By Andi Pyatt

“The Well” is a recurring column to remind us of the power we possess in mind, body and spirit.

The leading cause of death for black women is a broken heart. You heard me, a broken heart. According to the American Heart Association, the leading cause of death for all women is heart disease and stroke with black women disproportionately represented. Nature plays a major role in risk factors that lead to stoke, however, we are not limited to our genetic make-up. It is important to understand that the food related choices we make are an important aspect. In fact, some professionals believe that the way in which we care for our body has a greater impact on morbidity and mortality than our genetics alone.  The first place we must begin to change is in the mind. We must understand that how we think of ourselves, especially related to our health, is the first step to manifesting our optimal health. Do you believe you are worth the journey required to heal your body?

Andi Pyatt is an educator, entrepreneur, wellness professional, and author. (Courtesy Photo)

Throughout my adult life I have adopted various levels of a plant-based lifestyle. I have been keto based, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, and raw vegan. Of all the lifestyles I experienced, raw vegan has been the most enjoyable and beneficial for my health. I am also an intuitive eater. I listen to what my body requires and asks of me. During the times when I ate raw and vegan my body felt lighter and more efficient. As a result of homeostasis not only did my body feel and look better, so did my mind and spirit. While living a raw vegan lifestyle my body was nourished with fruit and vegetables that healed my body within. Diabetes and high cholesterol are my genetic risk factors. I found that consuming fruit and vegetables in their unheated form drastically lowered my A1C levels and LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) levels. Please understand that we are beautifully and uniquely made in divine image. Therefore, I am not suggesting that everyone should become a raw vegan. What may work for me not may be ideal for another person and vice versa. However, studies show that a plant-based diet exposes our body to the life-promoting properties within the respective plants. I am not a licensed physician, therefore, please consult your primary health professional on a regular basis to ensure your lifestyle is conducive to your optimal health. In between those wellness visits, please explore the following ways to protect your heart: 

  1.   Know your family history. When possible, take a moment to speak to relatives and ask them about their health and well-being. They are teaching you and maybe they will be open to the new information you can provide. 
  1.   Have regular physicals. This is critical with accessing important information related to how your body is functioning. Understandably, this can be a challenging task. However, don’t let the fear of the unknown control you and create undesirable future outcomes. You are in control of your health. Information is neither good nor bad, it just is what it is. Once you are aware of what your body needs, you can create the solution.
  2.   Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smoking increases certain fats in the blood and lowers the “good” cholesterol while restricting blood flow by making blood cells sticky causing blockages to the heart and brain. 
  3.   Eat a diet filled with foods that have been proven to promote balance in the body. The foods that nourish the body are fresh fruits and vegetables. Consuming 5-10 servings of fruit and vegetable daily have been shown to reverse disease, restore and maintain healthy weight, and provide adequate nutrition to various organs to prevent future disease. 
  4.   Exercise your heart and lungs. The heart is a muscle. The more you move, the more efficient it becomes. Aim to walk 10,000 steps daily. Walking outside provides further benefits such as ensuring absorption of Vitamin D which supports immune function. 

In this age of immediate access to information, we are aware of the what is required to close the inherent health gaps present within our community. It is imperative for our survival and well-being to act in our best interest. The time is now to put our hearts, minds, and spirits back together with golden thread. 

Andi Pyatt is an educator, entrepreneur, wellness professional, and author (Julia Belle) of the new children’s book, Sunflower’s Breath.  She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology/Neuroscience from Williams College and a graduate degree in Health Science from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.