by Jamie Lober
Diabetes prevention comes down to becoming educated, making wise lifestyle choices and being screened. The screening criteria are clear-cut. “A fasting plasma glucose greater than 126 [milligrams per deciliter] on two different occasions would be a diagnosis of diabetes, or a hemoglobin A1c that is elevated at 6.5 percent or greater along with a fasting that is elevated greater than 126 ,” states Pat Trymbiski, a diabetes educator and nurse practitioner at Doylestown Hospital. The A1c test measures the amount of sugar that has stuck to the red blood cells over their three-month life cycle.
Here are some helpful tips for both prevention and management of diabetes.
Know what is normal. “A normal fasting glucose is 99 or less,” says Trymbiski. If your numbers are slightly above, accept it as a hint to take charge of your health. “There is a window of opportunity in the pre-diabetes phase between 100 and 125 where you have the greatest opportunity to make changes to lifestyle, diet and exercise to stave off the onset of diabetes,” she adds.
Get moving. “The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise,” notes Trymbiski. It can be as simple as going for a brisk walk or dancing to favorite songs. The key is to find something enjoyable and stick with it.
Eat right. “There is no food that actually fights diabetes, but carbohydrates raise blood sugar the most,” suggests Trymbiski. While it is not wise to eliminate carbohydrates from a diet, minimizing them, especially simple carbohydrates and sugars, is a good idea. A dietician can help determine the right percentage of carbohydrates, fat and protein an individual should have and make suggestions for avoiding simple sugars.
Recognize risk factors. These include age, being overweight, having a family history of Type 2 diabetes, being inactive or having a baby over 9 pounds. Regarding the two types of diabetes, Trymbiski points out: “In Type 1 the pancreatic beta cells no longer produce insulin, so these folks are dependent on taking insulin injections just to survive. In Type 2, 80 percent of the population that has it is obese or overweight to some degree.” Particularly if there is a family history of diabetes, get a routine blood test to determine whether glucose is elevated.
Take care of yourself. “If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar and be more attentive to your health, making sure you get a flu shot every year and a checkup every three to six months depending on the control of your diabetes,” advises Trymbiski. Because uncontrolled diabetes has consequences like blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and neuropathy, it is vital to take the time to plan meals and test blood sugar regularly.
“Diabetes is not reversible, but it is controllable,” assures Trymbiski.
Jamie Lober is president of Talk Health with Jamie, Inc., and a contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect at Jamie@GetPinkPower.com and TalkHealthWithJamie.com. March 2014.