Category: Uncategorized

Transgender Day of Remembrance

CW: Anti-Trans Violence, Homicide mention

Yesterday, November 20th, marked Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), which honors the memory of those whose lives were lost due to anti-transgender prejudice. Recognized annually on November 20th, TDOR was initially started in 1999 as a vigil to honor the life of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed a year prior. While many strides have been made in recent years in regards to trans visibility and awareness, transgender people still face violence at disproportionate levels.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there were at least 23 deaths of transgender people in the United States that were due to violence, which at that point was the highest number ever recorded. In 2017, there have been at least 25 transgender people killed by violent means. These numbers are likely much lower than the actual rate of violence, as police can sometimes release incorrect names or genders of victims.

The experiences of violence are often intersectional, most of the victims counted were non-white transgender individuals, where race, class, and gender identity create an increased risk of experiencing violence. Below I have included some additional sources for further reading, and a link to tdor.info, where they have a printable list of victims from the past year, that is often read at vigils honoring TDOR.

Sources –

GLAAD: Transgender Day of Remembrance – https://www.glaad.org/tdor

Human Rights Campaign: Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2017 – https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2017

The New York Times: Violence Against Transgender People Is on the Rise, Advocates Say – https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/us/transgender-women-killed.html

International Transgender Day of Remembrance – https://tdor.info/

A Blueprint to “Win” the War on Drugs

What can the United States learn from Portugal about the war on drugs?

A Guest Post by Becca Fritton.

On October 26, 2017, Trump declared the opioid crisis a National Public Health Emergency. As Andrew Bradford discussed in his October 27 post, while a first step, this announcement does not immediately open up additional funding for the crisis, but instead gives access to funding that already exists. Unfortunately, this funding is almost running out. [1] It is important to note that while this announcement raises the voice of the conversation around opioid use in the United States, many do not even consider this a beginning of a plan to address the epidemic.

Any discussion or solution proposed around addiction is remiss without discussing criminalization. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times put forth a stunning summary of how Portugal has managed to “win” the war drugs. While drug dealers still go to prison in Portugal, they have made it an “administrative offense” to possess or purchase a small quantity of drugs. Instead of going to jail or to trial, offenders attend a meeting with social workers who work towards preventing a casual user from becoming dependent on drugs. Rather than viewing an individual as a criminal, officials in Portugal focus on the individual’s health and help them find resources they need to stay healthy.

Those who are dependent on drugs need medical care, not punishment. The Health Ministry of Portugal also targeted certain neighborhoods and populations for passing out clean needles and encouraging methadone instead of heroin. At large events or concerts, the ministry would offer to test individuals’ drugs to advise if they were safe or not. Portugal’s government has also funded widespread use of methadone vans that supply users with a free and controlled amount of methadone.

This approach has worked extremely well for Portugal and now they have the lowest drug mortality rate in Western Europe, and one-fiftieth the latest count in the United States. [2] The United States should take note and begin moving in a different direction. Instead of funding prisons and jails, the government should place more funding and infrastructure in place to address addiction from a mental and public health standpoint.

Becca can be contacted via email at: rfritton [@] berkeley [dot] edu

 

[1] Allen, G. and Kelly, A. (2017). Trump Administration Declares Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency. National Public Radio. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/2017/10/26/560083795/president-trump-may-declare-opioid-epidemic-national-emergency

[2] Kristof, N. (2017). How to “Win” the War on Drugs. New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/opinion/sunday/portugal-drug-decriminalization.html

An electric dressing to help prevent bacterial infection?

If you read that title and thought I was talking about a sci fi movie, I’d be right there with you. What are these scientists talking about?

They’re talking about a film, alright, but not the cinema. It’s biofilm–when bacteria grow in clumps in a slime-like substance inside an infected cell. When this happens they find it a lot easier to avoid your immune system trying to kill them off, and unfortunately, they’re often resistant to antibiotics as well. This is a huge problem. According to an article published by Contagion, it’s the cause of more than 75% of bacterial infections in the US. However, scientists discovered in the early 90s that they are still sensitive the bio electric environment.

An article published this month in the Annals of Surgery journal discusses the results of a study that tested the efficacy of WED (weak electroceutical dressing) in preventing biofilm from forming on recent wounds. The study tested WED on burn wounds on pigs to observe differences if it was applied 2 hours after infection versus 7 days after infection (or versus a placebo). Good news-the results were promising, for both preventing bioflim development and also in “disturbing” existing biofilm.

While this niche of anti-bacterial therapy is still new, Contagion reports that human clinical trials will be conducted soon.

 

Using Mass Communication to Curb Obesity

Internationally we continue to see substantial increases in overweight and obesity rates. In 2016, the World Health Organization reported that about 39% of all adults were overweight. Since overnutrition seems to traverse cultures, languages and international waters many people are looking for the most effective and efficient way of promoting positive health behaviors that promote a healthy weight. I believe mass media campaigns could serve as a solution to the problem. Health professionals can use mass media to improve the dietary habits of populations through multimedia-based communication efforts.

Over the past ten years, we have seen considerable changes in mass media communication largely due to increased use of mobile technology, especially social media. As access to mobile technology increases and people use smart-technology at increasing rates, health professionals have increased opportunities to address the importance of nutrition and physical activity. I believe that no other intervention approach has the potential for as wide a reach as mass media. Mass media campaigns that target individual dietary behaviors like increasing vegetable intake or reducing sodium are effective at promoting those behaviors (1). The “5-A-Day” campaign was successful in its efforts to increase fruit and vegetable intake. It was associated with a significant increase in fruit and vegetable consumption and increased awareness of health benefits associated with consuming fruits and vegetables. The success of mass communication in campaigns and interventions is not exclusive to increasing fruit and vegetable intake. This method has also proven effective at promoting folic acid supplementation and the maintenance of weight loss The Community Guide (2). I believe mass media campaigns advance nutrition efforts to reduce overweight and obesity rates because of the extent to which media is incorporated into people’s daily lives. Mobile technology gives health professionals a chance to engage in dialogue with individuals outside of clinical settings. I believe engaging with individuals in spaces they already visit may help people feel more comfortable and make them more receptive to adopting health-promoting behaviors.

Practice Gratitude

Thanksgiving is just right around the corner, and while I often try to practice gratitude in my everyday life, I especially find myself during this time reflecting on the opportunities and the experiences that I have had, as well as the people in my life that I appreciate and am grateful for.

I find that when I practice gratitude I feel happier and more confident in my ability to manage any stress I may be experiencing. In a recent study, Mills et al. (2015) examined the relationship between spiritual wellbeing, gratitude, and mental health in heart failure patients. They found that gratitude was associated with better mood, sleep, as well as less fatigue among these patients, demonstrating a positive effect of gratitude on well-being.

Gratitude is free and requires little effort to do, and I believe that it is something that we can all cultivate and practice—not just during the Thanksgiving season, but in our everyday lives. When practicing gratitude, I often reflect on the value that the people in my life have, the value of the experiences that I have had, as well as the opportunities that I have been given. I will document this reflection in my journal, making note of my feelings and thoughts. It is a humbling but rewarding process, and one that I think we can all benefit from.

How do you practice gratitude? What are you grateful for?  

References:

Mills, P. J., Redwine, L., Wilson, K., Pung, M. A., Chinh, K., Greenberg, B. H., … & Chopra, D. (2015). The role of gratitude in spiritual well-being in asymptomatic heart failure patients. Spirituality in Clinical Practice2(1), 5-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/scp0000050

 

A Toast to the Fall Roast

Hey there,

Happy Fall! Just here to give a quick plug for a hearty fall roast as a delicious and nutritious, easy-to-make-a-vegetarian’s day option. The best part? It’s seasonal and local-find friendly.  Whether you’re at the store or a farmer’s market, go ahead and pick out:

  • the best lookin’ squash you see (be warned–as I recently discovered, a butternut squash is much easier to cut than an acorn squash–and a spaghetti squash may be better suited for other Fall meals given it’s stringy texture once cooked)
  • Complement that rich squash flavor with a sweet potato or two, rich in anti-oxidants, and plenty filling
  • See any fresh beets? Doubling up on antioxidant power and also vitamin-rich (particularly Vit C, Vit B6, iron, and folate) plus you get a gorgeous, deep purple to balance your fall colors–remember, you eat with your eyes first. Bonus–you can use beet leaves and another leafy green of your choice for a quick side salad!
  • No beets? No sweat! See any carrots calling to you? Maybe a red bell pepper? Cauliflower steak, anyone?
  • Chickpeas/beans of choice. Adding a can of beans to your roast is a quick way to add in a hearty amount of protein and a welcome contrast in texture
  • Seasoning is always in season! A little salt helps accentuate flavors, but you really don’t need too much to let these veggies sing. I like to add a generous amount of a fresh herb if you can find some (loving rosemary right now)

Nothing like letting the scent of roasting vegetables and fresh herbs envelop your kitchen and living room 🙂 Happy roasting!

 

November is American Diabetes Month

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body is unable to properly process blood sugar levels due to an inability to either produce or use insulin properly. There are more than 30 million Americans living with diabetes, and 7.2 million of those individuals are undiagnosed.

There are three main types of diabetes:

 Type 1 diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, and as a result, individuals living with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections in order to survive.

 Type 2 diabetes. This is the most common type of diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to produce or use insulin properly. Those living with prediabetes are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Approximately 84.1 million adults ages 18 years or older have prediabetes, and 90% of those individuals do not know they have it.

 Gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes can occur in women during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

While there is no cure for diabetes, it can be managed with the proper medication, by monitoring blood sugar levels, managing stress, and/or with lifestyle changes to diet and exercise. And for people living with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes can be prevented with weight loss, physical activity, and/or healthy eating.

To learn more about diabetes, check out the following resources:

American Diabetes Association

Diabetes – Centers for Disease Control

References

About Diabetes. (2017, June 1). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html

Diabetes [PDF]. (N.d.) Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/presskits/aahd/diabetes.pdf

Diabetes Statistics. (2017, September). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/diabetes-statistics

Facts about Type 2. (2015, October 27). Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/facts-about-type-2.html

Living with Type 1 Diabetes. (2016, November 21). Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/living-with-type-1-diabetes.html

Managing Diabetes. (2016, November). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/managing-diabetes

Prediabetes. (2017, July 25). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes. (2016, November). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-type-2-diabetes

What is Diabetes? (2016, November). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes

Conscientious Campaigning-how we talk about Breast Cancer.

A short post this week from me–but a strong urge for you to read a well-written and important article about the way organizations dedicated to fighting and preventing breast cancer choose to push their messages. This article from Elite Daily centers around the question ” Pushing all marketing and advertising efforts aside, what is the most effective and respectful way to educate women about breast health and cancer awareness?”

picture taken from Elite Daily

They highlight the work of The Get In Touch Foundation, with it’s unique focus on educating young women to conduct self breast exams, empowering young women to engage in what is a life-saving and often under-articulated habit. Check out the article, their website, and one of their key educational tools, the Daisy Wheel here.

Wishing you all a beautiful start of the new month!

Health Literacy: The final healthcare barrier?

How can health professionals support and serve our most vulnerable populations? When discussing access to health care, income and location are generally agreed upon barriers to access. Populations who live just above the poverty line often do not qualify for government assistance; however, without it, they often cannot afford coverage. Similarly, populations that live in rural areas often have less lack access to health services. One barrier that accompanies these and is often overlooked is health literacy.

Literacy is not only an education issue it affects access to healthcare as well. When populations have difficulty reading, they may misunderstand health brochures or worse take medication incorrectly. According to Kelly Warnock, Program Manager at the Durham County Health Department, health professionals have a responsibility to reach populations where they are. After working for over 10 years with lower-income, low literacy populations, Ms. Warnock believes that it is possible to increase all communities’ access to healthcare and health information. For health professionals, that means being creative with communication techniques organizing information clearly, using visuals, and non-technical language. If you’re interested in learning more about health literacy and communication, check out this resource from the Food Research and Action Center.

Photo: https://communicatehealth.com/2014/07/frequently-asked-question-can-i-measure-a-patients-health-literacy/

Take a Walk

Walking is one of my favorite forms of exercise. It’s free, it’s easy to do, it requires no fancy gym equipment, and it can be done almost anywhere or anytime! I especially enjoy walking outside during the fall season, where the air is cool and crisp, and I am able to see the changing colors of the fall leaves.

As you may already know, walking can be a healthy form of physical activity. It can lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as strengthen your muscles. Walking can also improve your mood and lower stress. Adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, and brisk walking for just 30 minutes per day for 5 days a week can help meet this need.

Finding a friend or family member to walk with you or joining a walking club may be helpful ways to incorporate more walking into your life.

For more information about walking, check out these resources:

Fitness: Walking for Wellness | WebMD

Walking: A Step in the Right Direction | NIH

Happy walking!

References:

Fitness: Walking for Wellness. (2015, July 10). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/walking-for-wellness

Walking: A Step in the Right Direction. (2017, April). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/walking-step-right-direction