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  • Diabetes, You Are the Key.

Published on November 07, 2012

Diabetes, You Are the Key

By Susan Barnes RN, CDE
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital

If you already have diabetes, you can lower your risk of diabetes complications by managing it. If you are at risk of diabetes, you can delay or prevent the diagnosis of diabetes. The key word in these sentences is YOU. Find out if you are personally at risk of diabetes and learn how to prevent problems. November, diabetes month, is a time to increase our awareness about diabetes.

The Diabetes Prevention Program research study has shown type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed in people at high risk for the disease who make lifestyle changes. Weight loss of 5 to 7 percent (about 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person), and increasing physical activity to 150 minutes per week can reduce or delay the development of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.

In pre-diabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Pre-diabetes is also called impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), depending on the test used to measure blood glucose levels. Having pre-diabetes puts one at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are also at increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

In type 2 diabetes, the body does not use insulin properly, which causes a high level of sugar (glucose) in the blood stream. Type 2 diabetes is not caused by eating sugar.

The American Diabetes Association recommends testing to detect pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes be considered in adults without symptoms who are overweight or obese, and have one or more additional risk factors for diabetes. In those without these risk factors, testing should begin at age 45. In addition to being overweight or obese or being age 45 or older, risk factors for pre-diabetes and diabetes include the following:

  • being physically inactive
  • having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • having a family background that is African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander
  • giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or being diagnosed with gestational diabetes-diabetes first found during pregnancy
  • having high blood pressure-140/90 mmHg or above-or being treated for high blood pressure
  • having HDL, or "good" cholesterol below 35 mg/dL, or a triglyceride level above 250 mg/dL
  • having polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
  • having impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) on previous testing
  • having other conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as severe obesity or a condition called acanthosis nigricans, characterized by a dark, velvety rash around the neck or armpits
  • having a history of cardiovascular disease

If you are at risk, talk to your health care provider about getting a simple blood test. If results of testing are normal, testing should be repeated at least every 3 years. Doctors may recommend more frequent testing depending on initial results and risk for diabetes

Healthy lifestyle changes to prevent or control diabetes are done most successfully in small steps. Look for progress toward a healthy lifestyle, not perfection. As you celebrate each of your steps toward better health, you will find it is not so overwhelming. A healthy lifestyle includes:

  • eat breakfast daily
  • don't skip meals
  • increase your whole grain foods. Some examples of whole-grain ingredients include buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, brown or wild rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and whole wheat.
  • increase your fruit and vegetable intake (A person needing 2000 calories per day needs about 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily.)
  • eat a variety of vegetables of different colors
  • be aware of how much you eat - don't eat mindlessly in front of the computer or TV
  • be aware - Keep a food diary. Every day, write down what and how much you eat.
  • Avoid empty calories that come from energy drinks, sweetened juice or pop by drinking water instead
  • get active by finding an active hobby
  • get active by planning some exercise every day
  • join a support group, wellness center or walking club
  • add muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days each week
  • schedule your exercise
  • ask you health care professional what the most important action you can take to improve your health

There are several events in November designed to bring awareness and information about diabetes. In an effort to bring the diabetes epidemic into the public spotlight, the falls in Sioux Falls will be lit up blue on the evening of November 13th along with hundreds of other monuments around the world. If you are near Sioux Falls, stop by the falls that evening to support diabetes awareness and advocacy. Members of the SD Diabetes Coalition will be handing out blue glowsticks and information on diabetes prevention. On November 9th, 2012 at the Professional Office Pavilion on the Avera Sacred Heart Hospital campus, you may attend a healthy cooking demonstration and expert panel discussion to answer your diabetes questions. Stacy Stengel will demonstrate some healthy ways to make pizza 11:30 AM-12:30 PM. From 12:30 – 1:30 PM, Dr. Beth Mikkelsen - Dakota Diabetes Center Medical Director and Internal Medicine YMC, Nicole Haberer RD, Susan Barnes RN CDE, Beryl Olson OT – Physical Medicine Coordinator and Coordinator of behavior change program “Diabetes and Exercise.”, Matt Merkel RPh and Stacy Stengel – Professional Chef Hy-Vee will answer your questions in an open forum. For reservations call 605-668-8357.