At the turn of the 20st century, the life expectancy for African Americans – notwithstanding socio-economic conditions and realities particular to the time — was dismal. Comparisons matter: Despite close proximity, African Americans were expected to expire, generally, 14 years earlier than their White counterparts. The fact that African Americans kept living and reproducing despite the realities and susceptibility to these conditions is a study in resilience and offers clues as to why, at least statistically, African Americans have been faring better as of late. The death rate for African Americans fell 25 percent from 1999 to 2015, according to a recent CDC report. Essentially, early health interventions can lead to longer, healthier lives. “In particular, diagnosing and treating the leading diseases that cause death at earlier stages is an important step for saving lives,” says Leandris Liburd, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A., associate director, CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity.

Specifically, the single biggest contributor to that decrease in death rate was a steeper decline in heart disease deaths for Blacks. Reductions in heart disease mortality alone closed the life expectancy gap in comparison to Whites by 0.37 years (about 135 days).

And even as new research has confirmed the hereditary nature of stress, and stressful contexts sustained over time and too, its impact on accelerated cellular aging or premature death, we’re starting to understand more how the roots of most of the chronic illnesses that plague Black America disproportionately are ultimately stress related, often intergenerational — and widely preventable. With heart disease in particular, stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk including high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating.

All things considered, being healthy is indeed a lifestyle. And while sometimes, dramatic overhauls of time-worn habits are needed, most times a few simple adjustments can be enough to produce noticeable outcomes to reduce the impact of factors that are beyond our control.

READ

Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability” (2017)

Edited by Stephanie Y. Evans, Kanika Bell and Nsenga K. Burton

This book creates a new framework for approaching Black women’s wellness, by merging theory and practice with both personal narratives and public policy. 

ASK

Five Questions You Must Ask Your Primary Physician, according to Dr. Winston H. Gandy, Cardiologist

  1. Am I going to have a heart attack?
  2. Do I have cancer?
  3. Do I have diabetes?
  4. What is my ejection fraction?
  5. What are my cholesterol levels?

DETOX

Avoid Social Toxins

A new study from the University of Maryland found that racism may speed aging at the cellular level. Researchers found signs of accelerated aging in African-American men who reported being heavily discriminated due to their race and who had internalized anti-Black attitudes “Despite the limitations of our study, we contribute to a growing body of research showing that social toxins disproportionately impacting African American men are harmful to health,” explained Dr. David H. Chae, assistant professor of epidemiology at UMD’s School of Public Health and the study’s lead investigator. “Our findings suggest that racism literally makes people old.”

FOODWAYS

Ital is Vital

One of the primary goals of adhering to an Ital diet is to the concept of what one puts into the body should enhance ones livity and vitality and not reduce it. Though there are different interpretations of ital regarding specific foods, the general principle is that food should be natural, or pure, and from the earth; avoiding all foods that are chemically modified or contain artificial additives, color, flavorings, and preservatives and salt.

 Black Can Crack

You are what you eat and a lackluster diet will lead to dull skin, dry hair and brittle nails. Bust a reverse:

Grapes and red wine – Both supply high amounts of Vitamin A, C, and B6, nutrients that keep your skin’s complexion fresh and clear. | Salmon – Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon not only helps with free radicals and overall skin health, but also lowers odds of stroke and fights against Alzheimer’s disease. Alternatives: Tuna, trout or sea bass. | Water – Sugary drinks and spirits will make you feel dehydrated and fatigued. Drink at least half your body weight, at room temperature, every day. Toss in an effervescent Vitamin C tablet and load up on your free radical defense for the day, whilst meeting your H2O quota.

GET MOVING

Hard and Fast Is Best

The quickest way to burn fat and build fitness stamina is with the Tabata Protocol — a Japanese exercise technique that involves bursts of intense activity and short rests. Better body; less time.

HABIT FORMERS

Getting in shape and staying in shape can seem like a chore, especially if your schedule is as busy as we suspect. But, a healthier lifestyle and wellness isn’t solely about days in the gym — you can also improve your overall wellbeing through your habits.

Coach.me

If you’re sort of in need of a life coach or at least a bit of daily prodding to move on the goals you’ve set, Coach.me may be all that’s missing in your life. Set weekly targets for staying on top of your personal growth, fitness, relationships, skills, productivity or several other options, and on the days you’ve selected — the app will remind you to stay on track. (Free)

Sleep Cycle (alarm clock)

While you sleep, you go through cycles of sleep states. The first state in a sleep cycle is light sleep, followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as REM-sleep, and each is generally repeated several times a night. Waking up easy is all about timing. Sleep Cycle alarm clock tracks your sleep patterns, through your phone’s placement on the bed, and wakes you up during light sleep. Waking up during light sleep feels like waking up naturally rested without an alarm clock. (Free)

Day One

Day One is a journaling app that allows you to record life as you live it. Use it to make notes, capture memorable moments, record thoughts, work on the go, document fitness activity and to chronicle every other thing you want to get off your mind throughout your day. Think of it as taking a moment, periodically, to clear your mind. (4.99)

Fitnet

One app reviewer called this tool “perfect for people with no time.” A personal trainer for everyone, Fitnet offers 250 free 5- to 7-minute workouts from strength training to cardio to yoga. The comprehensive fitness solution is accessible, easy-to-use and fun for all ages and skill levels. Exercise by yourself or add a boost to your goal by connecting with a live certified personal trainer. (Free)

Terra’s Kitchen

Terra’s Kitchen sources clean, sustainable ingredients that are antibiotic- and hormone-free, as well as non-GMO and organic, when possible to provide fresh food delivery to support healthy lifestyles, including Paleo, gluten-free, and vegetarian. All you have to do to get started is choose from the recipes created by Terra’s Kitchen’s culinary team every week or they will choose the ones they think you’ll enjoy. Once they’ve diced, chopped, and portioned, your package will be delivered to your door in a climate-controlled vessel with step-by-step recipes. The bonus: With prep work, dinner will be ready in 30 minutes or less.

Fooducate

More than your typical calorie counting app, Fooducate can help you lose weight by giving you a handy tool to analyze information found in product nutrition panels and ingredient lists. Scan a product barcode to see a personalized nutrition grade; learn about a product’s pros and cons to choose healthier alternatives; track your food intake and exercise as well as the quality of calories, not just quantity; and ask questions and get feedback from the community. (Free)

 

 

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