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Health Capsules
March 2006
Healthier 'Soul Food' Helps With Diabetes

Soul Food Light, a program designed to encourage healthy eating for diabetic African Americans living in rural areas, successfully helped people adapt to their diabetes.  By modifying their diets without drastically changing their lifestyle, they lowered their body weight and improved their blood sugar control and blood cholesterol levels.

The 10-year study, which was supported by NIH's National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), involved 49 participants, most of whom were female, obese and diabetic.  The participants attended classes on making healthy meals with reduced fat, making healthy choices when eating away from home and developing personal health goals.  Teaching methods included demonstrations, story-telling and role modeling.  Many classes finished with a shared meal made using low-fat ingredients and modified cooking techniques.  Discussion groups and telephone follow-ups from a nurse case manager were also part of the study.

Soul Food Light participants learned how to use healthier ingredients to lower their fat intake and lose weight.  As a result, they were able to improve their diabetes control without giving up familiar foods.

If you'd like help preparing healthier meals without sacrificing the foods you love to eat, ask your doctor or nurse to recommend a dietitian who can help you.  You can also take time to explore the many "cooking light" books and magazines available.

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Soul Food: Buffet_AfricanAm.pdf FamReu_AfricanAm.pdf

  Don't Ignore Smell and Taste Problems  

Problems with smell and taste can make your life miserable.  They can also be dangerous.

It's normal for smell and taste to gradually decline as you age.  But according to NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), more than 250,000 Americans visit their doctor each year because of a smell or taste disorder.  Adults over the age of 60 are most likely to have a problem, with loss of smell occurring more frequently than loss of taste.

Smell and taste play an important part in our lives.  The loss of one or both could put you in a potentially hazardous situation.  Smell lets us know when something is wrong in our environment, such as when food is spoiled or when there's a gas leak.  Taste protects us by helping us select healthy foods and avoid those that might be bad for us.  (Many plants that are toxic have a bitter taste, for example).  Smell and taste disorders can also lead to a reduced desire to eat, and, in some cases, lead to depression.

Colds and other upper respiratory infections, chronic sinusitis and head injuries are the most common causes of smell disorders.  Taste disorders may be caused by aging, overall poor health, taking certain medications and possibly infections.  NIDCD-funded researchers are now trying to understand exactly why these things bring about smell and taste disorders.  Why does aging take its toll on smell and taste, and why do certain medications make the problem worse?  Eventually a better understanding may lead to new treatments for people with these disorders.

It's important to realize that many cases of smell and taste loss are treatable, and some may even go away by themselves.  If you have a problem, don't hesitate to talk to your health care provider about it.

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Smell and Taste: or 1-800-241-1044                       (TTY: 1-800-241-1055)


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5 to 9 a Day

Fruits and vegetables should be the foundation of a healthy diet.  Yet most people don't eat enough of them.  Men should shoot for 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day; women should aim for 7.  See how big a serving is, read about why you should eat more fruits and vegetables, and find easy ways to add more to your diet.
From NIH's National Cancer Institute and several other organizations.

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