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African-Americans are disproportionately affected by Type 2 diabetes. Research shows the risk for diabetes is 77% higher for blacks than whites.

Diabetes can lead to kidney failure and many other complications such as blindness, amputation, and kidney failure.

The numbers are scary and grim.

Studies show that black Americans are 5.6 times more likely to have kidney disease. Strokes kill 4 times more 35-54 year old black Americans. More than 45% of black women and nearly 42% of black men older than 20 years old suffer from high blood pressure.

One reason Type 2 diabetes disproportionately affects African Americans is our food choices.

Our diets tend to be higher in simple sugars like sweet tea and soda pop, and carbs such as rice and macaroni & cheese, but lower in foods that can help control blood sugar and weight like green leafy vegetables and fiber.

Another reason is that many African Americans are overweight and obese. The American Heart Association reports that 63% of men and 77% of women who are age 20 and older are overweight or obese. Being overweight and obese can lead to insulin resistance, and that means blood sugar levels eventually will increase.

But the good news is diabetes is preventable and reversible.

Sure, you can be genetically predisposed to have diabetes, but when you consistently feed your body an excessive amount of simple sugar and carbs, it leads to Type 2 diabetes. You can start reducing your risk of and reversing diabetes by getting rid of sugar in your diet.

Giving up sugar can be extremely challenging. It’s as addictive as cocaine, and it’s hidden in most processed foods. But women shouldn’t have more than 22 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar, and men shouldn’t have more than 35 grams or 9 teaspoons a day.

Begin your health quest by slowing reducing your sugar intake, getting more exercise, and making healthier food choices with a diet loaded with whole foods.

Here are 6 steps to take to reduce your diabetes risk—and even reverse it:

  1. Toss out table sugar – Clean your cabinets of sugar. Stop drinking sugary drinks. Use a natural substitute such as Stevia for coffee, tea and other drinks.
  2. Read food labels. If sugar is listed among the first 4 ingredients, avoid the food item. Sugar is hidden in condiments like ketchup, salad dressings and sauces.
  3. Know sugar’s names. Sugar has 56 common names, and some foods contain multiple sugars, including glucose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, agave, molasses, syrup, fruit juice concentrate. Sugar by any name is sugar.
  4. Make moves and set goals. Exercising at least 30 minutes 3 to 5 days a week can help you shed weight, improve heart health and feel better.
  5. Find fitness that fits your life. Yoga, walking, dancing, roller skating, are among choices you can make to move more.
  6. If you fall down, get up. If you’ve fallen off your fitness routine, just start again and keep going.

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