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 Four of "Fanning the Flames of the Diabetes Epidemic." Those of you who have followed this column faithfully will be able to understand more clearly 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.
Each week, I've shared how my 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 for those who might have missed my previous columns. She was my age, only 61 when she had her first major stroke, which resulted in paralysis; according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), heart disease is the leading cause of death as it pertains to individuals with diabetes, they either expire from heart disease or strokes. My mother ended up in Howard University Hospital, and it was during that particular hospital stay that her diabetes was discovered. Now for the NIH research:
It's a simple problem, old-fashioned soul food diets; far too much fare from fast food restaurants, and a lack of strenuous exercise. How many times have you gorged yourselves after an exhaustive day at work, and then, fallen asleep? We're not treating our bodies like the temples that God has given us!
For adults this lifestyle will no longer work if we want to maintain our health. That type of behavior is reserved exclusively for babies and children. Our weight increases with each meal that's loaded with high sugar content and a variety of unhealthy fats. As a result, we end up buying larger sizes; we don't look well and we certainly don't feel good. How many wardrobe sizes do we have? We continue to purchase clothing to accommodate our bodies as they balloon. And worst of all, our blood sugar goes out of control, our hearts can't withstand the strain, and neither can the rest of our organs.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, some of us have contracted diabetes and we're not overweight, but according to research, it's genetic, and lack of exercise is still problematic.
Look at the stats provided by NIH, 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 cites 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. In 1976-80, total diabetes prevalence in African Americans ages 40 to 74 was only 8.9 percent; in 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.
We can change this trend by improving our diets and through regularly scheduled exercise. (Conclusion Next Week).