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Diabetes I: the Black Community, Diet and Accessibility to Food

7 mins read

By Scott Blair

Diabetes I can happen at any age. However, it’s most common in children, teens and young adults. Type I diabetes is less common than type II. Studies show that only 5-10% of people with diabetes have type I, but that doesn’t make it less serious. Currently, there’s no cure for it, but it can be contained and treated over the long haul. Read on below for important information about type I diabetes in the black community. 

What is Type I Diabetes?

As mentioned above, type I diabetes usually occurs in younger people, but anyone can get it at any time. Type I diabetes happens when your pancreas doesn’t make any insulin or makes tiny amounts that are insufficient for your body. It’s a long-lasting health disease that can affect or prevent your body from turning food into energy; however, it can be treated. 

Type I Diabetes Symptoms

If you get type I diabetes, it can happen fast. It can come out of nowhere and surprise you. Here are the symptoms you should look for:

  • Excess Urination
  • Wetting the Bed
  • Feeling Hungry or Thirsty (More Than Usual)
  • Mood Changes and Irritability
  • Sudden Weight Loss
  • Feeling Tired and Weak
  • Sudden Blurry Vision

If you urinate more or your child starts wetting the bed out of nowhere, it could be type I diabetes. Also, you should take notice if you start feeling hungrier or thirstier than usual. If you start having mood swings or find yourself uncharacteristically irritable, that might be a sign of diabetes. Lastly, if you experience sudden weight loss, start feeling tired and weak for no reason, or suddenly have blurry vision, that could be a problem. 

*According to the Mayo Clinic, if you or your child experience any of the above symptoms, call your doctor. 

Who’s at Risk? 

Often it’s a combination of issues that factor into someone having type I diabetes. Those at the highest risk are people with a family history of type I diabetes, especially if one or both parents have it. 

If both of your parents carry the HLA-DR3 or HLA-DR4 genes, a human leukocyte antigen, you’re at a greater risk of type I diabetes. Forty percent of the United States population carries one of these. If you weren’t fed breast milk as an infant or started eating solid food too early, you’re at a higher risk. 

How to Prevent and Reduce Symptoms of Type I Diabetes?

Type I diabetes is more complicated than my you might think. Prevention is the best thing you can do in life to be healthy and while preventing diabetes I isn’t guaranteed, especially if you’re at high risk, but there are steps you can take that might help. 

What the Black Community Can Do [Diet]

Reducing inflammation is thought to help prevent type I diabetes. A great way to do that is by taking Omega-3 fatty acids. You can get it in pill or vitamin form and from fish such as salmon. Another way to reduce inflammation is by taking vitamin D3. According to scientists, vitamin D deficiency precedes the onset of type I diabetes. It’s important to note that adults can take 2,000-4,000 I/U as a daily limit on the high end. 

 

Some say that a healthy digestive system is key to aging slowly and a healthy life overall and some scientists believe a healthy gut may prevent type I diabetes. According to a study published by the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, “People with type I diabetes exhibit inflammation in the digestive tract and gut bacteria, a pattern that differs from individuals who do not have diabetes or those who have celiac disease.”

Foods to Eat for Type I Diabetes Patients

The first thing a type I diabetes patient needs to know is that meal timing is essential. Food timing and insulin doses become easier to match when you eat foods with a low glycemic index. Low glycemic index foods raise your blood sugar gradually compared to high glycemic index foods. Basically, your body and insulin have more time to sync up and work together. 

 

Here Are the Best Low Glycemic Foods to Combat Diabetes I

  • Whole Wheat
  • Brown Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lentils 
  • Beans

Other Foods That Can Help

  • Fish
  • Lean Meat & Poultry
  • Tofu
  • Peas
  • Eggs

Type I Diabetes Superfoods

  • Fiber
  • Cinnamon
  • Berries
  • Sardines
  • Vinegar

Here Are Foods You Should Avoid

  • Simple Carbs
  • Trans Fats
  • Sodas

*Also, look into the Mediterranean diet.

Here are some links to help with food access in Texas:

https://www.healthyfoodaccess.org/texas

https://moneyfit.org/low-income/texas-resources#food-resources

 

Both of these should provide you with healthy options and food that can help prevent or reduce problems with type I diabetes. Also, check with your local grocery store’s produce manager and let them know your food needs. They often have programs involving food donations, especially in communities that have issues with food accessibility. 

 

*As always, seek out a healthcare professional for any medical or nutritional advice.

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