Elizabeth S. Reames, Claesgens, Mark A. | 2/28/2007 2:18:17 AM
March 27 is American Diabetes Alert Day, an annual, one-day call to action for people to find out if they are at risk for diabetes. The Risk Test is an easy way to find out if you are at risk for diabetes. The test is available from the American Diabetes Association online at www.diabetes.org or by calling 1 888 DIABETES.
LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames says diabetes is a serious disease that affects the body's ability to produce or respond properly to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose (sugar) to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy. Diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the United States, and it has no cure.
Nearly 21 million children and adults in the United States, 7 percent of the population, have diabetes. Another 54 million Americans have pre-diabetes, a condition that puts them at serious risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
According to the 2000 Louisiana Health Report Card, an estimated 365,000 or 8.4 percent (5.7 percent diagnosed and 2.7 percent undiagnosed diabetes) of Louisiana residents 20 years and older have diabetes. Of the people with diabetes, 32 percent or 115,000 are undiagnosed or unaware that they have diabetes and are therefore not receiving recommended treatment to prevent or delay the onset of complications.
More than 1 million additional people may be at increased risk for diabetes because of the risk factors of age, obesity and sedentary lifestyle. If current trends continue, one in three Americans and one in two minorities born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetimes.
"Your risk for diabetes increases as your get older, gain too much weight or if you do not stay active," Reames says, noting that diabetes is more common in African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Risk factors for diabetes include having high blood pressure (at or above 130/80), having a family history of diabetes and having diabetes during pregnancy or having a baby weighing more than nine pounds at birth.
The nutritionist emphasizes that healthy eating is important for managing diabetes. The American Diabetes Association offers ways to make healthful food choices:
– Eat lots of vegetables and fruits.
– Choose whole-grain foods over processed-grain products. Try brown rice with stir fry or whole-wheat spaghetti with pasta sauce.
– Include dried beans (like kidney or pinto beans) and lentils in meals.
– Include fish in meals two to three times a week.
– Choose lean meats like cuts of beef and pork that end in "loin," such as pork loin and sirloin. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
– Choose nonfat dairy products such as skim milk, nonfat yogurt and nonfat cheese.
– Choose water and calorie-free "diet" drinks instead of regular soda, fruit punch, sweet tea and other sugar-sweetened drinks.
– Choose liquid oils for cooking instead of solid fats that can be high in saturated and trans fats. Remember that fats are high in calories. If you're trying to lose weight, watch your portion sizes of added fats.
– Cut back on high-calorie snack foods and desserts like chips, cookies, cakes and full-fat ice cream.
Reames points out the importance of watching portion sizes. "Eating too much of even healthful foods can lead to weight gain," she says.
The LSU AgCenter’s Diabetes Education Awareness Recommendations (DEAR) program and Smart Portions Healthy Weight program provide information on healthful eating, physical activity recommendations and lifestyle habits.
For information about these programs or about eating healthfully using MyPyramid, contact the LSU AgCenter Extension agent in your parish.