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Diabetes and nutrition care center helps defeat the disease and lower risks

By Staff | Mar 29, 2011

Risk assessments and glucose readings for diabetes were available last Tuesday at the Life Center for Diabetes Alert Day. A registered dietician and certified educator from Susquehanna Health were available to answer questions and help with nutrition plans and meal planning.

MUNCY – What’s your number is not a call to get a date these days, but a relevant number to determine if you are a risk candidate for pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes can be controlled without prescribed medications but it is a matter of tracking the glucose tolerance readings, and that is the magic number.

Free screenings and A1C testings for a nominal fee were given at the Life Center in the Lycoming Mall recently for national Diabetes Alert Day. An A1C number reports the average level of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream over a 2 to 3 month period, and is reported as a percentage. It is an on-going measure for diabetes control. It helps a patient manage diabetes and the complications it causes such as blindness, kidney disease, heart attack and stroke.

To determine if you are at risk for diabetes, two tests can be given according to Kathryn Patetta, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Susquehanna Health. Both tests require a fasting. One will require fasting a few hours before hand for a blood sugar test and the other requires fasting overnight for a glucose tolerance test. A solution is taken orally 2 hours before the blood is drawn for a reading. If the reading is between 101 and 125 that is a diagnosis for pre-diabetes, and over 140 is diabetic. A number from 80 to 130 is a good reading for blood sugar. Readings should not drop below 70, then blood sugar is too low which could lead to other complications.

Behavioral and lifestyle changes are essential in managing diabetes. Good nutrition plus weight loss and exercise can hep control diabetes and make a significant impact on your health.

“We focus on nutrition,” Patetta said. “We count carbs, increase fiber and cut back on animal fats and carbohydrates.” Food is ultimate to control normal blood sugars. Becoming more active and burning more calories will lower the glucose number. “Activity burns calories and sugar.” It is good to exercise 1 to 2 hours after consuming a meal, as this is the best time for quality exercise to lower blood sugar. An over the counter monitor can be purchased at just about any pharmacy to test blood glucose readings after exercising and throughout the day. “Strive for 30 minutes a day of physical activity to raise your heart rate,” recommends Patetta.

Lowering cholesterol and consuming good carbohydrates such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables give us energy and help regulate insulin better. Patetta recommends doing exercises in 10 minute increments if 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise is hard to get into your daily schedule.

“If blood sugar is low, you may experience symptoms of feeling shaky, if it is too high, you can get dizzy.” Cheryl Barclay, an RN from the Diabetes and Nutrition Care Center at Divine Providence Hospital relates that it is important to monitor the symptoms. Thirst, blurry vision, and extreme fatigue are warning signs. Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that is linked to diabetes affecting more than 5 million Americans. “The brain becomes sluggish from too much sugar and slows down the blood flow and circulation,” said Barclay. “Kidneys are also sensitive causing you to drink a lot and also go to the bathroom frequently,” she added. Diabetes can lead to chronic complications with the eyes, heart, and a loss of feeling and sensation in the feet. “Try not to skip meals. The body wants regularity,” advised Barclay.

Diabetes is an epidemic these days according to medical officials. There are 2 types. A type 1 diagnosis will always need insulin to take because the pancreas isn’t producing enough naturally. Treatment for a type 2 diabetes is done on an individual basis depending on levels of insulin being produced. No medication could be required and the diabetes may be controlled by diet alone to regulate the blood sugars. “Just making some lifestyle changes will help,” Barclay said.

To determine if you are at risk for diabetes, a simple blood test to measure glycohemoglobin blood glucose levels can be given. The risk does increase with age so it is important to get this test often, at least once a year or more if you are at risk.

On Weds. April 13 there will be a Diabetes Taste-In with some helpful recipes given by Chef Hosch, a diabetes educator in the auditorium at Divine Providence Hospital from 6 to 7 p.m. For more information aboujt diabetes and glucose readings go to the American Diabetes Association’s website at www.diabetes.org or call 570-326-8410.