"A healthy mind equals a healthy body, and a healthy body equals a healthy mind".
The topic of health has been a passion of mine due to two main life events that changed my perspective on nutrition and physical fitness forever:
1) At the age of 17-years-old back in the year of 2017, I was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and had underwent a "Whipple" surgery that was thankfully successful. This was a rare situation because most patients with this type of cancer are generally aged between their 50's-60's. (It shocked all of the medical professionals that were surpervising me at the time.)
A tumor, roughly the size of a golf ball, was removed from my Pancreas that has left a scar on my abdomen, leaving me with a reminder to priortize my health as best as I can for the rest of my life. To this day, due to God's grace, I am still cancer free and luckily did not have to endure any additional treatments.
2) Not even a year later, my mother was also diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. Unfortunatley for her, chemotherapy was required and it took a toll not only on her body, but her mental state as well. Multiple surgeries, chemotherapy sessions, and witnessing my parent undergo any sort of pain was a struggle during this time frame. Again, God has also blessed my mother with another chance of life clearing her from cancer just this past year in 2019.
With this rough background story in mind, I repeatedly want to emphasize: we only get ONE body.
It's a gift that was given to us made with intense love, attention, and detail from the Creator Himself.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minorty Health:
"It is significant to note that in comparison to other ethnic groups, Native Hawaiians/ Pacific Islanders have higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity. This group also has less access to cancer prevention and control programs. Some leading causes of death among Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders include: cancer, heart disease, unintentional injuries (accidents), stroke and diabetes. Some other health conditions and risk factors that are prevalent among Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders are hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis... The tuberculosis rate in 2017 was 38 times higher for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, with an incidence rate of 19.1, as compared to 0.5 for the white population.1"
So now that we've identified some of the leading issues related to the Asian-Pacific Islander Community, let's go over some ways to avoid your chances of encountering them.
1. Get to and Stay at a Healthy Weight
This one should be a no-brainer, but it's the most obvious step when it comes to majority of the list mentioned above. To determine if you are overweight, here are a few tests or signs to look out for:
Get a BMI (Body Mass Index) calculation.
It's uncomfortable to exercise.
You have high blood pressure or cholesterol.
You're tired all the time.
You're hungry - even though you ate enough.
You've consistently gained weight every year.
2. Exercise Regularly.
The Mayo Health Clinic suggests, "For most healthy adults... Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity... Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Aim to do a single set of each exercise, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions."
Good thing the Islander community loves to engage in family sports such as volleyball, basketball, rugby, etc. Or maybe partake in a hula class? Getting fit does not always require a gym, but it is a great place to start if that's all you know.
Movement is movement. Whatever gets you excited or happy to get active should always be the main goal!
3. Eat a Healthy Diet.
This is the part that most of our Islander community struggles with the most: especially with all of the amazing food we love to cook, eat, and share with our families.
Regrettably, it's one of our major weaknesses. As delicious as sapsui, mamoe, or pagi popo is: eating these highly saturated fatty meals on a daily basis or over-doing it on portion sizes is killing our people.
We can still enjoy our cultural foods, but with anything, moderation is key.
Organzing a meal plan, subsituting certain ingrediants for healthier alternatives when cooking, or minimizing serving sizes are perfect steps to implementing changes in your nutrition.
4. Drink Water as Your Primary Beverage.
The body is made up of at least 60% water. Making sure to refresh your fluids will help improve digestion, circulation, carrying of nutrients, and maintenance of other body functions like temperature.
Water is essential for survival, but most importantly, to flush out toxins that we accumulate throughout the day. If we don't consistently find ways to allow these toxins to exit, it can potentially lead or contribute to the diseases we've learned about so far.
If you struggle with your water intake, try making it a little more exciting by adding some lemons or fruits for some flavor. Herbal teas are also a great way to get your H2O in!
5. Avoid Sedentary Activites.
We all know Islanders are chill, but there's a limit to everything: even with being laid back!
An inactive lifestyle increases the chances of obesity, weight gain, back/neck pain, muscle degeneration, diaebetes (Type 2), and even - mortality.
So, in correlation to exercising regularly, do your best to avoid sitting too long, too much. There's a time to rest, relax, and recooperate - nevertheless - identify when to get in motion!
7. Quit Smoking.
Raised in a house full of smokers, I made it a personal vow to avoid this habit because of what I've witnessed it do to my family throughout the years:
They struggled with breathing, made them appear older than they were, the stench of cigerettes was always present, and it was one of the leading factors of my mother's cancer.
I know it's easier said than done to just "quit", but if you haven't started or attempted it yourself: just don't. It's not worth it.
If you're smoking anything - I encourage you to go to the cannabis route!
8. Decrease Alcohol Intake.
A little alcohol here and there, depending on your current health status, will not harm you. There's actually some proven studies that drinking a glass of wine a day can reduce risk of liver disease, cut multiple cancer risks, and lower cholestoral!
On the contrary, as for the Polynesians I've been exposed to, they tend to favor alcholic beverages such as beer and liquor over wine when craving a "good time".
If cutting back on alcohol is a temptation for you: seek help, watch for peer pressure, and be persistent!
When all is said and done, we know exactly what we have to do to live a healthier lifestyle. It's the discipline, committment, and the desire for change we have to establish first.
What are some ways we can raise more awareness and support to improve the health of our API-Community? I'd love to hear your ideas!
Thanks for tuning in again for another week at the Alohahna View Blog:
"Sharing perspectives on life with the Aloha spirit hosted by Plumeria Hahn".
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Until next Sunday, have a blessed week!