LSU AgCenter nutritionist gives advice about diabetes

Richard Bogren, Reames, Elizabeth S.

News Release Distributed 11/16/11

Diabetes is now considered an epidemic in the United States, and nearly 26 million children and adults are living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, says LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames.

Another 79 million people have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Recent estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050 if current trends continue.

“In Louisiana, diabetes prevalence increased from 5.2 percent in 1997 to 10.1 percent in 2007 among adults age 18 and older,” Reames says. And Louisiana has the highest diabetes mortality rate in the country at 35.5 deaths per 100,000 population.

Every November during American Diabetes Month, the American Diabetes Association encourages the public to learn more about diabetes and the importance of diabetes prevention and control.

The risk for diabetes increases with age, excessive weight gain and inactivity and is more common in African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, Reames says.

Diabetes complications include heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke and amputations. Keeping blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol in control can reduce the risk for heart attack or stroke.

“Although diabetes can’t be cured, type 2 diabetes may possibly be prevented or delayed with a healthful lifestyle – eating nutritious foods and being physically active,” Reames says.

Because healthful eating is important for managing diabetes, Reames recommends a meal plan that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products along with seafood, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans and nuts.

“It’s important to decrease intake of sodium – salt – added sugars and saturated fats found in animal products like cheese, fatty meats, whole milk and butter,” Reames says. “Also, avoid trans fats, which are often found in cakes, cookies, stick margarines and fried foods.”

She also offers these tips from the American Diabetes Association for making healthful food choices:

– Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Try picking from the rainbow of colors available to maximize variety. Eat non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, carrots, broccoli or green beans with meals.

– 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 or 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 non-fat dairy products such as skim milk, non-fat yogurt and non-fat cheese.

– Drink 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 portion sizes of added fats.

– Cut back on high-calorie snack foods and desserts like chips, cookies, cakes and full-fat ice cream.

– Watch portion sizes. Even eating too much of healthful foods can lead to weight gain.

Regular physical activity is important for everyone, especially for people with diabetes, Reames says. Exercise helps control weight, increase circulation, decrease stress and reduce the risk for heart disease and strokes by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

“For people with diabetes, exercise can do even more,” she says. “It can help keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range and can go a long way toward preventing the complications associated with diabetes.”

To get the health benefits of physical activity, do a combination of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Aerobic activities like brisk walking make you breathe harder and cause your heart to beat faster. Muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights make your muscles stronger. Start at a comfortable level and gradually increase activity level and time.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, adults gain substantial health benefits from two and one half hours a week – or 30 minutes per day – of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity.

“If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about what type and how much exercise is right for you,” Reames says.

Rick Bogren
11/16/2011 11:27:52 PM
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