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Healthy Tip: Eliminating Minority Health Disparities

Elaine Hart-Brothers, MD

“We can eliminate health disparities if we understand the underlying cause of the disease along with root causes such as poverty and racism. With breakthroughs in medicine and with changes in social science and politics, we can achieve health equity. Certain people have had to suffer or endure more assault and injury. The body’s reaction to injury is inflammation. Combining the biology of disease and compassionate policies can lead to reaching the objectives of Healthy People 2020 and health equity,” says Elaine Hart-Brothers, MD, a retired internist affiliated with Duke Health Community Medicine.

Inflammation as a link to disease

Inflammation is the body’s response to outside threats like stress, infection, or toxic chemicals. When the immune system senses one of these dangers, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues. In a healthy situation, inflammation serves as a good friend to our body but, if immune cells start to overreact, that inflammation can be totally directed against us.

Harmful or chronic inflammation can have a number of triggers, including virus, bacteria, autoimmune disorders, sugary and fatty foods, or our body’s response to STRESS. Chronic inflammation can trigger disease processes such as, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even depression. While medication and other treatments are important, many experts say that adopting an anti-inflammatory diet may help, too.

For a healthy MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT avoid chronic inflammation. “In a nutshell” eat healthy nuts and learn about anti-inflammatory foods because controlling inflammation is crucial to human health and a key future preventative and therapeutic target. (British Journal of Nutrition)

Community Health Coalition Annual Meeting

What can you do?

Focus on lifestyle choices that reduce your risk of chronic inflammation (the kind that leads to disease). Many lifestyle factors have been shown to play a part in cellular inflammation: smoking, obesity, chronic stress and drinking alcohol excessively, for example. Fortunately, you can control these factors. And if you need help from a medical professional to do so, it’s available.

  1. Avoid stress and chronic anxiet
    – Stress is believed by holistic professionals to be a leading cause of inflammation in the body because stress releases cortisol and other hormones.
  2. Avoid tobacco
  3. Exercise helps fight inflammation
  4. Eat anti-inflammatory foods and avoid food additives

What should you eat?

Plant based diet – include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), and fresh herbs and spices like turmeric.

Fruits and veggiesGo for variety and lots of color. Research has shown that vitamin K-rich leafy greens like spinach and kale curb inflammation, as does broccoli and cabbage. And the substance that gives fruits like cherries, raspberries, and blackberries their color is a type of pigment that also helps fight inflammation.

Whole grainsOatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and other unrefined grains tend to be high in fiber, and fiber also may help with inflammation.

BeansThey’re high in fiber, plus they’re loaded with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory substances.

Antioxidants destroy free radicals that cause cancer and cardiovascular disease. Green teas, pineapple turmeric olive oil, ginger beet, carrot, avocado, quinoa, cabbage, and sauerkraut

Safety Tip

Racial Health Disparities need to be addressed because African Americans die at higher rates from chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. Remember homicide is one of the largest disparities noted in Healthy People 2020.

Remember your ABCs to decrease inflammation

Always address avoidable inequities,

Be active and exercise regularly, and

Control inflammation through “colorful foods”

For More Information

OMH Office of minority health.    Phone: 240-453-2882

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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative.

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