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Heart 2 Heart

A discussion about the health of African American women

Diane Xavier | 11/11/2013, 9:18 a.m.
Debra Peek Haynes discusses the heart health of Black women. Christopher Morgan

Haynes shared why she titled her seminar “Avoiding Danger Ahead: A Heart 2 Heart Conversation.”

“I am sharing with you from my heart and my experiences, information that I hope you will take and research and use to the best of your ability to help yourself and your family,” Haynes told the audience. “I just want to challenge you and ask ‘Are you honoring God with your body?’ We have a responsibility to nourish and cherish our temple. Good health starts in the mind. I want people to start thinking healthier and start in their mind and then it will trickle down to your body.”

According to Haynes, some of the overlooked risk factors of heart disease as it relates to African American women include stress, heartbreak, oppression, gum disease, lack of sleep, inflammation, constipation and dehydration.

“First, I recommend people to change their minds and then change their actions so they can change their diets,” she said. “People also need to exercise, feed their children right, and get some vitamin D. Nowadays, heart disease starts in childhood. We are seeing cases now where high blood pressure and high cholesterol is starting in childhood. We don’t want to have a whole generation of 20-something’s dying of heart disease and stroke and it’s actually happening now.”

Haynes said the community has to use creative ways to be healthy. She suggested they read labels, use healthy cooking oils such as sesame oil and extra virgin olive oil, as well as create meals with colorful plates of fruits and vegetables. She recommended people add vitamins and essential oils to their diets to heal their bodies. Haynes even suggested building healthy relationships with people who are supportive.

After her lecture, Haynes conducted a cooking seminar on stage with healthy food items and demonstrated how to make meals delicious and healthy. The audience sampled some of Haynes’ recipes in the banquet hall of the church after the seminar. Recipes also included samples from healthy chef Cassondra Armstrong and Gwendolyn Jenkins, who is author of Recipes for a Neo Southern Lifestyle.

Haynes said her goal is to take this seminar to the national level. “Other communities with churches similar to our church have expressed an interest to share this information with their community,” she said. “Also, I want people in this community and others to have the tools that it would take to make changes to their health.”

Haynes, who wrote The Beginners Guide to Healthy Living, said people could become more educated about living a healthy lifestyle by reading information on this topic and doing research on their own.

“I will also be offering additional information through my webinars, other seminars and workshops,” she said. “I also offer cooking classes. I don’t want this to be a hit or miss, but an ongoing program. When it comes to heart disease, we really need to concentrate on what we are doing and what we need to do differently because this is happening as we are speaking, women are dying, particularly African American women. I just wanted to know that we have to focus on heart disease and eradicating it.”