June was Men’s Health Month, and as the month comes to a close, Kaiser Permanente is encouraging men to take care of their health by sharing ways they can take steps to do that.
African Americans are at higher risk of diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Oakland Post contributor Brandon Patterson talked to Dr. Kenneth Greene specifically about African American men’s health, what Black men should be mindful of, and how they can stay healthy. Check out the interview below and visit lifestylemedicine.org for more information.
OP: What’s the main problem you see with how Black men think about their health?
KG: People have to really be strident about taking the opportunities to learn about ways that they can improve their health. Far too often it’s a very passive process. People will come into the doctor when they have a problem. But there’s a lot you can do every day to make sure you don’t have one.
What do people eat? Where do they shop? What options do they have in terms of what they put into their bodies? Then, there’s some very basic tools that are out there like cooking skills that go a long way. It goes back to choices that we make. Foods that we eat. Things that we drink.
OP: That sounds obvious enough. But if you live in a food desert or are low-income like many Black people and can’t afford healthier foods, it’s harder to do.
KG: What’s amazing to me is that there are so many places now that you can get nutritious and healthy food at lower prices. The food banks in California have been a leader on this for many years. Their goal is to prevent people from getting priced out of the market and not be able to have access to nutritious and healthy food. They’re going out of their way to make that possible in communities in a very real way.
You can [also] save an average family 20% of their income by learning to cook a few things. Keep it simple: the white meat. Chicken. Turkey. Tuna fish. They’ll get you so much more for your health compared to going through a fast food drive-in.
OP: How does the COVID-19 pandemic factor into this?
KG: The inflammatory response from COVID-19 is devastating. The odds of a Black male having a bad outcome like kidney failure, being on a ventilator, or dying is 12 times higher than other groups. The best protection is for people to practice social distancing and wear a mask.