My favorite topic when I’m invited to speak at health fairs is “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled.” It is a message about how to have a healthy mind, body & spirit. During the month of February, I thought it wise to take a look back in Black History, to discuss one of my favorite topics, health; and in particular, diabetes.
This column explains how and why this disease – which is caused when your body produces higher levels of glucose (sugar) than normal – is so prevalent among Black Americans, based on statistics from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
NIH’s website presents the proposition that African Americans have a ‘thrifty’ genotype that would have been advantageous for hunter-gatherer populations, especially child-bearing women, because it would allow them to fatten more quickly during times of abundance. Fatter individuals carrying the thrifty genes would thus better survive times of food scarcity.
Today, however, most of us really don’t experience food scarcity, we have an abundance; we eat too many carbohydrates and sweets, with little or no exercise.
Statistics shows that diabetes mellitus is one of the most serious health challenges facing the United States. Among African Americans, 2.8 million have diabetes, and on average. African Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes as White Americans of similar age. Further NIH reports that approximately 13 percent of all African Americans have diabetes; that 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
A 2012 NIH survey showed that the prevalence of diabetes among those ages 40 to 74 years old was highest among African Americans at 13.2 percent, compared to Whites at 7.6 percent for whites.
Regular exercise is a protective factor against type 2-diabetes, the most common of insulin resistant diabetes, and conversely, lack of physical activity is a risk factor for developing diabetes and is suspected of being a contributing factor to the high rates of diabetes in African Americans.
In the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, referred to as NHANES, 50 percent of African American men and 67 percent of African American women reported that they participated in little or no leisure time physical activity.
In furthering the causes of this diabetes educational prevention campaign, the first order of business for me was to change my lifestyle.
My mother was buried on December 30, 2000. Following her death (though it took a few months), the first order of business was to begin a regular exercise routine. Walking became my exercise of choice — two to four miles, three to four days each week.
It has been my dream to take my radio show into syndication, and as that dream becomes a reality my first stop is in Baltimore, Maryland, where Dr. Sherita Hill-Golden heads up the diabetes inpatient care for Johns Hopkins. She will be my first guest on Friday, February 13 on Spirit 1340 – WYCB, on Radio One. Tune in, it could save your life and your family members too!
If you are reading this article, and you’re at risk for Type 2 Diabetes, consider making a major lifestyle change, too. It’s very simple: 1-Change your diet, eliminate most of the carbohydrates from your diet; 2-Exercise regularly for the rest of your life, and 3-Get rid of the extra pounds, work toward maintaining your ideal body weight.
Will you begin today? You don’t have to get Diabetes; it can be prevented, let not your heart be troubled because your body is indeed your temple.
Lyndia Grant is an author, inspirational and motivational speaker, radio talk show host and columnist; visit her new website at www.lyndiagrant.com and, call 202-263-4621. Tune in Fridays at 6 p.m. to the radio talk show, 1340 AM, WYCB, a Radio One Station; Address 1250 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036.