Last year recording artist 2Mex nearly died from diabetes. Although he lost a leg below the knee to the disease, 2Mex is determined to get back to what he loves—making music and hosting the 2Mex Hologram radio show. He also wants to spread the word about the dangers of diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious health risk to our communities. More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and 1 in 4 doesn’t know they have it. Hispanic adults are nearly twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults.
With greater awareness and education, especially among high-risk groups, people have a better chance of taking steps to decrease their risk of diabetes, and managing it.
Mona Garcia, RN, is a diabetes educator with Providence Health & Services. Recently she sat down with 2Mex to talk about his disease. Because education and talking about diabetes is so important, we were honored to have them speak with us. Here’s what they had to say:
After the conversation, Mona offered some key educational points.
Diabetes in the Latino population
Mona Garcia, RN, Diabetes Educator
Diabetes and prediabetes diagnoses are increasing at a rapid rate. If you are Latino, you are 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.
Complications from diabetes, like the ones experienced by 2Mex, happen because of high blood glucose (sugar) levels. The good news is that once diabetes or prediabetes is diagnosed, it can be managed with lifestyle changes. Your blood sugar can be controlled if you are in the driver’s seat.
Here are some signs and symptoms of high blood sugar:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Very hungry
- Blurry vision
- Slow healing wounds
Eating is a big part of Latino culture
The Latino population is at greater risk for diabetes due to lifestyle and genetics. In Latino culture, food is love. When you visit Grandma, the first thing she wants to do is feed you. If you say no her feelings are hurt. If you are sick, you drink 7-UP all day.
Unfortunately, Latinos are more likely to be overweight, which is a risk factor for diabetes. Yet, all parties and gatherings are centered around food and the Latino diet is very high in carbohydrates. Some examples of common foods high in carbohydrates include: tortillas, pan dulce, rice, beans and sodas.
Maybe the last thing you want to do is exercise after enjoying all the delicious food surrounded by family. But a sedentary lifestyle is another risk factor for diabetes.
Take control of your lifestyle
You can’t control your genetics but you can control your lifestyle.
You can make a commitment to change to control your diabetes or prevent it. If you are ready to make changes start with these small steps:
- If you drink a soda with every meal, cut down to one or two a day.
- If you eat six tortillas per meal, have three instead.
- If you have dessert after each meal, cut down to one dessert per day.
- If you cringe at the sound of exercise, start by walking ten minutes three times a week.
- Consider parking farther away, or take the stairs when you can.
- Keep tennis shoes in your car so when you have down time you can walk instead of sitting and waiting.
- If you don’t want to miss your novella, lift some hand weights while you watch, or do some squats.
A “diabetes diet” is really a normal, healthy diet everyone should follow. There is no nutritional benefit in drinking soda or eating a large amount of carbohydrates. Success will be much easier if the whole family gets involved.
Diabetes diagnosis doesn’t spell doom
If you are diagnosed with diabetes it does not mean you are doomed. There is a stigma associated with diabetes, but you can control how you manage it. Many people live long, healthy lives with diabetes. Focus on your commitment to control it by moving more, eating less and seeing your doctor regularly.
Most Latinos do not see a physician for preventative care – we only go if something is wrong. Let’s change that. Providence offers diabetes self-management classes, and individual one-on-one appointments. Support groups are offered in English and Spanish. Primary doctors are available for preventative care and diabetes care. You can do this!
To see more of the conversation, watch the videos below.
“Do any other members of your family have diabetes?”
“What are some of the barriers you faced managing your diabetes?”
“Did you experience any shame or guilt after being diagnosed with diabetes?”
“Food is love”
“How have you reached out to the community?”
“Traveling and touring with diabetes”
Other helpful articles related to diabetes prevention and management:
A Not-So-Sweet Number: Nearly 10 Percent-of Americans Have Diabetes »
What Parents Should Know About Type 1 Diabetes »
Diabetes Body Care from Head to Toe »
6 Ways to Live Well with Diabetes »
Fiber Can Help Fight Type 2 Diabetes »
Providence St. Joseph would like to thank 2Mex for being a paid partner with us on this important topic.
Providence is pleased to share the stories of great people who have overcome health conditions. As part of our population health program, we want to share insights and stories that help bring awareness to common health conditions. Not all the people featured in our stories are Providence patients.