It has been quite a cold winter in the Alpha Province of Gammaland! Insha’Allah everyone has been keeping warm. In this issue, some very important health issues will be discussed. The Prophet Muhammad (saws) said that, “Your body has rights over you…” (Bukhari). Allah (swt) has provided for your soul a vessel in which to transport it while on this earth, and you must take care of it. In addition to the aforementioned health issues, season-appropriate skin care regimens and information regarding upcoming health-related events will be mentioned. As always, we pray that this issue of The Alpha Province Health Buzz will beneficial to you.
The Ladies of Gamma Gamma Chi Sorority, Inc.; Alpha Chapter
The content of this newsletter is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own physician or healthcare provider to determine what is right for you. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions.
Ladies! When was your last pap smear? Do you need a pap smear? What IS a pap smear and what is the purpose of it? Many ladies do not know the answers to some of the questions above, and if you don’t, it is very important that you do.
The Pap smear is a cervical cancer screening tool. It looks for two things: 1) to determine if the cervical cells are normal and 2) presence of the high-risk types of human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is the virus linked to cervical cancer and genital warts, and is sexually transmitted. It is important to note that you can have HPV and may or may not develop warts or cancer.
It is recommended that the Pap screening test be performed in all women between the ages of 21 and 65 who have an intact cervix, whether or not they have ever had sex; however, there are some exceptions to this general rule. The frequency at which you should get a Pap smear ranges from annually to every 3-5 years, depending on previous Pap smear results. Unfortunately, there is no recommended screening test for HPV in men. Talk to your doctor to determine if a Pap smear is necessary for you, and be sure follow your doctor’s recommendations for follow up based on your Pap smear results.
Screening is just one means of HPV prevention. HPV vaccines are available for both men and women, but there are many types of HPV and not all are covered by the vaccine. Other means of prevention include smoking cessation and limiting the number of sexual partners that you have. The effect of condoms in preventing HPV is unknown.
It appears that HPV is “the forgotten STD.” It can remain in the body for 3-5 years before appearing on a pap smear, and men can unknowingly transmit it to women. However, prevention and early detection through education is key. Therefore, it is important that you establish yourself with a primary care physician or gynecologist and get physicals regularly. More information on Pap smears, cervical cancer, and HPV can be found here.
The heart is frequently referenced in the Holy Qu’ran, but not as the physical organ; when the heart is mentioned, it is specifically connected to the intangible—aspirations, remembrance, and even one’s energy or demeanor. Certainly, all of the aforementioned can impact one’s physical heart. February is American Heart Month and, as with many illnesses, some acquired heart (organ) diseases can be prevented.
- Stop smoking…better yet, don’t even start. Nicotine is bad on the heart and can enhance the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). SNS activation is a normal response in a “fight or flight” situation, but not during periods when the body should be in a fully relaxed state. Chemicals in tobacco can cause inflammation, leading to atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup, in the arteries. Even if you do smoke, you will still reap the benefits of stopping—studies have shown drastic reduction of heart disease within 1 year of cessation.
- Get plenty of exercise. You should get 30 minutes of exercise per day most days of the week, and more if you are trying to lose weight. If you “don’t have time” to do 30 consecutive minutes of exercise, do 10 minute intervals—walking the dog, gardening, and housework count toward the total amount of exercise. By controlling weight through exercise, you are able to combat other diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, which may put strain on the heart. In addition, exercise is a natural antidepressant, as it causes the release of natural endorphins which in turn reduce stress, which can also put a strain on the heart—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Know not only your body mass index (BMI), but your body fat percentage. The BMI has limitations due to muscle mass and bone density, but increased abdominal fat is a heart disease risk factor. If you don’t have body fat calculator, a quick way to determine heart disease risk is to measure waist circumference; greater than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men is an indicator of increased risk.
- Don’t forget about nutrition! Many foods consumed in the American diet are processed and contain trans fats and sugar, both of which should be avoided. Good fat sources should be higher in omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids. They include grassfed butter, cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil, and cod liver oil. A variety of vegetables and fruits should be consumed, but more vegetables than fruits. Choose prime sources and cuts of meat—consider visiting your local farmers market for this.
- Health screenings are important. Check your cholesterol at least once every 5 years, more often if you have a chronic condition. Check your blood pressure regularly; it should be one of the first things you check if you find yourself getting headaches frequently. Hypertension is called “the silent killer” for a reason… Get screened for diabetes. If you are diligent with your annual physical, this is usually done at that time.
“From inside [bees] comes a drink of varying colours, containing healing for mankind.” (Surah al-Nahl, 3:69)
Our skin is the largest organ of our body and needs tender love and care during the winter months. Many skin remedies may use honey, which is a natural humectant and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Soror Rasheedah El-Amin has worked hard to find some wonderful skin care recipes, the links to which are listed below. May Allah (swt) reward Soror Rasheedah for her contribution to the newsletter this quarter.
Apple Cider Vinegar Skin Toner Recipe By Cari Dunn
Natural Remedy for Clearing Acne (As Seen on Doctor OZ)
Avocado and Honey Mask for Dry Skin
Salt & Honey Body Scrub
Gamma Gamma Chi Sorority, Inc. supports all-cancer awareness, as part of its Physical and Mental Health pillar, and it is coincidental that the awareness ribbon is LAVENDER! Contact any of the Alpha Chapter Sorors about getting your lavender ribbon. All proceeds will go toward supporting chapter activities.