REALHEALTH YOUR GUIDE TO BLACK WELLNESS
Do You Know Your Date’s Sexual History?
Toni Braxton Came Clean About Having Lupus
FALL 2012 $2.99 US REALHEALTHMAG.COM
Meal Makeovers Made Easy
Do School Junk Food Bans Work?
“Clinically Proven” What This Health Claim Really Means
How She Seized Control
Starr Phipps suffered from seizures from childhood into her adult years, until a computer device provided relief. Now she’s a patient educator who teaches others about epilepsy.
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Real Health Health Tips
Plastic surgeon Tracy Pfeifer, MD, offers a quick tutorial on standard operating procedures put in place to minimize surgical mistakes.
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28 20 condition hidden. Now she has no regrets about finally going public.
Danger: Women under siege
“Clinically proven” may not mean what you think; Gila monster saliva may help control diabetes; what we can learn from the Black Panthers about health care
Can hep C be transmitted by sexual contact?; Ask Your Family Doctor
How healthier food choices at school help kids control their weight; smart dairy alternatives; berries may boost your brain power
16 COVER STORY
When singer Toni Braxton learned she had lupus, she first kept her
Stealthy tricks to make packaged food even healthier. Plus: Say good-bye to sugar and fat with a few simple swaps.
For people experiencing tinnitus— the perception of annoying ringing and buzzing noises when none exist—silence is a relief.
Everyday solutions to help AfricanAmerican women overcome fragile and easily damaged hair. Plus: Stuff We Love
How to recover from setbacks and return to normal sooner
Contributor Question of the Month
What’s key to know before you begin dating someone? What’s key is whether the person is currently available, married or in love with someone else. If so, the two of you won’t be able to openly and honestly connect. Avoid partner sharing at all costs. —Dr. Rachael
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this month on REALHEALTHMAG.COM
Are Women Under Siege?
Kate Ferguson MANAGING EDITOR
hen I heard about a pregnant Chinese woman who’d been snatched off the streets by family planning officials and forced to abort her unborn child, the news chilled me. Then, there’s the story about pregnant women in Nairobi who were detained because they were unable to pay for maternity care. What these and similar horror stories from distant parts of the world have in common is one thing: They all concern women’s reproductive rights. Such rights involve a woman’s right to control her own body, especially as it affects her right to choose whether or not to bear children and to determine how they will be raised and nurtured should she decide to have them. In 1968, the United Nations held an international conference on human rights. During that conference, the perception of women’s reproductive rights as human rights gained ground. Today, global progress in achieving acceptance of this perception remains slow. In addition, advocates for women’s rights are alarmed about a “war on women’s reproductive rights” that’s being waged right here in the United States. These advocates cite the more than 400 bills attacking women’s reproductive rights that have, reportedly, been introduced in national and state legislatures since January 2010. At the recent AIDS 2012 conference in Washington, DC, sponsored by the International AIDS Society, one of the
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speakers at a session themed “Turning the Tide for Women and Girls” focused on the persistently high rates of HIV among adolescent girls across the world. The speaker, Geeta Rao Gupta, the deputy executive director of UNICEF, discussed many of the harmful practices that infringe on women’s reproductive and human rights. According to Gupta, pervasive social norms and harmful practices perpetuate gender inequality and put girls at risk of HIV. These practices include child marriage, transactional sex and sexual violence. Many advocates agree that the best defense against these practices is to empower women and girls with education. When armed with education, women and girls simply have more options—ones that allow them to earn a living, achieve financial independence and attain economic security. In a recent summer conference—this one in Rio de Janeiro titled “The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development”— advocates fought to link women’s rights, gender equality and the goal of creating a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and prosperous world for all. There, once again, political factions organized against women’s rights. These factions refused to allow language in the conference declaration to say that women and girls must be ensured equal access to education, basic services, economic opportunities and health care services. Is there really a war being waged against women? Well, judging by the barrage of current attacks on women’s reproductive and human rights, many believe so. Still, there is good news. Many people also recognize that global problems such as poverty and economic growth won’t be resolved until women’s rights are satisfactorily addressed and advocates are committed to doing just that.
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The Burden of Proof
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Companies want you to believe that the phrase “clinically proven” confirms products will deliver results based on science-backed evidence. But here’s a word of caution: Don’t believe the hype.
hen toothpastes claim to whiten teeth, and face creams promise to vanquish wrinkles, manufacturers usually boast that these declarations are backed by scientific studies. But if that research is bought and paid for by marketing dollars, then how trustworthy are these studies’ results? And just what does the phrase “clinically proven” on a label really mean? Generally speaking, this scientific-sounding endorsement simply means that a product underwent some testing in a controlled setting. But when products are stamped with this authoritative label, “it’s easy to become a victim of the cosmetics industry’s advertising manipulations, exaggerations and deceptions,” says Paula Begoun, the founder of a watchdog website called CosmeticsCop.com. Begoun says the quality of these essentially marketing-driven studies must be closely examined. Why? Because despite being subject to Food and Drug Administration guidelines, health and beauty products created for cosmetic use aren’t subject to the same strict rules and regulations that govern pharmaceutical products. Legally, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act defines cosmetics as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, introduced into or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautify-
ing, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance.” These articles include soaps, perfumes, lipsticks, deodorants, makeup, nail polish and skin and hair Stamp of approval? care preparations. In many cases, companies make huge claims for these products based on a few small studies that don’t pass close scientific scrutiny. When it comes to cosmetics, “claims about how products benefit skin rarely have any proof of effectiveness,” Begoun says. What’s more, the results may be bogus because companies often pay researchers to get the results they want advertised. Translation: You might be paying for a dud product that’s actually harmful. To investigate cosmetics companies’ claims, Begoun leads a team of researchers who comb through peerreviewed research to let buyers know how effective consumer products really are. Then, she posts this information on her website. Watchdog groups also exist for hair products and health supplements too. But consumers can also participate. Start by checking the ingredients on product labels and learn everything about them. (Ingredients usually appear in the order of greatest concentration.) Just remember this: The next time a product claims to be “clinically proven” to give you younger-looking skin or a thinner waistline, it’s important to think long and hard before buying into what it is they’re selling you. —Reed Vreeland realhealthmag.com
FA L L 2012 RE A L H E A LTH 9
BUZZ How a Gila monster helps an HIV-positive man manage his diabetes
Saved by the Gila Monster An injectable drug helps control diabetes— using the saliva of a lizard.
More than 25 million Americans are living with diabetes, a condition in which the body doesn’t adjust insulin and blood glucose (sugar) levels correctly. African Americans and Latinos are twice as likely as other groups to have diabetes; many people with HIV get it too. That last group includes me, and my HIV makes treating my diabetes more challenging. For example, some HIV meds upset the body’s regulation of insulin, and lipoatrophy (misdistribution of body fat, another part of living with the virus) disrupts how the body controls glucose. These can
Both HIV and diabetes raise the risk of chronic kidney disease. If you have one or both, ask your doc to monitor your kidneys. 1 0 R E AL H E A LTH FA LL 2 0 12
A HISTORY BOOK FOR THE FUTURE
The Black Panther Party’s health care program We dodged a bullet when the Supreme Court afﬁrmed a core section of the Affordable Care Act in June, but huge questions remain. For one, the court said states do not have to expand Medicaid, leaving many poor people without coverage. And don’t get us started on the future of health care if the Republicans win the White House. Black communities are particularly affected by limits on health care availability. So Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination, by Alondra Nelson (University of Minnesota Press), arrives right on time. Nelson describes the Black Panther Party’s community-run health care
clinics and programs from 1966 to 1980. One achievement was to publicize and institute screenings for sickle-cell anemia in the early 1970s. Others included teaming up with local doctors and training community members as health care workers to provide care in underserved areas. Nelson also recounts how the Black Panthers confronted another side of medical discrimination: the ways that researchers used and abused African Americans (think: Tuskegee, Henrietta Lacks). Along with useful history, Body and Soul provides a guide to what communities can do today to get— and stay—healthy. —Laura Whitehorn
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About 15% of HIVpositive people also have diabetes.
worsen diabetes. When my doctor called on Christmas Eve 2009 to deliver my diabetes diagnosis, he also said I had metabolic syndrome. That, I learned, means having three or more of the following conditions: diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides (a blood fat), elevated fasting blood glucose and low HDL (high density lipoproteins or “good cholesterol”). I have all of the above, increasing my risk of heart disease and stroke. Simple medication normalized my blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol (blood fats). But treating diabetes was tougher because of my various ailments and the many prescription drugs I take each day. My endocrinologist prescribed a twice-daily autoinjectable pen ﬁlled with Byetta (exenatide). That’s a synthetic version of a protein found in the saliva of Gila monsters, venomous lizards that inhabit the southwestern deserts of North America. Byetta brought my lab numbers into the healthy normal range. The downside? If you don’t eat immediately after each injection, you can become nauseated. And I did. After two months, I gave up battling the nausea and stopped using Byetta. As a result, my fasting blood glucose zoomed back into the danger zone. But my doctor came through again and suggested I try a new form of Byetta: a once-a-week self-administered injection called Bydureon. For me, adjusting mealtimes once a week was much easier than doing it twice a day. The nausea disappeared, and within a few weeks, my fasting blood glucose returned to safe levels. As Lady Gaga says, “Thanks, little monsters!” —Mark de Solla Price
Ask Your Family Doctor Rachael L. Ross, MD, PhD, a.k.a. Dr. Rachael answers your questions.
Is Sex a Hep C Risk? Yes, but only in these rare instances.
Although conﬂicting reports have created confusion about whether or not hep C is a sexually transmitted disease, the key to staying safe is to understand that the hepatitis C virus (HCV) does have the potential to be spread through sexual contact. Here are the risks and how to avoid them. Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease caused by a virus that’s transmitted through direct contact with the blood of infected people, explains Michael Ryan, MD, clinical professor of medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Hep C can lead to serious liver disease, liver failure or cancer, transplants or even death. Currently, hep C is responsible for about 15,000 deaths every year, and African Americans are more likely to be chronically infected than other ethnic groups. Sexual activity is risky if it involves exposure to blood with partners who are living with hep C or whose hep C status isn’t known. Examples include prolonged or “rough” anal sex, ﬁsting, sex during menstruation and group sex. The risk appears highest among HIV-positive gay men. So how can you stay safe from hep C? Always use a condom, Ryan says. They’re cheap and readily available and will also protect you from sexually transmitted infections. In addition, avoid injecting drugs or sharing needles. Also, don’t share razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers or any other items that could have come in contact with even minuscule amounts of blood. Ryan goes one step further and advises that everyone get tested for hep C— even those who don’t think they’re at risk. “Ask your doctor speciﬁcally about getting tested for hepatitis C today; it’s a simple blood test,” he says. “Many people live with hep C for decades without knowing it because the disease often has no symptoms.” —Cristina González
Number of baby boomers who have hepatitis C (most don’t know it). Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Before you take the sexual plunge with someone new, become an informed consumer. You deserve to ﬁnd a partner who is honest about his or her sexual health, capable of monogamy and currently single. Early on, create a communicative atmosphere and get to know this person before you open your heart and invest your valuable time on someone not worthy of it. Find out immediately just how available he or she is by asking candid sexual history questions such as, “When was the last time you had sex and who was it with?” “Has anyone ever given you a sexually transmitted infection—an STI?” and even this one: “Have you ever been caught cheating?” Sexual history conversations should be fun. There’s no need to interrogate, and the dialogue should ﬂow both ways. Be sure to talk about this face-to-face. Why? Because eye contact is important and will help you decide what is real versus fake. Once you feel comfortable, then plan for the future and take that trip together to get tested for HIV and other STIs.
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How much should you ask a potential partner to divulge about his or her sexual history?
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California kids see results from having healthier food choices at school. Here’s why you may want to follow their lead. A little more than 10 years ago, the Golden State cracked down and banned soft drinks in grade schools. Later, the state said no to sodas in high schools and raised nutrition standards across the board. Why? Because childhood obesity in America has tripled during the past 30 years and, according to the CDC, one in three low-income children are considered obese before age 5. Since then, study findings show that California kids consume 160 fewer calories each day than their peers in other states. What’s more, University of Illinois researchers found that if kids cut 100 to 200 junk-food calories from their diets each day, they can avoid long-term weight gain and related health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But if your state lacks Cali schools’ standards, it’s up to you to take action. Start children on a healthy eating path with these three tips from Lisa Brown and Jennifer Medina, registered dieticians at New York City’s Brown and Medina Nutrition. 1. Cultivate your kids’ appetite for healthy eats. To acquire a taste for new foods, children need more than 10 exposures. 2. Lead by example. You eat healthy too. 3. Get kids involved. Allow them to contribute in the kitchen. —Janna Leyde
Source: The USDA Agricultural Marketing Resource Center
BERRY BRAINY FOOD
Controversy around the beneﬁts and dangers of moo milk won’t be settled till the cows come home. In the meantime, know your options. Many folks opt for low-calorie, protein-rich, organic, fat-free versions of the original dairy treat. For added nutritional value, says Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “fat-free milk—organic or inorganic—must be fortiﬁed with vitamins A and D.” Other folks choose to take a bovine break. Soy milk is a vegetarian favorite that’s also a good choice for those who are lactose intolerant and have problems digesting dairy. What’s more, soy milk contains roughly the same amount of protein as cow’s milk and has fewer calories. Not feeling soy milk? Then try almond or rice milk. Although they contain less protein than soy milk, they’re fortiﬁed with calcium and vitamin D. Plus, they pack a nutty sweetness that moves many people to drink up. —Reed Vreeland
Studies suggest berries may slow the progression of dementia, a mental condition in which people lose the ability to remember, think and plan, says registered dietitian and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Joy Dubost. Dark-colored berries in particular contain powerful phytochemicals such as ﬂavonoids and anthocyanins. Scientists believe these compounds reduce inﬂammation and improve cell communication. This in turn boosts mental processes involved in learning, understanding and remembering. It also helps improve motor skills such as walking and writing. “A good rule of thumb is: The darker the berry, the higher the anthocyanin content,” Dubost says. To reap beneﬁts, just include a half cup of juicy berries in the ﬁve-cup serving of fruits and veggies nutritionists recommend we eat each day. Dubost suggests enjoying berries mixed in smoothies, sprinkled in salads or swirled in Greek yogurt. That’s smart—and yummy! —Courtney Balestier
Got milk alternatives? Soy, rice and almonds show they can compete with the cows.
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Blueberries and strawberries are known for packing a nutritional punch. Turns out, they also boost your brain power.
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POUNDS OF BLUEBERRIES HARVESTED IN THE UNITED STATES IN 2011.
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An estimated 3-5 million Americans are living with hepatitis C. Most donâ€™t know it. Get tested today. Find out how at hepmag.com.
FULL DISCLOSURE When songbird Toni Braxton learned she had lupus, she listened to a friend’s advice to keep her condition hidden. Now she has no regrets about finally going public. By Kate Ferguson
and was ill all the time. My white blood cell count kept dropping, and my iron was low,” Braxton says. Initially, doctors thought Braxton had some type of virus and needed an iron transfusion. But what ailed her was hard to pinpoint. “I had been in and out of doctors’ offices for about two years before I was diagnosed,” Braxton says. Eventually, her illnesses landed her back in the hospital. Once again, docs thought Braxton was having a heart attack. “It wasn’t until day nine of being in the hospital that they finally figured out I had lupus,” she says. “When the diagnosis came, I just kind of passed out; I couldn’t breathe. It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.” Lupus, a.k.a. systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, is a chronic and often disabling autoALLEN COOLEY
When Toni Braxton experienced a heart-health scare in 2003, she was on Broadway starring in Aida. Severe chest pains landed Braxton in the emergency room. Doctors diagnosed the petite and curvaceous singer with pericarditis, an inflammation of the heart lining. They put her on antiinflammatories and steroids. Braxton recovered and then went back to business. But she also became more aware of her family’s history of heart disease, so she changed her diet and started exercising. She also became a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and recorded public service announcements to prompt women and African Americans to become more aware of heart disease. It wasn’t until several years later that Braxton learned the real reason for her heart scare. “I was doing my show in Vegas [in 2008]
1 6 RE A L H E A LTH FA LL 2 012 011
Toni Braxton is happy about her decision to announce she has lupus. Now, sheâ€™s no longer burdened with hiding the truth.
immune disease. (The kind Braxton has is discoid lupus.) These types of illnesses occur when someone’s immune system produces antibodies that circulate in the blood and mysteriously attack that person’s normal, healthy body tissues. (Lupus, like autoimmune diseases in general, occurs more frequently in women than in men.) Another characteristic of lupus is that it is devilishly hard to diagnose. Symptoms of the condition are vague—general fatigue, joint pain and skin rash—and these may come and go over weekly or monthly periods of time. Half of lupus patients experience problems with their organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, brain or bone marrow, explains Daniel Wallace, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of California at Los Angeles. “Those patients are usually readily diagnosed within three months. But those who have tired and achy symptoms can take up to several years [to be diagnosed],” he says. If lupus goes undiagnosed, it can progress and threaten vital organs. “This means early diagnosis is very important,” stresses Wallace, who is also the founder of Lupus LA, an
screens for the condition. “In addition to that, doctors look for protein in the urine, low white blood cell counts, anemia and abnormal chest X-rays that show fluid in and around the lung and around the heart,” Wallace explains. “Doctors may even want to remove a sample of tissue or cells of a rash or mouth sores so a pathologist can examine it under a microscope [a process called a biopsy].” Wallace recommends people be evaluated for lupus if they are tired and achy and have low-grade fevers, swollen glands and rashes but no obvious infection. For Braxton, the first red flag that whipped hardest was the pericarditis episode. But it wasn’t until later that she made the connection between that incident and her lupus. When she was finally diagnosed with the condition, Braxton says, she was in full flare. (A lupus flare is when symptoms appear, such as persistent fatigue or weakness, all-over achiness, fever, appetite loss, unwanted weight loss, recurring nose bleeds and unexplained skin rashes, among a slew of other unpleasant signs.) “When you have lupus, you may have these signs all the time,” Braxton says. “It’s just that you have
and wondered if I would be around for my children.” Eventually, Braxton came to terms with her diagnosis. She even made her illness the focus of an episode of her reality show, Braxton Family Values, when she disclosed she had lupus to her family. But before her public announcement, Braxton kept her condition a secret. “A friend of mine who has lupus told me, ‘You can’t tell anyone. You’ll never get insurance; you’ll never get this; you’ll never get that.’ So I kept my illness hidden, like it was a bad thing, like me telling people would do something to them instead of thinking that disclosing my condition would empower me.” Today, Braxton regrets listening to her friend’s advice. “It made me feel ashamed,” she says. “I initially told people I had heart disease. Everyone was comfortable with heart disease, but they didn’t know why I had it; they didn’t know it was predicated because of my lupus.” If you’re wondering about Braxton’s health when she glided across the stage on Dancing With the Stars in 2008, here’s the deal. Those shows took place just after she’d been diagnosed with lupus. (Braxton says her doctors were on the set every night the show taped live.) All but one of her doctors advised her against doing the program because of the strenuous choreography the show demands. The doctor who told her to do the program did so, she says, because Braxton was becoming afraid to enjoy her life. “He said, ‘You’re way too young to do that.’” Braxton’s daring doc told her other physicians that if she did the show, only one or two things might happen: She’d pass out from chronic fatigue or get booted off the show. “So I got booted off the show; it all worked out,” Braxton says. “I kind of think the producers knew [about my condition]; maybe the doctors or someone
When I first found out, it was immediate fear, and I also felt sorry for myself. organization that serves the needs of people with lupus and their families across Southern California and that raises awareness and supports lupus research on a national level. But since there is no single laboratory test to determine if someone has lupus, doctors must do an evaluative blood test, called an ANA, that 1 8 RE A L H E A LTH FA LL 2 012
them more frequently when you’re about to go into a flare.” Braxton recalls her feelings after the diagnosis. “It wasn’t a triumphant moment when I first found out,” she says. “It was immediate fear. It was surreal at first. I also remember feeling sorry for myself. I immediately thought about my kids
said something. I felt sad that I was booted off the show, because this is a competition, but I also felt relieved at the same time.” Looking back at that time, Braxton recalls being unable to practice the dance sequences as long as necessary. “It takes me a long time to get choreography because I’m not a dancer like Janet Jackson or Britney [Spears], but I’ve got a little rhythm,” she says. “I do remember that it was really challenging for me to remember the choreography because my brain was foggy all the time because of the medications I was on.” After a pause, Braxton admits that she probably shouldn’t have danced because physically it was way too much for her at the time. Then, in the next moment she changes her mind. “Right now, I’m glad I did it because it helped me emotionally.” Then that’s quickly followed by a comment from the performer in her, “I would be better on Dancing With the Stars now than I was then— mentally and physically.” Currently, Braxton works hard to manage her lupus with a combination of drug treatment and lifestyle modifications. “Here I am four years later, and I’m much better,” she says. She notes that she has learned how to properly manage the fatigue that’s part of being an entertainer. Today, Braxton pays careful attention to how many shows she can do over a certain time period, and she dresses properly for the weather. “My flares are fewer,” she says. “Summer is challenging, because with lupus the sun is not my friend, so I make sure I use sunscreen and things like that.” To address the stress that’s also built into her hectic lifestyle, Braxton finds something to make her laugh, such as an Ellen DeGeneres comedy bit on TV. Beyond that, Braxton says, she tries hard to eat healthy, although she confesses she falls prey to the occasional BLT attack—she has to have “the swine” once in a while even though bacon is a no-no. “But I make sure I eat a cucumber salad a couple times each week,” she says.
“Cucumbers keep inflammation down and cool your body off. And I drink aloe vera juice—not every day like I’m supposed to—I try to get it in at least twice each week.” When she doesn’t eat well, Braxton says, she pays for it. “I get a little puffy and swollen,” she reveals. “When I eat better, my body and mind both feel better too.” Braxton’s other lupus treatments include common over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, Advil or Aleve for mild aches; prescription meds such as the antimalaria drug Plaquenil for mild, non-organ-threatening disease; high-dose steroids for organ-threatening disease; drugs that suppress the immune system; and targeted therapies. She’s also considering trying Benlysta, the newest drug to be approved for lupus treatment. “Benlysta potentially has some side effects, but it’s generally very
well tolerated and its safety profile is actually better than any of the other drugs we use for lupus,” Wallace explains. “But it’s expensive, so we tend to use it for patients who have active disease despite being treated by steroids or immune suppressants.” Braxton says she plans to try Benlysta after doing blood work to see if she’s a good candidate for the drug. “I don’t have endorsement deals for any of these products,” she stresses. “I’m just saying, I heard Benlysta helps significantly with lupus.” Now that her lupus is mainstream news, Braxton feels relieved to speak openly about her condition. Earlier this year, she joined Lupus LA’s executive council to help the organization raise awareness about the condition. “I wouldn’t want anyone else to live a lie and try to suppress something that you feel,” she says. “That stops you from figuring out how to make yourself healthy.” ■
LUPUS AND HEART DISEASE Here’s an explanation about how the two connect. Heart disease is a major complication of lupus and is also a leading cause of death among people living with this autoimmune disease. But, like singer Toni Braxton, many people don’t discover they have lupus until it affects a major organ. In Braxton’s case, that organ was her heart. She developed pericarditis—inflammation of the sac around the heart—which is a common condition among those with lupus who develop heart problems. Lupus can also cause inflammation of the heart’s muscle layer (a condition called myocarditis) and the lining inside the heart (endocarditis). It can also lead to a narrowing of the coronary arteries that take blood to the heart (coronary artery disease, or simply, heart disease). In general, people with lupus are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which involves hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and can lead to heart attacks or strokes later in life.
What’s more, researchers suggest that lupus be considered equal to coronary heart disease as a known risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. One study found that women with lupus were more likely than their nonlupus peers to have traditional heart disease risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes. In addition, women with lupus reported earlier menopause onset and showed higher levels of the blood fats triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad cholesterol”). What lupus does is cause inflammation that aggravates all these factors. This results in an increased risk of heart disease and an accelerated buildup of the plaque that causes atherosclerosis. To help lupus sufferers avoid these heart problems, researchers suggest they follow a common-sense approach to treatment: Lose weight, stop smoking, lower blood pressure and get a moderate amount of aerobic exercise. —KF
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MEAL MAKEOVERS STEALTHY TRICKS CAN MAKE EVEN PACKAGED FOODS HEALTHIER—REALLY! BY KATIE KARLSON
Carrots and other veggies can be pureed and cooked in muffins and mac and cheese. This makes these treats healthierâ€”and yummy too.
By just swapping a few simple ingredients, you can easily revamp previously unhealthy recipes and transform them into tasty, good-for-you foods.
Salt and Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium (salt) per day. Yet 98 percent of Americans eat more than twice that amount. That’s because we often rely on processed foods (think everything from canned soups to frozen dinners), which account for a whopping 75 percent of our sodium intake. There are compelling reasons to cut back on salt: A high-sodium diet boosts your chance of developing high blood pressure, which can lead to everything from heart disease and 2 2 RE A L H E A LTH FA LL 2 012
stroke to kidney damage and angina (a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart). But salt isn’t the only culprit. The average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugars every day. Added sugars are different from natural sugars found in, for example, milk or fruit. Added sugars are just that: sugar, honey or chemically manufactured sweeteners that are dumped into food and beverages during processing. The AHA recommends men limit their added sugar intake to nine teaspoons per day, while it suggests women stop at six. But it’s easy to overdo it. The AHA warns that sodas and sweetened beverages, such as fruit punch, add tons of sugar and calories to our diets without providing any nutritional benefits, which puts us at higher risk of obesity and diabetes.
Busy Schedules = Convenience Foods
Knowing the health risks of salty, sugary processed foods is one thing. But when you work long hours and have a to-do list that just doesn’t seem to end, convenience foods are easy and tempting to turn to come mealtime—even when they’re not good for you. “It’s the nature of our busy lives today,” Lapine says. “We all would do anything for the health of our families, but our best intentions can get squashed by time demands.” In her new cookbook, The Speedy Sneaky Chef, Lapine, who’s wellknown for her creative and crafty food makeovers, delivers 75 fast recipes for busy, health-conscious folks who want to eat well without spending hours over the stove or emptying their wallets at the grocery store. Lapine’s recipes combine the best of both worlds: convenience and
good health. “There are a dozen recipes in this book that can be literally cooked in two minutes,” she says. “You can’t even defrost a frozen chicken nugget in that time.” What’s the trick? Well, Lapine is all about the “sneaky swap”—replacing unhealthy ingredients with their nutritious cousins, so that you can enjoy your favorite foods without all the salt, sugar, fat and empty calories. In her recipes, Lapine just swaps a bad food for a good one, and your taste buds are none the wiser. It’s an easy way to “hide” healthy foods in your family’s favorite meals, Lapine says. Skeptical? The next time you make baked potatoes or tacos, try one of Lapine’s recent super-simple swaps: plain, nonfat Greek yogurt in place of high-fat sour cream (the yogurt tastes just like sour cream but is loaded with protein and low in carbs). Also use Greek yogurt to make a quick, healthier onion dip: just blend the creamy, tangy cultured milk with onion powder, crunchy minced onions and fresh pepper. This version is so much healthier than storebought onion dip, which is usually chock-full of the flavor-enhancing food additive MSG.
Easy Meal Makeovers
If the idea of eating healthy gives you unpleasant visions of plain chicken, naked veggies and tasteless grains, think again. You can have the same tasty, flavor-rich meals your family loves—just make them over with a few simple tips. How about transforming this perennial fast-food favorite: french fries. Did you know that a large order of fries weighs in at about 500 calories, 25 grams of fat and 350 milligrams of sodium. Yikes! Here’s what to do. Bake these potato strips in the oven and get all
You’ve just finished a 10-hour workday—you’re tired, you’re hungry, and your kids want to know what’s for dinner. All you want to do is relax, and the fastest way to get there is with an easy meal that everyone will love. So you swing by the drive-through or pick up a couple pizzas. Maybe you go a step further and slap together burgers with mac and cheese, or decide to do breakfast for dinner and whip up pancakes from a mix. Dinner’s done and you can finally kick back—but there’s one problem. All that salt- or sugar-laden, processed, refined convenience food is, well, bad—bad for your heart, your skin, your waistline and your health in general. But before you slip into a guilt spiral, here’s some good news: You can easily make over your favorite meals (including pizza, soda and cake) into healthier versions without doing more time in the kitchen or blowing your grocery budget. How? Here, Missy Chase Lapine, the food makeover maven and author of the bestselling cookbook The Sneaky Chef, serves up some need-to-know info that’s easy and fast to digest.
the tasty goodness of oven-crisp french fries for a fraction of the calories, fat and salt. Also, consider this: An Idaho potato has about 110 calories, no fat and no sodium. Slice it up, toss it with heart-healthy olive oil, and sprinkle the slices with a little salt—or chili powder if you want a little zing. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 425 degrees. The result? Fries that wow your taste buds but won’t pack on the pounds. The same goes for boxed foods, too. Making over mac and cheese is, thankfully, a snap. Start with a mix that’s white, Lapine says—that neon yellow glow is the result of artificial colors. If you still want that familiar hue, add a sprinkle of paprika or a slice of American cheese into the mix. Then amp up the health factor by cutting the amount of cheese sauce or powder and replacing it with one of Lapine’s signature purees: a blend of carrots and sweet potatoes that increases the volume of a sauce without adding cheese; the puree also infuses the dish with a light sweetness, and it sneaks in veggies. If the idea of adding a puree to food is new to you, get acquainted with Lapine’s No. 1 way to sneak nutrient-dense fruits and veggies into your favorite meals. Adding pureed vegetables to main dishes can cut calories without sacrificing texture or taste, according to recent studies from Penn State University. Lapine created five all-purpose, make-ahead purees—which you can find free on TheSneakyChef.com. And you don’t need to buy a bulky appliance: Lapine uses a small $40 food processor to make all her purees. White Puree is a mix of cauliflower and zucchini. Add it to any tomatobased sauce, barbecue sauce or chili—even SpaghettiOs, Lapine says. Orange Puree (carrots and sweet potatoes) works in soups, stews, pasta sauce, and mac and cheese. “The sweet potato is the anti-diabetes veggie,” Lapine says, since it helps to keep your blood sugar stable. Green Puree blends frozen sweet peas, raw baby spinach and fresh or frozen broccoli. Use this versatile puree to double the volume of guacamole, or mix it with tomato paste to
make meatballs or meatloaf. Purple Puree is made from frozen blueberries and raw baby spinach. It takes just 30 seconds in a blender, and you can use it in brownie mix, pancakes, hamburgers or tacos. “It adds juiciness and sweetness to everything,” Lapine says. White Bean Puree is a mix of canned cannellini or butter beans, and water. Use it in everything from muffin mixes to Lapine’s Super Simple Microwave Lasagna. You can even use it as a mayo substitute in coleslaw or chicken salad. Curious as to whether there are any dishes that simply can’t be made healthy? “The only one I have trouble with is deep-fried Twinkies from the state fair,” Lapine says. But everything else is fair game for a meal makeover.
Get Your Grub On Tonight Try Lapine’s Parmesan Chicken Fries—a made-over fast food that will please even the pickiest palate. Cooking time: 14 minutes Makes 4 servings 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed 2 tablespoons wheat germ 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 1 cup bread crumbs, ideally whole grain 12 ounces uncooked boneless, skinless, thinly sliced chicken breasts Cooking spray oil Dip: ½ cup store-bought marinara sauce ¼ cup Sneaky Chef Orange Puree • Preheat oven to 425° and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. • Cut chicken breast into “finger”shaped strips, ideally using kitchen scissors. • Combine flax, wheat germ, grated Parmesan and bread crumbs in a large zip-top plastic bag, then add chicken and shake to coat. • Spray chicken fingers with cooking oil. Bake for 12–14 minutes.
Cut It Out! Say good-bye to sodium, sugar and fat with a few simple swaps. This handy cheat-sheet offers common substitutes that will help you make over everything from drinks to dinner to dessert. As you experiment with new recipes, just add to the list. Soon, you’ll be wondering, “Why didn’t I try this before?”
Store-bought salad dressing
Balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil or lemon juice
Salted or honey-roasted peanuts
Raw almonds or cashews
Soda or sugary juice
Seltzer with sliced fruit or berries
Mashed parsnips and cauliflower
Graham cracker sandwich with frozen Cool Whip
Fast-food breakfast sandwich
Eggs, Swiss cheese and turkey bacon or turkey sausage on an English muffin
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PLEASE! For people experiencing tinnitus—the perception of annoying ringing and buzzing noises when none exist— the best sounds of all are the sounds of silence. BY CLAUDIA M. CARUANA
Mark Church remembers that the roar in his ears became unbearable soon after he had several teeth drilled by his dentist. The noise made Church, a 50-something IT specialist from St. Louis, Missouri, frantic, so he visited an ear, nose and throat specialist about one week later. The doctor noticed some impacted wax in Church’s ear, which he removed. Church was also told he had tinnitus and that the problem would resolve
Currently, scientists believe the key to a tinnitus cure may have more to do with peopleâ€™s brains than their ears.
itself. It didn’t. When the loud cricket chirping sound continued to drive him crazy during the day and keep him awake at night, the doc said Church would just have to live with it. But today, with the help of a different ear, nose and throat specialist (an ENT, also called an otolaryngologist) at a local medical center, Church is coping with tinnitus. The doctor suggested Church undergo cognitive therapy and prescribed low-dose Xanax. But Church also learned how to counteract the noise from his tinnitus by playing the static on a cheap AM/FM radio. Now, Church advocates for tinnitus awareness and organizes an annual
develop for no apparent reason. Tinnitus can be shortterm, for example, lasting just a few days after a rock concert, or it can last indefinitely. Experts are concerned that the number of individuals with tinnitus continues to grow. Many are young adults and those in their 20s. Children can experience tinnitus too—but they may not be able to explain their problem. There is no cure for tinnitus, and the condition can be difficult to manage. To confound the problem, a treatment strategy that works for one patient might not work for another. That’s why one of the major challenges in finding a cure is learning what really happens in an individual’s ears and brain. The important thing, says Jed Kwartler, MD, a clinical professor in otolaryngology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and who has a private practice in Newark, is that those with tinnitus don’t listen to anyone who says, “Just go home and live with it.” Like a growing number of experts, Kwartler believes tinnitus is a “brain issue” that researchers are just now beginning to understand. “Studies done with functional magnetic resonance imaging, a.k.a. fMRI, a noninvasive way to monitor brain activity, show increased action in areas of the [brain’s] temporal lobe and brain stem for people suffering from tinnitus,” Kwartler explains. “Since this activity is in the brain’s auditory pathway, the brain thinks it is hearing noises coming from the ear, but the sound is not generated in the ear.” Wherever the sound originates, many people with tinnitus say the noise is worse at night. This is no surprise to Kwartler. At night or whenever there’s quiet, the brain’s sound filtering mechanism lets in more sound, making the hearing pathway more sensitive. But when the brain’s filtering mechanism encounters noise, it lets in less sound. This is why turning on a white noise generator or a sound machine might help tinnitus sufferers sleep better. In the presence of this white noise, the brain’s filtering mechanism lets in less sound so the tinnitus sufferer’s hearing pathway is not so super-sensitive. White noise isn’t the only solution. Generally, to help treat tinnitus, doctors choose from a range of options. Here, Real Health rounds up the most common ones.
bicycle event called the Tour de Tinnitus that’s supported by the American Tinnitus Association. A big part of the problem driving tinnitus is that we live in a very noisy world, says Richard S. Tyler, PhD, a professor of audiology in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Iowa. “In addition to loud concerts, there are subways and trains screeching to a halt, airplanes flying overhead, noisy power tools and firecrackers, law enforcement personnel using guns on the job or on a shooting range,” Tyler says. “Plus, of course, people continue to use MP3 players. All [of these things] contribute to the problem.” In fact, estimates are that more than 30 million Americans, about 10 to 15 percent of the population, experience tinnitus in varying degrees, from mildly annoying to severely incapacitating, at some time in their lives. Often, they develop permanent hearing loss as well. Not surprisingly, many of these individuals are on active military duty or they’re returning veterans who were subjected to the thundering noise of bombs, heavy equipment and artillery. Reports from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs show an increasing amount of noise-induced hearing loss cases and tinnitus among military workers. In fact, the condition was the most common service-connected disability for veterans who received compensation at the end of the 2010 fiscal year. Although many people with tinnitus experienced loud noises, the condition can also be triggered by certain illnesses, such as Meniere’s disease, as well as by prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Other common culprits include hormonal changes, TMJ problems (jaw disorders), ear infections and brain tumors. It can even 2 6 RE A L H E A LTH FA LL 2 012
Diet changes. Michael D. Seidman, MD, the director of Otologic/Neurotologic Surgery at the Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield, Michigan, recommends his patients avoid salt, caffeine, alcohol, simple sugars, artificial sweeteners and MSG. “Sometimes, this makes a difference, sometimes not, but it is a good starting point because any of these ingredients could be responsible, in total or in part, for tinnitus,” he says.
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A BIG PART OF THE PROBLEM DRIVING TINNITUS IS SIMPLY THAT WE LIVE IN A WORLD OF SCREECHING SUBWAYS AND TRAIINS, EXPLODING FIRECRACKERS, DEAFENIN NG CONCERTS, LOUD POWER TOOLS AND OTH HER OBNOXIOUS NOISES.
Treatment for hearing loss. Because many individuals experience hearing loss in addition to their tinnitus, a hearing evaluation often shows that patients need a hearing aid. Sometimes hearing aids, according to Kwartler, can help individuals suffering from tinnitus by reducing or eliminating their perception of sounds. Plus, the devices improve patients’ hearing. Biofeedback, hypnosis, acupuncture. These alternative treatments can help some patients, Kwartler says. But he also cautions that several medical research studies show acupuncture is not very effective as a tinnitus treatment. Transcranial manipulation. These head and face massage techniques can help people with tinnitus, says Jennifer Caudle, DO, an osteopathic family physician practicing in New Jersey. They are especially promising, she adds, “if there is an underlying TMJ problem.” Tinnitus retraining therapy. This treatment works best when doctors combine the use of an audio source, such as a sound machine or static on an old radio, with cognitive behavioral therapy. (Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common type of mental health counseling.) This onetwo combination successfully reduces the awareness or annoyance of the tinnitus in about 70 percent of patients. According to Seidman, this is probably the most frequently suggested treatment. Alternative treatments. Some include hypnosis and taking zinc and lipoflavonoid supplements. Antianxiety and antidepressant medications. Doctors often prescribe these drugs to manage the depression or sleep disturbances common among many patients with tinnitus, according to Seidman. Investigational drug therapies. According to Seidman, several strategies for tinnitus therapy involve medications that treat mood or psychotic disorders and Parkinson’s disease. Experimental invasive brain procedures. Research by Steven Cheung, MD, a neurological surgeon at the University of California at San Francisco, shows phantom tinnitus sounds come from the brain. Cheung believes that invasive treatment options, such as cochlear implants—surgically implanted electronic devices used to treat hearing loss—may offer some hope for the 10 to 15 percent of people with chronic tinnitus. Traditional Chinese medicine. Mohammed Javaherian, a licensed acupuncturist and teacher at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, says traditional Chinese medicine suggests tinnitus could be caused by stress and kidney weakness. Practitioners of this Chinese tradition often treat tinnitus patients with acupuncture and herbs, such as ginkgo biloba. Check out the American Tinnitus Association at ata.org.
LISTEN UP! Loud sounds can destroy your hearing, and once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. Tiny, irreplaceable cilia hairs in our inner ears help us to hear. But, over time, these sensitive hairs can be damaged by loud noise. In some instances, they can be destroyed immediately. According to news reports, Chris Martin, Cold Play vocalist and husband of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, and rapper Plan B know firsthand what playing and listening to loud music can do: Both have tinnitus and hearing loss. As a result, the two recently joined with musician Gary Numan to start a charity campaign named Action on Hearing Loss. The mission of the campaign is to raise people’s awareness about the importance of protecting their hearing. Because even everyday sounds can damage hearing, experts suggest you create an action plan to protect your hearing or prevent further loss. Here’s the 411: Sound is measured in decibels (dBs), and sounds of 85 dBs or above can be damaging, even painful, to your ears. The noise from an approaching subway train 10 feet away can measure 100 dBs; a jet engine, 140 dBs; and a chain saw, 110 dBs. Compare this to normal conversation, which measures about 60 dBs.
Your Action Plan to Prevent Hearing Loss Have a hearing test. The good news is hearing tests now are covered by most medical insurance plans and Medicare. What’s more, some plans may also cover hearing aids. To get started, ask your family health care provider for a referral. In addition, regularly have children’s hearing evaluated. Use hearing protection. If you work with power tools or other machinery, or if you love to attend live concerts, this is a must-do. For the most effective protection from loud sounds, you might need to combine ear plugs with ear muffs. In fact, carry ear plugs with you wherever you go and use them when needed. Turn down the volume. Moderate use of iPods at low levels is not problematic, but using them for three or more hours each day could lead to hearing problems, especially if the volume is high, says audiology professor Robert S. Tyler, PhD, at the University of Iowa. In addition, sound settings on one brand of MP3 player may differ from those of another brand, so it’s difficult to recommend a particular volume setting for playing it safe. That’s why it’s best to just keep iPod volume settings on low. —CC
African-American hair is notoriously fragile and easily damaged, but everyday solutions can help black women overcome these hurdles. By Gerrie E. Summers
Use the right products. Why? Well, because using the wrong ones can harm your hair’s health. “A lot of breakage and other damage could be avoided if you use the correct products for your hair type and texture,” says Coco Sanders, owner of Appearances Hair Design, a Glendale, Arizona, salon. What’s more, curly haired clients should limit the amount of alcoholcontaining products they use, Morrison says, because these styling aids tend to rob the hair of moisture both inside and out. Curly hair in particular loses natural moisture, so choose brands with moisturizing formulas.
Trim hair even if it’s healthy. Many black women are still afraid to cut their hair. But when you trim hair on a regular basis, you’ll keep tresses in “optimal condition,” Morrison says. “The ends are obviously the oldest hair on the head and sometimes receive the most aggressive treatment with chemical, thermal and mechanical processes.” These services weaken hair and split the strands. This is why trimming your ends approximately every eight weeks— in addition to your regular hair maintenance—allows strands to stay healthy looking and strong.
Practice safe use of chemical treatments. “Only have a licensed professional
apply any chemicals or reconstructive conditioners to your hair,” Sanders says. She believes many women damage their hair by doing chemical treatments themselves or by having someone they know do their hair. “I like to call them ‘kitchen beauticians,’” she says. But such cost-cutting measures often come with big drawbacks. “When you use over-the-counter chemicals, ensure all warnings are observed and that the application and processing are in line with the manufacturer’s directions,” Morrison advises. Says Rob Robinson, a cosmetic chemist for BeautyStat.com, “At-home relaxers and hair color products are generally safe when used as directed, but we recommend doing a patch test on a small area of skin to make sure the product does not cause irritation.”
Other tips to prevent breakage:
• • • • •
“Shampoo hair at least once each week, but not more than twice, with a sulfate-free moisturizing shampoo, and condition with a protein-rich conditioner,” Sanders says. “Have a deep-conditioning treatment as often as your stylist recommends.” “Lighten up on heat styling,” Sanders suggests. “Do not use excessive heat on tresses, and use a thermal heat protectant when blow-drying hair. Also, precede flatiron use with a thermal hair protector.” Don’t brush the hair while wet. Apply leave-in conditioner and use a large-toothed comb to detangle hair and to equally distribute conditioner. Avoid pulling hair too tight. This means avoid or limit cotton-backed, coiled ponytail holders that rob hair of moisture at the point of contact, Morrison warns. Finally, Sanders says, “Eat a balanced diet full of healthy vegetables and proteins.” Why? “Because nutrients feed follicles.” ■
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Power Up! Want stronger, shinier, less frizzy hair? Then try a protein-packed treatment. Protein treatments (a.k.a. keratin treatments) are a popular process for strengthening damaged hair. “Keratin treatments work by smoothing and conditioning the hair cuticle, which makes hair stronger, shinier and less frizzy,” says Ron Robinson, cosmetic chemist for BeautyStat.com. Everyone’s hair is made of keratin, a type of protein, explains Veronique Morrison, director of education for the Mizani brand. But everyone’s hair type and history are not the same. Therefore, they have unique keratin needs. What’s more, chemicals found in hair treatments may break protein bonds, so treated hair, along with damaged and naturally dry hair, may need more protein than other hair types. Still, too much protein can also cause breakage. To avoid protein treatment problems, find a reputable salon with licensed and trained technicians, Robinson says. “Ask stylists pointed questions about the number of treatments they’ve performed, the brand of keratin they use, and the results they’ve seen. If the stylist can’t answer these questions, or is unsure, find another salon.” How often should protein treatments be done? “Once each month is enough,” says Rochelle Mosley, author of How to Do Your Hair at Home. And, because protein treatments can dry your locks, you should follow up with a moisture treatment every week, she adds. “If consumers use an at-home treatment, they should follow manufacturer’s directions carefully,” Robinson says. But, he cautions, let a hair care professional perform the more intense treatments. —GS
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If breakage is arresting your hair’s development, don’t despair. The first thing to do is understand why your hair is breaking. Once you identify the culprit, you can unlock the key to attaining long, healthy locks. Some questions to ask, advises Veronique Morrison, director of education for the Mizani hair care brand, include the following: “Is my hair lacking protein?” and “Is my hair so dry from a lack of moisture that it’s shedding and falling?” If you don’t know how to tell one problem from the other, then try visiting a hair stylist for guidance, Morrison advises. But she also notes that breakage can be caused by scalp problems. If you suspect that might be your issue, it’s probably best to consult a dermatologist. But many everyday culprits may also be responsible for your mane’s breakage. Here’s how to address a few of the most common causes of this problem:
stuff we love A roundup of the latest, must-have finds for hair, skin, health and beauty, these products are worth every cent.
Twisted Sista Straightening Thermal Perfector and Hot Curls Perfector (5.07 fl. oz., $4.95) Whether you use a flatiron or a curling rod, you need heat styling protection to keep your precious strands from harm.
Mesh Medical ID Bracelets ($54.95) These are one of many smart, stylish accessories created to alert others about what ails you in the event of a medical emergency. Visit hopepaige.com.
Good-Gums (1.6 oz., $19.95) Replace toothpaste with this all-natural, herbal-blend dental powder that cleans teeth and provides minerals to build strong tooth enamel and healthy gums.
AllerMates Allergy Wristbands ($6.99) These bright and adjustable bands clearly identify your child’s allergies. More than one allergy? Layer the bands.
Vitality Lip Flush 4-in-1 Reviver (0.11 oz., $20) Fix lip care issues with IT Cosmetics’ multitasking conditioning lipstick, anti-aging lip balm, hydrating lip gloss and lip stain that’s rich in natural oils.
Kneipp Almond Blossom Soft Skin Bath (3.4 fl. oz., $20) Pour this luxurious blend of sweet almond oil and other softeners into bath water to nourish dry, sensitive skin.
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Feeling Defeated? Step Back, Leap Forward Wide receiver George Wilson’s biggest career-related complication led to his biggest sports achievements.
Here’s to Brighter Days Ahead Everyone suffers from misfortunes, but people do recover. Falling, failing, experiencing loss and making mistakes are a normal, albeit painful, part of everyone’s lives. What’s more, so are the associated feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. But don’t despair. Another trait is just as common: resilience, a person’s ability to recover from setbacks, challenges and change. In most people, traumatic experiences are followed by symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to Martin Seligman, PhD, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. But within a month, physically and psychologically, they bounce back. What helps speed the recovery process is simple. Just take steps to resume your normal activities. This can make getting back to that comfortable place faster and easier. Lean on the things and people you love; take time off from work to relax; resume your rituals; exercise regularly; and definitely eat right. All these things can help with the process. Also, it’s important to remember this: Every problem has a solution, and you aren’t the only one experiencing adversity. —Lauren Tuck
When I became a professional athlete, being a wide receiver was my life. Then, in 2007, the team asked me to switch from playing offense to defense and become a strong safety. For those unfamiliar with football, this is not an easy transition. But I thought about it this way: Maybe this transition is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for my entire career. When I went into training camp, I wasn’t promised or guaranteed anything but an opportunity. With that chance, I worked diligently each day to learn that position and impress my coaching staff. At the end of training camp, I earned a spot on the roster as a third-string safety. But even though I was third string, I approached my job the same. I still prepared like I was starting out in the game. As a result, by week five, due to team injuries, I was thrust into the starting lineup against my childhood team, the Dallas Cowboys, on Monday Night Football. Then, during the third play of the game, Dallas overthrew the ball and I caught my first career interception. Not only did I get the interception, but I ran it back for a touchdown. People always ask me, What did that moment feel like? My answer? It felt like a little piece of heaven because I’d dreamed of playing professional football from when I was in the fourth grade; 16 years later I’d seen my dream become a reality. But suppose I’d never suffered a setback and switched positions? —As told to Kate Ferguson
THE EXPERT SAYS Setbacks are an inevitable part of life, but you can turn a negative situation into a positive learning experience, according to life coach Bonnie Mechelle.
If you feel shame for a certain action, what steps can you take to overcome this feeling? Do the best you can to rectify the situation: Send flowers, a letter of apology or a card.
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Find ways to make amends and re-establish trust. And remember that everyone makes mistakes. The character of a person is strengthened when he or she learns how to respond to negative emotions. When should you seek professional help for feelings of guilt, anger, resentment and shame? It’s time to seek help when these feelings interfere with your daily life. For example, if you’re unable to get out of bed, or if you suffer uncontrollable crying spells or develop a physical illness because of stress and anxiety. —LT
After the worst happens, what are the first steps you should take to maintain your health and happiness? Take comfort in small things, such as having people you love, your job, even pets. Seek comfort from your friends, family and community. Find someone you can talk to, and express your inner thoughts and feelings as a way to release your pain and avoid possibly hurting yourself and others around you.
SPEAK YOUR MIND!
(And Win Free Stuff)
Many studies ﬁnd a deﬁnite link between relationship stress and health. Loving relationships promote good health, while bad matchups are toxic on many levels. Tell us the state of affairs between you and your partner by ﬁlling in the survey below. To say thank you, we’ll select three winners at random whose surveys we receive and send them a ﬁtness DVD (suggested retail price, $14.98), like the one pictured left. To enter our drawing, take the survey at realhealthmag.com/survey or ﬁll out this form and mail it to Real Health, c/o Smart + Strong, 462 Seventh Avenue, 19th Fl., New York, NY 10018 or fax it to 212.675.8505. For ofﬁcial contest rules, visit realhealthmag.com/survey/rules.
Yoga helps shape your body and mind.
1. How honest are you and your partner with each other? ❑ Very honest ❑ Somewhat honest ❑ Not at all honest
2. How often do you and your partner hurt each other emotionally when you fight? ❑ Always
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3. How well do you and your partner communicate with each other?
17. What is your gender? ❑ Female
❑ Very well
❑ Somewhat well ❑ Not very well
4. Are you or your partner ever afraid of one another?
18. What is your household income? ❑ Under $15,000
❑ $100,000 and over
❑ Yes ❑ No
19. What is the highest level of education attained?
❑ Some high school ❑ High school graduate
5. Do you and your partner trust each other?
❑ Some college
❑ Bachelor’s degree or higher
❑ No ❑ Unsure
20. What is your ethnicity? ❑ American Indian or Alaska Native
6. Do you or your partner suffer from low selfesteem because of things that take place in your relationship?
❑ Arab or Middle Eastern
❑ Hispanic or Latino
❑ Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
❑ Asian ❑ Black or African American
7. Do you and your partner find enough time to spend with each other?
21. Where do you get Real Health?
❑ I’m a subscriber
❑ My doctor’s office
❑ My church ❑ A community or college organization
8. How much do you and your partner have in common?
❑ It was mailed to me ❑ Other:_______________________
❑ We have a lot in common ❑ We have some things in common
22. Do you have Internet access?
❑ We have very little in common
❑ No Fall 2012
Real Health Magazine serves up honest, cutting-edge information for African-Americans on fitness, diet/nutrition, prevention, treatment, sex...