make it greener will wake up the dead. Boredom creates mental monsters, but realism sets in and the comforts of home and the bank account rains him back in.

What Causes a Midlife Crisis?

You can overcome a midlife crisis if you understand its causes.  First, people may face them because of external factors.

Unresolved issues are the next trigger. People may display odd behavior because they have unmet needs. They may feel that circumstances robbed them of chances in life because his family situation deprived him of a higher education.

Debt adds to this list of push factors. Being middle-aged and having huge mortgages to pay is frightening and stressful. It may make otherwise rational people walk away from family and other responsibilities.

Also, there is grief. Coping with the death of a loved one compounds a midlife crisis. The transition can become utterly bewildering.

Finally, those with self-esteem issues may find it hard to transit from young adulthood to midlife. They probably become distant because they have feelings of inadequacy.

What are the Signs of Midlife Crisis?

Does the shoe fit?

A midlife crisis can take many forms. It can represent danger, no matter how it shows itself. You can help a loved one survive it if you recognize its signs.

  1. Health Scares

First, people facing midlife crises may start worrying about their health. They may run to the nearest clinic at the slightest hint of an illness.

  1. Tough Questions

The next sign of a midlife crisis is the raising of tough questions. Because they are at life’s crossroads, people will start asking themselves ‘Who am I?

  1. Comparisons

And then, they will start to compare themselves with others. Depression may set in because they may resent that they are not as successful as others or a spouse are.

  1. Acknowledging Time

They will have, in addition, a sense of time flying. They may suddenly feel discouraged with their lives and routines.

  1. Focus on Appearance

People facing midlife crises may start feeling dissatisfied with their looks because they are conscious of growing older. The obsession may drive them to try numerous weight loss programs.  Also, older men and women may try to appear younger than they are. They may feel left behind, or that doing so is the only way to connect with their children. Women may start to dress younger than they are, while men may show off.

  1. Assigning Blame

People going through midlife crises may start to grouse over trivial matters because they feel confused about their lives. They indulge in petty grievances, like accusing spouses or friends of trying to malign or undermine them.

  1. Feeling Tied Down

Furthermore, people going through a midlife crisis may feel stuck in a rut, with no way to improve their situations. They believe that they have no options for a better future.

  1. Career Change

Moreover, those who have reached their middle years may feel that their jobs are dreary and want to change them. They may want to follow their passions and launch careers that they did not get a chance to before.

  1. Depression

Middle-aged persons may also experience depression because they realize that they are getting older. The thought of death may scare them.

  1. Having Affairs

Finally, people experiencing midlife crises may crave romantic attention. The boredom that sometimes accompanies years of marriage may overwhelm them and they may seek new partners.

Next month Mr. Free Spirit will fuse Midlife Crisis with Retirement relationships.

Mr. Free Spirit Out! (The past is not a place I want to visit!)

Keto Diet Fundamentals

December 14, 2018

You’ve heard of the keto diet. Everyone from Lebron James to the Kardashians has used the low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet for reasons like performance and weight loss.

The goal of the keto diet is to get the body producing ketones– a fundamentally different energy source than the carbohydrates and fats your cells typically use for energy. It can take several days of ketogenic eating before the body starts to produce ketones. And the time it takes to get into ketosis varies between individuals.

“Keto” comes from the word “ketogenic.” This is a nuanced term meaning that the body is producing ketones from fat.1 When blood ketone levels exceed 0.5mM, the body has achieved “ketosis.” So ketosis can be achieved either through diet or fasting (meaning the body is producing its own ketones to be ketogenic), or also by consuming products that raise blood ketone levels (like HVMN Ketone or ketone salts or MCT oils).

Limiting carb intake and protein intake encourages the body to burn fat–and thus produce ketones. Importantly, restricting proteins as well as carbohydrates limits the amount of substrate available for gluconeogenesis. This is the process of making glucose from non-glucose molecules such as lactate, glycerol, or protein.

Because the ketogenic diet is low-carbohydrate, it often gets confused with other low-carb diets out there. Just because a diet is low carb doesn’t mean it’s keto. It’s subtle differences in the macronutrients provided in the diet determine if the diet is ‘ketogenic.’

A macronutrient is something humans consume in large quantities to provide the bulk of energy to the body. The primary macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. For a diet to be ketogenic, it must be high in fat, low-moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates.

A breakdown of the different types of diets similar to keto: keto, low-carb, atkins and paleo

Here are some helpful definitions of diets with an element of reduced carbohydrate intake:

Ketogenic Diet

  • The aim is to trigger the production of ketones in the body
  • High fat, low/moderate protein, and low carbohydrate

Low-Calorie Ketogenic Diet

  • The aim is to severely restrict calories to a level below the basic metabolic needs (i.e., <800 kCal)
  • Even if this diet is relatively high in carbohydrates, the calorie deficit created can still lead to a state of ketosis
  • Not sustainable long-term

Low-Carbohydrate Diet

  • Defined in medical literature as a diet with < 30% energy from carbohydrates2
  • May not lead to ketosis as the carbohydrate and protein intake could be too high

Atkins Diet

  • This diet has several phases
  • Initially, the aim is to restrict the carbohydrate intake to less than 20g per day. This degree of restriction is likely to lead to ketosis, although this is not an explicit aim
  • Subsequently, the diet reintroduces carbohydrates to a level “the body can tolerate”3
  • Less restriction on protein compared to a ‘true ketogenic diet–high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate.

Paleo Diet

  • The aim is to limit the diet to foods that would have been available to Paleolithic man4
  • Wide variability in interpretations
  • Foods allowed include vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meat
  • Foods excluded include dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, alcohol, and coffee
  • No structured macronutrient target; however, following a Paleo diet results in higher protein and fat consumption than an average diet

Now you have a grasp of what makes the ketogenic diet unique–but where’d it start?

The History of the Ketogenic Diet

Fasting and Early Pioneers of the Ketogenic Diet

The concept of fasting (taking in zero calories) predates the ketogenic diet as we now understand it. Many of the benefits of fasting are likely due to the presence of ketones in the body.

Since the earliest days of man, fasting has been used as a tool to physically and spiritually cleansing.

The Bible describes fasting as a treatment for convulsions. The ancient Greek philosopher Hippocrates said, “To eat when you are sick is to fuel your sickness.”

Early advocates of fasting were obviously unaware of ketosis as a crucial factor in the anticonvulsant effect of fasting. In the early 1900s, physicians at the Mayo Clinic observed a link between a low-carb diet and fasting. They discovered that severely restricting dietary carbohydrates and increasing fat intake could decrease seizures in the same way as fasting.5 It was not until the mid-1900s, when scientists could measure ketones, that we understood fasting led to the presence of ketones in the body.

Epilepsy was not the only disease historically treated with a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Low-carbohydrate diets were also advocated for patients with diabetes and obesity. Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, diabetes was managed through carbohydrate restriction. William Banting, an obese British mortician, popularized the weight loss benefits of a diet “stripped of starchy foods” in a pamphlet called “Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public.”

The Dark Ages for the Ketogenic Diet

To many, a low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet is a counter-intuitive approach to support health. There is a widespread fear dietary fat is linked to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and other associated health complications.

In 1953 Ancel Keys, an American biochemist published an epidemiological study that introduced the “diet-heart” hypothesis. The study claimed dietary fat was a key risk factor in developing heart disease. The “diet-heart” hypothesis proposed blood LDL and cholesterol derived from dietary fat accelerates the development of atherosclerotic plaques.6

His work came at the time that US President Dwight Eisenhower, suffered a heart attack.

Following the advice of his physician, Eisenhower publicly cut back his fat intake. Nutrition was in the spotlight and Keys was able to further his hypothesis.

This led to radical changes in global food policy and public practice.

In 1977, the USDA Dietary Goals for Americans recommended a decrease in dietary fat intake, and a diet based on grains and cereals.7

At the time, there was still no clinical evidence supporting Keys’ “diet-heart” hypothesis. Subsequent large trials, including the Framingham Study and Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial, failed to illustrate decreasing dietary fat lowered the risk of heart disease.8,9

Obesity rose following the adoption of the USDA guidelines. Some investigators hypothesized that increased dietary carbohydrates were responsible for the developing health crisis. John Yudkin, a British physiologist and nutritionist, described this phenomenon in his book “Pure, White and Deadly”10–the widespread fear of dietary fats caused scientists and nutritionists to overlook the role of sugar and starch.

Resurgence of ‘Low-Carbohydrate’ Diets

‘Low-fat’ dieting was widespread in the late 1900s. During this time, Dr. Robert Atkins became an infamous spokesperson for the keto diet. Dr. Atkins brought his version of the ketogenic diet to the masses in his 1972 book “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.” In his 40 years of practice, Dr. Atkins treated an estimated 60,000 patients for obesity and related conditions. At that time, there were no clinical studies to validate the benefits of the diet. Many patients reported side effects while starting the diet, including fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, and nausea. This uncomfortable induction phase was labeled the ‘Atkins Flu.’

After Atkins’ death in 2003, others started to promote the ketogenic diet for health. The Atkins Foundation recently funded a group of scientists to study the effects of the Atkins diet formally. This group of scientists includes Jeff Volek, Stephen Phinney, and Dr. Eric Westman. They discovered that the Atkins diet outperformed a diet based on the 1977 USDA guidelines with respect to measured coronary risk factors, including decreased low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol and total blood saturated FFA alongside increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.11 This outcome may be due to the decrease in carbohydrate and concomitant changes in the hormonal milieu, or due to effects of ketone bodies on substrate metabolism.

The pendulum of public perception begun to swing in favor of diets higher in fat, thanks to the emergence of influential writers and speakers such as Gary Taubes, Robert Lustig, and Nina Teicholtz, and clinicians and scientists such as Professor Tim Noakes, Dr. Jason Fung, and Professor Thomas Seyfried. The work of these individuals exposed flaws in the ‘diet-heart hypothesis.’

These influencers helped expose corruption in the political decisions that resulted in the last decades of vilification of dietary fat. Evidence illustrating the role of high dietary carbohydrate intake in the development of obesity and diabetes has started to grow. Much of the recent research suggests that low-fat diets may be harmful to health. This culminated with a recent meta-analysis of data from 18 countries, which linked increases in carbohydrate intake with increases in mortality.12

The fear of fat has continued to reverse. Over the last few years, the ketogenic diet has grown in popularity. Popular culture is starting to recognize and adopt the keto diet, and online searches have grown. More and more doctors now encourage and prescribe the ketogenic diet to treat metabolic disorders and obesity. Large online commmunities bring thousands of people together to discuss research, share keto diet before and after photos, and encourage each other.

Keto Diet for Weight Loss

The ketogenic diet can be used to help with weight loss and also to treat some diseases (discussed in detail elsewhere). Recently, the number of positive keto diet reviews has increased. The rising popularity of the diet has led to a demand for further randomized control trials to study its long-term efficacy. A key reason why the ketogenic diet helps weight loss is that it decreases hunger. This makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit. It is important to stress that the overconsumption of calories will prevent weight loss, regardless of the macronutrient composition.

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Macronutrient Composition of a Keto Diet

Macronutrients are food groups that humans consume in large quantities. They provide the bulk of the energy to the body. The primary macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The macronutrient composition of a diet can be described using the mass of each macronutrient, the ratio of macronutrients in the diet, or the percentage of each macronutrient in the diet. The variety of descriptions can make things a little confusing!

For example:

  • A ketogenic diet contains about 5% of energy as carbohydrates.
  • A ketogenic diet has a ratio of 2-4g of fat to every 1g of carbohydrates plus proteins.
  • A classical ketogenic diet contains 20-30g of carbohydrate per day

When starting off on the ketogenic diet, these are good target macronutrient ratios:

Oil, steak and pasta illustrating the different macronutrient breakdowns for a keto diet

Examples of food rich in:

  1. Carbohydrates: bread, pasta, potatoes, cereals, sugary food (sweets).
  2. Fat: oils (olive oil, coconut oil), butter, fatty cuts of meat, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, avocado.
  3. Protein: beef, chicken, pork, fish, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs.

Carbohydrates

The main function of dietary carbohydrates (‘carbs’) is to be a source of energy. Some say that dietary carbohydrates are not ‘essential’ as they can be made from dietary protein and fat.13

A sliced loaf of bread, showing carbohydrate's role on the keto diet

Carbohydrates are biological molecules that contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, usually with a 2:1 ratio of hydrogen:oxygen. Carbohydrates occur as a collection of single units (monosaccharides, e.g. glucose), two molecules joined (disaccharides, e.g. sucrose), and chains of molecules (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides).

When following a ketogenic diet, the carbohydrate intake should be very low.

This contrasts with the modern western diet, where most dietary calories come from carbohydrates. Consuming carbohydrates causes insulin release, which inhibits ketone production in the liver and thus ketosis. Therefore, monitoring and modulating your carbohydrate intake is an important part of following the ketogenic diet.

Dietary carbohydrates replenish the stores in muscle and liver (glycogen). It also maintains blood glucose concentrations to provide fuel for the whole body, but most importantly for the brain.

Blood glucose is easy to measure using a handheld blood glucose monitor. Normal blood glucose levels fluctuate throughout the day and vary between individuals. Therefore, it is useful to track over the long term and in response to different ‘challenges,’ such as a meal or exercise.

Ranges of Blood Glucose levels for clinical diagnosis are as follows:14

  • Fasting: healthy = 4-6 mM / 70-110 mgDl
  • Fasting: diabetic = ~ 7 mM / 125 mgDl
  • 90 minutes post-meal: healthy = < 8 mM / 140 mgDl
  • 90 minutes post-meal: diabetics =  > 11 mM/ 200 mgDl

When you’re following the ketogenic diet, key concepts are the total amount of carbohydrates, the ‘net’ amount of carbohydrates (accounting for the accompanying fiber), and the speed with which carbohydrates raise blood glucose (glycemic index).

With a standard ketogenic diet, it’s recommended to keep the total amount of carbohydrates limited to less than 5% of energy intake.15 See the table above for a calculation of the advised carbohydrate intake grams for a 2000 kCal per day 4:1 ketogenic diet.

Dietary fiber is carbohydrate-based material from plants that is not entirely broken down by the small intestine. Instead, it passes to the large intestine, and either undergoes fermentation (which supports the growth of beneficial bacteria),16 or excretion.

Fiber is a significant part of a well-formulated ketogenic diet. It helps to maintain gut health, and also increases food bulk and helps with the feeling of ‘fullness.’ Green and cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber and are helpful to include in a ketogenic diet.

Depending on how ‘complex’ the source of fiber is, it has different assumed caloric values. One approach is to treat fiber as having the same amount of calories per gram as carbohydrates: 4 kCal/gram. However, as a proportion of fiber is not digested, other approaches use a lower value of 2 kCal/g. Digestion-resistant fiber does not contribute to calorie intake, as it is not broken down.

Net carbs refer to the mass of total carbohydrates, minus the total fiber, which could be a better metric to judge carbohydrate intake because:

  • Fiber is mostly digestion-resistant and so should not increase blood glucose.16
  • Studies have shown an increase in fiber does not affect blood ketone levels.17

The ‘glycemic index’ is a scale that ranges between 1 and 100, and it indicates how quickly food raises blood glucose after consumption. Pure glucose is the reference and is set at 100 (i.e. raises blood glucose quickly). Other foods have a comparatively lower value as they raise blood glucose more slowly. Example values for the glycemic index of food are white potato: ~80, white bread: ~75, apple: ~35, peanuts: ~15.

‘Glycemic load’ accounts for both the speed of carbohydrate release and the TOTAL amount of carbohydrates in food.

Glycemic load = (total carbohydrates (g) x glycemic index) / 1000.

Food can have a relatively high glycemic index (i.e. carrot = 47) but because the total carbohydrate amount is low (carrot = 5g per serving), the glycemic load of one serving is very low.

The “glycemic index” is a 1 – 100 scale indicating how quickly food raises blood glucose after consumption. Pure glucose is the reference and is set at 100 (i.e. raises blood glucose quickly). Other foods have a comparatively lower value as they raise blood glucose more slowly.

Example values for the glycemic index of food are white potato: ~80, white bread: ~75, apple: ~35, peanuts: ~15.

“Glycemic load” accounts for both the speed of carbohydrate release and the total amount of carbohydrates in food.

Glycemic load = (total carbohydrates [g] x glycemic index) / 1000.

Food can have a relatively high glycemic index (i.e. carrot = 47) but because the total carbohydrate amount is low (carrot = 5g per serving), the glycemic load of one serving is very low.

Proteins

Proteins are large molecules composed of chains of amino acids. The functions of dietary protein are:

  • Building structural and functional components of cells
  • Conversion to glucose via gluconeogenesis
  • Top up intermediates in other metabolic pathways, such as the Krebs Cycle
A chicken breast showing protein's role on a keto diet

While it is possible for a protein to be used as a fuel, this isn’t its primary function.

When following a ketogenic diet, there must be a balance of sufficient protein to maintain muscle mass. If dietary protein exceeds 20-25% of calories, gluconeogenesis from protein can stop the ketone production. Initially, target a protein intake of 0.8-1.2g per kilogram of body weight. This target balances the need for protein against the chance of excess gluconeogenesis.18

Some individuals (such as strength or endurance athletes) may have higher protein requirements. They might require a modified ketogenic macronutrient ratio of 2:1 fat:non-fat (where 65% of energy is fat, 30% is protein, and 5% carbohydrate) and can still be effective for therapeutic ketosis.

Fats

Fat gets a bad rap. In nutrition, fat is the dietary macronutrient made up of triglyceride molecules. The main functions of fats in the diet are to provide increased energy levels and makeup key functional and structural parts of the human system.

Cashews showing role of fat on keto

But we often misuse the word “fat.” There’s a difference between fat in cells and different types of fat molecules:

  • Adipose tissue: the tissue that stores energy as fats/lipid droplets inside adipocytes (fat cells). This is body fat
  • Adipocytes: individual cells that store fats/lipids
  • Lipids: the most general term for insoluble and polar biological fat molecules. The lipid class of molecules includes mono-, di- and triglycerols, cholesterols, and phospholipids
  • Triglycerides: a lipid molecule made up of glycerol (that acts as a backbone) joined to three fatty acid molecules
  • Fatty acids: a molecule composed of a chain of carbon atoms bonded to one another with a carboxylic acid at one end

To be specific, our diet includes many sources of lipids.

Lipids are digested and travel in the blood as triglycerides and fatty acids before being used as a fuel, or stored by adipocytes in adipose tissue. Dietary lipids undergo many tightly regulated metabolic steps before storage in adipose tissue. Dietary fat does not equal stored body fat.

Triglycerides are the most important source of energy in a ketogenic diet. They account for > 70% of dietary calories. For those following a ketogenic diet, it’s helpful to understand how the lipid source in the diet is processed in the body.

Fatty acids can be saturated (no double bonds between carbons), or unsaturated (one or more double bonds between carbons).

Saturated fats are relatively stable and tend to be solid at room temperature (i.e. lard, butter, coconut oil). Historical guidelines recommended limited the intake of dietary saturated fats because fat consumption was thought to be associated with heart disease and high blood pressure. However, emerging research has shown saturated fat can have beneficial effects on blood biomarkers (i.e. increase ‘healthy’ HDL levels).12

Unsaturated fatty acids can be further divided into monounsaturated fats (only one double bond between carbons) and polyunsaturated fats (multiple double bonds between carbons). The number of double bonds is important as it determines how the fatty acid behaves both inside and outside of the body.

They tend to be liquid at room temperature (i.e. vegetable-based fats such as olive oil). Unsaturated fats are thought of as healthier than saturated fats (also known as “healthy fats”). Increased consumption of mono- and polyunsaturated fats have been linked to improved blood biomarkers (i.e. lower blood triglycerides).19 Eating enough unsaturated fats is important when following a ketogenic diet.

Increased fat consumption is not associated with cardiovascular disease.20

Eating a moderate amount of saturated fat is unlikely to be as harmful as previously believed, and saturated fat consumption as part of a ketogenic diet is unlikely to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Trans-fats are produced artificially when hydrogen is added to unsaturated fatty acids in order to solidify it and make it last longer. Because of associations with poor health outcomes, these artificial fats had their generally regarded as safe (GRAS) status removed in 2015 by the FDA. 21 Avoid high levels of trans-fat consumption by eating a diet based around whole foods.

Essential fatty acids are important to include in the diet because the body cannot naturally produce them. This group includes poly-unsaturated omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 fatty acids.

It’s believed the anti-inflammatory effects of essential fatty acids may have broad benefits for health and performance. Oily fish, such as sardines and mackerel, and seeds (i.e. flax) are good dietary sources of essential fatty acids.

The number of carbons in the fatty acid chain also has an important effect on its metabolism. The carbon chain of fatty acids can be up to 28 carbons atoms long. If there are > 13 carbons in the fatty acid, it is called a long-chain fatty acid, between 8-12 is a medium-chain fatty acid, and under 5 carbons is a short-chain fatty acid.

The body metabolizes fats differently according to chain length. Long-chain fatty acids are absorbed and go from the gut into the lymphatic drainage system and from there are released directly into the blood.

By comparison, medium- and short-chain fatty acids do not go into the lymphatic system. They travel in the blood from the gut directly to the liver.22 If a large amount of these short- and medium-chain fats are delivered to the liver at once, this can trigger the liver to convert them into ketones, even without dietary carbohydrate restriction.

Medium-chain fatty acids are highly ketogenic. They can be found in natural sources such as coconut oil or in an artificially purified form. However, for many people, consuming a high amount of medium-chain fatty acids can cause an upset stomach. This limits their use to raise ketones artificially.

When integrating these concepts into a ketogenic diet: target the majority of dietary calories as fat.

Aim to include a variety of fats from different animal and plant sources (i.e. red meat, poultry, fish, dairy, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and avocados).

Conversely, micronutrients must be obtained in the diet in small quantities, but are essential to health. Vitamins and minerals are examples of micronutrients.

Micronutrients in a Ketogenic Diet

When following a ketogenic diet, it is important to be mindful of micronutrient intake because:

  • Reducing carbohydrate intake can lower consumption of micronutrient-rich foods (i.e. fruits and vegetables)
  • In the initial 28 days of following a ketogenic diet, the balance of some micronutrients (such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) can become disturbed due to an increase in their excretion.23 The body resolves this issue naturally after adapting to the diet

Sodium is the principal cation in extracellular fluid. Its functions are related to blood volume maintenance, water balance, and cell membrane potential. Sodium is also essential for acid-base balance and nerve conduction.

The level of sodium can fall at the start of a ketogenic diet. Adding extra sodium to meals (like adding salt or consuming bouillon/ bone broth) can reduce the chances of feeling the common side effects associated with low sodium (like cramps).

Potassium is the principal cation in the intracellular fluid. Its primary functions are related to maintaining cell membrane potential and electrical activity in cells such as neurons and cardiomyocytes.

As with sodium, levels of potassium fall at the initiation of a ketogenic diet due to increased excretion. When starting a ketogenic diet, include sources of potassium like nuts, dark green vegetables, and avocados.

Magnesium is an essential element in biological systems, especially for nerve, muscle, and immune function. Levels of magnesium also fall at the initiation of a ketogenic diet due to increased excretion. When starting a ketogenic diet, include sources of magnesium like oily fish, dark green vegetables, and seeds.

Calcium has a role in muscle contraction and is important for cardiovascular and bone health. Calcium deficiency is less common during a ketogenic diet, as staples of the diet such as fish, cheese, and leafy greens are rich sources of the mineral.

Now that an understanding of the biology of the ketogenic diet has been reached, we’ve arrived at the fun part: how to start the keto diet.

Keto Diet for Weight Loss

There’s a growing consensus that the keto diet can help with weight loss.

The rising popularity of the diet has led to a demand for further randomized control trials to study its long-term efficacy. The ketogenic diet helps weight loss because it decreases hunger. This makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit. It is important to stress that the overconsumption of calories will prevent weight loss, regardless of the macronutrient composition.

How to Start a Ketogenic Diet

Don’t try to start the diet gradually. If carbohydrate intake is moderately-low, blood sugar levels may not be enough to fuel the brain, and the presence of carbohydrate in the diet might still be enough to stop the body from making ketones.

The main objectives when starting the ketogenic diet are to:

  • Restrict carbohydrates to 20 digestible grams per day or less – a strict low-carb diet
  • Consume plenty of fiber
  • Restrict protein to moderate levels. If possible, stay at or below 0.45 grams of protein per day, per lb of body weight (1g/kg). So about 70 grams of protein per day if you weigh ~155 lbs (~70kg). If your goal is to lose weight, aim for 1 gram of protein per kg of your target weight
  • Consume fat until you are satiated

Tips for Starting the Ketogenic Diet

  • Make a keto diet menu. It’s a good idea to keto meal plan before starting the diet. Make a shopping trip to stock up on a range of foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat
  • Use an app to track macronutrient intake. Apps such as MyFitnessPal are great to get an idea of the macronutrients in common foods. There is also a range of special online keto diet calculators
  • Search for a few keto recipes to adapt cooking methods. Due to the high-fat consumption required to get into ketosis, it may be beneficial to change daily staples or cooking methods. Keep an eye out for coconut oil, heavy cream, and lots of cheese
  • Make an approved list of keto foods and eliminate carbohydrate-rich foods. It will be easier to follow the diet by throwing out any foods to avoid. It’s recommended to check the labels for hidden added sugars
  • Consider starting the ketogenic diet within a short period (16-36 hours) of fasting (consuming zero calories). Fasting depletes carbohydrate stores and can accelerate ketone production. Click here to read more about fasting protocols
  • Gentle cardio exercise (~30 minutes) or some short high-intensity intervals (10-second sprints) can deplete carbohydrate stores and speed up ketone production
A plate of broccoli, smoked salmon, avocado and fried egg with a list of tips for how to start the keto diet

Cyclical Ketogenic Dieting and ‘Cheating’

At the moment, there is not a clear answer as to whether the benefits of the ketogenic diet can be achieved by cycling on and off the diet. It’s best to stick to the diet for 1-2 months minimum to see benefits. It can take several days to get into ketosis1 and 3-6 weeks to become “fat adapted.”18

Some research indicates ~40 days on the ketogenic diet interspersed with periods of healthy eating with more carbohydrates (Mediterranean diet) could maintain weight loss.24

“Cheating,” and consuming high-carbohydrate food, quickly stops ketone production by the liver. It can then take a considerable amount of time for the body to get back into ketosis. Time taken to get back into ketosis will depend on many factors. These include the amount of carbohydrates consumed, how adapted the body is to produce ketones, activity level, etc.

However, cyclical ketogenic diets are a promising area of scientific investigation. Recently, scientists studied the effect of long-term cycling of the ketogenic diet (one week on, one week off the diet) compared to a normal diet in mice. Cyclical keto dieting reduced mid-life mortality and increased healthspan.25

Optimal Range of Ketosis

As with all processes in metabolism, the state of ketosis is a spectrum. Past a threshold (which varies from person to person), even a small increase in dietary carbohydrate intake can trigger enough insulin release to take the body out of ketosis.

Guidelines for target levels for blood ketones are:

  • No ketosis: under 0.5 mM BHB in blood
  • Low ketosis: 0.5 – 1.5 mM BHB in blood
  • Moderate ketosis: 1.5 – 3 mM BHB in blood
  • High ketosis: over 3 mM BHB in blood

Pathological ketosis: over 15 mM BHB in blood

The level of ketosis required for different physiological benefits is unknown. For endurance sports, a higher level of ketosis (~4 mM) appears to be superior to lower levels.26,27 This is possible because ketones fuel athletes.

However, some other benefits of ketosis, such as reduced appetite may be seen at much lower levels (0.5 mM).28

The best way to know if you are in ketosis is to measure the levels of ketones (BHB) in your blood. You can also estimate blood levels by measuring ketones in your breath or urine.

Physiological Ketosis

The typical methods used to generate physiological levels of ketosis are fasting, the ketogenic diet, and consuming exogenous ketones like HVMN Ketone.

After an overnight fast, a low amount of ketones (0.1-0.2 mM) can often be detected in the blood. As the time spent fasting increases, blood ketone levels slowly rise until a plateau at 8-10 mM of BHB has been reached after many days. Scientist Hans Krebs described this plateau as “physiological ketosis.”29

Fasting long-term is unsustainable, so following a strict ketogenic diet can be used to maintain a low level of continuous ketosis. Research suggests blood BHB levels between 0.4-1mM can be achieved while following a ketogenic diet.18 Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s sometimes possible to reach higher levels.

Using exogenous ketones can raise blood ketones to a physiological level without the ketogenic diet or fasting. The level of ketosis reached depends on the exogenous ketone supplement used. Reported levels range from 0.6 mM with a ketone salt or a medium-chain triglyceride supplement26,30 and up to 6 mM with HVMN Ketone.27

Pathological Ketosis

Sometimes, the body starts producing ketones as a result of a disease (pathology). This can lead to dangerous levels of ketones in the body, though these high levels are very uncommon in healthy people following the ketogenic diet.

Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) is a result of chronic alcohol consumption usually accompanied by malnutrition. AKA is characterized by increased ketone production (levels > 15 mM) via liver alcohol metabolism, in conjunction with a mild elevation in blood glucose levels. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, altered breathing, and abdominal pain.31

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs most frequently in patients with type 1 diabetes. DKA is the simultaneous occurrence of high blood ketones (> 20 mM), high blood glucose, and acidification of the blood.31 It develops when insulin is absent, or insulin signaling is no longer functional.

This means the physiological state of starvation is triggered, even in the presence of high blood glucose. As during starvation, lipolysis (fat release) increases. This causes the liver to produce a high amount of ketones and blood pH to fall (as ketones are an organic acid).

As glucose levels are very high, the excess is excreted in the urine. This draws water and electrolytes out of the body, causing dangerous dehydration. Symptoms of DKA include nausea, vomiting, altered breathing, abdominal pain, and unconsciousness. The rapid onset and alarming nature of DKA is a reason why ketosis has a bad stigma in the medical community.

Who Should Avoid a Ketogenic Diet?

Following a ketogenic diet may not be suggested for people with the following medical considerations:

  • Pregnancy
  • Kidney failure
  • Impaired liver function
  • Impaired fat digestion (gallbladder disease, gastric bypass, pancreatitis)

Genetic defects in metabolism (CPTI/II deficiency, beta-oxidation defects, fatty acyl dehydrogenase deficiency)

Potential Side Effects of the Ketogenic Diet

When starting a ketogenic diet there can be a period of 2-3 days where blood glucose levels are low, but ketone production has not reached a sufficient rate to provide enough fuel for the brain.

This can result in a series of symptoms, known as the keto flu, which include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Exogenous ketone supplements, such as HVMN Ketone, and medium-chain triglycerides can be used to reduce symptoms of keto flu. They provide the brain with a source of energy without carbohydrate consumption. These supplements increase the levels of ketones in the blood artificially. Exogenous ketones do not increase the body’s ketone production (called endogenous ketones) and can inhibit32 the release of fatty acids from adipocytes.

It can be initially tricky to adjust food intake to ensure adequate nutrition when following a ketogenic diet. Also, some people find the diet isn’t sustainable due to individual differences in metabolic state or lifestyle. If the diet does not provide the correct balance of macro and micronutrients, some individuals develop other symptoms beyond the keto flu after the adaptation period. These include:

  • Constipation
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty in maintaining physical performance
  • Hair loss
  • Gallstones
  • Elevated blood triglycerides or cholesterol

To treat these symptoms, ensure the diet provides enough calories and micronutrients. Many people reduce fruit and vegetable consumption on a ketogenic diet (due to carbohydrate content). This means it is easy to become deficient in vitamins and to under-consume fiber.

The ketogenic diet can alter the way that the kidneys excrete electrolytes (such as sodium), so electrolyte supplementation can reduce the side effects of an electrolyte imbalance.

Possible Clinical Applications of the Ketogenic Diet and Ketosis

Some of the earliest reports of the ketogenic diet describe its use in a clinical setting.

In the early 20th century, ketogenic diets helped treat drug-resistant epilepsy. Doctors also prescribed ketogenic diets to treat type 1 diabetes before the invention of insulin.

As analytical techniques progressed, scientists learned that ketones themselves might be a crucial part of the success of the ketogenic diet to treat disease. From this finding stemmed a field of research to examine the potential benefits of ketosis in a range of disease states:

  • Weight loss
  • Diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Neurological disease: epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, migraine, concussive disease, and traumatic brain injury
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory diseases

While the ketogenic diet is not yet a first-line treatment recommended by doctors for any of these diseases, it’s a relatively easy and tolerable step that patients with these conditions can take to improve their health. Emerging research suggests there may be beneficial effects of ketosis for some people, and further studies are required to confirm how best to use the diet in these clinical settings.

Not seeing results from the keto diet?

You’re not alone. Many think they’re in ketosis but aren’t–the newness of the diet leads to misinformation online. HVMN provides the latest science around meal-timing, supplements and macronutrient composition. Subscribe and be first to know the newest techniques for keto diet results.

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African-Americans Are Twice As Likely To Have Alzheimer’s or Dementia Than Whites

Warning Signs Help Ensure Early Detection and Care Planning

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2015 Facts and Figures report, African-Americans are two times more likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer’s disease than whites and less likely to have a diagnosis of their condition, resulting in less time for treatment and planning. The Alzheimer’s Association is committed to raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, the nation’s 6th-leading cause of death, in diverse populations.

Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  4. Confusion with time or place.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  8. Decreased or poor judgment.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  10. Changes in mood and personality.

About the Alzheimer’s Association®

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. It is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research. The Association’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Its vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org.

 

 A Seniors Guide To Eating Health by Brenda Snow

By Brenda Snow

Healthy eating and understanding nutritional requirements are important at any age, but it can be especially important for seniors. Seniors have unique nutritional needs, but also specific dietary considerations that need to be accounted for when it comes to the foods they’re eating. As people age, their metabolism slows down, which means that for most older people they need fewer calories than they did when they were younger. It’s not just changes in metabolism that are important to understand when it comes the healthy eating for seniors, however.

As we age, our bodies change and considerations to keep in mind with senior nutritional needs can include the gastrointestinal system and dental conditions. There are also certain lifestyle elements for seniors that may play a role in their diet and nutrition.

If seniors aren’t eating a healthy, balanced diet, it can wreak havoc on their immune system, making them more susceptible to common illnesses like the flu, as well as more serious conditions. It can also lead to weight gain or weight loss, and seniors who aren’t eating a healthy diet may have reduced cognitive function and lower energy levels. It’s not uncommon for older people to experience malnutrition, in varying degrees, often because of eating too little, deficiencies in certain nutrients, or an imbalance in the diet. Even a mild level of malnutrition can lead to fatigue, lethargy, and a lack of interest in other areas of health and wellness.

For seniors who make healthy eating an essential part of their life, they’re more likely to enjoy a stronger immune system, better overall health, and a stronger quality of life.

To help seniors, their families and their caregivers ensure they’re making the right nutritional choices, I put together this guide. My goal with this guide is to help seniors live a fulfilling life, starting with a foundation of good nutrition. From the limitations that can cause seniors to have poor nutrition, to easy tips to incorporate healthy foods into your lifestyle or the lifestyle of your loved one, this guide has a lot of information that I hope will be valuable to you.

Publisher’s Note:  When Mr. Free Spirit told me that he was conducting research for an article that he was writing detailing the high suicide rate for retired men, I immediately thought about the number of retired NFL football players who have committed suicide and the celebrity deaths “Soul Train” icon Don Cornelius, actor Robin Williams and former CNN correspondent Anthony Bourdain.  I think that mental health awareness and education is a very important topic and something that we want to highlight here on this website.

The National Institute of Mental Health finds that men are less likely to seek support as they struggle with depression. Depression can take away anyone’s moments of peace and restfulness, but men may be statistically more likely to experience disruptions to their sleep cycles.  Sleep deprivation comes with a host of other difficulties: irritability, loss of motivation, physical fatigue, compensating by oversleeping, etc.  Most dishearteningly, men are more likely to be successful in taking their own lives.  I want to thank Mr. Free Spirit for writing this article and I encourage everyone to be patient, caring and kind when you encounter those who struggle with some aspects of life in hopes that we can prevent them from committing suicide.  For more help and information call 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-SUICIDE. 

Gary Johnson – Founder & Publisher, Black Men In America.com

Why Is The Suicide Rate So High For Men In Their Golden Years?

By Mr. Free Spirit

Since my retirement I decided to rewire and not retire. Retirement means different things to different people. Is money an important factor? YES, however other things are equally important. Nothing to do will either kill you or place you in a state of depression. Mental illness can be accelerated based on having “nothing to do.”

Did you know the suicide rate in elderly men is high?

For most people, psychological well-being increases later in life, following a well-known U-shaped curve: people report less satisfaction in midlife and more at either end of the age spectrum. Paradoxically, though, suicide rates also rise sharply. Older white men are particularly at risk.

Among Americans of all ages, 12.4 per 100,000 take their own lives each year, according to 2010 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But among those over 65, the official number is 14.9, and suicide may be under-reported. Because of the stigma, “coroners will go to great lengths to call it something else,” said Patrick Arbore, founder and director of the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention in San Francisco. “If it’s an overdose, they can call it an accident.”

Though suicides among older people have declined in recent decades, most likely because of improved screening and treatment for depression, they remain disturbingly high among men. Suicides by women decline after age 60, but the rate among men keeps climbing. Elderly white men have the highest rate: 29 per 100,000 overalls, and more than 47 per 100,000 among those over age 85.

  • Males accounted for 81.5% of suicides completed by elderly African Americans (ages 65+). This percentage is mirrored by the suicides completed by elderly Caucasian men.

Why are suicide rates so high among seniors?  We know that while older people make fewer suicide attempts than the young, they are far more likely to die from them, in part because they rely primarily on guns. “Younger people have more physical resilience and use less lethal means,” said Dr. Yeates Conwell, a psychiatrist at the University of Rochester Medical Center who has studied late-life suicide.

Moreover, depression is behind many suicide attempts, and “a lot of older people have problems asking for help.”

Depression can involve different symptoms in older patients, and “men are good at masking it, because we’ve been conditioned to believe it’s not O.K. to express emotional pain.”

Beyond mental illness, researchers have identified a cluster of other risk factors in late-life suicide, including physical illness and pain, the inability to function in daily life, fear of becoming a burden and social disconnection. “Things that remove older people from their social groups — bereavement, retirement, isolation — leave them vulnerable,” Dr. Conwell said.

Knowing that some readers here have announced that they want to end their lives if (or before) they are suffering, seeing that as an exercise of personal autonomy rather than mental illness, I asked both experts if they thought suicide could ever be a rational act. If life loses pleasure and meaning, with or without a terminal disease, can suicide be a legitimate response?

Both said, cautiously, that in certain situations, after a great deal of discussion and consideration, it could be — but that’s rarely what occurs.

“The proportion of older people who take their lives without a diagnosable mental illness is very, very small,” Dr. Conwell said. Because elderly suicide is generally a result of multiple factors — physical illness and depression and a recent loss, say — “if you change one of those parameters, it may tip the balance in favor of finding solutions that help you want to live.”

At the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention, staff and volunteers handle 3,000 calls a month to the “friendship line” (a name deemed more acceptable to seniors than “suicide hotline”). They also place 3,500 outgoing calls to people considered isolated or otherwise at risk.

“We believe connections are what bind us to life, just having the opportunity to talk might shift their view of the end, temporarily. It might not have to happen today.”

Such opportunities to talk, in ways tailored to older adults, should be more widely available than they are. (One resource is the Veterans Affairs Department’s Veterans Crisis Line.) Instead, the task of trying to recognize elderly depression and encourage treatment falls largely to primary care physicians and, of course, to family members, who should always take suicidal talk seriously. When a depressed and hopeless relative commits suicide, the family must cope not only with grief but often with guilt and unanswered questions.

Now that you have read the above, you understand being rewired not retired. During your years before retirement you had a talent for some sort that you enjoyed. No matter what it was you enjoyed it. Well, now that you are thinking about retiring or you have retired. Try doing want you always wanted to do. Maybe it’s fishing, so buy some new rods and develop your skills and fish. Maybe you are good with your hands, be the local handyman. No matter what it is, don’t sit and watch grass grow or paint dry, do something!!!

Mr. Free Spirit out!!!

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

Help, Hope, and Recovery for Addiction and Mental Illness

The Importance of Early Detection of Prostate Cancer by Sally Writes

The Importance of Early Detection of Prostate Cancer by Sally Writes

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, African American men are the group (out of all the men in the world) who are hardest hit by prostate cancer. Statistically, we are 1.6 times more likely to develop this disease, and over twice as likely to die from it. Because we are in a high risk group, screening for prostate cancer should start earlier, to facilitate early treatment if required. When it comes to prevention, a healthy diet and exercise can make a positive difference.

The American Cancer Society recommends that men discuss screening with their doctors at age 50 (if they are at an average risk and are expected to live at least 10 years more); at age 45 (if they are at a high risk of developing this cancer – this includes African American men and those with a first degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer when this relative was younger than 65) and at age 40 (for men with at a higher risk because they have more than one first degree relative who had prostate cancer before the age of 65).

What Does Screening for Prostate Cancer Involve?

Normally, testing is carried out via the PSA blood test (to check levels of prostate-specific antigen) and, possibly, the digital rectal exam. If results are normal, your doctor will normally recommend that you return every year or two, depending on your PSA levels.

An Important Proviso

It is important to speak to your doctor about the pros and cons of screening; the latter can sometimes give ‘false positives’, and studies are still being carried out on the effect of screening on lowering death rates from prostate cancer.

Can Prostate Cancer be Prevented?

Although there is no sure-fire way to stave off prostate cancer, a healthy diet and physical activity can help, because research has shown that men who are overweight have a slightly lower overall risk of prostate cancer, but a higher risk of prostate cancers that are likely to be fatal. Other research has shown that a poor diet is associated with various types of cancer, and that specific foods are cancer preventive (including fruits and vegetables; bread, rice, potatoes and pasta; lean protein sources, beans and nuts; and dairy products).

Recently, researchers found that the consumption of specific foods (tomatoes, cauliflower and broccoli, soy, beans, legumes) and fish, are linked to a lower rate of prostate cancer in particular. Apple pees, red grapes and turmeric have also been found to have a preventive ability.

The Importance of Exercise

Exercise doesn’t just boost our mental health; it also helps us maintain a healthy weight, which is important when it comes to cancer prevention as a whole. Aim for between 30 minutes and 45 minutes of physical activity a day and if you have a job that involves sitting down for various hours, get up every hour and walk about, do some stretching, or run up and down a flight of steps, to boost your cardiovascular health as well.

It is vital for African American men to know that they face a higher prostate cancer risk, so they should discuss screening with their doctor. Much can be done on a lifestyle level as well, to reduce the risk of this disease, including making important dietary changes and staying physically active.

Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally by Dr. Brenda T. Bradley

Approximately, 75 million Americans have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this equates to 1 in every 3 adults. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a risk factor for serious health related problems. Unfortunately, many people are unaware they may have it because it usually comes with limited symptoms. Sadly, uncontrolled high blood pressure can contribute to other causes of death in the U.S., including heart attack, stroke, diabetes,  and cancer.

Given this information, blood pressure should be checked or assessed on a regular basis. Two measurements are used to check blood pressure: (1) systolic blood pressure (SBP), pressure in the arteries with every heartbeat; and (2) diastolic blood pressure (DBP), pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

Classification SBP DBP
Normal <120 and <80
Prehypertension 120-139 or 80-89
Stage 1 Hypertension 140-159 or 90-99
Stage 2 Hypertension >160 or >100

Taking medication to reduce blood pressure levels may seem like the easy way out, but it’s not the healthiest, nor is it your only option. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure several years ago and after adopting a plant-based diets, I was taken off the medication and I no longer suffer with high blood pressure and that was six years ago.

An analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that consumption of vegetarian diets was associated with significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to omnivorous diets. Plant-based diets are low in sodium and characterized by high intakes of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in fiber and potassium. These factors, combined with maintaining healthy weight and regular exercise, may explain lowering effects of blood pressure.

Try following a plant-based diet for at least a month to find out how well the following foods will work for you. Then have your doctor check your blood pressure:

  • Whole grains – brown rice, millet, quinoa, groats, buckwheat
  • Beans/Legumes – dried (if canned, avoid added sodium) black-eyed peas, kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, chickpea, tempeh and tofu
  • Vegetable – fresh or frozen varieties, broccoli, collard greens, kale, spinach, carrots, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, beets
  • Fruits – fresh or frozen varieties, such as bananas, organs, apples, pear, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, guava, strawberries.

Overweight and obesity increase the chance of developing high blood pressure. Following a plant-based diet can assist individuals in losing weight. Avoiding animal products, and fried and high-fat foods while increasing intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes can promote a healthy weight and improve blood pressure.  Also, physical activity can help lower blood pressure. Try a brisk walk for 30 minutes to an hour at least 3 times per week. Because exercise may put added strain on your heart, always consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

I welcome questions and comments.

Here’s to good health,

Dr. Bradley

References:

  1. Nwankwo T, Yoon SS, Burt V. Gu Q. Hypertension among adults in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center for Health Statistics. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db133.pdf. Accessed September 6, 2017.
  2. Kung HC, Xu J. Hypertension-related mortality in the United States, 2000-2013. NCHS data brief, no 193. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center for Health Statistics. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db193.pdf. Assessed September 6, 2017

Brenda T. Bradley, PhD
Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
Brenda T. Bradley, PhD is an engaging and compassionate certified health coach. Through her work and passion for healthy eating and living, she decided to answer the call to become a certified health coach. Determined to break free from the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is known to do more harm than good, she set out on her journey to research food, diseases, and fitness. Her drive and determination led her to become more involved in health and fitness.

After struggling with her own health goals and learning about the body and what it needs to perform optimally, she made the switch to a plant-based diet. This diet she credits for helping her not only to lose weight, but has improved her overall quality of life. Last year she developed a new program, The 21-Day Vegan Challenge, and has recommended that clients and those struggling with weight or health issues give it a try. The 21-Day Challenge is a vegan-only food challenge that stresses the healing power of food and how its proper use can restore the body to a natural healthy state. Dr. Bradley’s goal is to inspire others to lead the charge for healthy eating and exercise.

Contact Information
Phone: (757) 784-0832
Email: Brenda@drbtbradley
Website: www.drbtbradley.com

Everything You Need To Know About Salt, Your Health, and Your Diet

By Sally Writes

Do you think you know how much salt your body needs? Salt is an element of good nutrition that seems to be talked about an awful lot. We see “low sodium” soups and “salt-free” nuts on the shelf. Piling those items into your grocery cart might make you feel that you have your salt intake under control. But did you know that milk has salt in it? How about beer? Surprising, right? Let’s get clear on just how much salt we need, what to do to keep track, and how to cut back if needed.

How Much Salt Do I Need?

The American Heart Association teaches that the most adults should ideally take is 1,500 mg of salt per day. This is equivalent to ⅔ of a teaspoon of table salt, but don’t let that fool you. Just because you aren’t sprinkling salt onto every meal, doesn’t mean that you are under the limit.

Most foods that we eat, especially prepared foods, have salt already added in. For example, one serving size of your a typical jarred tomato sauce delivers almost 500 mg of salt. That would be a third of your salt intake, just in your sauce! Add some meat, salad dressing, and a beverage to your meal, and you will find that you can quickly rack up 1,500 mg of salt intake in one meal.

The maximum amount of salt that the American Heart Association recommends is 2,300 mg. However, 70% of Americans are at risk for diseases that are linked to sodium intake, so experts say that it is better to aim for lower numbers and be safe.

However, salt is essential for our body’s functioning, so you can’t cut it out completely. For instance, it is very helpful as a home remedy to cure sore throats – by mixing with garlic and gargling, this is a great natural solution! Also, endurance athletes who lose salt through sweat will need to think about replacing their losses.

How To Track Salt Intake And Cut Back At The Same Time

You don’t need to become obsessive about adding up your salt intake all day, every day, to be healthy with regards to sodium. Instead, think about adding in more home cooking to your diet.

Consuming overly processed foods, and eating on the go can make it nearly impossible to keep track of salt intake. Often these kinds of foods are high in sodium, just to help them stay preserved. Feel in control as you see every ingredient that you put into your meals, and you’ll move to a whole new level of your health and wellness.

Instead of thinking that you are doing the right thing by purchasing “low sodium” options at the grocery store, start to learn the facts. The accurate numbers about how much sodium your body needs are surprising. Get in control of your intake by cooking meals from scratch.

The Hon. Dr. Shakiera Marilyn Hockaday-Bey

Special to Black Men In America.com (Posted 09-02-17)
The Hon. Dr. Shakiera Marilyn Hockaday-Bey is the CEO for S.H. Infusion known as Herbal Infusion, a Holistic Health and Spa store. She has served the community for over 25 years in this field. She provides Holistic and Health coaching. Shakiera holds a Degree in Alternative Health from American Institute of Holistic Theology. She is National Board Certified in Colon Hydrotherapy, National Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage, Reiki 2, and Certified Holistic Body Wrap Consultation. She is also a member of The International Association of Colon Hydrotherapy (I-Act).
Shakiera has spoken at health conferences, community meetings, Sorority events, Town municipalities, and churches across the United States. She has continued to be invited as a speaker for the Federally Employed Women at the Defense Intelligence Agency on Joint Base Anacostia, Washington, DC for the past 4 years. Shakiera was nominated and awarded the 2013 Viewer’s Choice award for a two-part Holistic Interview on the Nation’s Community Television Network.
Herbal Infusion is also the home of the All-In-One Master Tonic, a unique blend of Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother), Lemon Juice, Ginger, Honey, Cayenne Pepper, Turmeric, Cinnamon and Cloves.  All ingredients are certified organic and not genetically modified.
About 3 months ago I started taking the All-In-One Master Tonic.  My physician noted improved lab results in my blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.  Two of my colleagues experienced similar results with their doctors.  The only difference in my regimen is my consumption of the All-In-One Master Tonic. The Master Tonic is

To learn more visit the Herbal Infusion website.  We will have more from Dr. Hockaday-Bey over the next several weeks.  Here are some of the services provided by Dr. Hockaday-Bey and Herbal Infusion.

Dr. Hockaday-Bey and Gary Johnson at the Herbal Infusion Health and Wellness Store in Ft. Washington, MD

What is V-Infusion you may ask?

It’s age proven therapy that Detox and balance the vagina. Sorry Guys this one is for the ladies only. What does it help with? It is said to aid in the following: Stimulates the production of hormones to maintain uterine health. Protects the uterus from cysts and fibroids. Soothes while strengthening the nervous system. Stimulates menstrual discharges and the production of milk.  Aids in regulating menstrual cycles. Eases fatigue, headaches, abdominal discomfort and nausea. Balance the Ph and Flora in the Vagina /Body. Eliminates discharge from Yeast or Bacteria Balance the system after Hysterectomy.

Colonics–I am National Board Certified
 
Colon Hydrotherapy is safe , painless, and odorless A clogged colon can lead to chronic constipation, colitis, diverticulitis, polyps, and cancer. Colon irrigation is a gentle infusion of filtered water into the colon. This process helps to remove impacted fecal matter, parasites, and toxic waste.  Some of the symptoms of a clogged colon are: lack of energy,
constipation, gas, headaches, backaches, bad breath, body odor, PMS, depression and skin disorders, bad breath, candida,depression, joint pain, low energy, obesity, pot belly and vaginitis.  This therapy also dates back to the Egyptians.  It has been known throughout the centuries that if you are eliminating 2 – 3 times daily then your body is actually in a better state to heal itself of all sorts of diseases.**
 
Reiki
According to John Hopkins Hospital ” Reiki is a very specific form of energy healing, in which hands are placed just off the body or lightly touching the body, as in “laying on of hands.” Reiki can also be done “long-distance,” as a form of prayer. According to many versions of its origin, Dr Mikao Usui, a Japanese seeker of spiritual truths, brought the Reiki method of healing into human awareness in 1922 after a deep spiritual experience. He is said to have begun teaching others after a serious earthquake hit Japan and he felt urged to spread his knowledge.”

“In a Reiki session, the practitioner is seeking to transmit Universal Life Energy to the client. The intention is to create deep relaxation, to help speed healing, reduce pain, and decrease other symptoms you may be experiencing.”

The Journal of American Cardiology recently published a study showing that reiki had a positive effect on people suffering from severe chest pains or heart-muscle damage. Reiki is available in about 15 percent of hospitals nationwide as a standard part of care

  We are Reiki 1 and 2 Certified 
 
Egyptian Body Wraps

Body Wraps go back to the Egyptians.  Our  Holistic Body Wrap is natural.  It works with your body to detoxify and tone overall.  This is not a wrap that you lose water weight, but it actually shrinks cells in your body as it detoxifies your whole body. **

Holistic Health Coaching
Don’t know what you should eat or what type of diet really works for your body?  Not sure of the changes that are happening in your body?  Do you want to get off your medications?  Let me help you get  you health and life back.   Give us a call to schedule your Session with our Holistic Consultant.

Aqua Chi
Ionize your body with a foot bath that pulls toxins,yeast,heavy metals….through the soles of your feet. You can get a jump start in detoxifying your body. **
 
Infrared Sauna Treatment
According to Dr. Oz the infrared sauna “makes the same rays that come from the sun and filters out the UV radiation, so it only gives you the infrared radiation.  That radiation that’s infrared goes a little bit into your skin so, without heating you up and the external environment too much, it heats the body up”.  Dr. Oz stated that ” it raises your metabolism a little bit, and also when you sweat, you sweat out toxins through the skin and that the high temperature helps lower blood pressure and increase blood circulation.  It helps your heart to beat faster, and burns calories”.
EAR CANDLING
This is an Old Home Remedy and no claim is made for any cure of any disease or ailment.
INDICATIONS AND BENEFITS OF EAR CANDLING
  • Improved mental clarity.
  • Relief from vertigo.
  • In some cases, restoration of smell and taste.
  • Increased nail and hair growth. Regulation of ear pressure.
  • Better lymphatic circulation.* Proper balancing of ear fluids.
  • Catarrh, resulting from nasopharynx problems. Balancing of fluids that provoke headaches. Hygienic treatment of ear.
  • Activates proper ear fluid circulation. Can eliminate ringing in ears. (Tinnitus) *Bouncing on a trampoline can also move the Lymph fluid….try it!

To learn more visit the Herbal Infusion website.  We will have more from Dr. Hockaday-Bey over the next several weeks. 

 

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

By Gary A. Johnson (Posted 6-12-17)

By Gary A. Johnson (Posted 6-12-17)

I’ve been using apple cider vinegar with the “mother” for over several years and I love it.  I am overweight and take medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Over the years I started an exercise regimen comprised mostly of walking and cycling all year round and I take apple cider vinegar every morning.  My doctor cut all of my medication doses in half and is working with me get off of all the medications within a year.

One of the best sources on the Internet with information on apple cider vinegar is Helen Sanders, the main editor at Health Ambition.com.  If you want to learn more about the enormous health benefits of apple cider vinegar click on the picture below.

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Here’s to your good health.  Gary Johnson, Publisher – Black Men In America.com

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar


Why Substance Abuse Among Seniors Can Be Devastating (Posted 03-09-17)

Presently, substance abuse among seniors can fall into two large groups. Firstly, the “hardy survivor”, or people who have been abusing substances for many year. Second, the “late onset”, or people who became substance abusers later in life. Regrettably, it most commonly occurs due to misuse of drugs prescribed for chronic health problems.

Substance Abuse Among Seniors

First and foremost, the reasons why the elderly turn to substance abuse varies. For example, They call one of the most common reasons, “the empty nest“ syndrome. The “empty nest“ refers to the void children leave once they are grown up and have moved out of their parents’ home. As a result, their absence causes a mix of new emotions. Moreover, they try to cope by implementing drugs into their daily life.

In addition, another important issue that surfaces is the issue of age. The fact that none of us is getting any younger scares them. You are no longer in your thirties, the forties, and are coming to realize fifty is a different season. Consequently, it requires a new game plan and a new set of rules. Coping with, and eventually accepting the new reality is a tough pill to swallow. One’s body is changing, and illness and pain become more common between the ages of 55 and 65.

Other reasons why elderly people choose addiction:

  • Loss of a partner
  • Friends are growing apart
  • Immobility
  • Stress
  • Retirement
  • Loss of financial security
  • Life in a nursing home
Most Commonly Abused Substances Among Seniors

In any case, the most common vehicle of substance abuse among seniors are alcohol and prescribed medications. In fact, people over the age of 65 use almost 30% of all prescribed drugs in the US. For example, the most common prescription drugs they abuse are sedatives, hypnotics, dietary supplements, and benzodiazepines. Seniors who use those drugs and mix them with alcohol are more likely to visit the hospital due to substance interaction. Another important issue is that they tend to share their medications with friends.

In the same way, alcohol are also a commonly abused substance amongst the elderly. It’s important to note that alcohol can interact with many prescribed drugs and cause serious adverse effects. Furthermore, seniors are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Therefore, they show lower tolerance to this substance. Also, older men are more likely to develop alcohol addiction than women.

Paradoxically, substance abuse of illicit drugs such as heroin among seniors is very rare. It is usually limited to people who have had addiction issues in their youth.

What are the Dangers of Substance Abuse Among People Older Than 65?

No doubt, along with common dangers of substance abuse, seniors are more vulnerable to the side effects of drugs. Of course, as one ages, the body cannot absorb and metabolize certain drugs so well. Consequently, as these changes occur, it becomes more difficult for one’s body to process medications. Additionally, drug interaction can make it worse and cause serious health issues. Furthermore, alcohol or drug-related injuries are more common amongst seniors. However, more often than not they refuse to ask for help due to shame or pride.

What are the Symptoms of Substance Abuse Among Seniors?

Some of the most common substance abuse signs amongst seniors are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeping pattern problems
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Weight loss
  • Memory issues
  • Increase of appetite
  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • Injuries and bruises
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Distancing from friends and family
  • Chronic pain
  • Lack of motivation for everyday activities

Addiction Treatment Options for Senior Citizens

The first challenge in rehab is to recognize the problem, and not mistake it as dementia or depression.

Usually, the best treatment solutions along with inpatient or outpatient rehab facilities are support groups and counseling. That way, the patient can get peer support and professional help. It is important that when you talk with a senior patient, you should be comforting. Additionally, you should use easy to understand language.

In conclusion, in some cases, substance abuse in the elderly is overlooked and neglected due to their age. Regrettably, ageism is a serious issue that should be remedied. Ultimately, people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicity deserve equal treatment.

Are you looking for good addiction treatment centers for the elderly? Follow this link to learn more about what they have to offer.

For more information visit Addiction Resource.com


alzheimers_infographic

Resources for Alzheimer’s Disease

Parent’s Guide: Helping Children & Teens Understand Alzheimer’s

Preparing Your Home for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide

Another World: People With Alzheimer’s Share Their Perspectives

Alzheimer’s Aggression: Causes & Management

Guide to Addiction Prevention for Seniors

Dementia Assistance Dogs

Caring for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Helping Alzheimer’s Sufferers Cope with the Loss of a Loved One: A Guide for Caregivers

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Black Mental Health 2

NAKED AND NOT ASHAMED: LIVING WITH DEPRESSION

By Dr. Salim Bilal-Edwards

I was diagnosed with major depression three years ago. We all experience depression at some point in our lives, for most it is situational due to specific events such as the loss of a job, death of a loved one, or other disappointments. However, for persons with major depression it lingers and is often recurrent. Persons with major depression or what is commonly called clinical depression may have good days and not so good days. A person with clinical/major depression may go a period of time having days, weeks, or even months of good days, but then out of nowhere they fall into a funk without explanation. Often we try to mask our pain and hide in the crowd laughing and joking, and then go home to a dark house which is empty of life. Those of us with major depression are sensitive to others who we see hurting or going through a rough or difficult time. I found myself trying to help people I loved, but was not helping myself and inside my brain and emotions I was going through pure hell. A revelation came to me one day as I was suffering and trying to help a loved one. The revelation was the voice of the flight attendant giving instructions prior to take off. I was reminded of one of the major instructions which is “if the cabin loses pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the area above your seat, put the mask on yourself first before helping the persons around you”. Those may not be the exact words, but you get the picture. I was going through my personal hell called depression trying to help others but neglecting my mental health.

THE EVILNESS OF DEPRESSION
Depression not only affects the person who is suffering, but often impacts those around them. The impact of depression on marriages and families can be devastating. As for me, not seeking help in a timely manner came at a great cost. I languished in mental and emotional agony. I am in private practice as a clinician and relationship/life coach. I would go to work and be on top of my game helping others through their rough patches, but at the end of the day I would go home and suffer in silence. I would attend church Sunday after Sunday being inspired by the Word of God, but that was short-lived as I would fall back into a funk within a day or two. I found myself easily agitated and angry at any and every one. There seemed to be two different people who were diabolically opposed to one another. I was this spiritual God-fearing man who was full of life, sought peace, and had a servant’s heart; then when depression would come upon me I was this angry agitated person who did not want to be bothered with anyone and would stay in the house alone for days at a time. However, my job demanded that I pour into the lives of clients who were coming into my office to seek help with their pain. I had to push myself to provide the best counseling and coaching possible because my oath stated that first and foremost to do no harm. I am a man of integrity, so I put on my game face, went into my office and gave the best counseling and coaching possible. I am quite good at what I do and my clients and other therapist often refer clients to me. I became good at masking my pain, but it was just that a mask.

ON AN ISLAND FEELING ALL ALONE
The hardest part of my depression was wanting help and support from my friends and family and them not being able to provide that support. You see, I had always been the strong one. I had always been the persons who everyone could depend on. So, when I was struggling with depression they didn’t know how to help. They continued to rely on me to help with their issues even though I was suffering with depression they still relied on me for help because that is what I always did “help”. I take full responsibility for allowing family and friends to pull on me because I continued the masquerade as if I was alright when I wasn’t alright. My depression was getting the best of me and I began to cancel sessions with my clients because there were days in which it was difficult to get out of bed. There were days that I was so drained that my entire body ached. After hitting a low point and having more bad days than good days, I reconciled that I needed to seek counseling again. Let’s be clear that every doctor needs a personal doctor, every lawyer needs a personal lawyer, every minister needs to be ministered to, and every clinician and life coach needs a personal clinician and life coach. As the ole saying goes “a person who have himself for a doctor has a fool for a doctor”. I was being a fool for quite some time helping people, but not getting the help I needed.

Worker-stress-management

FIGHTING THE STIGMA
As a clinician, I know full well the stigma in the African American Community attached to counseling which prevents persons from seeking help. While I was not caught up in the stigma, I was acting like Superman and thought I could handle anything. The stigma attached to counseling coupled with the Superman mentality keeps most African American men from seeking counseling. As African American men, some the misconceptions of manhood are major barriers to seeking help. Growing up I can remember hearing that men are not supposed to cry and crying is a form of weakness, men are not supposed to show emotions, men should always be strong and be tough. As a young boy growing up in the inner-city of Washington, D.C. showing any signs of weakness or frailty would subject you to being picked on, bullied, and having your manhood challenged. I believe as young boys grow into adults they carry those misconceptions of manhood which become barriers to seeking counseling.

Major Depression effects more people than we realize and far too many people are unwilling to seek help. Getting help for your depression can prevent you from self-medicating. Yes, self-medicating. Too many people who are suffering with depression, instead of seeking help, turn to substance use, gambling, sex, and other deviant behaviors to mask their pain. For me, I turned to prayer and my spirituality to deal with my depression. I prayed. I attended church and bible study. I studied my Word. I prayed for others and yet God seemed silent. What compounded my depression was that I thought I was doing everything I was supposed to do by having integrity, by being faithful and obedient, by treating others nice even those who were not being nice to me, but I continued to live in this hell called depression. Yes, God is a Healer. Yes, God is a Deliverer. Yes, God is a Counselor. Yes, God is a Provider. However, God created doctors and therapist to be Angels here on earth to help us through our difficult times of depression. I was self-medicating in religion and neglected my mental health by not seeking help.

DON’T PUSH ME CAUSE I’M CLOSE TO THE EDGE:
Many people are pushed deeper into depression by the ones who supposed to love them most. The things that family and friends can say to a person dealing with depression can push a person close to and sadly over the edge. The things that are said such as “just get over it” can be debilitating to a person with depression. If the person dealing with depression could “just get over it” he or she would get over it in a blink of an eye, but it is just not that simple. Some people may have an episode of depression, that only last a few days and then back to some normalcy, whatever normal is, and some episodes of depression can last for weeks or months at a time. Telling the person dealing with depression to “just get over it” does more harm than good. Some of the labels given to persons dealing with depression can also be debilitating. Labeling a person or critiquing their behavior as lazy, attention seeking or simply manipulative is extremely harmful. Imagine Hearing your loved ones saying things like, “you are lazy”, “you just want attention” or “you are a manipulator” , it will hurt the depressed person at their core. Many persons suffering from a depressive episode, are Not Lazy, more likely they are drained. Depression can cause insomnia and the person can go days without getting any more than a few hours of sleep. A person having a depressed episode is not being manipulative and yes they may be seeking attention. They are crying out for help.

KNOWING THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Beloved, depression is a serious issue within our communities. There are too many people who are suffering in silence or crying out for help that is going unnoticed. I am reminded of the late great actor Robin Williams who from an outward view had everything going for him. He had money, a great network of family and friends, an established career, yet he was living a personal hell and didn’t seek help, much to his demise. We need to know the warning signs and symptoms of depression for the mental health of ourselves and those we love. According to the National Institute of Mental Health symptoms of depression may include the following:
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
• Fatigue and decreased energy
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
• Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
• Irritability, restlessness
• Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
• Loss of interest in sexual intercourse (to include sexual dysfunction)
• Overeating or appetite loss
• Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
• Persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings
• Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

BECOMING ONE WITH YOUR DEPRESSION CAN TURN YOUR LIFE UPSIDE DOWN
In hindsight, I realize that I was suffering from depression long before I was clinically diagnosed. I was able to do my every day functions and excelled at work receiving promotions and bonuses; however, I did not pay attention to my irritability, loss of energy, inability to sleep, and loss of sex drive. I meandered through life oblivious to what was going on inside my body and mind because the way I was living became my new normal. In other words, I adapted to my depression and depression became my norm. Getting help for my depression is one of the best things that I could have ever done for myself. I still have good days and not so good days, however, today I have far more good days than bad days. I first had to acknowledge that my life was spinning out of control and accept that I suffer with depression.
I made a conscious decision to seek help and I had to be willing to do whatever it takes to maintain my mental health. I have learned to put the oxygen mask on myself first, I was suffocating and dying with depression, while trying to help and fix everyone around me. Becoming more in tune with my feelings and emotions, allows me to notice when I am about to get into what I call a funk. I refocus, meaning, giving myself positive self-talk such as Salim don’t go there or purposely getting out of the house and engage in an activity or the company of family and friends who are uplifting. I am also mindful to schedule an appointment with my therapist immediately. I am comfortable with’ – ‘admitting’…. I may be in counseling for the rest of my life, if only for periodic check-ins or as I call them tune-ups.

Since I decided to seek counseling I can sing like Dr. Marvin Sapp “I am stronger, I’m wiser, I feel better, so much better”. I never could have made it, without a strong faith in Christ and the help from a therapist.

If you or a loved one is suffering with depression especially if it has been going on for a long period of time or experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in the previous paragraph I suggest you make an appointment with your doctor or therapist to seek help or if you or your loved one has expressed suicidal thoughts or suicidal intentions do not hesitate to call the Suicide Hotline at (1-800-784-2433) or for TTY (1-800-799-4889).

Salim Edwards

Dr. Bilal-Edwards is an expert in youth development and social issues in an urban environment for men and boys of color. He has spoken in churches, at conferences, and retreats across the country as well as have conducted parent trainings and trainings to educators, social workers, youth workers, community organizations, and law enforcement officials. Dr. Bilal-Edwards specializes in counseling persons with co-occurring disorders and he is a highly respected relationship and life coach.
Contact: dr.salimbilaledwards@gmail.com

Confused about health care reform?  You’re not alone. Click on the links below to get the facts about health insurance reform.
Affordable Care Act: Obamacare & Health Reform Facts: http://healthreform.kaiserpermanente.org/
Understanding the Impact of Obamacare on Medicare: http://blog.ehealthmedicare.com/media-center/infographics/?pid=11

What does Marketplace health insurance cover?

https://www.healthcare.gov/what-does-marketplace-health-insurance-cover/

Affordable Care Act: State-by-State Impact: http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/bystate/statebystate.html 
The Lifestyle Revolutionaries Guide to Addiction Intervention: http://www.lakeviewhealth.com/InterventionGuide.pdf

Other Resources

http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/
http://factcheck.org/

Are We More Accepting Of Obesity In The Black Community?

By Gary A. Johnson

Americans are getting fatter and fatter by the year.  There’s no other way to put it.  Health and weight statistics for black Americans is even worse.

According to the publication Health, United States, 2013, 38% of black men in America are considered to be obese compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, overweight or obese is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 pounds or more.

A 2013 study from the American Psychological Association reported that about 60 percent of black women are obese compared to 32 percent white women and 41 percent Latino women.

Carrying around those extra pounds increases the likelihood of developing Type II Diabetes and High Blood Pressure – two diseases that disproportionately affect the black community.

Being overweight also increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, arthritis and certain cancers. In fact, obesity could become more dangerous for your health than smoking cigarettes.

Yet, in the black community, many folks believe or have convinced themselves that being “big boned” is more acceptable.  We need to STOP that thinking right now.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you have read about my struggle to lose weight.  If you’ve ever visited my Instagram page, most of the pictures are of food that I cooked and then ate.  I’m a damn good cook.  I suffer for my food.

I am putting myself out there.  I am obese and my condition developed as a result of making a serious of poor choices over the past 20 years.  I went from weighing 195 lbs to my current weight of 310 lbs.

At one point I was carrying 324 lbs on this 6′ 4″ frame.  Fortunately for me, my body has been good to me.  I never smoked, used alcohol or drugs and I don’t drink sodas.  My weakness is food.  I am an emotional eater and I love to cook and eat.

Here I am “walking the trail” on top of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge at National Harbor on the DC side.

Lately, I’ve been able to reverse some of these negative health effects.  Two years ago I gave up sugary fruit juice drinks.  I drink mostly water, green smoothies or a combination of Braggs Organic Vinegar and water.  If I drink tea, I don’t use sugar.  I will start my day with low-sodium vegetable juice in place of Orange juice.  These simple choices have made a difference in my health.  My last blood pressure reading was 116/78.  Not bad for a 300+ pound guy.  I started exercising (cycling, walking and weights) consistently and stopped eating at fast food restaurants.  I also started buying healthier and organic foods.  This costs more but I think it’s worth it.

Make no mistake.  I have a long way to go and need support.  I have lost over 30 lbs 4 times over the last 15 years.  The difference this time is that I am doing it sensibly (slow and steady).  No fad or crash diets. Is it easy?  No!  Is it worth the pain and effort?  Yes!

“Many African-American women view being obese as part of their culture,” says Thaddeus Bell, M.D., a family practitioner in South Carolina, in an online interview for icyou.com. It is understood within the African-American community that curvy, overweight women are considered more appealing to black men than normal- or under-weight women. There is almost a reverse distortion of body image – with thicker women fighting weight-loss and slender women wanting to gain weight in order to be accepted.

This may account for the staggering statistic that 4 out of 5 African-American women are overweight or obese. It is even more alarming that some of these women are making a choice to live at an unhealthy weight. African-American women of all ages report less exercise than their white counterparts. “Many of them feel that it’s not feminine or they’re afraid to sweat because it will ruin their hairstyle,” adds Dr. Bell.

Black-Woman-and-Her-Doctor3

Other hindrances include not having child care, not having enough time to be physically active, and not feeling safe being active in their neighborhoods.

African-American men aren’t off the hook either. African-American men also exercise less than white women, and have the highest prevalence of obesity among all male ethnic groups.

However, African-American men are more active than their female counterparts, which may be the reason that only 28.8 percent are obese, compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women.

There is an interesting video called “Dealing with Obesity in the Black Community” on YouTube by Walter Lee Hampton II.  This is a no non-sense video about exercise, eating and living a healthier life.  I would also recommend reading Obesity and the Black American:  Causes, Culture, Consequences, and Costs.”

 

Dr. Clark

Don’t Lose The War Of The Mouth

Dr. Fredrick D. Clark is not your average dentist.  Dr. Clark is an “Oral Physician” and dental child care advocate who is on a mission.  According to Dr. Clark, dental care cannot be relegated to the “out of sight, out of mind” category if one wishes to retain their teeth.

One of the primary reasons many of us do not get dental care is a lack of perceived need. Unfortunately the need may be present in spite of the absence of pain or apparent symptoms. Don’t loose the daily battles out of fear or apprehension, neglect or thinking that you know everything about your own teeth; you don’t. Only your dentist knows for sure.  Don’t loose the war of the mouth.

Dr. Clark sat down with me for an impromptu exclusive video interview about preventive dental care.  Please watch the video below and forward it to all of your friends and family.

For more information on Dr. Clark click here to visit his YouTube channel.  Dr. Clark testified before Congress in 2007: http://reform.democrats.house.gov/documents/20070516164114.pdf.  His first article on our blog is called “The War of the Mouth.”

By Fredrick D. Clark, D.D.S.

The battle is engaged. The combatants are tiny, but the war will be waged for decades. Unfortunately, it is a war, which will have many casualties. This is the war of the mouth. The enemy is PLAQUE, a colony or groups of numerous bacteria that live in the oral cavity. They are the culprits behind the many problems we experience with our mouths over the years. The battle begins with the eruption of the first tooth.

Plaque begins to attack the teeth and gums in our infancy and continues throughout childhood, teen years, adulthood and old age. We cannot see the enemy (plaque) until an appreciable amount builds up on the teeth and even then, it appears benign.

It does not hurt, in fact may even be unnoticeable, but it can lead to horrific consequences if left unchecked. Bad breath (halitosis), tooth decay (cavities), gingivitis (gum swelling, bleeding), periodontal disease (destruction of gum and bone) which causes tooth loss; all of these conditions are caused by the presence of plaque.

The teeth are just one part of a larger system, which includes the teeth and its supporting structures, the gums, the jawbones and the periodontal ligaments, (which hold the teeth to the bone). Collectively; this system is called the PERIODONTIUM.

Thus, all of the above mentioned conditions are diseases of the periodontium. The war I speak of is relentless and many of us lose the daily battles because it goes on painlessly. By the time one complains of a toothache, the damage is sometimes too extensive to save the tooth. Most people are familiar with cavities because they start at an early age in most children. There are a few things we can do to prevent cavities such as adequate brushing, daily flossing and most importantly, professional dental cleanings and checkups. This is a two-fold approach of (1), home care and (2), help from your Dental Professional in early detection and treatment.

I like to relate cavities to a concept most can understand; a cavity is like a cancer growing in which if left untreated will get larger and eventually destroy the tooth. Not only can it get larger but can cause immense pain, jaw swelling, abscesses, pus formation; and, the longer you wait the worse it gets. The results of many years of neglect is what causes people to require expensive dental care such as root canals, caps or crowns, extractions and dentures. Before it is too late, schedule an appointment with your dental professional; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Learn how to win the battle of the mouth. You can keep your teeth for a lifetime; the key to keeping your teeth is early detection and treatment long before the problem becomes painful.

Dental care cannot be relegated to the out of sight, out of mind category if one wishes to retain their teeth. One of the primary reasons many of us do not get dental care is a lack of perceived need. Unfortunately the need may be present in spite of the absence of pain or apparent symptoms. Don’t lose the daily battles out of fear or apprehension, neglect or thinking that you know everything about your own teeth; you don’t. Only your Dentist knows for sure. Don’t lose the war of the mouth.

woman-with-breast-cancer-tattoo-on-her-chest

5 Things Young African-American Women Can Do To Cope with Breast Cancer

Learning that you have breast cancer can be one of the most shocking and life altering moments of your entire life. The initial diagnosis can bring on feelings of not only worry, but life’s fragility. The idea of time being precious no longer seems like something that you just say in passing when talking to friends. Your time really does become precious and your sense of purpose kicks into over drive. Breast cancer is affecting more young African-American women each year and the ages continue to get younger and younger. But the diagnosis, the treatment, and the recovery do not have to be a grim experience. Yes, it’s extremely hard and will probably be the hardest thing you will ever have to go through in your life. Questions may arise such as: how did this happen to me? Why me? And what am I going to do now? I had all of these same questions after all, I was only 31 years old, African-American, and in good health. These are all common concerns among women who have been diagnosed with this disease, but more important than the initial shock and the treatment and even surgery is the mental state of the woman after she learns that she has the disease. For every woman who has just learned that she has breast cancer and for every woman who knows another who has been diagnosed there are five rules that we must all follow in order to ensure that our lives and the lives of our loved ones will be fulfilled while we take this journey.

1) Focus on getting better. Spend very little time thinking about the disease itself, rather, spend time thinking about your life after you get better. I had a nurse to admit to me that people get sicker when they spend too much time in the hospital worrying about their illness.

2) Avoid morbid, pessimistic people. Even people who you love and who love you can become a drain on your spirit when they spend too much time treating you like your diagnosis is an automatic death sentence. Many people recover from cancer and go on to lead happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

3) Change your diet. Don’t accept any of the soda, sweets, and other junk foods offered to you at your cancer treatment center or anywhere else. A low/no dairy, low/no sugar, no alcohol, and junk free diet helps your body to fight against the tumor while you are going through conventional treatments. Drink plenty of water, eat extra servings of fresh vegetables, and add extra fiber to your diet to cleanse your body.

4) Keep doing what you. The initial diagnosis will be a serious blow and the chemotherapy treatments and surgery will knock you off your feet for a while, but keep your eyes on the prize. Staying focused on your family life (esp. your children) helps you to maintain a positive and healthy mental state. A positive and healthy mental state also helps your body to fight against the cancer and to recuperate from the toxicity of chemotherapy. The entire time that I have been going through treatments, I have been a single mother, a sociology student, a freelance writer and author, and a small business owner. I never missed a beat (except the days when I was ill from the chemo) because I chose to continue living and thriving.

5) Pray, meditate, chant, or whatever it is that you do. Your mind needs to be cleansed when going through a battle with breast cancer. Your spirit should always be nurtured so that you may receive divine guidance. Spend little time sobbing in prayer and more time focused on what you want your outcome to be. Love yourself, visualize your body healing, and trust that things will work out as they should.

As a breast cancer patient and self-proclaimed ‘survivor’ of the disease, I know all too well what a woman goes through after she gets that call from the doctor’s office. Some women choose to immediately join support groups and notify their family members. There are other women who decide that the best way to deal with the disease and the forthcoming recovery, is to cope in solitude and in silence. I was one of those women. As a breast cancer patient enduring the most toxic of chemotherapy treatments in conjunction with a few naturopathic treatments, I have learned that my immediate state of mind and well-being contribute greatly to the way that my body has responded to the treatments and how well I am doing physically while on the road to recovery. Throughout this transition I came up with five ways to cope with the disease so that may have the best outcome while on the road to recovery.

About The Author
Zekita Tucker is freelance writer and the author of ‘Your Story Book One.’ Her articles have been published by many national and international publications and she has been featured by ABC World News and the Roland S. Martin radio show. To learn more please visit www.zeniampublications.com.

Here are some helpful links to learn more about breast cancer and breast cancer prevention.

National Breast Cancer Foundation

Black Women’s Health Imperative

Susan G. Komen

Sisters Network, Inc.

African American Breast Cancer Alliance

Cancer Facts and Figures for African Americans

We recommend that you check out the website Healthyblackmen.org which is an online health and lifestyle resource for black men. Their mission is to increase health awareness and overall health literacy to help inform health decisions for black men everywhere.

12 Things Your Dentist Wants You to Know

portrait of smiling female dentist

On your way to a bright and healthy smile

Ever wonder what your dentist is thinking as he or she peers into your mouth? Besides squeezing the tube from the bottom, are there other toothpaste tricks you should know? Read on to discover 12 tips from dental experts to help keep your smile healthy and bright.

dentist showing x-rays to patient

1. “Dentists are experts in far more than teeth.”

Dentists help keep your smile looking great. But that’s just one benefit of climbing into the chair. These experts are focused on your entire oral health, including correcting jaw problems and detecting oral cancer. “Just as you see your primary doctor for checkups, regular dental visits help ensure your oral health is on track,” explains David J. Bennett, DDS.

man brushing teeth against black background

2. “There’s a right way to use your toothpaste.”

Most people think of toothpaste as soap for your teeth. But it’s really a topical agent like lotion. The longer your toothpaste is in contact with your teeth, the more effective it is. “In addition to taking your time brushing, allow the toothpaste to sit on your teeth,” says Guy Acheson, DDS, MAGD. “Brush and spit out the foam, but then wait for a half-hour to rinse. This allows the toothpaste to have maximum effect.”

smiling woman flossing teeth

3. “Don’t floss out of guilt before your appointment.”

Dentists can tell if you suddenly feel inspired to floss in the days right before your appointment. Don’t bother: Most of the time you’re hurting your gums more than helping them. “We can tell by your gums if you floss regularly or not. The health of your gum tissue depends on ongoing care,” says David L. Carlson, DDS. “Learn the right technique and then make a commitment to floss daily.”

Pills in hand

4. “Certain medications can increase the risk of tooth decay.”

Some people think that once high school is behind them, cavities are as well. But adults can experience tooth decay. “We often see a spike in cavities in adults, even if they’ve had perfect oral health for years,” says David Carlson, DDS. “Many medications, like blood pressure or anti-anxiety medicine, can reduce salivary flow, which increases risk of decay. Always tell your dentist what medications you’re taking.”

woman smiling at reflection in bathroom mirror

5. “Looks aren’t everything.”

Even if your smile is beautiful, it’s important to see the dentist regularly. Gum disease can lurk where you don’t see it and cause your gums to recede. If that happens, your bones can also recede, causing a host of problems. “Think of your teeth as a house. No matter how beautiful it is, if it has a bad foundation, eventually everything will go,” Dr. Bennett explains. “Don’t use your looks as an indicator of oral health.”

woman looking at face in mirror

6. “Don’t let pain—or lack of it—be your guide.”

In addition to how your teeth look, how your teeth feel can disguise dental problems. “Most oral problems don’t cause pain unless it’s serious,” explains Dr. Acheson. “If you go to the dentist regularly, we can pick up on problems early, allowing us to treat or even reverse them before they become painful.”

smiling man holding up dental floss

7. “Good dental habits can help your heart.”

Studies show that the same bacteria that cause tooth decay are also linked to heart disease. That’s because infection in the gums can travel through the bloodstream to the rest of your body, raising dangerous inflammation levels. “Your mouth is not separate from the rest of your body,” says Dr. Bennett. “By preventing dental problems, you’re also caring for your overall health.”

woman drinking cup of coffee

8. “You shouldn’t always brush right after a meal.”

Feeling guilty about those potato chips? Hoping your glass of wine or cup of coffee won’t stain your teeth? Don’t rush for the toothbrush. “Brushing right after eating or drinking something acidic can actually soften the enamel of the teeth, which wears down the enamel,” explains Dr. Carlson. “To avoid doing more damage than good, wait an hour to brush, or rinse your mouth with water first.”

woman using teeth whitening strip

9. “You don’t need us to whiten your teeth.”

Many dentists offer in-office whitening treatments, but that’s not the only way to give your pearly whites a boost. “Although office treatments are more concentrated and work faster, over-the-counter teeth whitening products like whitening strips use similar chemistry and are more cost effective,” says Dr. Carlson. “If you don’t have other dental problems, it’s fine to try these products first to see if you get the results you want.”

mother and father embracing child

10. “Parents: your oral health can have a big impact on your baby.”

Kissing, sharing spoons, and putting pacifiers in your mouth are all ways you and other caregivers transmit the harmful bacteria in your mouth to your little one. “The mix of bacteria introduced in a child’s first three years sets the stage for their oral health for life,” says Dr. Acheson. “Tooth decay is actually an infectious disease. Make sure you practice good dental hygiene and reduce the risk of spreading bacteria.”

baby girl having teeth checked

11. “Babies need to see the dentist, too.”

Because bacteria can start to grow early, it’s important to bring your child to the dentist when the first tooth erupts or by his or her first birthday, whichever comes first. “There are many things dentists can do to get your baby’s oral health off to a good start,” says Acheson. “Don’t wait until your little one is a toddler for that first appointment. Tooth decay is 100% preventable.”

Female medical professional using telephone while working at desk with colleague in foreground

12. “Don’t let embarrassment keep you from calling us.”

If you haven’t been to the dentist because you’re ashamed of your teeth, you’re not the only one. An estimated 40% of people don’t visit the dentist regularly. Many of them would rather keep their smile out of sight. “Don’t compare yourself to that veneered Hollywood smile. We don’t,” says Dr. Carlson. “Rest assured that dentists have seen it all, and we’re here to help, not judge.”


3 Comments

  1. I am Tiffiney Neal and I have lost over 275 pounds, basically two human beings from my body. I have the proof of the photos with the dramatic change of lifestyle that I had to partake in. It was during a ten year span of battling diabetes, not being able to play with my kids and having trouble finding my size of clothes in retail stores. Right now, it feels SOOOO good to walk into a fashion store and have the ability to pick any clothes that are sexy, luxurious and comfortable in my skin. In the past, I used to cry when I leave the store because I would see something that I liked but could not wear it because I was too heavy or the salesperson would tell me that they don’t have my size.

    It used to hurt me to the CORE and people do not understand how much pain that I feel when this happens. So, I decided ENOUGH is ENOUGH! I want to be healthy! I want to live longer than the doctors tell me! I want to defy the odds and achieve the weight loss! I want to be HAPPY!

    The bottom line is that I lost over 275 pounds! And still losing! I was once tipped the scales at over 400 pounds, but now I am a healthy and happier 160 pounds with a 5 foot 6 inch frame! My motivation is when people used to talk about me because of my weight and I just got sick and tired of it! I will not tolerate any more abuse and I am going to do something about it. I exercised 5-6 days a week, for 2 hours. I substituted on odd days to perform cardiovascular fitness such as the treadmill and elliptical, and my even days, I did some strength and abdominal training. On my days on which I couldn’t run, I did a brisk walk for 3 miles. When I did run, I ran my heart out! I was my own inspiration! I needed to lose the weight badly and pursue my goal, so when I put my mind into something, you better believe I will follow through on it. I wanted to give up so bad and just let God take me, the problem that God wasn’t ready for me just yet. He told me that I still had a lot of work to do and I will help you through it.

    It was a complete lifestyle change, I have started to eat more healthier such as fruits and vegetables, ate more protein and less carbohydrates. Stayed physically active by working 6 days a week and going to the gym on my free time. Also, I liked to dance as well, dancing believe it or not is a great tool for burning calories and having energy.

    My advice for those that want to lose the weight is to start off slow. The body will not lie to you, it only can do what is capable at that moment. So don’t force yourself, don’t push yourself to do so much more that you would end up hurting yourself and fall further behind your goal. The key is about setting goals is to give yourself a timeline on how much to lose in a week, a month, 6 months, etc. Be accountable for yourself, don’t make any excuses and be prepared for setbacks…..you will have them. The resilient ones are the ones that can overcome the bad days and turn them into positive, fulfilling great days!

    Right now, I am a model, known as Amor Mz Hollywood. My website is amormzhollywood.com and I looking to share my story to the world and to make a difference in somebody’s life. I feel great, inspired, motivated and fabulous! It was a long road but I believe I am much closer to my journey than ever before in my life!

    XOXO
    Amor Mz Hollywood
    (Tiffiney Neal)

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