“Sugar”: Sweet Name, Serious Disease

June 13, 2011  |  

Every time I think about the movie “Soul Food”, I think about the grandmother. The matriarch of the Joseph family who raised her daughters, inspired her grandson and threw down when it was time for Sunday dinners. It’s a heart warming image that represents so many families across the world.

But just when I start to slip into a nostalgia filled moment, I think about her on that hospital bed, hearing the news that they wanted to amputate her leg, her struggling to speak to her grandson during her last moments and her eventual death.

That was diabetes. That’s what it looks like and there are mindsets and behaviors that lead to it.

In the case of the Joseph family it was those Sunday meals. As delicious as they were, were they worth losing the Joseph matriarch?

Diabetes is real for African Americans, especially us women. According to WomensHealth.gov, 1 in 4 non-Hispanic black women, over the age of 55 have diabetes. So it’s more than likely you know a woman suffering from this disease. Maybe that’s why people related to the movie so much, we saw our own families and friends in that character.

The disease so many in our community refer to as “sugar” is really the body’s inability to produce insulin which balances the amount of glucose (sugar) in your system. The side affects can be alarming, including amputation, kidney failure, diabetic comas and even death.

But, there is good news. The disease is completely preventable, even if you’re genetically predisposed to it. A trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, found that people who had high glucose levels were able to delay or completely prevent diabetes.

The secret to their success isn’t anything you don’t already know. The participants lost 5-7 percent of their body fat, engaged in 30 minutes of physical activity and made healthier food choices and limited calorie intake.

It really is pretty simple and yet so many us aren’t willing to make these changes. Consistently indulging in rich, fatty foods and avoiding any type of exercise to preserve our hair are behaviors and mindsets that are literally shortening our lives.

To raise additional awareness about this disease among black women, we’ll be featuring posts on ways to prevent diabetes and maintain your health once you’ve been diagnosed.

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