Monday, November 24, 2014

Learn The History Of The Other Kellogg

by Zinta Aistars
for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate

W.K. Kellogg is best known for his breakfast cereals, but his brother, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, is better known for running the Battle Creek Sanitarium and his seemingly radical religious beliefs.
Kellogg was a Seventh-Day Adventist—a protestant denomination that focuses on the second coming of Jesus Christ as well as the idea of "biologic living." 
WMU Professor and author Brian C. Wilson
WMU Professor and author Brian C. Wilson
Brian C. Wilson is the author of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living. Wilson is doing several readings in the Southwest Michigan area.
The first is Tuesday night at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids at 6:30 p.m. Wilson will also be at Kazoo Books on Parkview on December 6th and at the Battle Creek Barnes & Noble on December 7th at 1 p.m.
Wilson says "biologic living" has to do with the Adventist belief that aside from the commandments, God also created a series of physical laws that humans were to follow.
Kellogg believed that it was just as important to take care of one's body as it was to nurture the soul. 
Adam And Eve Were Vegan
Kellogg's reasons for being a vegan relate to very early Bible texts, says Wilson. This was a very common believe of Adventists in Kellogg's time. 
"The argument was that human beings only began to eat flesh after the flood because of the dearth of vegetable foods. Now one of the interesting things is, if you read the Bible you see that the patriarchs of those times had tremendously long life spans - like Methuselah, thousands of years. But after Noah and his kin began eating flesh, you see a degeneration of the human race and so the life spans grow shorter and shorter and shorter."
Life At The Sanitarium
Wilson says the Victorian building housed hundreds of people with different rooms for things like hydropathy, gymnastics, heating and light treatments, tennis courts, sandboxes for kids. 
"There was a palm garden in the middle which go and basically...they wouldn't have high tea because there was no tea there, but they would have a tea substitute and essentially listen to a string quartet play for a while," Wilson explains. "There were dances occasionally. It had kind of the atmosphere of a kind of posh European hotel."
Eugenics And The Dark Side Of Dr. Kellogg
Possibly the most awkward part of Wilson's book talks about Kellogg's view toward ...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Starting a conversation about keeping babies alive

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
November 20, 2014

Grace Lubwama (Photos by Susan Andress)

Why is the infant mortality rate for black babies higher than those of white babies in Kalamazoo? Grace Lubwama, the new chief executive officer at Kalamazoo's YWCA will be working on bringing those numbers down.

Grace Lubwama, the new chief executive officer at Kalamazoo’s YWCA, was eager to see the United States when she arrived in 1997 as a young student from Uganda. This was the land of milk and honey, after all.

"When I first landed here, I thought I would be walking on gold, with lights everywhere," Lubwama laughs. 

Along with the stunning New York City skyline, Lubwama also saw such poverty in areas of New York City, her first stop, that poverty in Uganda at times paled in comparison. Infant mortality rates, she would later learn, were even higher in areas of the United States than in her homeland. She saw people living on the streets and going hungry. 

Although Lubwama bachelor’s degree was in art and design, the young student realized her calling was elsewhere. Lubwama knew she could make a difference in the social and public health issues she saw in such profusion around her. 

When coming to the United States, Lubwama had intended to return to Uganda upon completing her education. She received her master’s degree in public health at Boston University and her doctoral degree in policy, planning and development at the University of Southern California. Instead of returning to her homeland, however, she rolled up her sleeves to work on changing the world in which she now lived.

By then married and with two small sons, Lubwama learned about the infant mortality rates in Los Angeles, California, where, prior to coming to Kalamazoo’s YWCA in February 2014, she was the executive director of Antelope Valley Partners for Health, a public health planning and intervention organization, and national director of World Vision US, a Christian humanitarian organization working with children, families and communities, to take on the root causes of poverty and injustice. 

"When I moved to L.A., I wanted to do something to improve the wellness of community," Lubwama says. "I learned that the infant mortality rate in L.A. was 32.7 percent. That’s higher than in Uganda, and I was struck by that."

Lubwama started an important conversation. "I was young and naïve, but I had lots of enthusiasm. I talked to everyone I could talk to at hospitals and all kinds of organizations. We created a community collaborative, assessed the needs of the community, mapped resources, and came up with a strategy."

It took time, but it worked. After about 10 years, 32.7 percent dropped to 9 percent infant mortality rate. 

The YWCA in Kalamazoo noticed. Lubwama was hired to ...


Sunday, November 16, 2014

BRAIN Lab: Putting scholarship and hearts in the right place

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
November 13, 2014

Ed Roth demonstrates a music therapy device (Photo by Susan Andress)

Together experts in occupational therapy, psychology, social work, exercise physiology, neuroscience, biological sciences, and medicine neurology and music therapy are learning how music can help those with neurological disorders. 

The opiates the young mother used during pregnancy passed through the umbilical cord to her baby. Now that her baby is born, she does not know how to soothe or sing a lullaby to her crying child.

A group of children, exposed early in life to trauma, are unable to express their emotions—until they learn to use music to do so. Music becomes their language, their key to empathy for others. 

A group of graduate students sing from sheet music, then sing again by improvising. The level of oxytocin in their brains, a hormone that facilitates bonding with others, appears to rise dramatically when the singers improvise and even more when they sing together.

These are just some of the research projects currently underway in the BRAIN lab at Western Michigan University. The Laboratory for Brain Research And Interdisciplinary Neurosciences, or BRAIN, is an interdisciplinary research center founded in 2011 by Ed Roth, a music therapy professor, to pursue primarily translational and clinical research using various neuroscience-driven methodologies.

"It was an idea three, four years in the making," Roth says. "It began with team building, getting a team together of people who had the scholarship we needed and also their hearts in the right place."

Holding meetings every other week or so, Roth brought to the table experts in occupational therapy, psychology, social work, exercise physiology, neuroscience, biological sciences, and medicine neurology, adding his own expertise in music therapy.

"We weren’t the traditional lab in that ...


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Aging in Place: Helping Seniors Live Independently

by Zinta Aistars
Published on Golden Slippers Network
November 2014

The Center for Disease Control defines “aging in place” as the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.
With more Americans living longer—our life expectancy has increased about 30 years since 100 years ago—how we age and where we age is becoming an ever greater concern, not only for seniors, but also for the families and caregivers of seniors.
“It’s definitely a trend,” says Rosanne DiZazzo-Miller, DrOT, OTRL, CDP, assistant professor, Wayne State University Occupational Therapy Program. “More seniors are choosing to live at home as long as possible. They see leaving home as giving up a large part of their independence.”
Holding onto independence, however, sometimes requires a little help. For families and caregivers of this fast-growing population of seniors, that means recognizing the signs that help is needed.
Memory Loss as a First Indicator
“There are several signs we can watch for,” says DiZazzo-Miller. “Memory loss can be one of the first indicators. An occasional memory lapse can happen at any age. If you remember where you left those keys a few minutes later, that’s normal, but if you can’t remember even after some time has gone by, if you can’t retrace your steps, that may be a sign of impairment.”
DiZazzo-Miller recommends watching for these indications that a senior may be experiencing memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s:
  • Memory loss – Not being able to recall a memory even after time has passed
  • Difficulty in word-finding – Searching for the right word and not finding it
  • Difficulty in communication – Speech becomes irrational
  • Shifts in personality – Changes in usual mood, such as the outgoing person becoming unusually quiet
  • General confusion – Trouble completing more complex daily tasks, such as balancing  checkbook, grocery shopping, or playing a card game that was once easy
“If you observe some or all of these signs in a senior, check with his or her primary physician first,” DiZazzo-Miller says. “The physician can run some tests and start the diagnostic process. There are many types of dementia, and the physician may then recommend a neuropsychologist.”
Even if a diagnosis of dementia is made, a person may still be able to go home and continue to live independently with minimal assistance.
Other Signs That Seniors Need Assistance
While memory loss may or may not be present, other signs may indicate that a person could use help in the tasks of daily living ...

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Citizen Foresters plant more than trees with the Urban Forest Project

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Rapid Growth Media
Grand Rapids, Michigan
November 6, 2014

Left to right: Lee Mueller, Vic Foerster, Amanda St. Amour (Photo by Adam Bird)

As part of Grand Rapids' Urban Forest Project, Citizen Foresters plant trees and community knowledge as they try to increase the city's canopy. As the last of the leaves fall, Zinta Aistars reports on why it's important for urban neighborhoods to plant their own trees -- and tells you how you can get involved.

Almost everything depreciates with age—except fine wine and trees.

“As a tree grows, it becomes an increasing asset to all that lives around it,” says Lee Mueller, program director of the Urban Forest Project in Grand Rapids. “There’s a rich body of research showing that trees provide more benefits as they grow larger. And when you compare cities with and cities without trees, you will also see significant differences in people’s health.”

Mueller is ready with a long list of benefits of trees. Simply having a view of trees from one’s window can help in healing, he says. Trees offer shade and cooling on a hot summer day. Trees add to property values. Trees help to prevent erosion. Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases, helping to clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing it back into the air as oxygen. Trees save water, slowing down evaporation. Trees provide shelter for wildlife.

And that’s just the beginning of all that trees do for their surrounding environment.

“There are cultural, social, economic, public health and environmental benefits to having a diverse canopy of trees over a city,” says Mueller. “That’s why the City of Grand Rapids and the Friends of Grand Rapids launched the Urban Forest Project in 2011, to meet the city’s goal of establishing a 40 percent tree canopy over Grand Rapids.”

With core funding from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation in spring 2014, Urban Forest Project gathered a small staff and a group of 20 volunteers as part of a new Citizen Forester program to get planting.

“For me, it’s personal,” says Vic Foerster, consultant arborist working with Urban Forest Project. He teaches some of the classes for volunteers, called Citizen Foresters, then guides them in the proper planting of trees.

“I’m a long-time resident of this city,” he says. “I’ve raised my kids here. I can remember when the city parks were a place you’d rather avoid. Back in the ‘70s, ‘80s, the parks weren’t well-maintained the way they are today, and there was more crime. Today I walk in those same parks all the time, and ...