Organ Donation: Living & Saving Lives

By Kimberly Baldwin | MAEd Student, UAB Community Health & Human Services

There are over 100,000 people waiting to receive a life-saving organ transplant.  Another person is added to the national waiting list every 10 minutes. A single organ donor can save 8 lives, and impact over 75 through bone and tissue donation.  Those waiting for a kidney transplant make up the vast majority of the national transplant waiting list, and experience the longest wait times due to the shortage of available organs for transplant.

Unlike those waiting for other organ transplants, kidney and liver transplant candidates can receive a life-saving organ one of two ways: from a deceased donor or from a living donor.  Through living donation, a healthy person can donate a portion of their liver or one of their kidneys to someone in need, and continue to live a normal, healthy life.

About 600,000 people in the United States live with kidney failure, and require dialysis treatments to remove waste from the body.  Hypertension and Diabetes disproportionately affect those living in the South, and contribute to a host of chronic disease processes including chronic kidney disease (and ultimately, kidney failure).  Alabama has some of the longest kidney transplant wait times in the nation, where 18% of those listed will have to wait more than 5 years for a kidney transplant (OPTN 2022).  Receiving a kidney directly from a healthy living donor can drastically reduce this wait time, as a living donor can be evaluated and cleared for donation in as little as 4 weeks (National Kidney Registry 2019).  According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS 2022), kidneys from living donors function better and last longer.  A kidney from a living donor will function for an average of 15-20 years, compared with a kidney from a deceased donor which will function an average of 10-15 years.  Increased awareness about living kidney donation can positively impact the number of those willing to donate, thereby improving the lives of those in need of a kidney transplant.

A living kidney donor must be:

  • Over the age of 18
  • Mentally and physically healthy

Living donors go through a thorough evaluation to determine if they are healthy enough to donate their kidney.   Once approved, the surgery is scheduled, and both donor and recipient are admitted to the hospital.  The average hospital stay for living donors is only 2-3 days, and most donors return to regular physical activity within 4-6 weeks. 

Donors are often willing to help, but are concerned about their own health, job security, and finances during recovery.  In order to alleviate these concerns and to increase the pool of living donors, many private organizations, states, municipalities, and the federal government offer their employees paid leave benefits for living organ donation and bone marrow donation (American Transplant Foundation 2020).  The cost for the transplant surgery is covered by the recipient’s insurance company; however, donation-related expenses extend beyond the surgery itself.  The National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC 2021) can help donors cover travel expenses, lodging, lost wages, and dependent care expenses.  Increased awareness about living kidney donation can help to bridge the gap between those waiting and those willing to give.

Frequently Asked Questions about living donation:

Will donating a kidney shorten my lifespan?

Donors tend to live a longer life because they are even more health-conscious post-donation, and hence have a better quality of life.

Should I follow a special diet following donation?

A kidney donor should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, but there are no dietary restrictions following donation.

Will I still be able to exercise and participate in sports?

A kidney donor should be able to return to regular activities and exercise about 4-6 weeks after surgery.

After I donate a kidney, will I have to take medications for the rest of my life?

A kidney donor will be given prescriptions for pain medication and stool softeners at discharge from the hospital, which are only for use during the immediate post-operative period (1-2 weeks).  After that time, a donor does not have to take medication.   A kidney donor does not have to take anti-rejection medications (National Kidney Register, 2019).

References

National Living Donor Assistance Center. 2021. How NLDAC Helps. Retrieved from:  https://www.livingdonorassistance.org/How-to-Apply/How-NLDAC-Helps

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). 2022. Living Donation. Retrieved from:  https://unos.org/transplant/living-donation/

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 2022. Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN). Retrieved from:  https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/data/view-data-reports/state-data/

American Transplant Foundation. 2020. Living Donor Laws: State by State and Federal. Retrieved from: https://www.americantransplantfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Living_Donor_Laws_Federal_And_State_By_State.pdf

National Kidney Register. 2019. Get The Facts About Kidney Donation. Retrieved from:  https://www.kidneyregistry.org/for-donors/i-want-to-learn-more-about-living-kidney-donation/kidney-donation-facts/ National Kidney Register. 2019. Am I Qualified to Donate a Kidney? Retrieved from:  https://www.kidneyregistry.org/for-donors/am-i-qualified-to-donate-a-kidney/


We Believe You: The Harsh Realities of Sexual Violence

By Lacey George | MAEd Student, UAB Community Health & Human Services

Photo by Duanu00e9 Viljoen on Pexels.com

Conversations surrounding the controversial topic of sexual violence, and its effects on survivors, their loved ones, and our society, have been increasing over time. In light of the
#METOO movement, sexual abuse, assault, and violence survivors are finally given a voice to tell their story, sometimes years later. Because of this, we are finally confronting the
realities of what those brave women, men, and children have endured.

Sexual Violence is too Common

  • Each year, sexual assaults occur in approximately 463,634 Americans, which is roughly 1 every 68 seconds.
  • More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence, including physical contact in their lifetimes.

Sexual Violence Starts Early:

  • 1 in 3 females will experience rape between the ages of 11-17 years of age, and 1 in 8 experience it before the age of 10.

The effects of sexual violence are long-lasting and far-reaching. Sexual violence negatively affects the survivor’s quality of life, psychological wellbeing, and social opportunities, such as dating and social isolation. Sexual violence intersects with many chronic health problems, such as sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, depression, and sexual health problems. Moreover, sexual violence is linked to adverse health behaviors. For example, victims are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, use drugs, and engage in risky sexual activities.

Stopping sexual violence before it has the chance to occur has become the primary focus of sexual violence prevention efforts. This type of prevention effort focuses on changing out-of-date beliefs and victim-blaming attitudes and framing sexual violence as a significant public health problem. To effectively prevent sexual violence, we must make the connection between all forms of oppression (including racism, homophobia, sexism, adultism, and many others) and how oppression has created a culture in which inequality thrives, and violence is seen as the norm.

Actions to Prevent Sexual Violence:

  • Promoting social norms that protect against sexual violence encourages men and boys to be allies for others.
  • Teaching skills that can prevent sexual violence, such as teaching safe-dating and intimate relationships skills, promoting healthy sexuality, and teaching healthy coping mechanisms to adolescents.
  • Creating protecting environments, such as improving safety and monitoring in schools, community centers, and workplaces.

Alabama & Local Resources for Support:

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Prevention strategies. Retrieved on February 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/prevention.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.) Sexual Violence. Retrieved on February 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/index.html

Cherniavsky, E. (2019). Keyword 1: #MeToo. Differences, 30(1), 15–23. https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-7481176

Jaffe, S. (2018). The collective power of #MeToo. Dissent, 65(2), 80-87. https://doi.org/10.1353/dss.2018.0031

Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network. (2020). About sexual assault. Retrieved on January 29, 2021, from https://rainn.org/about-sexual-assault

Smith SG, Zhang X, Basile KC, Merrick MT, Wang J, Kresnow M, & Chen J. (2018). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2015 Data Brief— Updated Release. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on January 28, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/2015data-brief508.pdf


Greatness in Small Packages: Claudette Colvin

By Senequa Malone | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern

Photo Credits: Claudette Colvin, aged 13, in 1953. Public Domain; Back of the bus. Photograph by Stan Wayman

We’ve heard sayings like, “From of the mouths of babes” or references is in revered text “and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). These expressions signify that children are often capable of saying or doing wise, insightful, or mature things. These words or actions can be what is needed to start a movement. This was especially true during the perilous times of the early Civil Rights Movement when many children marched, were beaten, chased by dogs, and sent to jail. The children advocated for change…change in unjust laws and change toward justice all over the country, especially for African Americans living under Jim Crow laws in the South.

One such child was Claudette Colvin. As an eager young teen, she was inspired to make an immediate change one day after school. That day in class, at the segregated Booker T. Washington school in Montgomery, Claudette and her classmates discussed injustices experienced under Jim Crow laws. This bothered Claudette and she knew she had to stand for justice for herself and others. So, she decided that she would conduct her own sit-in. As she later recalled, “All I remember is that I was not going to walk off the bus voluntarily.” Claudette knew she paid her bus fees just like everyone else and deserved to ride without any trouble. She was a member of the NAACP Youth Council and knew her constitutional rights. She went on to elaborate that it felt as if Harriet Tubman was pushing her down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth on the other.

We always want to teach our children and even communities to do what is right; having them see and experience it for themselves even if they must stand for someone else that’s being oppressed or mistreated. On March 2, 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin became the first person arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person.  The first person to make the news for sitting down.

Colvin’s name was all over the local radio and newspaper print. A young black girl was arrested for being a troublemaker; not giving up her seat for a white person. This disturbed the black community greatly and many leaders quickly acted to get this young lady out of jail and home safely to her family, but they were also inspired. Claudette Colvin’s approach and boldness was ingenious. This young lady sparked the talk for a new boycott.

Local leaders in the Civils Rights Movement recognized the great potential in a non-violent approach had for putting their cause in the national spotlight but did not want to put that pressure upon a child. They knew the media would try anything to demonize her character, use all stereotypes or misjudgments against her and in turn the cause. Claudette was a dark-skinned, unemployed student. Later, she became pregnant and as an unwed expectant mother, the scrutiny of national attention would be intense. Leaders did not want that amount of hate and ignorance directed towards a child. So, they patiently waited and nine months later set in motion their plan with the perfect candidate for their strategy: Rosa Parks, a secretary for the local NAACP chapter. She was a married, employed, light-skinned, mature woman with good hair and the fiery spirit to stand up to national scrutiny. She grabbed the torch of “fight” lit by Claudette Colvin and brought attention to injustice. It was the perfect recipe for success.

While certain names are more recognizable than others, it is the impact and not the recognition that matters. Claudette Colvin’s fearless action is as unmatched and commendable as other greats during these turbulent times. One person’s stance for right can be the catalyst for positive change for so many lives and future generations. The movement would never have been the success it was without the children’s contribution and sacrifice. Colvin’s immediate act for justice and clever plan worked to set the stage for the bus boycotts and later, the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. A young teenage child wanted to see change in the world, and she not only succeeded but blazed a trail for many following behind her. Maybe without Claudette Colvin, we would not know of Rosa Parks’ bravery or Dr. King’s leadership and remarkable speeches. Colvin later became one of the plaintiffs for Browder v Gayle, a federal case which led to the desegregation of Montgomery’s buses. Thusly, her example of non-violent demonstration and advocacy led to victory in the U.S. District Court and integrated busing in December 1956.

As professionals in community health and human services, we stand on the shoulders of many advocates who championed the social well-being of the people adversely impacted by Jim Crow laws. Those shoulders can be adult shoulders or teenage shoulders like Claudette Colvin. Let’s encourage our youth and our young at heart to stand for justice, to champion the well-being of others, and be ready to change the world! Greatness is out there. It is not the size that matters, but the power of the impact!


Sources:

Adler, M., & Hoose, P. (2009, March 15). Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin. NPR. Retrieved January 20, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2009/03/15/101719889/before-rosa-parks-there-was-claudette-colvin

National Civil Rights Museum. Lorraine Motel. (n.d) Justice.  Retrieved from https://mlk50.civilrightsmuseum.org/justice. Accessed 18 Jan. 2022

Photo: Claudette Colvin, aged 13, in 1953. Public Domain

Photo: Back of the bus. Photograph by Stan Wayman

Theoharis, J. (2019, February 2). Claudette Colvin. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Retrieved January 20, 2022, from https://rosaparksbiography.org/bio/claudette-colvin/


Intimate Partner Violence: Love Shouldn’t Hurt

By Shon Mack and Senequa Malone | Interns and UAB Community Health and Human Services Students

Image credit Unknown, Graphics by Shayna Bryan

(This article is based on a discussion from WWL’s Monday Night Wellness Watch You can watch a recording of that livestream in the video player below, or on our YouTube page by clicking this link.)


Intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence, is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner.

IPV can take many forms. Some are more overt, such as physical violence, others are subtle like verbal, mental, emotional abuse, or other forms. Always, the goal is to control the victim through manipulation.

What are the warning signs?

            Aggressive behavior, controlling, manipulation, isolation, talking down or belittling, frequent bouts of jealousy are all common signs of an abusive relationship. The cycle of abuse ebbs and flows. Love bombing occurs when the abuser overwhelms their victim with loving words, actions, and behavior as a manipulation technique. This often acts as an apology for the abuse, maybe following an incident where the victim threatens to leave. Once the victim is convinced, or guilted, into staying the abuse resumes and may escalate.

Who are the victims?

            Anyone can be a victim of intimate partner violence. Women are more common in IPV cases, but men suffer as well and are often forgotten or disregarded. Statistics show that 1 out of 3 women 1 out of 4 men become victims. In Alabama, 37.5% of women and 29.5% of men experience intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking in their lifetimes. Every case is different, and victims may have one or several of these indicators in common.

What are some of causes?

            Main cause is poor upbringing. Children growing up in households that normalize abuse. Research points to many causes of domestic violence, but all these causes and risk factors have one underlying commonality: the abuser feels the need to exert complete control over his or her partner. Some studies indicate that a cause of domestic violence stems from an intersection of both environmental and individual factors.

Who are the perpetrators?

  • Toxic – People who are full of toxicity
  • Hurt – People who are dealing with hurt
    • “Hurt people, hurt people”, people who have been hurt themselves can lash out to hurt others as a destructive way of dealing with their own pain
  • Broken – People who suffer from insecurities, low self-esteem
  • Learned – People who come from generations of abuse and repeat the abusive behaviors their learned from their family

Why do people stay?

Most people stay in abusive relationships due to a combination of love and fear. They love the person; believe they can change the person. Change comes from within. Loving an abusive person will not make them stop being abusive, they need to acknowledge their behavior and want to change before they are able. It is of utmost importance to understand it is no one’s responsibility to change the abuser. You do not owe them.

However, the number one reason people stay in abusive relationships is fear. People who are in these relationships have often been manipulated into believing it is normal, they deserve it, and/or that they cannot function on their own. They fear life on their own. They feel that no one will want them. For some, the abusive situation might be better than where they came from prior.

Unfortunately, ending an abusive relationship is not as simple as the victim choosing to leave; it is often a matter of the victim being able to safely escape their abuser. Finance can play a major role as well and situations are more complex when children or assets are involved.

How can you escape an abusive relationship?

There are many dedicated experts and volunteers out there to help victims of abuse escape their situation. Contacting the Crisis Center, National Domestic Violence Hotline, and/or other local and national services is a good first step. Here is a list of common steps to take when leaving a domestic violence situation:

  • Create a safety plan
  • Have options where you can go (have a few in mind)
  • Have a bank account or credit card put in your name
  • Get a new cell phone
  • Change the locks, get a security system and outside lights
  • Think of ways to get your children to safety without being obvious
  • You can also think of excuses on how to get out of the house as mentioned earlier

If you do not feel safe researching or accessing online resources in your home, the public library is a great resource and a safe place where your activity cannot be tracked.

Love:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Local resources:

National Resources:


Citations:

Lamothe, C. (2019, December 17). Love bombing: 10 signs to know. Healthline. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/love-bombing. 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2020). Domestic violence in Alabama. Retrieved from http://www.ncadv.org/files/Alabama.pdf

Statistics. NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://ncadv.org/statistics. 

Warning signs of abuse. The Hotline. (2021, June 15). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.thehotline.org/identify-abuse/domestic-abuse-warning-signs/. 

Why Do Victims Stay? NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://ncadv.org/why-do-victims-stay. 


Balancing Me When Stressed to Be a Better Mom

By Khalia Wilkinson, M.Ed.

Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

Are you an over-extended mom who has not felt like herself lately? Maybe getting out of bed and getting moving in the morning has become difficult. Maybe you have begun stress-eating or you find yourself eating and drinking more and more of the unhealthy foods and beverages that do not refuel your body. If this is you, let’s work to understand what may be going on.

Multiple factors may be at the root of having low energy and/or feelings of stress and anxiety. In order to recognize these causes, let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What is the real cause(s) of the stresses I am experiencing?
  • How do I hit the pause button in order to positively cope and regain self-control?
  • What can I implement today to take a step towards a healthier me?
  • Who are the trusted friends and/or resources that can support, encourage, and comfort me?
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

So what might this process look like?

Exploring the real causes of stress and then hitting the reset button may not be as easy as it sounds. Doing so requires focus and intentionality! If you are finding it difficult to process through your challenges and reset on your own, consider finding a positive and healthy accountability partner, mentor, or professional counselor. You may also consider journaling to get your thoughts and feelings out on paper where you can see them. Examine your journal over the next 30 days to find patterns in your thought processes, especially those that may trigger certain poor behaviors. Finally, know that you are not alone. Many of moms experience times of stress and frustration, but be encouraged but this season of stress will become a moment in the past.

Being Mom…

As you work through your processes…you are continuing to be a good mom. No one is perfect…No one! Continue to love your children; help your children to live life to the fullest; support your children; provide food; provide shelter; make time to have fun with your kids; and be a good model for your children. Of course, this is not exhaustive a list…but it sure is what we do as moms! You are great…you are a mom!


Change Your Scence and Mood at Oak Mountain Park!

By Jerrica Lake, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Image credit clockwise from left: Magda Ehlers, PNW Production, Oak Mountain State Park

Did you know Alabama’s largest state park can be found just outside its largest city? 

Nature and Activities 

Mountain biking and hiking are two of the park’s most popular activities, but there are plenty more activities to feed your interest! 

  • Lakeside beach with swimming 
  • Watersports cable skiing 
  • Boat rentals 
  • Fishing 
  • Picnic area 
  • Golfing (with a full 18-hole course and driving range) 
  • Mountain biking (with a pump track and BMX course) 
  • Basketball courts 

Camping and Cabins 

Summer camping is hallmark of the season and Oak Mountain has the perfect spots, but if that is not your speed, try the cabins! For guests, Oak Mountains’ lake cabins are a place of peace and tranquility! The cabin grounds are found around Lake Tranquility; a 28-acre lake tucked away in the foothills of the mountain. Oak Mountain State Park offers ten fully equipped cabins that are open year-round, each with two bedrooms and one bath.   

Education and Learning 

Life science and avian rehabilitation are key components of the park. The Alabama Wildlife Center provides rehabilitation services to injured birds every year to return them to the wild.  Birds can be seen from the Tree Top Nature Trail. The Park is also home to the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center, a 2,500 square foot interactive exhibit space and teaching laboratory. Families can enjoy nature programs (including a demonstration farm full of animals to feed and interact with) and visit the extensive equestrian center for horseback riding. 

Whether you’re interested in a peaceful getaway, an action-packed weekend, or an educational experience, Oak Mountain has you covered. 

Get active and check out your local area for parks!


Sources: 

https://www.alapark.com/parks/oak-mountain-state-park


Take Care of Yourself!

by Adrienne Stokes, M. Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Services Alumni

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

The COVID-19 pandemic may be stressful, but you can get through it. Take care of yourself and cope with the stress by addressing your physical, emotional, and mental health.

Take care of your Physical Health through

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Regular physical activity
  • Plenty of good sleep
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol and drug use

Take care of your Emotional Health through

  • Connecting with others
  • Taking a break (unwinding)
  • Staying informed (but avoiding too much exposure to news)
  • Seeking help when you need it

Take care of your Mental Mealth through

  • Meditation
  • Connecting with your faith-based organization
  • Continuing with your treatment and staying aware of new or worsening symptoms
  • Calling for help if needed

Black Mental Health Resources

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255

• TC Counseling & Consulting (205) 377-5537

• Allworld Counseling & Consulting (205) 583-0237

• Strive Counseling Services (205) 721-9893

• Black Mental Health Alliance (410) 338-2642

• National Crisis Hotline (800) 273-8255

• The Crisis Center – Birmingham (205) 323-7777


Railroad Park, Birmingham’s Green Oasis

By Jerrica Lake, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Looking for a safe place to get a dose of sunshine this summer? Try Railroad Park, located in the heart of Birmingham and situated along 1st Avenue South between 14th and 18th Streets. The park is open 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily with around-the-clock rangers on patrol and 24-hour security system surveillance. Free parking is available along the outer perimeters of the park along 1st Avenue South.

Get Active in the Park!

Featuring 19 acres of green space, including 9 acres of open lawn, Railroad Park is the ideal place to have a picnic, go for a jog, or play frisbee with peers or pets. There are onsite restrooms, water fountains, and a café with a delicious menu, so feel free to make a day of it!

Railroad Park is abundant with greenery and water features, with ponds, streams, an eye-catching lake, and a stunning rain curtain feature. More than 600 trees have been planted for shade and the abundance of flowers make the park a luxurious landscape for the senses.

There is large outdoor gym area inspired by Muscle Beach in California. For kids, the park offers two playgrounds and a climbing dome. For skaters, there is a designated skate zone with three skate bowls available. For an adult looking to get active, it offers a variety of walking trails including

  • The Magic City Loop (3/4 mile)
  • Rail Trail (1/3 mile)
  • Powell Avenue Promenade (1/3 mile)
  • Limestone Trace (1/2 mile)

With sweeping lawns, picturesque streams and the beautiful Birmingham skyline framing it all, Railroad Park a prime spot for relaxing and connecting with nature within our urban jungle.


Use this image to share the message on social media!

Sources:

Birmingham’s Railroad Park – About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2021, from: https://www.railroadpark.org/about.html


REFLECTING ON JUNETEENTH: FROM CELEBRATION TO CALL FOR ACTION (FOR ALL AMERICANS)

By Shayna Bryan (UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern) with contributions from Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson

On Thursday, June 17th (2021), the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was signed into law, making this year’s observation of Juneteenth, the first observation of the new federal holiday.  On Friday, the 18th, Dr. Larrell Wilkinson had the opportunity to speak to a diverse group of college sophomores and juniors about aging research within the fields of community health and human services.  During his talk, Dr. Wilkinson spoke about the day’s federal observance of “Juneteenth” which is traditionally celebrated on June 19th in celebration of the day in 1865 when enslaved African-Americans were informed of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended.  Dr. Wilkinson shared with the young diverse scholars his hope for the Juneteenth commemoration to help foster “understanding given diverse racial experiences among Americans, which could support racial healing and reconciliation among Americans, and lead to greater solidarity within our country.”  He ended by saying that “we have to do the work…Americans can overcome challenges when working together and tackling the issues.”

Juneteenth is about celebrating the end of chattel slavery in the US as well as African American history, culture, and progress. But make no mistake, this is an American celebration for everyone because it marks a turning point in our nation’s history that is painful to remember but essential to understand for our future.  Slavery was a terrible human and economic institution that has bathed our country’s history in blood and conflict.  In our present day and into the future we have opportunities to reduce the instances of racial violence and prejudice and heal the hurts from our many past circumstances of injustice.  Keeping systems of segregation, discrimination, and oppression due to the social construct of race in order to preserve power, resources, or wealth for a select racial category is un-American and will not lead to the forming of a “more perfect union.”

We should never forget the terrible atrocities conducted under the system of slavery or the harms performed during the eras of Reconstruction and Jim Crow.  But we should also remember to celebrate the recovery and progress made towards racial harmony and cultural proficiency by all racial groups and work to secure the “blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” What are your thoughts? From your point of view, what is the best way(s) to improve cultural and racial harmony in the United States of America? Please feel free to leave comments below or engage with us @WilkinsonWellnessLab on Facebook.


LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND ITS BENEFITS

By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

If you’ve ever spent time looking for healthy diets to follow, but wanted to avoid a highly restrictive diet (like vegan) or a commercial diet plan (like Weight Watchers), you probably have come across the Mediterranean Diet. It has been the subject of research for over 50 years and has been ranked the best overall diet by the U.S. News and World Report for four years running. The American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the World Health Organization have all endorsed the Mediterranean diet as a healthy and sustainable eating style that reduces risk for heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. The Mediterranean Diet also may assist with weight loss in obese people and is associated with lower rates of depression, cognitive decline, cancer, and all-cause mortality.

This diet has a lot of major endorsements! So then, what’s up with this diet and why is it so special?

The Mediterranean Sea is a meeting point of three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe. When health experts and researchers recommend the “Mediterranean Diet” they’re not talking about the food of just one people or one culture, but the common shared characteristics of the simple everyday meals made for centuries in this region of the world. Meals are built around plant-based foods, heavily seasoned with herbs and spice (though not tons of salt). These meals are made, shared, and enjoyed amongst a community of families and friends.

Here’s are the common characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet:

  • High consumption of vegetables, often raw or slightly cooked
  • Beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, potatoes, and unprocessed or whole grains
  • Olive oil as the principal source of fat
  • Fruit treated as a dessert
  • Moderate consumptions of fish, poultry, and dairy (mostly in the form of yogurt and cheese)
  • Low consumption of red meat
  • Moderate alcohol consumption, often in the form of red wine

Please check out the source below to learn more about the Mediterranean Diet. Please also share your thoughts about the Mediterranean Diet in the comments section of this post or via our page on Facebook @WilkinsonWellnessLab.

Sources:

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, June 21). Mediterranean diet for heart health. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/previous-dietary-guidelines/2015.

U.S. News & World Report. (n.d.). Mediterranean Diet. U.S. News & World Report. https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/mediterranean-diet.

What is the Mediterranean Diet? http://www.heart.org. (n.d.). https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet.