Living Black History

Black history is living history, not a dead document. We have an incredible opportunity to change the current trajectory of our future by simply controlling what we put into our bodies. Hey, I'm a southern kat raised on fried chicken and ham hocks in my pinto beans, and my family history would have me popping pills and pumping insulin. I'm 159 pounds and had only one red flag in my recent blood work: high triglycerides, directly associated with cholesterol.

I remember my father having Type 2 diabetes. At one point he was 350 pounds and took insulin with a needle. Dad's wake-up call came when the doctor said he had to lose the weight or risk death. After changing a few eating habits and hitting the gym consistently, he lost 70 pounds and stopped using insulin.

The Center for Disease Control says the top killers of African Americans are heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Unfortunately, I can bear witness to this fact; several of my family members have died from these ailments. Most people are not educated on the preventive measures that can reduce onset of these illnesses and some don't even know they're sick! My grandfather went in for a routine heart exam, doctors told my parents to pick him up later that afternoon. Instead, they discovered he had heart disease and he died on the operating table. Grandpa Ralph was 62.

Although the American Heart Association estimates 149.3 million Americans are overweight or obese, it's not only weight that plays into these conditions. My mom and her mother (Grandma Laura) both were diagnosed with high blood pressure and neither of them were considered overweight or obese. Mom's doctor recommended fish oil pills, bringing her blood pressure numbers down 100 points. Its refreshing to hear even my grandma being more conscious of what she eats. This is the same young lady who scoffed at me when I got to Thanksgiving dinner talking about being a vegetarian!

Dr. Dominick Bioh, a family practitioner in Harlem warns patients battling similar ailments about the long-term damage: "The effects of overindulging on heavy starches, larger portion sizes and too much fast food will damage your quality of life. You may not feel it immediately." Dr. Bioh blames a number of factors for the current state of black health, one being economic disparity. Cheaper, more convenient choices often lack nutritional quality, putting you at risk of hypertension, elevated cholesterol and health complications resulting in a heart attack.

As we are living black history, my hope is that the staggering numbers of deaths due to reversible and even preventable conditions dramatically decrease, and education and awareness of healthy choices increases. I'm making some serious changes in my diet, I'm down to only two steaks a week. I'm picking up my physical activity as well. My trainer says that walking to a subway station is not enough, so Ill be at the gym at least three times a week. Make your own personal commitment and lets get better, together.

#iCommit to #SpeakLife everyday, and win! -@KianBrown