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
Last week, you read Part Three of my "Fanning the Flames of the Diabetes Epidemic." Those of you who have followed this column faithfully will be able to witness the devastation, and you will learn how to avoid the horrors of this disease. My mother only lived 12 years after her diagnosis. Here is the continuation of her story.
Last week, I shared how mother lost both of her legs, had to have kidney dialysis for the last few years of her life; and she had at least seven strokes in 12 years. She was my age, 61 when she had her first major stroke, which resulted in paralysis. She ended up in Howard University Hospital, and it was during that particular hospital stay that her diabetes was discovered.
Last week, I discussed how we learned to enjoy 'soul food' and I shared its origins. This week, I'm continuing that research.
There is a bright side to this story, think about it: slaves worked from the time that the sun rose until the sun went down. They burned all of the calories they consumed plus more!
They received strenuous daily exercise, which kept them healthy! It really didn't matter what they ate, because their diets, by today's standards would have put weight on them too, but regardless as to what they consumed, they didn't gain a pound. They burned fat off every day as they worked in the fields. It was a vicious cycle. They ate, and then worked off the sweets and carbohydrates. The following day, they did the same thing, with a break only on Sundays.
Slaves didn't die from diseases such as diabetes or cancer, and don't think their bowels didn't move regularly as well; thus eliminating colon cancer. They eliminated toxins from their bodies through sweat and perspiration. Although they were tired from the strenuous work, the upside was, they had healthy bodies. All of the diseases we're plagued with today like diabetes came along later due to the many lifestyle changes associated with sedentary jobs.
Here's the lesson: we can become whatever we want to become; we can achieve whatever we set our sights on achieving; and we can have whatever we want if we work hard and maintain our focus.
We know this is true when we look around and see role models like President Barack Obama and his family living in the White House. He was re-elected by a country with this horrible history; we see Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Bill Cosby, and others; the list goes on and on. Today, blacks live in fabulous homes; our children can now go to college.
The problem is, far too many African Americans continue to enjoy those delicious foods handed down to us by our ancestors – our diets haven't changed very much. However, we've forgotten one very important fact, our ancestors worked 12-16 hour days, performing physical labor. They received the necessary exercise daily, therefore, they didn't get sick with diabetes, and all of the fat was burned off in blood, sweat and tears.
Today, in order for us to stay fit and healthy, we must exercise at least 30 minutes a day, one hour is preferable, but no less than 30 minutes. That's not a lot, compared to the amount of time our forefathers worked, but according to studies conducted by the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, the little time we manage to put in, while exercising for 30 minutes, three to four days a week can prevent the occurrence of diabetes.