OUR WELLBEING

To look at us living our day to day lives do you see our bodies becoming more limp and lifeless everyday? The way we walk, talk and even think is a reflection of our mental, physical and spiritual health.
We must remember that the state we are in as individuals is a result of all that we consume.

Our health and wellbeing is the greatest possession we have and speaks volumes about a community’s harmony and structure.  
Many within our community suffer illnesses due to poor diet, no physical exercise and lack of awareness about our own bodies.

The following information is regarding issues affecting the black community.  
Please distribute the articles made available.

Our Melanin

We begin with Melanin.

Melanin is the chemical from which so much is determined, experienced and stored.

Melanin is a chemical that we often over look, under appreciate and have little to no understanding.  This stable and resilient compound gives many benefits to the body of melinated people.

Melanin is a gift which we need to understand if we are to appreciate the way we are.
Melanin helps us to absorb all types of energies for example the light from the sun or the vibrations from sound which travel in the atmosphere.  All we consume be it food, drugs and even music will have an intense impact due to our ability and strength to absorb through our melanin. 

Read article Melanin In The Body from the Bidii archives  which explores what Melanin is, what it means to us and our bodies.

THE CHEMICALS IN OUR HAIR CARE

The products targetted at us are not always the best for us

Many of us will have cupboards and draws full of hair care products aimed at the Black community.  However, studies over recent years have shown that the chemicals often in these products targeted at the Black community are harmful to our health.  These chemicals are often hormone disturbing and could be a contributing factor to the high disparity between diseases affecting Black women and other female counterparts.

Read the full article hair coach Tola Okogwu  here .

WELLBEING IN PREGNANCY AND BEYOND

The foundation set by the mother can empower the family

The health of women during and after pregnancy is vital not only for her recovery but for the right start of the new born.

Read the latest interview here with Leah Salmon as we explore what has changed for the black woman and advice on how to improve the mothers wellbeing that will benefit her and the family.

THE YONI STEAM

The care of the womb is imperative for women's overall well being

The benefits of vaginal (aka yoni) steaming is immense.  From aiding those suffering from fibroids, to those needing a therapeutic release.

To care for oneself is very important and yoni steaming is fast becoming a popular practice for women in the west for many reasons.

Read the full article here with Emma Etaka Ako on women empowering themselves through yoni steaming.

THE V SPOT

To remove the taboo and speak freely of the vagina

The generations of Black women who have little knowledge of their body parts is a reminder of the lack of self care we take of ourselves and what information is lost among close friends and family.

Read our article with Dr Rhoda Molife here who discusses openly on why we need to normalise our discussion on vaginal health.

 

 

 

SICKLE CELL

Diet is fundamental to the lifestyle we lead, and even our traditional African diet saw a very small amount of meat in the diet.

There are approximately 15,000 people in the UK with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) also known as Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA) and most of these people are from the African Caribbean community.

Our understanding of SCD is an important factor that will affect our quality of life. 

The Sickle disease is a lifelong condition that occurs when the red blood cells are formed in a crescent shape.  These cells are often rigid, fragile and prone to damage. The cells are also unable to easily pass through blood vessels in the body causing the risk of blood clots and damage to organs and tissue in the body.

Read the full article here with Philip Udeh on how we can empower those with SCD.

TO STRETCH AND BE STRONG

To stretch provides a surprising strength for the internal

As yoga and pilates are increasing popularity (for women mostly) it is important to stress that men too need to feel, experience and benefit from stretching  and strengthening their core.

Pablo Imani author, yoga teacher and founder of Afrikan Yoga has a message directed to the men about Afrikan Yoga and advise on some of the simple exercises you can make part of your daily routine. 

 

DIET

As we know diet is fundamental to the lifestyle we lead, and even our traditional African diet saw a very small amount of meat in the diet.

Food came from the earth but now our diet has changed over the years as we have become accustomed to the English lifestyle. The negative affects of consuming white starches, sugars and processed foods over the many years is now evident for us all to see.

In most cases it is the mother who feeds the family. The foods she places on the table should reflect her understanding of healthy eating and what it means for the family. Raw food specialist Derin Bepo stresses all sweet drinks and breakfast cereals as well as processed foods are negative on a child’s health, and encourages women to ask questions about the food they give their child.

Download the interview –
Derin Bepo on Our Foods by Derin Bepo

TRAINING

To train is essential for our wellbeing. The body is a temple which must be worked if it is to remain supple, rejuvenated and powerful.

Our history of training is vast and at all times strenuous. From Kemetian arts to Nubian wrestling and capoeira training has always been a fundamental part of life.

Exercise works all of our bodily systems and organs ensuring they are kept in prime condition and working in harmony. Physical fitness is increased and overall wellbeing can be attained. Training will exercise your cardiovascular system which is essential for our breath which feeds the body oxygen through our blood.

Apathy is the real disease and without training you increase your chances of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. These are the very same diseases which we see in our family members all too often!

To train regularly is what’s needed to fight diseases which are devastating our community, and when we stop training the signs are clear and the body never lies.

Pictured: Beni Hasan, Egypt

THE PROSTATE

The Prostate gland forms a part of the male reproduction system and has been known through the ages as the ‘human battery’.

The importance of the prostate gland is fundamental to the health of a man. The prostate gland is a gland about the size of a chestnut and consists of glandular and muscular tissue. It surrounds the urethra at the base of the bladder, and its purpose is to make and store seminal fluid.

Some studies in the US illustrate that African American men are 60 percent more likely to get prostate cancer than whites, and also twice as likely to die from it than any other group.

It is fundamental for us all to understand that the wellbeing of our men is linked the state of the prostate. To understand more read the following article –
Special Health Report: Prostate Problems in Afrikan/Black Men
 by Kwame Osei.

BREAST CANCER

To understand cancer we require some appreciation of human biology.

Our body is made up of minuscule entities called cells; these are the basic unit of life. Similar types of cells come together to form our tissues (e.g. muscle tissue, brain tissue etc), groups of tissues form our organs and then organs come together to form systems (e.g. cardio-vascular system, nervous system.).

Cancer is a disease of the smallest unit of our body – the cell. It develops when cells within our body obtain a series of defects that result in their uncontrollable growth. These cells are thus able to grow and divide into multiple defective cells that form a mass called a tumour. This tumour takes over the tissue within which it formed and can then spread to surrounding tissue and ultimately to other parts of the body. This in essence is cancer – the rapid growth of cells within a tissue, which can spread to and destroy other tissues. Cancers are named according to where this process started so for instance lung cancer is the growth and spread of defective cells within lung tissue.

When it comes to breast cancer black women need to be more aware of the facts. The national statistics would have us believe that our rate of breast cancer is in line if not less than normal society but we must look closer.

Breast cancer is the most common female cancer in the UK and worldwide. Black women have a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer but a higher percentage of black women die from breast cancer because we tend to get a more aggressive form of breast cancer called triple negative breast cancer. For this reason it is important that we catch breast cancer early enough to ensure a better outcome. Knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer is one way we can ensure early diagnosis, the other way is for the health authorities to develop a more effective screening programme for black women. Ultimately we should be aiming for the prevention of breast cancer and we can make our own contribution towards this by adopting a healthy lifestyle – mind, body and soul.

Below are articles which explain about cancer, the type of cancer that is attacking black women and the methods we should us to fight it.

Read Breast Cancer by Abi Ajose-Adeogun

Read ‘Black Women and Breast Cancer‘ by Abi Ajose-Adeogun

Read ‘Defeating Breast Cancer‘ by Abi Ajose-Adeogun

FIBROIDS

Fibroids are a big factor with women of the black community. This is something which we should all know about and take action on especially for prevention.

Lifestyle is a huge factor and understanding the strains we place on the body is key.
Fibroids are tumours that grow in a woman’s uterus (womb), and can be the size of a pea and grow to the size of a huge water melon. A fibroid consists of muscle fibres which are benign (none cancerous).
In America studies showed, fibroids occur almost nine times more in black women than in white women, and it appears earlier.

The symptoms of fibroids can vary. Many women suffer from heavy bleeding and even flooding (a unexpected flow of blood), long periods of 4 days and more or passing of large clots of blood. Not all experiences of heavy bleeding is due to fibroids but when it is, it’s usually related with fibroids growing in the womb.

Painful periods can be a sign of fibroids, with women enduring pain in their legs, backache and/or pressure and bloating in the abdominal area. Also, heavy bleeding in some women develops anaemia from the blood loss, causing dizziness, tiredness and feeling weak.

Fibroid specialist Eymbi gives her insight into fibroids and advice for all black women to hear.

YOGA

Yoga is comprised of many stretching movements and postures to create and improve balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility. Each posture provides great physical benefits. The practice of yoga has been crucial to increase stamina and perfect the alignment of the body.

The history of yoga is vague with much of it being attributed to ancient Indian civilizations however, there is much evidence illustrating the practice of yoga in ancient Egypt from the 5th Dynasty and beyond.

Afrikan Yoga is an art formed to create well being in the body and the stimulation of energy to prevent and cure illness. No other form of exercise has such a remarkable effect on the body’s own natural healing powers. Afrikan Yoga is used to improve the circulation of blood and lymph, massaging internal organs. Improving the function of the glands, such as the pancreas, ovaries, thyroid, testicles, pituitary and adrenals. Many diseases are caused by poor circulation so Afrikan Yoga is a valuable therapeutic tool.

“Afrikan Yoga’s essence is inner harmony, peace and calm designed to develop flexibility, suppleness, psycho spiritual awareness and controlled relaxation of the mind and body.” – Pablo

Download Pablo- Afrikan Yoga for more information on Pablo’s thoughts of how Afrikan Yoga can be used to improve the health of the community.

Classes are held by Pablo Menfesawe-Imani, across London, throughout the week. For further details call 07816 000 943.
Or, visit the website: http://www.afrikanyoga.com

DIABETES

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high due to the body’s inability to use it properly.

During digestion carbohydrates are turned into glucose and then released into the bloodstream. When the glucose levels reach a certain level the body releases insulin which is a hormone from the pancreas.

Insulin is used by the body to reduce the glucose level in the blood by taking it to cells where it is used as energy for the body.

People with diabetes struggle to properly process the carbohydrates (sugars and starches) they eat, resulting in high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood and the body has difficulty in producing insulin if any.

There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes happens when the body cannot produce any insulin. Usually appears in people under 40 years old. 1 in 10 people with diabetes suffers from type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes happens when the body can produce insulin but not enough of it, or the body is unable to use the insulin produced.

Diabetes in black people is 4-5 fold higher than the general population (NHS 2006). In a recent study results showed that black women were at least three times more likely to have diabetes compared with women in the general population (Diabetes UK 2009); and in the USA studies have shown that diabetes is 33% more common among African Americans than Whites, and that the highest rates are among African American women.

As always your diet and lifestyle are key to maintaining a healthy body and reducing the risk of complications in living with diabetes. Even our weight is a factor as obesity has the strongest link with type 2 diabetes than any other serious disease. If not managed correctly it can be associated to further problems such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, amputations and premature mortality.
The most common form of diabetes can often be prevented by taking control of our weight by eating well and having regular exercise like walking, running, swimming or other aerobic activity.

— References —
Diabetes UK – Diabetes in the UK (2009)
NHS – National Diabetes Support Team (2006)