The American Diabetes Association reports that 23.6 million children and adults have diabetes, including 9.7 million women.
Moreover, 2.4 percent of Asian-American and Pacific Islander women have type 2 diabetes and is the fifth leading cause of death of AAPI women between the ages of 45-65, according to www.WomanCanDo.org, a national campaign to educate women about medical research.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to properly produce or use insulin. Insulin is a body hormone that is needed to change sugar and other starches into energy. There is no cure for diabetes, and there is not enough evidence to prove the leading factors of diabetes. However, genetics, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and lack of exercise play a role in developing diabetes.
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes and is a result of resistance to insulin and insulin deficiency. On the other hand, Type 1 diabetes is a result of the body’s failure to produce insulin. An estimated 5-10 percent of Americans have Type 1.
Asian-American and Pacific Islander women are two to four times more likely to develop diabetes than white women
Diabetes is a prevalent disease in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community. Asian-American and Pacific Islander women are two to four times more likely to develop diabetes than white women, according to the American Diabetes Association. What is even more alarming is the rate of Asian-American and Pacific Islander women developing diabetes who do no know that they are at risk.
The month of November marks American Diabetes Month and in honor of spreading awareness about this mysterious disease, I share my family history with diabetes.
My Uncle Ben is a self-proclaimed comedian – he cracked jokes about his weight and addiction to food; moreover, he has always had a way of turning serious, sobering moments into infectious laughter and nonsense. But his struggle with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease was no laughing matter.
Four years ago, Uncle Ben suffered from a heart attack. Soon after his heart attack, his doctor discovered that my Uncle Ben had three clogged arteries, and his only life-saving option was to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery. Bypass heart surgery is done to help smooth the flow of blood to and from the heart. Bypass heart surgery is not a simple procedure. Coronary arteries are the small blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients. Fat and bad cholesterol (LDL) increase, the arteries then become clogged and build plaque. In order to replace the clogged arteries, the saphenous vein in the leg is used in the bypass. Some risks after bypass heart surgery include memory loss, loss of mental clarity and chest pain. Moreover, if you are a woman, you have a higher risk of developing health conditions after the surgery.
It took months for Uncle Ben to recover, but he was fortunate to survive and have a second chance to live a healthier lifestyle. However, not everyone gets a second chance.
Four months ago, my aunt died of kidney failure and complications to diabetes. She lived in the Philippines and was not able to receive the same treatment that my uncle did. Moreover, she had a more severe case of Type 2 diabetes, which worsened when she did not practice healthy eating habits or exercised.
As an Asian-American woman and someone who has an extensive family history of diabetes, I have learned how to take better care of myself, eat healthy and exercise.
As an Asian-American woman and someone who has an extensive family history of diabetes, I have learned how to take better care of myself, eat healthy and exercise. When people hear about my family’s health complications, they wonder how I’m able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay in shape.
My answer is the same for anyone who has a family history of illness and disease. When you’ve witnessed what it is like to cope with the disease on a very personal level, taking precautions to your health and realizing the risks are not just imperative but automatic. I admit that sticking to a healthy diet and good eating habits isn’t easy. There are a lot of temptations out there, but the reality is that your health is not something you should risk compromising.
The conditions of pre-diabetes are indicating factors that you may be developing diabetes. Some of the symptoms include high glucose levels, hypertension and a high body mass index, and if you are either African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic-American.
If you are pre-diabetic, the good news is that you can prevent or delay it. The Diabetes Prevention Program, a study created by the American Diabetes Association, reveals that type 2 diabetes can be prevented with exercise and healthy dieting. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you get between 20-30 minutes of exercise daily.
However, cramming in time to work out during the weekdays can be impossible for some people with work and families.
Like many other people, I consider my lifestyle to be very busy with work, freelancing, interning and preparing for graduate school, leaving me little or no time to exercise. But I still find a way to make an effort by doing little things that would require me to be a little more active than usual. For instance, taking the bus and train to work every morning forces me to get up earlier, walk up several hills and sometimes run to the bus stop. Just walking to the bus stop can take up at least 10 minutes of my physical activity daily. If you don’t take public transportation, you can take the option of biking to work or school. This is a great form of exercise, while reducing your carbon footprints.
At work, temptations and cravings hit most as I become anxious and tired about completing work. It also doesn’t help that the kitchen is conveniently stacked with all kinds of snacks, like chips, chocolate, cookies and cakes. Moreover, once I return home from work, I immediately flop on my bed and eat whatever is near and in-sight. However, focusing on my health and eating a healthy diet without feeling deprived has helped me from caving. I still eat what I want, but I have learned how to use my judgment with portion control.
I am neither a health expert nor know what it is like to have diabetes, but I understand how debilitating it can become. Start this November to educate yourself about the ways to cope with diabetes if you have it, stop it if you are pre-diabetic, and know that you deserve to be healthier and live well.
Tiffany Ayuda is a freelance writer whose writing interests include, women’s health, Asian-American issues, eco-friendly living, family issues and New York culture. As a recent Hofstra University graduate with a degree in Print Journalism and minors in French and International Affairs, Tiffany would like to travel abroad and become an international news reporter in the future. 21 years young with so much to learn, her work has been published in The Chronicle, Pulse magazine, L.I. Pulse magazine, Nassau News, Collegenews.com, Elements magazine, gURL.com and The Hudson Reporter.
With the lack of Asian-American representation in the media, Tiffany was happy to have discovered ASIANCE Magazine. Tiffany is currently embracing her transition into the “real world,” a.k.a. finding full-time work and preparing for graduate studies in English Literature and Education.