Among the African American community diabetes is a very common illness. According to, diabetes is a chronic disease in which blood glucose (sugar) levels are too high. Cells in the body break down glucose in order to provide energy for movement, growth, and repair. The hormone insulin is responsible for regulating glucose levels in the blood. Abnormally high levels of glucose can damage the small and large blood vessels, leading to diabetic blindness, kidney disease, amputations of limbs, stroke, and heart disease. Currently, diabetes is the third leading cause of death in most parts of the developed world.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, results when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys its own insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. People with Type 1 diabetes must have insulin delivered by injection or a pump. Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes consist of increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue usually develop over a short period of time. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. If Type 1 diabetes is not diagnosed and treated, a person can lapse into a life-threatening coma.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, occurs when the body does not make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it makes effectively. This form of diabetes usually develops in adults over the age of 40 but is becoming more prevalent in younger age groups including children and adolescents. The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes including feeling tired or ill, unusual thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections, and slow-healing wounds. These symptoms may develop gradually and may not be as noticeable as the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. Some people have no symptoms at all. Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

Diabetes can lead to serious complications and premature death, but people with diabetes can take steps to control the disease and lower the risk of complications. First, ensure that you are following instructions of your primary care physician. From a nutritional standpoint, avoiding white flour is a step that can be taken to maintain a good blood sugar level. Things like white bread, white rice, and white pasta are not healthy for someone with diabetes because white flour turns into sugar. Switching to wheat products and brown rice are healthier alternatives for someone with diabetes. Pork is another food that can cause diabetes when too much is consumed. Those who eat bacon at least twice a week have a 17% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who eat  it less than once a week. Diets rich in minerals can also help to provide nutrients useful in controlling diabetes. Several of the minerals can be obtained from evening primrose oil, an extract from the medically useful herb, the evening primrose. Other mineral-rich plant foods are the bitter melon fruit and fenugreek seed. Another thing to consider is eating some raw almonds upon waking in the morning.  This will help the liver from craving sugar first thing in the morning.  Finally, consider a lifestyle change of diet consisting less meat, more raw fruits and vegetables, and plenty of clean-filter water daily.  These changes, along with your primary care physician recommendations, will assist in the body in using its own natural insulin.  So in the African American community, our historical eating habits must change in order to be healthy.