Damon Dash, entertainment lifestyle mogul and Type I diabetic, sat down with Mona Garcia, RN, with the Providence St. Joseph Health team to talk about the recently launched Dash Diabetes Network. Through this platform, a community of musicians, artists, filmmakers, holistic doctors, and everyday people will educate viewers and share their diabetic experiences and stories. The primary goal of the Dash Diabetes Network is to bring awareness to the face that diabetes is a lifestyle. The network will showcase everything it takes to keep diabetes under control and stay up-to-date with medical innovations, fitness, wellness tips, and recipes.
Mona Garcia, RN, is a diabetes educator with Providence Health & Services. She recently sat down with Dame Dash to talk about his disease, the Dash Diabetes Network, and how he manages his diabetes to live a normal, healthy life. Here’s what they had to say:
Dame and Mona also talked about what methods Dame has used over the years.
Lastly, Dame and Mona talked in depth about the Dash Diabetes Network and the type of education that it provides to diabetics.
After the conversation, Mona offered some key educational points.
Diabetes in the African-American population
Diabetes and prediabetes diagnoses are increasing at a rapid rate. African Americans have a 77% greater chance of being diagnosed with Diabetes than a non-Hispanic, white American.
4.9 million African-American adults, or 18.7% of all African Americans ≥ 20 years of age, have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, compared to 7.1% of non-Hispanic white Americans.
Complications from Diabetes 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 managed if you are in the driver’s seat.
African Americans are two times more likely to develop Diabetes complications compared to non-Hispanic white Americans.
Here are some signs and symptoms of high blood sugar:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Very hungry
- Blurry vision
- Slow healing wounds
Take control of your lifestyle
You can’t control your genetics but you can control your lifestyle.
You can make a commitment to change and manage your diabetes or prevent it. If you are ready to make changes start with these small steps:
- If you drink a soda or juice with every meal, cut down to one a day.
- If you eat large portions of rice or pasta, eat half.
- 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 favorite TV show lift some hand weights while you watch, or do some squats.
The African-American population is at greater risk for diabetes due to lifestyle and genetics. In African-American culture, food is the focus of many gatherings. Many foods that are served at gatherings are fried food, juices, sodas, alcohol, rice, pasta and bread. Unfortunately, African-Americans are more likely to be overweight, which is a risk factor for diabetes.
A “diabetes diet” is really a normal, healthy diet everyone should follow. There is no nutritional benefit in drinking soda, juice or eating a large amount of carbohydrates. Success will be much easier if the whole family gets involved.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes it does not mean you are doomed. There is a stigma associated with diabetes, but you can manage it. Many people live long, healthy lives with diabetes. Focus on your commitment to manage it by moving more, eating less and seeing your doctor regularly.
Most African-Americans do not see a physician for preventative care for various reasons. Let’s change that. Providence offers diabetes self-management classes, individual one-on-one appointments and support groups. Primary doctors are available for preventative care and diabetes care. You can do this!
Other helpful articles related to diabetes prevention and management:
Top 5 Sugar Shockers »
A Not-So-Sweet Number: Nearly 10 Percent of Americans Have Diabetes »
Diabetes Body Care from Head to Toe »
6 Ways to Live Well with Diabetes »
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.