More than 20 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes; most are overweight or obese. (Courtesy of Atlanta Black Star)

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. — 1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV

In the third installment of my “Dousing the Flames of the Diabetes Epidemic” series, I wrote of my mother, who only lived 12 years after being diagnosed with the disease. Here is the continuation of her story.

Each week, I’ve shared how mother lost both of her legs, had to have kidney dialysis for the last few years of her life and she suffered least seven strokes in 12 years. She was my age, only 61 when she had her first major stroke, which resulted in paralysis. Mother ended up in Howard University Hospital, and it was during that particular hospital stay that her diabetes was discovered.

According to NIH, heart disease is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes. It’s simple to get to the root of the problem: old-fashioned soul food diets, too much junk food from fast food restaurants, and a lack of strenuous exercise. We are not treating our bodies like the temple that it is!

How many times have you pigged out after a hard day’s work, then fell asleep? For us adults, that won’t work — that type of behavior is only for growing babies and children. We’ve finished growing. We get bigger with each bad meal, we end up buying larger sizes, we don’t look or feel good. How many wardrobe sizes do we have? We buy more and more fat clothes. And worst of all, our blood sugar gets out of control, our hearts can’t stand this, and neither can the rest of our organs.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. Some of you have contracted diabetes and you’re not overweight, but it’s genetic and lack of exercise is still problematic.

Look at the stats provided by the National Institute of Health. Today, diabetes mellitus is one of the most serious health challenges facing the United States. The following statistics illustrate the magnitude of this disease among African-Americans:

NIH sites hundreds billions of dollars are spent on diabetes care, and 4.9 million African-Americans have diabetes; on average, we are twice as likely to have diabetes as white Americans of similar age; approximately 13 percent of all African-Americans have diabetes; African-Americans with diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes complications and experience greater disability from the complications than white Americans with diabetes; death rates for people with diabetes are 27 percent higher for African-Americans compared with whites; national health surveys during the past 35 years show that the percentage of the African-American population diagnosed with diabetes is increasing dramatically.

The surveys show prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes as well as previously diagnosed diabetes. From 1976-80, total diabetes prevalence in African-Americans ages 40 to 74 years was only 8.9 percent; from 1988-94, total prevalence had increased to 18.2 percent — a doubling of the rate in just 12 years.

Regular physical activity is a protective factor against Type 2 diabetes and, conversely, lack of physical activity is a risk factor for developing diabetes. Researchers suspect that a lack of exercise is one factor contributing to the high rates of diabetes in African-Americans.

In the NHANES III survey, 50 percent of African-American men and 67 percent of African-American women reported they participated in little or no leisure time physical activity.

We can change this trend with, one, new and improved diets and, two, exercise! (Check in next week for the series’ conclusion.)

Lyndia Grant is an author, inspirational and motivational speaker, radio talk show host and columnist. Visit her website, or contact her at 240-602-6295. Tune in Fridays at 6 p.m. to “The Lyndia Grant Show” on Spirit 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station.

Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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