Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) published it’s first Global Report on Diabetes. I happened upon the report by chance while in the midst of my doctoral research, and I’m very glad I found it. The report includes the most recent (2014) data on this chronic and serious disease, and the numbers were scary. Globally, it’s estimated that 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980. The global prevalence (age-standardized) of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7% to 8.5% of the population. According to WHO, this reflects an increase in associated risk factors such as being overweight or obese. In fact, 1 in 3 adults are overweight and 1 in 10 is obese.
A series of cost effective interventions can greatly improve outcomes. These interventions include blood glucose control through diet, exercise and sometimes medication. Sadly but not unexpectedly, the positive role played by faith and spirituality are not mentioned. God, it appears, has no place in the WHO’s plan for improving outcomes. But, for people of faith, we know better.
The thesis of my doctorate is that for people of faith, God can and should play a key role in health improvement for those with many chronic illness. I know this from personal experience. After receiving my diagnosis of Type II diabetes, I began applying spiritual practices found in Ignatian Spirituality. Disciplined prayer, physical activity and healthy eating made a huge difference for me. With the help of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, especially his Rules for Eating, over the span of about 40 weeks, I lost 65 pounds and by blood glucose levels dropped to optimal levels. Yes, it was a lot of very hard work. But I did it, not only for myself but, as St. Ignatius would say, so that I could do more for God. For me, that’s the diabetes wisdom that doesn’t appear in the WHO report.
I hope you’ll take some time to look around this website. You’ll find out how I did it, and how you can too! I’m not a doctor and I don’t give medical advice. If you have diabetes, go see your health professional. But if you are a person of faith, God has something to say about your health too! Invite God into your healthcare plan. When I did, it made all the difference, and I’m confident it can be the same for you.