By Reginia Dodson | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern
In the famous words of Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” (Maya Angelou, 2023). Often, we as women, and most importantly black women tend to overlook all of the warning signs of a toxic relationship. This may include a romantic, friendship, or even a professional relationship.
Abuse is a pattern of behavior used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another (Team, 2021). DMost women often ignore the tell-tale signs of an abuser, Abuse comes in all forms such as verbal, physical, and financial. It can come in form of your good friend that always needs to borrow that little $40 she can never seem to pay back. It is amazing how little your $40 becomes when you dare to ask for them back. The excuses you hear when you ask to become a barrage of putdowns and make the situation even worse. Nevertheless, this is an example of financial abuse.
Next, we have the person that always has something negative to say, or makes a harsh comment that may offend us in some way. This is sign of verbal abuse. Sometimes it is easy for us to ignore these statements and signs, or to justify their reasoning behind their actions, but this behavior should not be tolerated.
Lastly, we have the outright physical abuser. This particular person wants to physically harm you. “But it was only one time, they promised me it wouldn’t happen again “, a common yet horrific statement of those suffering from physical abuse. If someone causes us harm, we should run and never look back. Physical abuse can ultimately lead to permanent injury or even death.
You better believe them all. We should be able to identify our limitations and boundaries; and consider them often when experiencing abuse. No relationship is worth a hit to your mental, financial, or physical health so protect it at all costs.
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.
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 Terrie Johnson | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern
Photo by Cottonbro Studio on Pexels.com
Plants are essential in relieving stress due to their mood-boosting properties. They provide a positive experience beneficial to a person’s mental and physical inclinations (Gu et al., 2022). The 4 most common plants that are known to reduce stress are Lavender, Jasmine, Lemon balm and Rosemary.
Lavender is one of the plants that help reduce stress. It contains a rich fragrance that boosts an individual’s mood once inhaled. Lavender’s floral smell is stipulated to have a calming effect, which decreases the experience of stress (Thrive, 2023). Consequently, it can be planted in one’s green space to help create positive moods.
Jasmine is also a stress-relieving plant because of its fragrant flowers. Even though it is identified as a shrub, it gives rise to flowers that release a pleasant smell (Thrive, 2023). Thus, when the fragrance is inhaled, an individual experiences a positive mood. This feeling reduces stress and increases contentment with the surrounding (Gu et al., 2022). Jasmine flowers are also colorful, which makes them visually therapeutic. Thus, they help to advance emotional and mental relaxation that reduces stress.
Lemon balm is recognized as one of the plants with positive effects on stress reduction. When used as an herb, its leaves release tantalizing flavors with calming effects (Thrive, 2023). The relaxing properties advance the mitigation of stress and its related issues. Lemon balm also has purple flowers that appear during summer. Their relevance is the provision of visual relaxation, which combats stress. Therefore, the use of this plant would reduce the condition.
Rosemary is a plant that can be used to trigger benefits that limit the experience of anxiety. In the green space, it transforms the atmosphere with its scent. Since it belongs to the mint family, it releases a fresh fragrance (Thrive, 2023). The resultant smell has positive psychological impacts. For example, when inhaled, the fragrance calms the body. It also energizes the mind, which shifts one’s thoughts from stress. Therefore, it is a meaningful plant that would advance the experience of positive outcomes.
Gu, J., Liu, H., & Lu, H. (2022). Can even a small amount of greenery be helpful in reducing stress? A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(16), 9778. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19169778
Relieving stress is part of instigating one’s well-being. Today, varied approaches can be applied to limit the experience of the condition. For example, wearable smart devices can be used to monitor one’s involvement in physical activities (Can et al., 2020). They can then provide data that guide changes in an individual’s exercise routine. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also an instrumental approach that advances stress reduction. This intervention provides perspectives concerning the situation that a patient experiences. It can also enable one to regain control and reduce the intense feeling of stress. Thus, the above approaches would relieve an individual from the condition.
Stress can also be managed through the application of biofeedback. This technique involves an individual learning how to control their body’s functions. Since one is connected to electric sensors, information is relayed about body functions (Can et al., 2020). Thus, an individual can make decisions to control functions such as the heart rate. This facilitation provides leverage to mitigate the experience of stress. Additionally, breathing exercises can be used to reduce the condition by relaxing muscles (Can et al., 2020). The application of this intervention allows one to feel comfortable. Therefore, it relieves one from stress, which improves life’s quality.
Other techniques that promote positive outcomes are relaxation approaches and guided therapies. These interventions advance the provision of a desired environment that support stress reduction. The use of relaxation approaches helps mitigate the experience of anxiety or emotional reaction to difficult situations. As such, they allow the affected person to handle issues that lead to stress. Guided therapies also work toward the alleviation of the condition. They work by encouraging an individual to conceptualize situations that lead to stress. Thus, the affected person develops knowledge of the best practices that reduce the condition. The adoption of the above interventions would help relieve the experience of stress.
Can, Y. S., Iles-Smith, H., Chalabianloo, N., Ekiz, D., Fernández-Álvarez, J., Repetto, C., Riva, G., & Ersoy, C. (2020). How to relax in stressful situations: A smart stress reduction system. Healthcare, 8(2), 100. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare8020100
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 Jaelyn Copeland | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern
Depressed and Anxiety are fairly common mental health issues among individuals across the world. According to the CDC, depression occurs when a sad mood lasts for a long time, and interferes with normal, everyday functioning (CDC, 2022). Symptoms of Depression include:
Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless
Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
Waking up too early or sleeping too much
Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
Feeling tired‚ even after sleeping well
Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself
Fortunately there are existing supplements that can help treat symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha is part of an evergreen plant that grows in both Asia and Africa. The plant is known to have health benefits when ingested as teas, powders, tinctures and supplements, or in raw form (Chandrasekhar et al., 2012). Ashwagandha is a classic example of a adaptogen, a plant or mushroom used for a variety of stress-related ailments such as anxiety, sleeplessness, aging and well-being. Ashwagandha also aids the body’s ability to withstand both physical and mental stress (Kumar et al., 2021).
Here are 7 benefits of using Ashwaganda:
Relieves stress and anxiety
Lowers blood sugar and fat
Increases muscular strength
Improves sexual function in women
Boosts fertility and testosterone levels in men
Sharpens focus and memory
Supports heart health
Ashwagandha is usually consumed by using supplement capsules or in tablet, powder, tincture and tea form (Forbes, 2023). For more creativity, you can add the raw form of Ashwagandha into nut butters, granola, smoothies and overnight oats with low exposure to high heat. Have you tried Ashwagandha? What has been your experience? Feel free to leave a comment and join us on Facebook.
Kumar S, Bouic PJ, Rosenkranz B. Investigation of CYP2B6, 3A4 and ß-esterase interactions of Withania somnifera (L.) dunal in human liver microsomes and HepG2 cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2021;270:113766.
Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255–262. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.106022.
By Jaelyn Copeland|UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern
Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and has been used as medicine for thousands of years in China and Japan. Although many varieties of tea come from this plant, green tea is considered the healthiest because of how it is processed (Curtis, 2023). Green tea is also promoted as a beverage or nutritional supplement for improving mental clarity, reducing headaches and gastrointestinal issues, and it is awesome for promoting weight loss. Thanks to its many benefits, it has become more popular and is consumed worldwide.
Green tea contains caffeine, a stimulant that boosts mood, energy levels, reaction time, and memory. Along with caffeine, green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that positively affects mood, lowers stress, and boosts dopamine and serotonin production. Caffeine and L-theanine work together to improve mood, reaction time, attention, and memory (Curtis, 2023)
Many components of Green Tea, particularly EGCG, gets a lot of attention for its potential positive impact on health. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a unique plant compound that is known to help reduce inflammation, aid in weight loss, prevent heart disease, brain disease, and even cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved a topical ointment, sinecatechins (brand name Veregen), which includes extracted components of green tea leaves and is used for the treatment of genital warts.
Green tea has many health benefits and is generally safe in moderation. Most side effects are related to its caffeine content, and consumers are encouraged to not drink more than 8 cups a day.
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).