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Thank you for subscribing to In Great Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with information to help you live a healthy lifestyle.  To learn more about what Avera can do to partner with you to improve your health, visit

To your health,

The Avera Staff


They are everywhere this time of year: on porches, in windows, at your local grocery store. Pumpkins are a symbol of fall, and they usually make an appearance on our Thanksgiving tables. There are many reasons to enjoy eating pumpkin outside of pie. Pumpkins, a member of the squash family, have enormous health benefits for you.

Pumpkin is very high in beta-carotene. Research shows people who eat a diet rich in beta-carotene are less likely to develop some types of cancers. Pumpkins also contain high amounts of carotenoids, which in addition to giving pumpkins their vibrant color, are antioxidants that can provide your body with vitamin A.

Pumpkins are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Aside from these helpful antioxidants, pumpkins have many common nutrients such as iron, zinc and fiber.

So this year when it's time to start carving, remember there are many ways to use pumpkin as more than pie filling (although that's a delicious option, too). You can cook pumpkins whole by simply using a knife to cut a few holes in the pumpkin and baking at 350 degrees for about an hour. You can use pumpkin anywhere you would use squash in recipes like soup or ravioli. It's also great in breads, muffins and puddings.

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Diabetes is a lifelong disease marked by high levels of sugar in the blood. It affects more than 20 million Americans. Diabetes affects the normal process that breaks down food to convert it to energy.

People with diabetes have high levels of blood sugar because their pancreas does not make enough insulin, or their muscle, fat and liver cells do not respond to insulin normally.

The most common of the three types of diabetes is type 2. Type-2 diabetes normally occurs in adulthood, but increasingly young people are being diagnosed with the disease. More than 40 million Americans have pre-diabetes, or early type-2 diabetes. You can help prevent type-2 diabetes through exercise and weight management. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, such as walking, can help you prevent the disease.

Many people with type-2 diabetes do not know they have it because of its gradual onset, even though it is a serious medical condition. Some symptoms of type-2 diabetes include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination

One immediate goal of type-2-diabetes treatment is to treat high blood glucose levels. Long-term goals of treatment are to prolong life, reduce symptoms and prevent diabetes-related complications such as blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and amputation of limbs.

If you have early type-2 diabetes or have been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, your doctor may suggest such treatments as increasing the amount of exercise, improving diet and/or using medications.

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Parkinson's Disease, a disease that affects about 1 million Americans including actor Michael J. Fox, is a disorder of the brain that leads to tremors and difficulty with walking, movement and coordination. There is currently no known cure for Parkinson's Disease, so the goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms. Being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease can be difficult for patients and their families, but patients who come to terms with their diagnosis and take a more active role in their treatment often have an improved quality of life.

Typically when someone is diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, both the patient and his or her family feel a gamut of emotions. At first, many patients experience denial, especially if symptoms are mild. Sometimes this proves to be a useful coping mechanism because it allows the patient to largely ignore symptoms and go on with life as usual. Patients may experience discouragement as well, where they become preoccupied with looking for a direct cause for the disease.

Because symptoms with Parkinson's fluctuate daily, people with the disease and their families sometimes can feel frustrated. Often, patients look to others with the same condition for education and support. Many take on the work of achieving their optimal level of independence.

Assuming a more active role in their health helps those diagnosed with Parkinson's realize they are not alone, and there are many sources of support available to them. In the United States 50,000 to 60,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed each year.

As scientists work toward a cure and make progress in identifying the best treatment options for patients, it's important to keep in mind the emotional health of the patient. Caring for each patient's emotional well-being can be just as important as treating the symptoms of the disease itself.

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In Great Health online archive.

In Great Health is one in a series of Avera eNewsletters that gives readers valuable information about health and wellness at Avera facilities. It is not intended to replace personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from a physician.