Tag Archives: holistic health

Sustaining the Black Community with Holistic Health

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“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process, heal our own.” -Wangari Maathai

The Black body has endured more than the growth-halting grip of former enslavement. We have suffered trauma to the African trinity of health (mental, physical, and spiritual), which greatly affects how we interact in the world, “post enslavement.” With media messages telling us to eat this sugary saturated fat to feel good, and drink that 80-proof poison to be as cool as our favorite rappers, the abuse to our bodies and overall well beings live on. Faced with limited access to life-sustaining foods due to socioeconomic status, the burden of low self-esteem from living in a racist society, and a general lack of knowledge about “living well,” a comprehensive timeline comes to mind about exactly how we have landed in the reality we are in today. Best believe this exclusion is systematic and purposely enacted. Though unfair, it is no one’s responsibility but ours to undo the mass confusion around health in the Black community and begin the journey towards healing from post-traumatic slave syndrome.

pirkle_jones_black_panther_free_breakfast At the best moments of the Black freedom struggle we recognized that we did not just need to change laws, we also needed to change our living patterns. Organizations like the Black Panthers not only told us to change our diets, they also imposed breakfast programs and other sort of community-oriented food programs so that people would have healthy living options and they understood the relationship between healthy living and a community, they understood the relation to building a Black nation and having healthy diets. – Marc Lamont Hill

Taking control of our lifestyles is not a new concept in the Black community. As Marc Lamont Hill suggested in the above quote from 2012 documentary “Soul Food Junkies,” we have always stressed the importance of proper nutrition and lifestyle in our movements in the past and can do so once again. The same fervor Black Panthers displayed in picking up guns to protect themselves from the quick bullet of the racist can also be used to pick up plant foods, herbs, and spices to aid in the body’s defense against diseases.

black-man-and-child-hospital-bed1With the rise of genetically modified foods, mineral-depleted soils, and processed foods being more affordable and available, many of the traditional foods we are eating today in our soul food dishes look like what our ancestors ate growing up, but chemically are not the same. Altered genetic makeup of foods and the addition of sugars, salts, and harmful preservatives aid in the development of chronic diseases Blacks are dying from in droves today. Food-related diseases which plague the community like heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes hold us back from being the fully functional beings were born to be. These many health issues act as blockades to our struggles towards freedom. Instead of actively working to defeat white supremacist oppression and earn back our rights as human beings, we’re fighting against our sickly bodies, and worrying heavily for our lives. This will change. It has to.

By embracing an attitude of  “self-care as healthcare” (Queen Afua), we can operate on an optimal level. Centering the importance of clean eating with whole foods, healing herbs, and antioxidant-rich spices, we can refocus our energies to where they need to be. By feeding ourselves well, we can expect a boost in self-esteem and a fulfilling sense of purpose, two things we, as a whole, lack for various reasons. Hope is not yet lost when we trust in our own capabilities and utilize the resources here on this planet to fuel us on our unique journey.

slide-03I propose purifying oneself through proper nutrition and a lifestyle that caters specifically to the Black body, promoting sound mental health, and welcoming a more freeing approach to spiritualism that pays homage to ancestors. As acts of self care as means of liberation and fortification to be pushed to the forefront of the many movements towards Black freedom.

Pocket Pinching Health: Tips For Clean Eating On A Budget.

BlackHealth365 presents clean eating on a budget! Here is a list of tips and tricks to stay well and save money while doing it!

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  1.   The first and most important tip to eating healthy on a budget is planning! Plan your meals and write down your list of needs before shopping. Prioritize your list of needs by what you absolutely must buy at the top of the list and the items that can be spared if needed at the bottom. Organize by order of importance. This mean things like fresh fruits/veggies towards the top, chips & granola at the bottom. And most importantly, stick to what’s on your list!
  2. Check to see what sales are being offered online or in the paper at whatever grocery store/market you’ll be shopping at. It helps you better plan when you know what you’re going to buy in addition to how much it will cost for easier budgeting.

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3) Buy in bulk. Items such as rice, beans, and foods/drinks by the case typically come at a discounted price and can be stored to last you a longer time. Bulk = more bang for your buck!

4) Don’t be scared of frozen produce. They aren’t as aesthetically appealing or juicy as fresh as what you’d get fresh at the market, but most frozen produce is picked and stored at peak ripeness, which means they contain the same nutritional benefit. If frozen produce is not for you, buy local. This means going to farmers markets. Locally grown produce is cheaper in cost than what you find in stores.

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5) Reducing meat intake and focusing your diet to be more whole foods based will not only benefit your pockets, but your health as well. Buy cheaper proteins like eggs, frozen fish, legumes & nuts instead of meat.

6) Eating clean is not expensive. Eating organically, however, can be pretty pricey. This is where you may have to compromise. Ideally, we’d all eat organic all the time. However, all the food you eat doesn’t absolutely need to be. Fact is not all non- organic foods are bad for you. Here’s a list manufactured by the Environmental Working Group of what foods should always be purchased organic and which can be supplemented with conventionally grown produce: http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-214

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7) Buy in season! Seasonal fruits and vegetables that don’t have long distances to travel are healthier for your body because they don’t require as much preservation work, they’ll be more abundant which means cheaper, plus you can feel good about stimulating the local economy. Here’s a list of fruits & veggies organized by season to make the process a little smoother for you: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-fruits-and-vegetables-are-in-season

8) So you’ve made it out of the store with everything you needed and only what was on your list. You even stayed within your budget. Congratulations! Now it’s time to meal prep! Cut, bag, and/or freeze produce as needed to images-138prolong usage. Make meals you planned out for the week and put in separate containers for easy grab-and-go access. Bag snacks like trail mixes, cut fruit, and veggie chips to snack on in between meals. This will speed up your metabolism, which will aid in weight loss, and more importantly, lessen the likelihood of you spending unnecessarily of junk food from snack stands/vending machines.

 

Be realistic. Coming into a healthier lifestyle a compromise of your time and sometimes personal expenses. Consider the expenses & habits that can be cut or reduced to accommodate this newly beneficial lifestyle. See it as the ultimate investment in yourself. You’re worth both the time and money.

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Plan. Stay organized. Stick to your list of needs. Prioritize. Buy smart. Buy locally. Buy in season. Buy organic when necessary. Prepare meals in advanced. Freeze the leftovers.

We want you to eat well while saving money doing so. Be consistent. All great changes take time as well as sacrifice. Again, remember you’re worth the investment.

Smoke Unfurling: The Hidden Effects Of Incense

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If you’re like me, incense lighting is a daily ritual. I come home from a exhausting day at work, make a pot of chamomile tea, and release the aromatic “Egyptian Musk” or “Amber” smoke into the air to unwind for the night. This practice is super relaxing, not to mention the scents are addictive, but coming home from the polluted air of a bustling city to a room filled with scented smoke can’t be good for respiratory health. Our lungs require fresh oxygen as much as possible. When this need isn’t met, an array of health issues can arise, from asthma flare ups to lung infections and many other annoyances you’d be wise to try and avoid.

Globally, incense burning has been practiced for thousands of years for various uses such as invoking gods, purifying the atmosphere, entering into transcendental states, and to drive away demons. With origins in Ancient Egypt, this ritual can be found today in highly spiritual places like China, India, Japan, Tibet, and even here in America. 
Eygptian-God-Ra-WorshipWhile the exact contents of all incense aren’t fully known, most incense is made from a combination of fragrant gums, resins, wood powders, herbs and spices. This include its various forms from powder, cone, soil, and sticks. Current clinical studies have revealed many contaminants within incense smoke, including pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide, and volatile organic compounds, all of which wreak havoc in the body’s respiratory & nervous systems when overexposed and cause people to be at a higher risk for developing cancer in the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms of overexposure include, but aren’t limited to the following: nose & throat irritation, dizziness, headaches, nausea, asthma inflammation, and weakness. 

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I love incense and wish to continue safely burning the herb & spice based aroma sticks for relaxation. Avoid the symptoms of chemical overexposure by opening windows up wide and turning on fans while lighting the strong smelling mixtures in your homes or sit outside while using to avoid the negative side effects, which can mimic those of inhaling second hand cigarette smoke. Practice ventilation when lighting incense and let fresh air be the main healing substance you inhale on a daily. 

Dairy Milk vs. Alternatives: Your Bones Deserve Better

Time and time again we’ve been told dairy milk is an essential staple to the human diet, that we need it in order to be well. It has been promoted by the dairy industry as one of the only sources of calcium. Without it you run the risk of being calcium-deficient and possibly developing osteoporosis. Is there truth to this statement or yet another genius marketing strategy by a lucrative big business?

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For starters, dairy milk is in fact a source of calcium, an essential mineral for bone density. The highest source when consumed in it’s raw state. The catch is, raw milk is illegal in most places here in the U.S., so what’s sold in stores all across this country is most likely pasteurized. This pasteurization process strips the creamy substance down to a watery, non-nutritious, hormone infested pus that should not be consumed by humans.

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Raw milk from organic dairy farms is booming with nutritional benefits. The complex whole food has been used to diminish allergy symptoms, eczema, and asthma symptoms. In addition, studies show that raw dairy milk consumption promotes the production of good bacteria in the body and increases the likelihood of healthy weight gain. Dairy products sold nationwide are not unpasteurized, therefore most of the milk and calcium alternatives are safer and healthier to consume.

 

Foods like dark leafy greens, almonds, broccoli, dried figs, beans, black strap molasses, and salmon are calcium-rich alternatives to milk. With the rise of health consciousness and people converting into vegetarians & vegans, calcium/vitamin D fortified milk substitutes created from almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, coconuts, and soy are becoming more popular in delivering our nutritional needs. The Silk brand almond milk contains 50% more calcium and vitamin D than dairy milk. It is said that fig juice was used in ancient Africa, as a replacement for human breast milk because of their high calcium and potassium content which helps to reduce the loss of calcium in urine.

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Knowing the state of dairy here in the U.S. and the benefits of alternatives, it is wise to weigh your options and make the whatever decision you feel is best for you. We recommend frequently incorporating the foods listed above into your diet if raw unpasteurized milk is not an option. Your bones and overall bodily health will thank you for ceasing to pollute your being with the added toxins present in dairy, replacing the source of needed minerals like calcium from milk & cheese to whole foods.