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Healthier lifestyle tips for preventing diabetes in communities of color

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Thursday, September 21, 2023   

The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in Mississippi.

About one in seven Mississippians lives with diabetes.

Jernard A. Wells, cookbook author and host of New Soul Kitchen and New Soul Kitchen Remix on CLEO TV, said Black Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes, but education and some lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of diabetes and lead to improved overall physical and mental well-being.

"We should have more cardiovascular activity," Wells urged. "I try my best, even with my mother, walk, move, get out, grow a garden it doesn't even have to be big or anything like that. Grow it in your window seal. Those are things that are important to maintaining a great healthy lifestyle."

Every year, more than 17,000 people in the Magnolia State are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Wells suggested exploring alternative food options, such as fungi, which not only provide a great source of energy but also break down more efficiently in the body, reducing unwanted components like sugars.

Originally from Chicago, Wells grew up on his grandparents' 200-acre farm in Mississippi, where he developed a connection with the land, crops, and the art of harvesting food. He explained the experience galvanized his career as a chef and where he became an advocate for healthy eating and knowing the importance of having what he said is more "green on your plate."

"When we think about vegetation, we typically think about OK, my meal is not complete unless I have, as they call it in the south, meat and three vegetables," Wells outlined. "Meat is the side dish, the vegetation that's on your plate, that's where it's really at. It's about having those nutritional factors; those health benefits that come from it."

Wells recommended sustainable living and returns to his Mississippi roots and engages with students and families, stressing the importance of wholesome cooking and nutrition. Wells takes pride in instilling the values of environmental responsibility and healthy eating in his own children, dedicating every "Sustainable Sunday" to family education.


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