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How to reduce the risk of diabetes

July 24, 2012
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Diabetes is a progressive disease with no cure, can strike virtually anyone from children to adults, and is on the rise.

The American Diabetes Center reports that in 2011, 25.8 million U.S. children and adults were diabetics, representing 8.3 percent of the population, with 1.9 million new cases of diabetes reported in adults over age 20.

At a glance

For more information about diabetes, visit:

Joslin Diabetes Center: www.joslin.org

American Diabetes Center: www.diabetes.org

New Hampshire Diabetes Education program: www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdpc/diabetes/index.htm

Centers for Disease Control – Diabetes Public Health Resource: www.cdc.gov/diabetes/

Diabetes is the name for a group of metabolic diseases affecting people who have high blood sugar because they either do not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or because they do not respond to the insulin that is produced (type 2).

Chronic diabetic complications include disease of the blood vessels, both small and large, which can damage the feet, eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. Hypertension and amputations of extremities can be a drastic result of a mismanaged diabetic disease.

Amy Campbell is a nutritionist at the Joslin Diabetes Center, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. She has written books, blogs and magazine articles about diabetes nutrition and was a recent expert panelist for U.S. News and World Report’s review of “Best Diets for Healthy Eating.”

“The rise of diabetes is epidemic,” Campbell said. “And rates of obesity are increasing hand in hand. The more a person’s weight increases, the more the body becomes insulin resistant. Plus, people are so much more sedentary, also contributing to insulin resistance. Higher stress and a lack of sleep can be considered smaller factors because they cause a hormone reaction in the body.”

Dr. Mini Mahata, medical director at HealthReach Diabetes, part of Core Endocrinology at Exeter Hospital, and Judy Nelson, RN, CDE (certified diabetes educator), agree the prevalence of diabetes is increasing. The good news, Nelson said, is that the medical world is more proactive in identifying cases earlier, resulting in more effective following of patients.

“We are better at finding those who are considered prediabetic, allowing us to intervene at that point,” Nelson said. “I believe that obesity and lifestyles are much different than they were even 25 years ago. Even in the juvenile cases we are seeing. Kids used to go out and play after school. They could ride their bicycles to the corner store. Now, parents need to be much more proactive about planning activities.”

Lucille Marvin, RN, CDE, program manager for HealthReach Diabetes, said the first line of treatment is diet and exercise. “Diet and exercise have an amazing effect on this disease,” she said. “They help people become more receptive to insulin. This allows their cells to better utilize the insulin to control their blood glucose.”

Decreased sensitivity to the hormone is how type 2 diabetes develops. Managing care can allow people to defer the need for insulin for many years, she said.

“We recommend a 7 percent reduction in body weight, and at least 150 minutes of activity a week,” Mahata said. “There are many ways to work toward that goal. A structured program tailored to individual needs works best for the weight loss and maintaining the goal.”

Campbell said there are many good diets, but not one specific diabetes diet. She said what’s good for one person may not be good for another.

“It’s about our food choices,” she said. “We eat a lot of processed foods. There may also be a link to high fructose corn syrup as a potential risk. We work with our patients to find the diet they live with, using food they like and will eat. Contrary to popular myth, that does not mean eliminating all sugar, just using moderation.”

Losing 10 to 20 pounds can often be enough to slow the progression of type 2 diabetes.

“We need to make sure we are getting 30 minutes of activity each day,” Campbell said. “If we get away from the channel surfing, reduce our body weight and get active, we are able to reduce the risk by about 60 percent.”

Campbell said there is much people can do to live a relatively normal life if diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Article source: http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20120722-LIFE-207220327

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