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Why Type 2 Diabetes Is More Prevalent Among African Americans

Despite the many laudable achievements of African Americans in the United States, and the part we played, and continue to play, in shaping this culture, there remain stark disparities in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes between us and other ethnic groups. This article looks at possible reasons why African Americans continue to suffer and die disproportionately from this preventable illness.

Wikimedia Commons

The good news according to Medical News Today is that diabetes has decreased in this decade, but African American adults still make up the largest group of newly diagnosed cases. The US Department of Health and Human Services gives the following statistics:

  • In 2018, non-Hispanic blacks were twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes.
  • African American adults are 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.
  • In 2017, non-Hispanic blacks were 3.2 times more likely to be diagnosed with end stage renal disease as compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • In 2017, non-Hispanic blacks were 2.3 times more likely to be hospitalized for lower limb amputations as compared to non-Hispanic whites.

These grim figures lead us to ask why such great disparities exist between non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites. While high blood pressure, obesity, and genetics are common diabetes risk factors among African Americans, these are considered modifiable — they can be controlled by making simple lifestyle changes — other factors, such as socioeconomic and systemic barriers often stand in the way.

Medical News Today lists some of these socioeconomic and systemic barriers:

Regular health checkups – The wealth gap between black households and white is a staggering $125.000, with $24,100 for black households and $189,100 for white. Health care costs can be prohibitive and African Americans, with their poor earning power, are more likely to not have health insurance and if they do have, it may be inadequate for their needs. Residential segregation may also prevent African Americans’ access to quality healthcare. Their neighborhoods may be poorly equipped with health centers and/or properly trained health professionals.

Stress – Experiencing a high level of stress is a major contributor to the development of diabetes. Many African American people have a higher level of cortisol — the stress hormone — and this can affect their blood sugar. Cortisol can lead to increased energy which gives rise to increased appetite, and cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods, all of which can lead to weight gain — another risk factor for diabetes.

Food – Because of their lower economic status, most African Americans are unable to afford healthy food and therefore tend to rely on fast food and junk food which are loaded with calories that lead to weight gain. This contributes to poor cardiovascular health.

Exercise – Living in poorer, unsafe neighborhoods may make it difficult for some African Americans to get out and exercise. Also, they may live in areas where they don’t have close access to supermarkets and groceries. When a mass shooting took place in a supermarket in Buffalo last year, it was revealed that that supermarket was the only one for several miles around.

As we celebrate Black History Month, let us focus on the present status of African Americans in the United States and why type 2 diabetes remains not just a part of our history but part of our present reality. More education is needed to help reduce the prevalence of diabetes — a controllable disease — among African Americans and give them a better quality of life.

If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, it doesn’t matter whether you are African American or not, I invite you to sign up for this blog so you can get more educational posts and other resources to help you cope with this illness.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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3 Ways To Supercharge Your Goals This Year

This is the time of year when most of us start thinking about our goals for the new year. In doing so, we may look back on last year and berate ourselves because things didn’t quite work out the way we’d hoped. Well, never mind, it’s not too late to work on your health goals. January has just begun and with some thought, you can set about making goals that will help you succeed this year.

In order to set goals that will give you the results you want, you must:

  1. Be clear about what you want. No one knows your body like you do, and no one knows your needs like you do. So, what do you want? Do you simply want to lose weight in order to look better? Or do you want to lose weight because it will help you lower your A1C? If yes to the latter, what would you want that A1C to be? Write your goals down in a clear and concise manner and you will be on the first step to success.
  2. Use the SMART system to define your health goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC, and TIME BOUND. Here is an example: I will lose ten pounds in ten weeks. Specific – the amount of weight you want to lose. Measurable – you can measure your weight loss. Achievable – this is a reasonable amount of weight to lose according to health experts. Realistic – experts say you should aim at losing 1 to 2 pounds a week, and Time bound is necessary to help you achieve this goal in a timely manner.
  3. Hold yourself accountable. When you work for someone, he/she holds you accountable. In order to stick to your goals, it might be a good idea to have someone hold you accountable. Tell them what your goals are, why you are working toward them and how you would like that person to help you. This support will help keep you in line when you are tempted to give up or when you fall off the wagon.

A new year is a time to begin anew — reflect on the past, take a critical look at what worked and what didn’t and get started on those goals. By following the steps above, you can supercharge your goals and supercharge your health this year.

However, if you need that extra nudge, why not join me for a simple five-day challenge to supercharge your goals? Just click on this link.

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Bringing You Thanksgiving Greetings From Afar

For the first time since I migrated to the United States, I’m spending Thanksgiving away from home. I’m in Trinidad where Thanksgiving is not celebrated and the atmosphere is completely different. It feels weird, but I know it’s only temporary and I can still be thankful for this day regardless of where I am.

You too may be in a different place this Thanksgiving, either physically, mentally, or emotionally, and the feeling may be weird or even painful. But take heart, it will pass. Think of things you can be thankful for — friends, family, even life itself. So, whether you’re celebrating over turkey and all the trimmings, or you are in a distant place this year, give God thanks.

I’m bringing you some of my previous posts that I hope will bring some smiles, encouragement or whatever it is you need this Thanksgiving holiday.

Tell Others What You are Thankful For

Changing With the Times

Diabetic Meal Plan For the Holidays

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Carcinogen Found In Popular Diabetes Drug

A report published in Bloomberg US states that Januvia, a popular diabetes drug, was found to contain nitrosamine, a potential carcinogen. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was allowing Merck to continue to sell the drug which contains higher-than-allowed levels of nitrosamine “in order to avoid shortages.”

Nitrosamine in Januvia and blood pressure meds

Merck, the drug manufacturer, has also confirmed the presence of nitrosamine in Januvia, which is used to control high blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. The drug has been found to be contaminated with nitrosamine since 2018. Metformin, another popular diabetes medication, was among those affected, along with certain blood pressure medications.

Little cancer risk according to the FDA

The FDA allows 37 nanograms per day of nitrosamine in a drug, however, it is allowing up to 246.7 nanograms in Januvia in order to avoid shortages. According to Bloomberg, the agency states “its calculations show the difference in cancer risk is minimal.” 

As always, I advise that you should address any concerns you may have after reading this with your doctor. If you suffer from type 2 diabetes or any illness for which medications are prescribed, it is important for you to take them. Do not stop any meds before consulting with your doctor.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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How To Know If Your Sunscreen Is Safe

Summer is here and for most of you the outdoors holds a lot of attractions —beaches, parks, pools etc., — but if you are health-conscious you do the smart thing and reach for your sunscreen before going out. After all, you want to protect your skin from sun damage and skin cancer. But before you lather that stuff on your face, you should check to see if your sunscreen is safe.

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

Sun damage and skin cancer are not the usual content of this blog, but this morning I received an email saying that certain brands of sunscreen have been recalled. Maybe you already got the news but if you haven’t here’s the gist of what caused the recall.

Why my sunscreen may have been recalled

According to CNN Health, popular sunscreen brands Neutrogena and Aveeno recently pulled their products off the shelves after independent testing found that they were contaminated with benzene and benzophenone, two cancer-causing agents. Since they are cancer-causing, they are definitely unsafe, yet according to Consumer Lab, they don’t appear on labels. So it’s not certain how they get there, but Consumer Lab believes they may be introduced during the manufacture of the product or through chemical reactions with the product itself.

What is benzene?

CNN Health gives this description of benzene from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Benzene is a natural component of crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke and ranks in the top 20 chemicals used for production of “lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides,” as well as “plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers.”

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) states, “If you spill benzene on your skin, it may cause redness and sores. Benzene in your eyes may cause general irritation and damage to your cornea.” Benzene, which is linked to blood cancers was not only discovered in sunscreens, but independent testing found it in sprays, gels, lotions, and creams. You can be exposed to benzene through inhalation, skin absorption, ingestion and skin and/or eye contact.

What is benzophenone?

It will amaze you to know that benzophenone is banned in the United States, yet it is found in some sunscreens. According to Consumer Lab, benzophenone is a carcinogen and may be formed by the degradation of octocrylene, a common sunscreen ingredient. In addition, benzophenone was originally patented as a herbicide. Some people may have a photoallergic reaction to sunscreens containing octocrylene.

Which sunscreens were recalled?

CNN Health lists the following:

  • Neutrogena® Beach Defense® aerosol
  • Neutrogena® Cool Dry Sport aerosol
  • Neutrogena® Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol
  • Neutrogena® Ultra Sheer® aerosol
  • Aveeno® Protect + Refresh aerosol

CVS also stopped selling CVS Health After Sun Aloe Vera and CVS Health After Sun Aloe Vera Spray a day after the Johnson & Johnson recall was announced. If you have questions or to request a refund you can call 1-800-458-1673.

How safe is my sunscreen?

Because of the information above, you may be wondering whether you should stop using sunscreen altogether. Fortunately, the FDA has recognized two mineral compounds as being safe when used in sunscreens — they are titanium oxide and zinc oxide. They work by blocking ultraviolet radiation, while the chemical compounds named above absorb radiation. Consumer Lab warns that you should avoid sunscreens that mix mineral-based agents (titanium oxide or zinc oxide) with organic chemical ingredients, particularly avobenzone.

How can I protect myself?

Do not stop using sunscreen. Check your sunscreen label (I checked mine and it contains 10% octocrylene, so I’m throwing it out) and if it contains the carcinogens named above, then you know what to do. Also, exercise common sense by avoiding being in the sun during the hours when the sun’s rays are the most intense, i.e. between 10.00 a.m. and 4.00p.m. Wear a hat, sunglasses, shirt, and pants if you must be outdoors during those times. And apply safe sunscreen.

As always, the information given in this post is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Use due diligence or consult your medical practitioner before adopting any of the measures stated here.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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5 Ways To Overcome The Challenges That Come With Diabetes

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can throw you for a loop. You may ask yourself, why me? Why of all the adverse events I could be faced with I had to get — diabetes. The illness that comes with a stigma attached to it —you don’t take care of yourself —damages your organs, and leaves you feeling tired all the time. As horrendous as this illness may be, you can overcome the challenges that come with having diabetes.

  1. Surround yourself with supportive people. Some people prefer to hide their illness from others. You don’t have to broadcast it, but now is not the time to hide the fact that you’ve just been diagnosed with an illness and you need help coming to grips with it. Your family may be supportive, but they won’t know you need help unless you ask. Don’t be afraid to confide in them if you’re feeling fearful and need assistance in certain areas, like sticking to your new diet, for example.

Image by Dim Hou from Pixabay

2. Follow your doctor’s advice. Take your medications as prescribed. Stay up to date with your appointments. If your doctor refers you to other healthcare professionals —endocrinologist, podiatrist, dietitian, etc.— make sure and follow through with those referrals.

3. Start investing in yourself. A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can be a wake-up call to alert you to changes you need to make. The good thing about diabetes is that it can be managed. Now is the time to join that exercise class you kept putting off, or a cooking class where you can learn to make healthy, tasty dishes or develop a new hobby.

Image by Andrzej Rembowski from Pixabay

4. Keep a journal. Writing in your journal at least once a day can help you feel better. Your journal is a private document, meant for your eyes only unless you decide to share it with someone, therefore you can pour out your emotions freely on the pages of your journal. This practice is recommended by therapists because it does have therapeutic benefits.

5. Educate yourself. The more you learn about your illness the more you will feel in control and the more equipped you will be to deal with it. Nowadays, there is so much information at your fingertips. The internet, library, blogs, and groups can provide you with all the information you need about type 2 diabetes and how to manage it.

Life is full of challenges. Some are small, others, like diabetes, are large and intimidating, but don’t let it get you down. Bear in mind that type 2 diabetes can be controlled with the right medication, and by making some healthy lifestyle changes. One thing you can do that will help you find support and interact with other diabetics is by joining my group Type 2 Diabetics Network.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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5 Best Prime Day Appliance Deals

In case you didn’t know, Amazon is having its annual Prime Day shopping event tomorrow July 12th and it goes on to the following day, July 13th. You can get almost everything on Amazon at hugely discounted prices. I have scoured the Amazon site to find five of the best deals on appliances I currently own or have used before and which I highly recommend. Take your pick from the selection below:

CHEFMAN Air Fryer Toaster Oven XL 20L

This countertop convection oven comes with 9 cooking functions: it combines the air fry function of cooking with little or no oil with baking, broiling, convection baking and convection broiling. This spacious oven can fit 4 slices of toast, a 10-inch pizza, or a whole chicken. Best of all, this convection oven doesn’t heat up your kitchen the way your normal oven would. Right now it’s 29% off.

Cuisinart DCC-3200P1 PerfecTemp 14-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker with Glass Carafe

If you are one of those people who enjoy drinking coffee throughout the day, or you simply love a well-brewed cup of coffee, then this coffeemaker is sure to please. It comes in stainless steel with a 14-cup glass carafe that allows you to view the water window for accurate filling. You can also select the strength of your coffee— bold or regular — according to your taste. The price is now discounted at a whopping 59%.

DASH Deluxe Electric Air Fryer + Oven Cooker

Some time ago, I purchased this air-fryer and I use it practically everyday. I can now enjoy fried food without the guilt. My food looks good and tastes good. Also, the shut-off feature means you can set it and forget it. The one shown here has a 6-quart basket, perfect for large families or for entertaining. I have found no fault with my fryer and besides, it looks good on my kitchen counter. It doesn’t have a huge discount yet, but at the low price shown, you can’t go wrong.

NutriBullet ZNBF30400Z Blender 

Which kitchen does not have a blender? Years ago, I owned one of these, and when it broke, I swore I would get another one, but I never got around to it. I think now is the time. This NutriBullet seems to have some enhanced features my old one didn’t have, like the three precision speeds, pulse function powered by 1200 W to give you full control when making your smoothies, sauces, soups, and other things. It also comes with a one-year limited warranty and a decent 25% discount.

Mueller Ultra Kettle

Another of my favorite small kitchen appliances is this electric glass kettle. There are so many things to love about this kettle: the way the blue lights come on when you turn it on, the fast boiling time and the auto shut-off feature which ensures that your kettle will never boil dry. The kettle has a heat-resistant anti-slip grip handle so it won’t slip from your hand as you lift it off the base. Another feature that I love is that you can remove the kettle off the base and take it to the table without having a cord getting in your way as you pour. Right now Amazon is giving a nice 40% discount.

I hope you take advantage of these great Amazon Prime deals so you can beat the high cost that inflation is putting on all of us. If you are not a Prime member, you can get a free trial so you don’t miss out on this event. These ads are all affiliate links, meaning if you click on them and make a purchase, I receive a commission but it doesn’t cost you anything more.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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Happy Fourth of July And What It Means To You

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

The festivities are on. Flags wave in the hot, summer breeze, barbecues tantalize our nostrils, cold drinks quench our thirst, and as night falls the fireworks begin. This sounds a lot like the typical fourth of July holiday, doesn’t it? If you’re traveling, well, you are having an entirely different experience. But for many of us who are not taking to the skies, this is what our fourth of July may look like.

Two hundred and forty-six years ago, the United States gained its independence from Great Britain when 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favor of it. Since then, the holiday is celebrated with parades, picnics, family gatherings, and, of course, fireworks. Many people will take the day off from work to join in the festivities. But for others, the fourth of July is a day like any other.

If you have a chronic illness that keeps you from enjoying certain foods, or taking part in social gatherings, it’s even harder to celebrate. But is independence only about the food, the revelry, the fireworks? The past three years have tested us as a nation in a way we’ve never been tested before. The pandemic, civil unrest, climate change, and an increasingly uncertain economy may have dampened the enthusiasm many of us feel toward our country.  How do we feel independent when everything we hold dear is collapsing around us?

I picked up this little quote from an email someone sent me this morning. It is By John Adams who served as the second US president from 1797 to 1801:

 I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will triumph in that days’ transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.” ~ John Adams, Massachusetts

If John Adams were alive today, would he say we did “rue” it? Are we taking our freedom for granted or are we counting on others to ensure our freedom? As I grow older I view freedom and independence as internal constructs — the way I see myself and the world around me; the choices I make; the way I treat myself and others, and my relationship with God. No government, group, friend or relative can guarantee my independence or my freedom. I am as free as I think I am.

So, let me encourage you with this: if you are suffering with type 2 diabetes or any chronic illness, don’t give up hope. Be independent in your thinking. Schedule time everyday to

  1. communicate with God.
  2. engage in activities that make you feel alive
  3. talk to people who affirm you and make your heart sing
  4. create a lifestyle that will give you something to wake up to every morning

Happy Fourth of July! Stay safe!

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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Study Finds Intermittent Fasting May Benefit Diabetes Patients

Some time ago, I posted this article on intermittent fasting. In the article, I stated that intermittent fasting has become popular as a weight loss practice as it allows you to reduce calories without limiting what you can eat. As a result, intermittent fasting can help you manage your diabetes.

At a presentation of the American Society of Nutrition, Kelsey Gabel, PhD, RD stated that intermittent fasting might benefit both type 1 and 2 diabetics. It was also stated that people who are obese or who are at the prediabetes stage may benefit. However, Gabel advised that although intermittent fasting may be considered safe for individuals with diabetes, evidence is “still extremely limited” and patients “should closely monitor their blood glucose.”

Types of intermittent fasting

  1. Alternate day fasting – people alternate fast and feast days. On fast days they limit their intake to 500 calories and on feast days they can eat as much as they like.
  2. The 5: 2 diet – people fast 2 days a week.
  3. Time-restricted eating – the most popular form of intermittent fasting. People choose a window for eating, usually between noon and 8 p.m. This is preferred as it allows you to enjoy dinner and other social occasions with family and friends.

Read more about the various forms of intermittent fasting here

A few things to bear in mind

  1. Intermittent fasting is not recommended for children younger than 12 years of age and adults over 70. Also, if you have a history of eating disorder or you are of normal weight, then you should not try intermittent fasting.
  2. The first 3 months is the period with the most weight loss. Monitor supplements closely – Vit. D, B 12, electrolytes and medications for blood pressure, lipids and glucose. As weight loss progresses, medications may need to be adjusted.
  3. Create an eating window that is more convenient. Drink more water during the first two weeks.
  4. If you have to take medications with meals, you should not do intermittent fasting.

As always, before following this or any healthcare advice, please consult your physician. He/she will be able to tell you if intermittent fasting is right for you, or he may be able to point you to the best way of undertaking this type of diet. For more posts like this, please sign up for the newsletter below. You can also follow me on the social media below.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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3 Things You Should Know About Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness that affects adults as well as children. Type 2 diabetes is more common among older adults, however, children who are obese can develop type 2 diabetes.

Image of a man and woman walking with a dog.
Man and woman walking a dog

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes and about 90 percent of that number have type 2 diabetes.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes develops when your pancreas — the organ in your body that produces insulin — either does not make enough insulin, or your body does not make proper use of it. Insulin is a hormone that allows blood sugar from the food you eat to get into the cells and provide energy. If this blood sugar is not getting into the cells, your pancreas makes more insulin and your blood sugar rises, leading to prediabetes. If you don’t make changes to your eating and lifestyle habits, full-blown diabetes will develop.

Diabetes symptoms

Type 2 diabetes symptoms may take a long time to develop and many people may be unaware that they have type 2 diabetes. Once symptoms begin to develop you will find yourself becoming tired more easily. Other symptoms may be:

  • increased thirst
  • increased hunger
  • the need to urinate more enough
  • scratches or sores take a longer time to heal
  • blurred vision
  • dry, itchy skin, and other symptoms

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes —mother, father, brother, sister— you are more likely to get it. Other risk factors are:

  • Age—older people (over 45) are more likely to get the disease, but younger people can also have it.
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity — active less than 3 days a week
  • Prediabetes
  • African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, Pacific Islander, or Alaska Native

Related links:

The more you learn about your illness the better you will be equipped to manage it. The short quiz will help you test your knowledge of type 2 diabetes and put you on a better footing to deal with it. Please answer the questions below. If you like, you can drop me a line and let me know how you did.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t yet done so.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.