Healthy Chic

Brigitte Malaaya Britton, 49, was born in Morocco and moved to New York City in 1960, when she was 3 years old. She went to boarding school in Westchester and spent her summers in Europe. Upon graduating, she studied haute couture (high fashion) for two years under the apprenticeship of designer Jean-Louis in Beverly Hills, before starting her own line of clothing and costume design. She went on to design costumes for Patti La Belle and Billy Idol, among others.

This nonstop life soon caught up with her, though. After recovering from two near-death illnesses, Britton stopped and assessed her life. Realizing she was taking her health for granted, the designer-turned-author was determined to learn how to take care of her mind, body and spirit. With the development of her program and book, "The Palm Beach Way," Britton hopes to teach people how to take better care of themselves.

What is one thing everyone should know about taking better care of their health?

I've found two things that are very important. Fiber, first of all. Most people don't have enough time in the day to eat all the fiber they need. It eliminates toxins and wastes in your body and gives you more energy. It also helps cut the cravings for the bad foods. It balances your sugar and helps your body burn fat. I recommend psyllium husk with acidophilus. The second thing that is important is water. You can't eliminate and clean your body if you aren't hydrating it.

Mississippi has a reputation for being one of the unhealthiest states. How do you go about changing lifelong eating habits?

I customize a program for the individual and their lifestyle. I ask them to make small changes at first. You can really hurt yourself by trying to do too much at once. I try to teach them one thing that will show them a difference immediately. If someone can see a change, they are more likely to stick with it. They will ask for more. People are so confused and lost by all the different things they see in the media (this week water doesn't matter, the next week it does), they just don't believe anything anymore, and they give up. I'm here to show them that they shouldn't give up, that it is possible. That you can make a difference in your life if you believe in yourself and stick with it.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I know you feel very strongly about this issue. What do women need to know about breast cancer in today's society?

Prevention is key. Too much emphasis is placed on what to do when you get breast cancer rather than how not to get it. The first thing they tell you to do when you are recovering from cancer is to eat right, and they should tell people that eating right can help prevent it. We must be good to our bodies and love ourselves. Be bad 30 percent of the time and good 70 percent. Most people are the opposite, and we are just filled with toxins.

What is the most important thing you hope people take with them from reading your books and following your program?

That there is solid information out there and people that care. I want people to start caring for themselves. They have to take the time and know that if they have the right tools, anything is possible. Nothing in your life is going to change for the better until you care about yourself. Be in the moment and live every moment to the fullest, and your life will be a miracle.

Brigitte Britton will be in Mississippi from October 17-23. For information on personal consultations with Britton, e-mail [e-mail missing] or visit thepalmbeachway.com


The State of Mississippi's Health: Where Do We Rank?

Mississippi has lots of room for improvement when it comes to the health of our citizens. For 2005, we have the dubious honor of holding the No. 1 rank for the following health issues (per 100,000 persons) as compared to all other states:

Preterm Births
Low Birthrate
Diabetes (tied with Alabama)
Heart Disease
Overweight/Obesity (overall)
Motor Vehicle Deaths
Overall Death Rate

We rank No. 49 in our level of physical activity.

With other health issues, it's a mixed bag, with a few glimmers of good news. Here's how we rank on a few selected issues:

Cancer Death Rate – No. 4
Overweight Children – No. 8
Stroke – No. 9
Smoking – No. 10
Rate of Childhood Immunizations – No. 14
Rate of Mothers receiving first trimester prenatal care – No. 21
Rate of New AIDS Cases – No. 21
Teen Births – No. 24
Asthma – No. 44

Source: Kaiser statehealthfacts.org: 50 State comparisons

—by Ronni Mott


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