Fremont Area Medical Center

SUM 2013

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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What is diabetes? I f you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you may think dealing with your illness boils down to one word: sugar. While maintaining proper sugar or glucose levels in your blood is crucial to combating diabetes, experts say it's just one part of a successful strategy. For most people, overall weight loss is the key to managing the disease. "Most everyone is aware that diabetes and obesity are related. Many people know that they have eaten themselves into the disease," says Dr. Deborah Murray, an endocrinologist affiliated with NorthBay HealthCare Group in Fairfield, Calif. But even if you're saddled with a strong family history of the disease rather than poor eating habits, your diabetes can still improve when you're less sedentary and focus on healthy weight loss. By working with your physician and other medical professionals, such as a nutritionist, you can make a big difference in your diabetes. TAKE IT SLOW Dr. Murray advocates beginning with baby steps: Rather than suggesting that a 250-pound person set a goal of losing 150 pounds, she would encourage starting with a 10 percent weight-loss goal, or 25 pounds. "Losing 10 percent will make a big difference in blood sugar, a big difference on the strain on the joints," says Dr. Murray. "We start with an attainable goal." Dr. Corinn Sadler, an endocrinologist who is affiliated with North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colo., says she sometimes starts patients with an even more modest 5 or 7 percent weight-loss goal because the fast progress helps prevent frustration. In fact, the American Diabetes Association reports that dropping just 10 to 15 pounds can help diabetics lower their blood glucose and blood pressure, improve their blood fats and enable them to cut down on the amounts of some of their medications. ROUTINE EXERCISE Exercise goals should start small too, and getting into a routine is the most important part. Everyday changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther from the door in parking lots and walking at least 30 minutes every day are all easy changes to implement right away. Getting up and moving during commercial breaks while watching If you have Type 2 diabetes, either your body does not produce enough insulin or your cells ignore the insulin. Typically, insulin takes sugar (or glucose) from the blood into the cells. But when glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, you may experience symptoms such as foot, skin, eye and heart problems. a favorite television program is another strategy Dr. Murray suggests for sneaking in a little unscheduled exercise. PORTION CONTROL How much you eat is as important as what you eat when it comes to weight loss, so portion control is a large part of diabetes education, says Dr. Sadler. "We work with [patients] so that modifying their portion sizes is part of their whole plan," she says. Dr. Sadler's team also emphasizes looking at all carbohydrates, not just sugars, and increasing the amount of protein consumed. "We do not have a certain diet that we recommend," she says. "We try to work with people individually." It's especially important to consult your physician first if you're modifying your diet, however, because any changes can affect the balance of blood sugar, insulin and medication in your body. AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION All of these steps can be helpful for people who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes as well, according to Dr. Anna Marino, an endocrinologist with Baptist Health Lexington in Lexington, Ky. "Once someone has the risk factors, we can work on lifestyle issues like weight, portion control and exercise. This can make a difference early on," she says. Research suggests that losing a small amount of weight and becoming more active for three years could help prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes if you're overweight and have high blood sugar levels but aren't yet diabetic. No matter what stage of diabetes is involved, though, healthy change comes quickly for patients who are committed to weight loss, say experts. Two to three months may be enough time to see significant changes from small steps, which can then lead to more steps that contribute to even greater weight loss and better diabetes management. • SHUTTERSTOCK w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S U M M E R 2 013 SPI RIT O F WOM EN 21

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