Minding Our Health Business This Holiday Season

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As we near the holiday season, one of the joys is eating delicious food and spending time with family. At this time of year, there is so much energy, excitement and expectation around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Joining with the YWCA in promoting the value and importance of health is a important part of my message and how we can use this education to make better decisions for ourselves and for our families.

Diabetes is a disease that greatly affects the African American community and is a lifelong disease that takes away many lives too early. It requires significant changes in lifestyle, and requires not only the affected person but their family to understand, accept, and implement the behavior changes needed to control the diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for at least 90% of diabetes worldwide and affects more than 23 million of Americans. With those staggering statistics, I hope to encourage many to take charge of their health and to help prevent this disease in those who not affected now. Diabetes is disproportionately more common in ethnic minority groups in developed countries including African and Hispano/Latino, communities and they 1.5 to 20 times more likely to develop diabetes than their non-Hispanic, white peers. Diabetes also will usually be harder to control and have higher rates of complications, such as coronary artery disease or stroke in these groups.

Having the tools to beat this disease are becoming more available and knowing how to have families help with this disease is also helpful. One of the ways the medical community has helped to combat diabetes is to promote healthy lifestyles and deliver appropriate care. Also of importance is to improve access to the benefits of society, including quality preventive and treatment services, as well as working in partnership with community-based organizations and churches.

I hope to inspire some with ways to make small changes in your lifestyle so that it becomes routine. Simple ways to change it up include:

1. Turn Off the Television – Once you limit your hours to watching TV and slowly decreasing the hours per week you spend in front of it, it will not seem that bad. Inactivity promotes type 2 diabetes and when you become more active it will work your muscles more often and make them work harder improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose. Every two hours you spend watching TV instead of pursuing something more active increases the chances of developing diabetes by 20 percent; it also increases the risk of heart disease (15 percent) and early death (13 percent).

2. Increasing your Cardiovascular activity – Like we mentioned, it’s the simple changes. The Black Women’s Health Study reported similar diabetes-prevention benefits for brisk walking of more than 5 hours per week. Imagine that! Starting out at 5 hours per week can change the tune of your current diabetes or from getting the disease. Find a way to include this in your weekly routine and reap the benefits.

3. Time to Tune Up Your Diet – Four dietary changes can allow you the freedom to decrease your risk of having diabetes.

– Choose whole grains and whole grain products over highly processed carbohydrates.
– Don’t go for the sugary drinks, and choose water, coffee, or tea instead.
– Limit red meat and avoid processed meat; choose nuts, whole grains, poultry, or fish instead.
– Skip the Trans fats found in many margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in most fast-food restaurants.

4. And lastly, if you smoke, try to quit – Living long lasting lives that are free of disease is what we want for ourselves and our family and friends. Use this holiday period to give the gift of healthy living to yourself and others. Lose the constant cloud of fear and dread, and a possible shortened life-span by making changes to your life which will ultimately increase your quality of life. Start looking for ways to still enjoy yummy food by preparing your favorite foods in a healthier way.


Dr. Shepherd is a women’s health expert and the founder of Her Viewpoint, an online women’s health forum that focuses on addressing taboo topics in a comfortable setting.  She is also seen as an expert on, The Today Show, “Dr. Oz”, CBS News, FOX News, WGN and “You&Me This Morning” in Chicago, in addition to radio programs nationwide such as Doctors Radio, Marilu Henner Show and Tom Joyner. She also has contributed to several leading publications including Women’s Day, Glamour, Self, Women’s Health, Essence and Just Parenting. Her expertise spans all women’s health issues and she has spoken on various topics in that realm on these networks.

She writes for several blog posts including Cafe Mom, She Knows, Madam Noire and Lux and Concord. She has been able to learn from her patients in her practice that women’s health issues are not discussed enough and that there is a need have conversations on these matters that affect us. Women’s health spans physical, emotional and spiritual positions and she discusses many of these topics on her website Her Viewpoint.

As an health care expert, she strives to educate women on their bodies and how to address uncomfortable topics and issues. She is a national speaker for Poise as well as Change The Cycle to address women’s health issues. She also collaborates with bloggers to spread the word and discuss health topics with their followers.  Follow Dr. Shepherd at www.herviewpoint.com, on Twitter at @JShepherd_MD and Instagram at jessicashepherdmd.

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