Health fair focuses on causes of chronic health conditions

One of the health fair panels discusses ways to live a healthy lifestyle.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine
Dr. Wayne Sampson
Dr. Otis Kirksey

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

After sitting through one of the sessions at an education, healthcare and wellness fair, Marvin Henderson expressed agreement with everything that he heard.

Throughout the session, doctors focused on some of the chronic health conditions. Diabetes was one of the topics that generated a lot of conversation.

Dr. Otis Kirksey methodically took the audience in the cafeteria at the Bethel Family Life Center through some of the causes of diabetes and ways to manage it.

Every bit of the information is useful, said Henderson, a former deputy superintendent of Leon County Schools.

“Arming communities with the information is the best thing we can do,” Henderson said. “A lot of the issues with communities is they don’t know any better. Obviously they know they need to eat to live but they don’t necessarily take into consideration the kinds of food that they are consuming. 

“Even though the food may help sustain life, it may also lead to the development of possible medical conditions. These kinds of sessions help to let our communities know that certain chronic diseases are caused by diet.”

One of the major physical issues that could be cause by diabetes if peripheral vascular disease, which causes poor blood flow to the legs. That and other complications that could cause poor wound healing create what Kirksey called “a cocktail for disaster.”

He suggested that lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise could help manage the disease. After that, it’s a matter of going “one day at a time” to see improvement, he said.

A question about the benefits of screening prompted a change in the discussion. Dr. Wayne Sampson, a primary care physician, said that individual 75 or older should have a conversation with their doctors to determine if screening will be beneficial or even effective.

Screening for certain health conditions were available to attendees. Anyone who wanted a vaccination could have had it done in the Bethel Missionary Baptist Mobile Unit. 

Just a short walk from the first session, another panel discussion put the focus on some of the practices that could lead to health problems. Food choice was a big one.

Cetta Barnhart, founder of Seed Time Harvest Farms, said communities that are in areas known as food desert could benefit from relying on food grown regionally.

“Eating foods from your region allows you to have all the beans, all the pollen and all the things addressed in your food system so now you have a better relationship with food in your body and better outcomes for your health as well,” she said.

“There is a direct correlation to what you eat and how it impacts the body,” she added. “It’s not so much the pork that’s the problem, it’s how it was processed and the things they feed the pig that makes us sick.”

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