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Healthy Ummah Series

Let’s be more a mindful and inclusive society – starting with our words

By Naba Sharif on Mar 15, 2013| 2 comments

Let’s be more a mindful and inclusive society – starting with our words

When I hear the word “retarded” used to describe someone or something that is unintelligent, silly or even as a filler-word when another adjective doesn’t suffice, it literally makes me cringe.  Worse yet is when I hear it being used to actually describe someone with a disability in a derogatory way.  As a physician, I am versed in the fact that long ago, the word used to be a simple clinical term to describe those with developmental delays or cognitive disabilities.  However, Urban dictionary reminds us that “stupid” and “wasted” have since been more predominant uses. During the 2011 NBA Finals, Miami Heat star Lebron James murmured, “that’s retarded” after listening to what he felt was a “stupid question” at a post-game press...

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What you May Not Know about Diet Soda

By Samar Shehaiber on Feb 13, 2013| 2 comments

As you relax in front of the TV with your sandwich, chips and large diet soda you may think to yourself, “This meal isn’t as bad since I switched over to diet”.  But is this really true? Recent studies suggest that diet soda may not be the healthier alternative after all.  Most popular diet drinks also increase your risk of diabetes, stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attack) and vascular death to an alarming extent.  To begin with, there is nothing “diet” about diet soda.  The impact they may have on your health includes the following: They increase your appetite, leading to weight gain and a host of risk factors for cardiovascular events. They can increase your risk for osteoporosis; diet soda contains phosphoric acid, which prevents the...

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Addressing the Mental Health of the General Population in the Wake of Newtown

By Fatima Ashraf on Dec 23, 2012| 11 comments

Mental health is today’s hot topic given last Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  The importance of this issue is no longer a topic for discussion but a topic for action.  It is imperative that our health care system create room for mental illness to be destigmatized, detected, treated, and prevented.  As I see it, the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease is great for the one who has it, yet the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses is great for the person, their family, and their entire community. Therefore, as we begin to focus detection of mental illness on high-risk individuals in order to prevent heinous crimes like those in Aurora, Colorado, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and Newtown, Connecticut, we cannot forget the importance of the mental...

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Food’s Complicated: Learning the UNcomplicated Prophetic Diet

By Fatima Ashraf on Aug 2, 2012| 4 comments

Our system of food production is becoming more and more complicated and we are becoming less and less confident in the quality of what’s going inside our bodies. Understanding food today is much more than reading nutrition facts labels. Last month, thousands of people on facebook posted a guide to decoding produce stickers.  Four numbers means chemically treated, five numbers starting with an ‘8’ means genetically modified, and five numbers starting with a ‘9’ means organic. Learning and adhering to our Prophet’s diet is one way to maintain confidence in what we’re eating and to shift to a more uncomplicated foodstyle.  There are three practices of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) that I find especially helpful (and relatively easy!). 1)  Eat...

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The Health Benefits of Fasting

By Andrew Li, MD and Salma Shabaik, MD on Jul 17, 2012| 9 comments

On the first day of Andrew’s neurology rotation, his attending turned to him and asked, “Name one thing that has been scientifically shown to prolong life.” Andrew, a newly minted 3rd year medical student, replied in his naivete, “Antibiotics, of course.” The attending shook his head no.  “Ok, vaccines?” he tried a second time.  Another head shake no.  “Um…surgery?”  No again. The attending finally replied that the answer was, in fact, decreased caloric intake. Fasting is an age old tradition of many faiths and cultures, particularly within the Abrahamic faiths. Greek Orthodox Christians fast for a total of 180-200 days each year (the main fasting periods are the 40 Nativity Fast days prior to Christmas, the 48 days of Lent prior to...

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Deaf Muslims: Will our request for inclusion be heard?

By Valerie Shirley, Guest Author on Mar 19, 2012| 0 comments

Imagine being at a community gathering with your family. The gathering lasts for hours. Everyone is laughing, clapping and seemingly enjoying themselves, but you have no idea what’s going on. You are isolated, despite the fact that you are in a room full of family and friends. This is the reality for many deaf people, including deaf Muslims. How many Deaf Muslims are there, and how many of them are able to practice Islam to as full an extent as the rest of the Muslim community? How many have left the faith due to a lack of accessibility to the mosque and other resources? Deafness by itself is not a barrier to learning one’s faith. Deaf people in North America communicate using their own language, American Sign Language (ASL), which is often their first and...

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