Reclaiming Our Health


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A Guide to African American Wellness

Michelle A. Gourdine, M.D.

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"An interactive and empowering book."—

"Plain talk. Strong medicine. A long-overdue prescription to cure what ails our community. A must-read for every African American." —Tavis Smiley

According to the federal Office of Minority Health, African Americans "are affected by serious diseases and health conditions at far greater rates than other Americans." In fact, African Americans suffer an estimated 85,000 excess deaths every year from diseases we know how to prevent: heart disease, stroke, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. In this important and accessible book, Dr. Michelle Gourdine provides African Americans with the knowledge and guidance they need to take charge of their well-being.

Reclaiming Our Health: A Guide to African American Wellness begins with an overview of the primary health concerns facing African Americans and explains who is at greatest risk of illness. Expanding on her career and life experiences as an African American physician, Dr. Gourdine presents key insights into the ways African American culture shapes health choices—how beliefs, traditions, and values can influence eating choices, exercise habits, and even the decision to seek medical attention. She translates extensive research into practical information and presents readers with concrete steps for achieving a healthier lifestyle, as well as strategies for navigating the health-care system.

This interactive guide with illustrations is a vital resource for every African American on how to live a healthier and more empowered life, and an indispensable handbook for health-care providers, policy makers, and others working to close the health gap among people of color. Says Gourdine, "I wrote this book to empower our community to solve our own health problems and to save our own lives."

Michelle A. Gourdine, M.D., is CEO and principal consultant, Michelle Gourdine and Associates, a health policy consulting firm. She is the former deputy secretary of health and chief public health physician for the state of Maryland, and is currently clinical assistant professor in the departments of pediatrics and epidemiology/preventive medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and senior associate, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She lives in Owings Mills, MD. 

"…after reading this book, it is like having someone accompany you to the doctor's offices after giving you a reality check, followed by a pep talk and a plan of action!"—Dr. LaShawn McIver MD, MPH, Public Health Consultant, Global Healthy Solutions, LLC

"…an important contribution and tool and …timely given the topic and global focus on addressing individual and family roles in preserving and promoting health and wellness."—Claudia Baquet, University of Maryland School of Medicine

"[This] book…is readable, plain spoken and relevant…[it] particularly speaks to American Blacks in language and stories that appeal to Black heritage and heart."—Stephanie Bailey, Public Health Expert and former Chief for PH Practice, CDC

"Plain talk. Strong medicine. A long-overdue prescription to cure what ails our community. A must-read for every African American." —Tavis Smiley, Broadcaster, Author & Philanthropist

"In this era of health care reform with an intensified focus on prevention, Reclaiming Our Health is a timely book that empowers African Americans to live healthier lives. Although life expectancy and overall health for most Americans has improved, there continues to be significant health disparities among African American populations. Dr. Michelle Gourdine has chronicled a timely and relevant body of work. Reclaiming Our Health is a must read for all health care professionals and others who are charged with the task of caring for and treating minority populations. This concise and scholarly work references current scientific knowledge on African American health."—Kweisi Mfume, Former U.S. Representative; Executive Director, National Medical Association

“Throughout her career, [Dr. Gourdine] has been a tireless advocate for improving the health of all people, increasing access to healthcare for the underserved, and eliminating health disparities. …Reclaiming Our Health is filled with essential information every African American needs to know to take control of his health.” —Benjamin Carson, M.D., The Johns Hopkins University Medical Institutions

"[Dr. Gourdine] has a profound fund of knowledge that would add value to the literature...Reclaiming Our Health describes an approach that I believe will provide essential information every African American needs to know."—Georges Benjamin, American Public Health Association


“African-Americans often face special health challenges, and are much more likely to lack insurance and access to quality, affordable care. Dr. Gourdine's wellness guide not only provides sharp insight into the issues that that affect these disparities, but serves as a roadmap to better health for African Americans, and to equal access to care.”—Marc H. Morial, National Urban League

“Dr. Michelle Gourdine has brilliantly created the ultimate guide and manual for living and maintaining a new and healthy life for the ages. She methodically defines the state of our health and the prescription for reclaiming it, with simple uncomplicated steps to a better you and a better community”—Alexander Smalls, Celebrity Chef/Restaurateur & Author

"We are nothing without our mental and emotional health...Reclaiming Your Health connects the dots to our well-being!”—

Terrie M. Williams, mental health advocate and author of Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting

"An interactive and empowering book."—
ISBN: 9780300137057
Publication Date: April 26, 2011
224 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
20 b/w illus.
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