November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. This year’s focus is on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In our Caribbean communities, it seems as though diabetes is rampant throughout our people. In every village, there is either someone in our immediate families or friends we know of who have the disease. That is why we believe joining the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH) in spreading awareness will do our community some good.
We would like to note that there are two different types of the disease. Type 1, you are born with. Type 2, you are the cause of (based on how you treat yourself). About 1:5 people who have diabetes are unaware that they even have the disease at all. It very important to catch diabetes early. Overtime, high blood glucose damages the blood vessels, which can damage the organs that these vessels supply. As one would assume, this can lead to a variety of health complications. That is why you don’t normally hear of people dying directly from diabetes, you hear they died from a failure of “x, y, z”. But, as you now see, that started because of their diabetes.
Not to sound like every Doctor you’ve ever visited but, being overweight and living a lifestyle with a lack of exercise is no good for you. Those two specific risk facts are the leading causes of type 2 diabetes. Like many things, family history of the disease makes you more susceptible to contracting it where other may not be. It is helpful, if the resources are present for you, to figure out what health issues many people in your specific blood line have consistently had, just so you are aware. Even if the resources aren’t available (you are not a part of a close family to be able to get the information, nobody really paid attention, etc.), you can take blood tests to get a panel screening of your entire DNA make up.
Just as murphy’s law states, “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”, if it is in your cards to attract this disease, you will. Life continues (on a healthier route), because now we are learning how to live with diabetes. Naturally, when people are faced with a problem that they are not sure how to solve yet, the solution seems so out of reach. In this scenario, that is not the case. Living a life with diabetes but outside of regular hospital trips is possible. You can live with this disease and never feel the negative side effects of it if you want. That “if you want” is an ode to moderation and being dedicated to seeing your health thrive. That’s eating a more balanced diet, only having your favorite treats once in a blue moon and trying out a new activity you make like to get your body moving. The best thing is that, as Caribbean people, many of us have already grown up reaching to the earth for our nutrients. We just have to relearn those habits.