After Thwarted Kidnapping Plans, Whitmer Calls for Unity

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]

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Eat the Rainbow: KICK Expo Strives to Heal Detroit from Within

By |2012-11-22T09:00:00-05:00November 22nd, 2012|Michigan, News|

Dr Akua Woolbright of Whole Foods discusses healthy food choices. BTL photos: Crystal Proxmire

DETROIT –
Hannan House in Detroit was full of healthy ideas for the Healing Detroit from within Health and Wellness Expo presented by KICK. The free community-wide health fair focused on issues of importance to the black LGBT community.
Various groups lined the hallways with information about services such as family planning, cancer screening and treatment, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS prevention and support, and more.
Dr. Akua Woolbright of Whole Foods was among the presenters. In the morning she taught attendees how to better read food labels, and in the afternoon she discussed the concept of using food as medicine.
About 45 attendees listened as she explained some nutrition basics that should be fairly easy for people to remember. “Eat the rainbow” resonated with the crowd, meaning that if people strive to eat fruits and vegetables of all different colors they will get the variety of nutrients that their bodies need.
“The intention of food is to fuel you through your day,” Woolbright said. “Americans are over-fed but under-nourished…We feed our bellies but we didn’t think to feed our whole selves.”
Before being recruited by Whole Foods, Woolbright worked in HIV treatment in Washington DC. “I would tell people ‘this is your second medicine.’ And I’d get them eating healthy, making smoothies in the mornings and they could feel themselves being more healthy, having more energy.”
Woolbright was one of three nutrition experts tasked with creating a health program for Whole Foods. She and other doctors were all renowned experts, but each took a different approach. One believed that the key to good health was “everything in moderation.” One believed only in a strict raw, vegan diet. And Woolbright strived for a systematic approach, calculating not only calories by searching for a numeric balance of vitamin and nutrient intake.
“We spent a lot of time going back and forth about our approaches,” she said. “But the CEO finally came to us and said ‘Don’t you guys agree on anything?’ And one of the other doctors said ‘yes.’ We all agreed that people need to eat more real foods and less manufactured foods. And that is the basic starting point. Start eating foods that are less processed, that have ingredients you recognize. Once you master that then move on to the more complicated stuff.”
A particularly uplifting tip was that people of color especially tend to suffer due to Vitamin D deficiency in the wintertime. Vitamin D comes mainly from sunshine, which can be in short supply when it’s cold out. To counter the wintertime blues, Woolbright recommends serotonin-stimulating foods like spinach, bananas, walnuts sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Nutrition is just one part of a person’s overall health. Matt Sweet of AIDS Partnership Michigan spoke about mental health issues facing LGBT people of color. Rev. Jeffrey Seals of Whosoever Ministries spoke about Mind, Body and Spirit. And Ricky Thomas talked about substance abuse.
On the physical side, Stephanie Carr taught a belly dancing class and Terrell Thomas taught Q. Chong.
Specific diseases were also addressed. There was testing for HIV/AIDS and syphilis, plus breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Yolanda Murillo of the Karmanos Institute shared some surprising news – that Karmanos can connect those who are uninsured or underinsured aged 40-64 with free mammograms and pap smears, and that if cancer is discovered, treatment is also covered.
Another service people may not be familiar with is Wayne County SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners). WC SAFE provides 24/7 sexual assault response throughout Wayne County. They serve men and women age 12 and up who seek help within 96 hours of sexual assault – providing both forensic services, i.e. rape kits, and medication for the pregnancy and STDs. Other victims’ services include referrals and helping clients make court appearances and file personal protection orders.
Amy Dowd, who is part of the WC SAFE nurses ‘program said the organization helped over 700 victims last year. “I feel personally purposed to do this work,” Dowd said. “I believe in what the program does. The most important thing is that intervention that is supportive and safe has an impact on healing.”
WC SAFE has recently joined in a coalition to help process back-logged rape kits in Wayne County, and they have specific training and literature about sexual assault in the LGBT community.

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