By James H. Reza
When I changed jobs some years ago, I had to select a new doctor under my new health insurance coverage. Upon reviewing my medical records, my new doctor asked me a puzzling question: Were either of my parents diabetic? My answer was an empathic “no!” Mom died in an auto accident at age 63, and Dad, who was 90 at the time, never had been diagnosed as diabetic. My doctor then scheduled me for a complete physical.
Soon after that, my doctor summoned me to his office to review the results. “James,” he said, “I am sorry to tell you this, but you have sugar diabetes.”
I was stunned.
“Hey, doc,” I proudly told him. “I heal real fast, and my vision isn’t blurred” — symptoms that diabetic friends tell me they experience with the silent yet deadly disease.
“Now, James,” the doctor went on. “There is no need to panic. Your type of diabetes isn’t in a chronic stage yet. But if left untreated, it will cause you serious problems in time. With proper diet, some weight loss and a regular exercise schedule, you can live a normal, healthy life.
The doctor explained that my pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, wasn’t producing enough of it. He told me that the fuel that gives our body energy to function is glucose and that insulin enables the glucose to enter the cells. Once inside the cells, glucose is changed into energy and either used or stored for the body to use later.
“Diabetes disrupts this process,” he continued. “When glucose is unable to enter the cells, it builds up in the bloodstream. This causes serious damage to all organs of the body, especially the eyes, kidneys and blood vessels.”
After the medical lecture, I decided to change my eating habits and get on an exercise program. It was either that or start taking insulin orally or by injection. I have seen the effects of uncontrolled diabetes, and I didn’t want any part of it.
My doctor then advised me to take a brisk 30-minute walk four times a week, gave me a list of foods I could and couldn’t eat and told me to see him in three months.
I was in for a rude awakening. While reviewing the list of foods, I learned that the supposedly low-cholesterol foods I had been eating because of a liver condition actually were doing me great harm due to their high sugar and fat content.
I then began to real all the nutritional labels on the food items I purchased. And instead of walking the four days my physician recommended, I walked seven.
In two months, I lost 26 pounds. Though I ate less and lost weight, I felt stronger, and clothes that once were tight on me now fit me perfectly.
After following my doctor’s advice to the letter, I was eager to see him again. A short while after my three-month’s doctor’s visit; I was informed that my sugar and fat levels in my blood were perfect. I was ecstatic.
At this point, I (and millions of other diabetics) need to thank the food and beverage industry. My rendezvous with this disease surely would have been more difficult were it nor for the food processing companies that make great-tasting foods and drinks with little to no fat or sugar.
We also need to thank the American Diabetes Association and the medical profession for educating, treating and still fighting this incurable yet controllable disease.
I close with a sad note: Hispanics, we lead the pack in being susceptible to this silent killer. According to the American Diabetes Association, we have a much higher chance of developing diabetes than do either blacks or whites.
Why? First of all, we need to educate ourselves about how we prepare our foods. Let face it: We consume too much fat. Hispanic women need to learn to cook with fat-free oils and low-fat margarine when making our tortillas and frying our beans.
Get with the program, Hispanics. Read about this killer disease that affects a great number of us.
Will the beans taste as good without pure lard? Heck no! But I will tell you one thing: I would rather eat frijoles del olla (unfried baked beans) than to be at a baile (dance) blind and without legs!
James H. Reza
4204 Grand Lake
Fort Worth, Texas 76135
Phones: 817-237-6287 — cell 817-454-3316