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November puts focus on increasing number of diabetes cases and treatment of disease in America

Diabetes is serious. But people with diabetes can live long, healthy lives. You can, too, by taking good care of yourself.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes in the United States has increased by 14 percent in just two years and now affects 7 percent of our population. These are startling statistics. Are you at risk? What can we do to decrease these numbers?

When you eat, your body turns your food into glucose. Glucose fuels the cells. In healthy people, a hormone called insulin helps the glucose get into the cells. But in people with type 2 diabetes, something goes wrong. Sometimes, the pancreas does not make enough insulin. Sometimes, cells ignore the insulin.

In people with Type 2 diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood. But with good treatment, your glucose levels may go down to normal again. Normal glucose levels do not mean you are cured. Instead, normal glucose levels show that your treatment plan is working and you are doing a good job of taking care of yourself.

The goal of treatment is to lower your glucose levels and improve your body's use of insulin with a healthy diet, exercise and weight loss.

Healthy diet: When you eat, your body changes food into glucose. Your blood glucose levels go up. A good diet dampens this rise. The best diet for a person with diabetes is like the best diet for anyone. Such a diet is low in fat; has moderate amounts of protein; and includes starches, like those beans, vegetables, and whole grains such as breads, cereals, noodles, and rice.

Exercise: Being active helps your cells take in glucose. It lowers glucose levels in your blood. So exercise plays a major role in your treatment. It would be great if you could be active on most days of the week, 30 minutes per day, which can be broken down into short sessions. If you're not used to exercising, start small. Even a five-minute walk can get you moving.

Weight loss: Losing weight is another big part of your diabetes treatment. It will help your body use insulin better.

The best way to lose weight is to exercise and adopt a healthy eating plan. With a healthy eating plan, you take in fewer calories because you are filling up on good, healthful foods, not fatty foods. Decide with your doctor how much weight you should lose. Sometimes, just 10 or 20 lbs. is enough to bring diabetes under control.

Then decide how much you want to lose per week. One pound per week should be the maximum. Slow weight loss is healthier and easier.

November is American Diabetes Month. For more information on diabetes and your health, give me a call at the McDuffie County Extension Office, 706-595-1815, or contact the American Diabetes Association at

Web posted on Thursday, November 13, 2008

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