Chances are you know someone who has diabetes or, you may have been diagnosed with this disease yourself.  Nearly one in 11 people in the U.S. has diabetes and this number is growing.

What is diabetes and why should you care if you have diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that makes it difficult for the body to use glucose (a type of sugar).  When our body cells don’t use glucose, it stays in the blood and causes problems.  Insulin is a chemical produced by our body that helps glucose enter our cells where it is used to make energy.  Sometimes our body doesn’t produce enough insulin or our cells become “resistant” to insulin and instead of being able to enter our cells, glucose stays in the blood.

People who have diabetes are at greater risk of developing heart and kidney disease, blindness, and diabetic neuropathy, a condition where nerves are damaged and don’t respond correctly to pain.  Diabetic neuropathy is one of the leading causes of leg amputations in people with diabetes.

Is there any good news about having diabetes?

Yes!  Diabetes is a disease that can be successfully managed through diet, lifestyle changes and medication.  Taking control of your diabetes now will help reduce the development or progression of associated diseases.

What can you do to either reduce your risk of developing diabetes or prevent its progression?

The most effective actions you can take are to:

  • Modify your diet
  • Lose weight
  • Get active!

Here’s how:

  • Eat smaller portions of starchy carbohydrates such as cereals, breads, pasta, rice, cakes, cookies, muffins, donuts, potatoes, corn, and peas.
  • Eat larger portions of dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, bok choy and red leaf lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, red/green cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, red/yellow/green bell peppers.  Cover half your plate with brightly colored vegetables.
  • Eat just enough lean meat, poultry, and fish – the size of a deck of cards.
  • AVOID regular soda, sweet teas, fruit drinks, Kool-Aid and other sugary drinks.
  • Diet changes lead to weight loss and small changes in weight (5%-10%) can make big differences in health.
  • Increase your daily activity levels.
  • Walk, march, take the stairs, park farther away, get up and down from your chair, pump your arms, lift a full water bottle – GET MOVING!  When muscles are working, they take glucose out of your blood and use it for energy.

Take control of your diabetes TODAY for a healthier future.  Need a little help getting started?  Call HealthFirst Franklin 934-1464 or HealthFirst Laconia 366-1070 to make an appointment to see me and together, we will make a plan that works best for your lifestyle and goals.

Check out these websites for more information and recipes:
American Diabetes Association  www.diabetes.org
Diabetes Forecast – Healthy Living Magazine    www.diabetesforecast.org
Diabetes Self-Management   www.diabetesselfmanagement.com
Joslin Diabetes Center   www.joslin.org

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