Thursday, November 17, 2011

If you are overweight, obese, a smoker, then you pay more in Health insurance premiums

An article, released today by the New York Times, shows that workers considered to be overweight, obese, a smoker then you pay more in Health insurance premiums. There is an increased demand by employers for their employees to pay more for in health insurance premiums if they are smokers or are obese. The same goes for those who have high cholesterol. Other employers are offering financial incentives to their employees by encouraging them to enroll in wellness programs. Companies including, Home Depot, PepsiCo, Safeway, Lowe's, and General Mills defend their decision on high premiums for “less healthy” employees by stating that this approach will get workers to take more responsibility for their health & well-being.

Currently, Wal-Mart stores (the nation's largest employer) sought higher payments for their smokers- an amount, reaching $2,000 more than for non-smokers. The only way that their employees can avoid this surcharge if this receive documentation from their doctors stating that it would be medically inadvisable or impossible to quit smoking. Allen, who works for Wal-Mart, gave up smoking when he learned he paid $40 more a month for health insurance, in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday.
What do I think about this?
As much as I am a huge supporter for wellness programs, I am NOT a supporter for discriminating,because this is exactly what companies are doing when they seek to have 'unhealthy' workers pay more in health insurance premiums. Companies who choose to go on the route of higher premiums for the 'unhealthy' and discounts for 'healthy' are making the assumption that health status is a lifestyle choice and that all health status is as a result of personal behavior. Is that true?

I think not! I do agree that personal behavior is included in the equation on health status, but there is so much more to our health status as a people. Research has shown that the conditions in which we live, work, and play tend to induce unhealthy behaviors such as:
  • being exposed to high levels of stress each day, which can cause reliance on unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol as a means to reduce stress
  • easy and quick access to fast food and limited access to fresh foods
  • limited to no recreational facilities in neighborhoods/communities
  • higher prices for healthy food, especially fruits and vegetables, particularly when compared to fast food and junk food.
Our health status is not a result of merely personal behaviors. Our employment conditions, the neighborhoods in which we live, our race, stress, and our health care are all part of the equation. So, discriminating against those considered 'unhealthy' by punishing them to pay more money for health insurance is simply unfair. The only good thing that may result out of this whole thing is providing an incentive to those whose actions are only a result of personal behavior and encouraging those already considered healthy to keep engaging in health promoting ways.

What do you think? Is it fair or unfair to change higher health insurance premiums for those considered unhealthy?

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New in Health: The African Heritage Diet Pyramid (What?!)

Hello Lovely people,
Oldways has created the African Heritage Diet Pyramid with the help of experts in the African Diaspora. According to Oldways, the African Heritage Diet Pyramid "was designed specifically for African Americans, and African descendant populations everywhere, to introduce them to their Healthy Heritage. It can also be used by anyone wanting to use heritage as a guide to eating well."

The Pyramid is designed to celebrate the individual foods and the traditional healthy eating patterns of African Heritage, with roots in America, Africa, the Caribbean, or South America. 
From what I've seen, as a St. Lucian, I recognize a lot of food that we, St.Lucians and other people of the Caribbean eat, such as callalo, guava, yams, breadfruit, plantains, cassava etc. 

An excerpt from Oldways: he foods of African Heritage contain lots to be celebrated, and they begin with the main ingredient of African American cooking today—flavor!  Heaps of herbs, spices, and savory sauces jazz up simple, healthful vegetable-focused meals, showing us that “healthy eating” also means great taste. Traditional African Heritage meals are based on an abundance of colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens; tubers like sweet potatoes; beans of all kinds; nuts and peanuts; rice, flatbreads and other grain foods, especially whole grains; healthy oils; homemade sauces and marinades of herbs and spices; fish, eggs, poultry and yogurt; and minimal consumption of meat and sweets.

To me, this pyramid is proof that we need to take a step back away from the 'western' diet which is killing a lot of us in 'developing' countries; developing countries which are a large part in the Caribbean, South America and Africa--The African Diaspora! Let's go back to our roots and celebrate what traditionally what our grandmother, great grandmother ate while growing up...because they weren't eating fast foods that are high in sodium and saturated fat.
Please take the time to learn more about the African Heritage Diet here and let's celebrate our Black culture through food.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Unsettling Truth about Diabetes

Hello Lovely people,

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month!
And let me tell you the number are NOT looking good. Diabetes is when the body has a very difficult time regulating its blood glucose or blood sugar. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2
Type 1 diabetes is is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In this case, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. This is the less common form of the disease.
On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is highly prevalent in our communities. If this is the case, the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells of the body ignore the insulin produced by the body. The statistics on diabetes in the U.S. is alarming to say the least:

Total prevalence of diabetes

Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.
Diagnosed: 18.8 million people
Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people
Prediabetes: 79 million people*
* In contrast to the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, which used fasting glucose data to estimate undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes, the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet uses both fasting glucose and A1C levels to derive estimates for undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes. These tests were chosen because they are most frequently used in clinical practice.
New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.

In an article released today by the International Diabetes Federation, at least 1 in 10 adults could have diabetes by 2030! Crazy. The information that was startling for me was that 'according to the World Health Organization, there are about 346 million people worldwide with diabetes, with more than 80 percent of deaths occurring in 'developing' countries.'
My Questions:
  1. Why is diabetes growing rampant in 'developing' countries, countries who plagued more so by infectious diseases (communicable) diseases? Many (not all) of those 'developing' countries are geographically located in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.

  2. What shift is going on in those countries to cause more than 80 percent of deaths occurring in 'developing' countries?!! Is it simply behavior and lifestyle of the people who live there or is it bigger? Are there structural, social and economic inequalities causing such a divide not only between countries but within countries? What's going on?
Any thoughts or feedback?
Stay happy & healthy,

Jojoba Oil |Extra Virgin Olive Oil | Castor Oil | Coconut Oil incredible for the hair and skin

Hello lovely people,

Another edition of the Good Health Series: Taking care of the Physical. Nature provides us with an abundance of natural ingredients for health and beauty. And I say why not take advantage of all this natural goodness, rather than opting for unnatural, artificial and refined ingredients. This brings me to oils. Currently, more than ever, achieving and maintaining healthy skin, so I want to share some of what I've learned with you.

Jojoba Oil- I love this stuff! I use jojoba oil as my facial moisturizer. I have very sensitive /acne prone skin. Dyes and perfumes irritate my skin so badly that I avoid them completely. Jojoba oil work very well, because it light and odorless. All you need is about 4-5 drops for moisturized and soft skin. Jojoba oil will not clog your pores. In fact, jojoba is so similar to the body's natural sebum (oil).
In addition, I use jojoba oil to keep my hair soft, shiny, and conditioned. It works extremely well to reduce breakage.
Castor oil- I use castor to keep my hair conditioned right after a nice wash. As a child, I watched my mum make castor oil, which she would use on my hair. I do the same thing today. Castor oil keeps my hair moisturized and protected in cold weather. It is a thick oil, so a little goes a long way.
Most importantly, I use castor oil to keep my acne at bay. I take about 3 drops of castor oil, rub on my hair, let it absorb into the skin for a few minutes and enjoy the benefits. Castor oil has anti-bacterial + anti-inflammatory properties, which is great for acne prone skin.

Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)- This only is not just for cooking. This oil has truly become a true hair staple. I use EVOO solely for my hair as a hot oil treatment and oiling my scalp. EVOO is very beneficial for dry and brittle hair. It keeps the hair conditioned, removes buildup caused by products, nourishes and strengthens the hair.

Coconut oil-- One of the best oils in my opinion. Coconut oil nourishes and strengthens hair, because it is one of the few oils that is able to penetrate the hair shaft. Coconut oil has antimicrobial + antifungal + antibacterial properties, making it great in the treatment of dandruff and lice. This is also a great oil for the skin.
I hope this was helpful to you!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

8 tips to improve your Career Development

Hello lovely people,

The next post on The Good Health Series will look at Social Health. Social Health involves creating & sustaining relationships with others, your community and yourself. Often times, we think of health as just exercise and nutrition and I want to challenge this notion. Health encompasses so much more than just going to gym and eating a bunch of fruits & veggies.

 In addition to Healthy Skin Month, November is also National Career Development Month. I get really excited about this topic, because the happiness and satisfaction that we often experience in school or our careers often spill over in other areas of our lives:o)

Below a few tips that have helped me navigate this area of my life. I hope it can benefit you as well:
  1. Update your resume and Curriculum vitae (CV) NOW. There are always changes to be made, whether that may be adding a skill/experience or using different synonyms to describe your job/internship responsibilities
  2. If you're in school visit the Career Services office to get some form of consultation on internships or jobs or study abroad programs. They know when is the next career fair. Whatever it is that you want to know more about in terms of career/professional development, this should be your go-to office.
  3.  Write your elevator speech. This is basically a 30 second description that describes who you are, what you want to do (i.e. teacher, public health worker etc.) and what you've accomplished (presently or in the past) to achieve your ideal career. You must be specific and to the fluff.
  4. Set some career goals for yourself. Write them or type them, but don't have them floating in your head. Make those visible and concrete. It has more meaning that way. 
  5. Start job/internship searching....Make a list of companies or organizations that you would like to part of. Do your research. Its never too late to begin.
  6. Talk to your peers, mentors, family members, professors etc. You never know where those conversations might take you. True story: A simple conversation with my mentor took me to graduate school with a graduate assistantship that pays for 93% of my graduate degree...Hello! This never would have happened without this conversation.
  7. Use your facebook or twitter account as a platform to market yourself. Display your passion, skills and career goals. You never know who's watching.
  8. If you have a linkedin account, update it. If not, set up an account. 

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Little Known Ways to use Baking Soda (Audio too)

The Good Health Series: Taking care of the Physical.
Baking Soda 

November is National Healthy Skin Month

There are many different ways to use baking soda from cooking to deodorizing for instance, but today I want to share with you two ways that I use baking soda, which I'm lovin'.

1. First I use it to exfoliate. I use baking soda mixed with a little bit water (mix into a paste) as a facial scrub. I use this at least once a week to remove dead skin cells and unclog my pores. Simply rub the paste in a circular motion all over your face for about a minute.Baking soda is not rough to the face. I have sensitive skin and it does not cause any irritation to my face.This paste can also be used on rough and dry areas of the body, such as elbows and knees. Don't forget to moisturize afterwards.

2. Secondly, I use as a sprinkle of it on my toothbrush with or without toothpaste to clean my teeth. Rinse well and enjoy results.

Baking soda is inexpensive and very accessible. I prefer to use it a s natural means to achieve healthy skin and white teeth. I do not guarantee instant results, but overtime, you should be able to see results. I hope this information was helpful to you! Let me know if this works by commenting and using the reaction buttons. For more information similar to this, Follow the blog.

**An audio of this blog post is included **

Physical health- involves taking care of the body by making healthy & positive choices that affect the physical body