By Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson | Wilkinson Wellness Lab
Standing while at work can improve your health! A study from a group of scientists at the University of Pittsburgh showed that on average, a person burned 8 more calories standing versus sitting at work (Creasy, Rogers, Byard, Kowalsky, & Jakicic, 2016). This may not sound like a lot, but if standing half the time during an 8 hour workday, after one week a person will have burned (used) 160 calories, about the standard serving size of Oreo cookies or Lay’s Classic Potato Chips. Again, this may not sound like a lot, but every little bit helps, Right?
Calories are how we measure energy and describes the energy we get from eating food and drinking. Calories don’t measure weight or length. Instead, we burn (use) calories when we exercise, walk, and perform regular movements throughout the day. Another way to burn calories is to simply, STAND. Also, there are other benefits to standing more during the day! Experts from the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Chosewood & Franklin, 2012) found that using sit-stand workstations did the following:
Standing more while at work decreases the amount of time spent in sedentary work
Standing more helps relieve pressure on the lower back, buttocks and legs, and may help reduce compression of the spine arising from long periods of sitting
Standing more may improve energy levels
Standing more frequently may improve cognition
Standing may increase circulation and lead to better blood flow to the brain and other organs
Standing more burns more calories than sitting
Standing more may assist with energy balance and aid in weight management
Standing more may improve bone density over time
Standing more may promote better sleep
So what about you? Are you standing more? Are you willing to stand more? How will you stand more during the day? Share your story about standing or the different ways you move here in the comments section and/or share with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Creasy, S. A., Rogers, R. J., Byard, T. D., Kowalsky, R. J., & Jakicic, J. M. (2016). Energy Expenditure During Acute Periods of Sitting, Standing, and Walking. Journal of physical activity & health, 13(6), 573–578. https://doi.org/10.1123/jpah.2015-0419
By Regina Dodson | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern
Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States, and there is also a high prevalence of the disease affecting the African American community. African Americans have higher cancer mortality rates than any other racial or ethnic group, with a 14% higher overall cancer death rate than non-Hispanic whites (ACS, 2021). This disparity can be caused by a variety of factors, including socio-economic status, lifestyle factors, and limited access to healthcare.
One solution to reduce cancer disparities in the African American community is to increase access to cancer screenings. Early detection is crucial in the treatment of cancer, and regular cancer screenings can help detect cancer at an early stage, when it is most treatable. However, African Americans are less likely to receive cancer screenings than non-Hispanic whites, due to limited access to healthcare (ACS, 2021).
Community-based interventions have shown promise in increasing cancer screening rates in the African American community. These interventions involve community outreach and education, providing information on the importance of cancer screenings and how to access them. The Patient Navigation Program provides individualized support to people wishing to be screened for cancer, including transportation and other logistical support (Ferrante et al., 2011).
Another community-based intervention is the use of mobile mammography units, which bring mammography services to underserved communities, making it easier for women to access breast cancer screenings (Willems et al., 2019). Mobile mammography units have been shown to be effective in increasing breast cancer screening rates in underserved populations, including African American women.
Increasing access to cancer screenings in the African American community is crucial for reducing cancer disparities. Community-based interventions, such as the Patient Navigation Program and mobile mammography units, can help increase cancer screening rates in underserved populations. By improving access to cancer screenings, we can help detect cancer at an early stage, leading to better treatment outcomes and ultimately reducing cancer mortality rates in the African American community.
Ferrante, J. M., Chen, P. H., Kim, S., & The-Pennsylvania-Patient-Centered-Medical-Home-Initiative (2011). The effect of patient navigation on time to diagnosis, anxiety, and satisfaction in urban minority women with abnormal mammograms: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Urban Health, 88(2), 211–226. doi: 10.1007/s11524-010-9502-6
Willems, B. A., Henry, K. A., Richter, R. R., & Hsieh, Y. W. (2019). Breast Cancer Screening in Underserved Women in the United States: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Women’s Health, 28(2), 269–277. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2017.6863
By Jaelyn Copeland | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern
Vitamins and minerals are critical for several important bodily functions. Often referred to as micronutrients, vitamins and minerals are not produced in the body. Instead they are commonly consumed through food or supplements (CDC, 2022).
The berry of the black elder tree, or Sambucus nigra, known as elderberry, is full of antioxidants that we need to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Although it is native to Europe, the black elder tree can also be found in North America, some regions of Asia, and Africa. Elderberry has been used in traditional medicine to promote general health for years. Whether it is used as an extract or juice concentrate from the whole fruit, elderberry is now frequently used in dietary supplements. Products containing elderberry are primarily marketed to support immune health. It also helps alleviate symptoms of respiratory illnesses, including the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19.
There are several different formulations of elderberry supplements; including syrups, pills, and lozenges. Numerous goods are sold expressly to children, notably those that come in chewable or gummy form. Additionally, some products combine the berries with other components of the black elder tree, most frequently elderflower. Elderberry may be hazardous if improperly prepared.
The stems and leaves of the elder tree, as well as unripe elderberries, contain cyanide-producing substances that can be poisonous if consumed. These chemicals can be eliminated through cooking, but many homemade elderberry recipes do not call for enough heat to completely evaporate all toxins, making them more likely to have negative effects than over-the-counter remedies.
There have been more complaints of elderberry products recently being contaminated. If you’re thinking about taking an elderberry supplement, please talk to your doctor first make sure the product you choose has received third-party certification.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, February 1). Micronutrient facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
By Angela Wilson | Community Health and Human Services Intern
I am sure we have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat”, (Ludwig). But what does this phrase really mean? In short, it means that we must eat foods that benefit our bodies so that we can be healthy and fit. Heart disease, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases disproportionately affect the African American community so it is imperative that we examine the benefits of consuming certain fruits which may significantly lower our chances of getting these diseases. This commentary will address the health benefits of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants and are an excellent source of vitamin C , manganese, folate, and potassium. Vitamin C strengthens the body’s defense and protects it from free radicals ( harmful molecules), which has been linked to many chronic diseases. Manganese is an element that assists in building bones, wound healing, and reproductive health. Folate and Potassium are important for normal tissue growth, cell function, and essential bodily functions such as regulating blood pressure. Strawberries are 91% water and have a very low carb content. They also have a significant amount of fiber, (approximately 26%), which improves digestive health by feeding the friendly bacteria in your stomach. Lastly, evidence suggests that strawberries lowers the spike in blood sugar after consuming a meal, thereby aiding in blood sugar regulation.
Blueberries contain some of the highest anti-oxidant levels which contribute to their ability to neutralize some of the free radicals that cause damage to your DNA. They also protect cholesterol in your blood from becoming damaged. Bad cholesterol (LDL), increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Blueberries are strongly linked to reduced levels of LDL, which makes them very good for your heart. Anthocyanin, one of the powerful antioxidants in blueberries has significant beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. This plays an instrumental role in reducing inflammation and aiding in the protection of conditions like cancer and diabetes.
Raspberries are very low in sugar and are considered to be antioxidant powerhouses because of their high vitamin C content. One 100-gram portion of raspberries provides 23 milligrams of vitamin C, which is approximately 30% of the recommended daily allowance for women. They are associated with a lower risk of chronic stress related diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Raspberries support good digestive health due to their high fiber content and they also reduce the amount of insulin needed to manage blood sugar levels.
As you can see, these fruits are key components to good health and well being and should be incorporated into our diets as we strive to become healthier, stronger, and happier while protecting our bodies from chronic diseases and illnesses.
References: Bjarnadottir, A. (March 2019). Strawberries 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. https://www.healthline.com. Retrieved February 27, 2023. Ritcher, A. (January 2023). 10 Proven Health Benefits of Blueberries. https://www.healthline.com Retrieved February 27, 2023. Sachdev, P. (September 2022). Health Benefits of Raspberries. https://www.webmd.com Retrieved February 27, 2023.
Tension headaches affect the overall well-being of a person. The provision of interventions that relieve them advances the quality of life. One common way to relieve tension headaches is by using painkillers. (Hassan & Asaad, 2020). Medication is the first choice since it relieves pain. Physical exercises, such as yoga, provide leverage for the relaxation of the body, which can help to relieve tension headaches (Hassan & Asaad, 2020). Massages are also used to loosen tension in the head and neck muscles. This intervention is necessary because it stretches tight and shortened muscles, which aids in releasing tension in the head.
Other intervention measures that can be used to advance the relief of tension headaches include getting adequate sleep, using cold ice packs, etc. Changing sleep habits can help limit the experience of sleep apnea or insomnia. Cold packs can also be placed on the head to reduce tension headaches (Hassan & Asaad, 2020). The cooling effect reduces pain and minimizes headaches. If an individual has a tension headache, they are encouraged to stay at home and avoid taxing activities. They would also provide leverage for long-term quality health since they limit the experience of pain.
The application of non-evidence-based intervention measures may also relieve tension headaches. One relevant suggestion is to avoid stressful situations. The probability of having tension headaches are higher when we are stressed, or in noisy environments. That risk decreases when surroundings are conductive. In turn, calm environments are guaranteed to relieve tension headaches.
Hassan, M., & Asaad, T. (2020). Tension-type headache, its relation to stress, and how to relieve it by cryotherapy among academic students. Middle East Current Psychiatry, 27(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s43045-020-00030-3
By Terrie Johnson | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern
Photo by Olia Danilevich on Pexels.com
The use of diabetes medication for weight loss is a growing trend among people facing obesity risks. A drug called semaglutide is used to help individuals manage their body mass. Based on existing studies, this medication is effective for weight loss. Its criticality is also based on limiting the development of type 2 diabetes (Singh et al., 2021). Patients receiving a dose of semaglutide medication have a higher chance of maintaining a desirable body mass index. Thus, the use of diabetes medications provides leverage for weight loss. This efficacy also makes it possible to mitigate the development and effects tied to type 2 diabetes. Therefore, the medication is a critical intervention for weight-related risk factors.
Even though diabetes medications such as semaglutide and liraglutide have positive effects on weight loss, they have negative implications. For example, their use curbs cravings for certain foods critical for relevant nutrients. The medications also lead to side effects like diarrhea and bloating (Singh et al., 2021). These issues may limit the achievement of the desired life quality. As such, there is a need to consider the reduction of side effects tied to diabetes medications. This stance would increase their efficacy in the advancement of weight loss. Thus, the interventions instigate the limitation of obesity-related issues that may reduce one’s quality of life.
Based on the review of existing studies, diabetes medication for weight loss is effective in mitigating weight-related issues. They also protect against the development of type 2 diabetes among at-risk populations (Singh et al., 2021). Thus, drugs, such as semaglutide, are instrumental to be applied in the weight loss process. They are effective in handling the risk of obesity and diabetes. Despite their side effects, the positive aspects are immense. Therefore, diabetes medication should be used to promote weight loss among at-risk patients.
Singh, G., Krauthamer, M., & Bjalme-Evans, M. (2021). Wegovy (semaglutide): A new weight loss drug for chronic weight management. Journal of Investigative Medicine, 70(1), 5–13. https://doi.org/10.1136/jim-2021-001952
By Jaelyn Copeland|UAB CommunityHealth and Human Services Intern
Apple Cider vinegar (ACV) is a vinegar made from fermented apple juice. It is a very versatile product that is commonly used in cooking, or to make dressings, sauces, and marinades.
ACV can also be used as a home remedy for many health ailments, and is available in forms such as tablets, capsules, powder, liquid drops, gummies and topical prescriptions.
The production of apple cider vinegar involves two steps. Crushed apples are first exposed to yeast, which causes the carbohydrates to ferment and transform into alcohol. The alcohol is then further fermented by the addition of bacteria, creating acetic acid, which is the primary active ingredient in vinegar. Vinegar gets its potently sour flavor and smell from acetic acid. Although potential claims are not backed by scientific evidence, the health benefits of apple cider vinegar are thought to be caused by acetic acid. This acid makes up 5-6% of cider vinegars.
Benefits of ACV may include:
May lower blood sugar levels
May reduce cholesterol
May offer antimicrobial benefits
May help increase weight loss
BuBu Banini, M.D. suggests that individuals should consume no more than one to two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar per day. “When used in small amounts, the risk of apple cider vinegar is generally low,” she says. As long as you are tolerating it, diluting it and don’t have esophageal issues, there is no reason not to try it!
By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Simone Biles is an American gymnast with a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is widely regarded by many as the greatest gymnast of our generation. Biles was the favorite to win multiple individual and team events in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but shocked the public when it was announced on July 27th that she would be pulling out of the final team competition for undisclosed health reasons. The following day, she pulled out of the rest of her planned events and gave further explanation: She’d been struggling with the immense pressure that comes with her position and could not compete due to physical and mental health issues. With Biles out of the competition, America’s chances of sweeping the gold for Olympic gymnastics all but vanished. This announcement was met with reactions of anger, outrage, betrayal, sympathy, and support. Why the mixed response?
If Biles had broken a bone or torn a ligament that rendered her unable to compete, the American public may have universally replied with kindness and empathy, viewing it as a tragedy. But because Biles’ reasons were partially mental, the feedback was not at all kind. Why such anger? The answer lies in our complicated and at times antagonistic relationship with mental health.
The World Health Organization describes mental health as “the foundation for the well-being and effective functioning of individuals.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 American adults have a mental illness, but less than half of those will receive treatment. This is likely due to the great stigma associated with mental health treatment and the common perception that seeking help is a last resort. As a result, the average delay between onset of symptoms and treatment is 11 years.
This is not at all how we treat physical issues, where prevention and prompt treatment are the norm. There is pressure to keep issues related to mental health invisible. Tough it out. This is especially a common thought among the athletic community.
The whole situation reminded me of a conversation I had about a month ago with Susan Chambers, a friend of mine who competes nationally in powerlifting. She was struggling with her own stubbornness in knowing when to quit and call it a day. When she’s tired and can’t focus, she’s at risk for serious injury which has happened to her in the past. On this day, she asked herself aloud, “Are you actually worried that will happen or are you being lazy and looking for an excuse? What’s the line between self-destructive and dedicated?”
I responded: “Guilt and shame.” If you’re pushing yourself because you feel inspired, all is good, but if guilt, shame, or fear of failure is motivating you, that’s bad. That’s when you risk seriously hurting yourself, mentally and physically.
Sue was silent for a moment, then said, “You win this round of self-care.”
Simone Biles is a gifted athlete who inspires many and will for years to come. She has the grit and determination to become a champion and the deep maturity to know herself and her limits. No matter the full circumstances, Simon Biles does not owe us further details or explanations. She does not need to justify her decision or apologize for the disappointment it caused, because she owes us nothing. She may be our pride and joy, but she belongs only to herself.
I reached out to Sue again for her thoughts on Simone Biles and the public response. She had this to say:
“Knowing your limits and prioritizing your health and well-being is laudable. Simone Biles is a world class athlete under an incomprehensible amount of scrutiny from the public. For her to advocate for herself and her needs was extraordinarily brave. We need more role models like her, who will demonstrate self-compassion as something more valuable than competition. I guess the short form is: She is a champion, and championing her own well-being proves it.”
Chambers, S. (2021, June 29). Personal communication [online chat].
Chambers, S. (2021, July 29). Personal communication [online chat].
Choudhry, F. R., Mani, V., Ming, L. C., & Khan, T. M. (2016). Beliefs and perception about mental health issues: a meta-synthesis. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 2807–2818. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S111543
Riedel, C. (10 August 2019). Photograph of Simone Biles at US Championships. Associated Press.
@USAGym. “After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.” Twitter, 28 Jul. 2021, 1:14 a.m., twitter.com/USAGym/status/1420266286441922562