Diabetes affects people from various ethnic backgrounds differently. Experts believe that African or Caribbean people have a higher risk for diabetes compared to other Canadians.
A community screening program in 9 Canadian cities found that 11% of Africans had previously-undiagnosed diabetes, compared to 2% of the general Canadian population.
In addition to diabetes and its complications, Africans are also at high risk for heart disease. Because of this, it is especially important that African and Caribbean people take extra care to lead healthy lives.
Here are some healthy living tips:
- Discuss your individual risk of diabetes: Since African and Caribbean people have an overall higher risk, you should ask your physician, nurse, pharmacist, or other primary health care provider about your individual risk for diabetes.
- Keep active: Regular exercise is good for everyone, and especially for people with diabetes. You may need to consult your health care provider on how much exercise is right for you.
- Eat a balanced, culturally relevant diet: You can customize your own version of “Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide” using the interactive toolavailable here. Heart-healthy African and Caribbean recipe ideas can be found here. For more help, ask for a referral to a dietitian who is familiar with the African or Caribbean diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Check with your physician, nurse, and dietitian on how to reach and maintain a healthy weight over time.
- Take your medications as prescribed:Medications are often a necessary part of diabetes management. Your physician and pharmacist can advise on the best medications for your diabetes and help you take them as prescribed. Certain medications may work better than others to treat high blood pressure in African and Caribbean people.
- Know your target numbers: People with diabetes have specific targets when it comes to blood sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol. People who are able to reach these targets will have better long-term outcomes. Work with your health care team to reach your targets.
- Get a checkup from head to toe: Your specialists and regular health care team can help you check for signs of eye, kidney, nerve, and feet problems
- Stop smoking as soon as possible: Smoking is harmful, and especially for people with diabetes. If you are a smoker, it’s never too late to quit. There are many tools available to help you quit smoking.
- Culled from chealth