As we hear over and over, type 2 diabetes is quite prevalent both in the U.S. and globally, with its incidence increasing in the lower and middle income countries.

Managing diabetes to prevent future health issues

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As we hear over and over, type 2 diabetes is quite prevalent both in the U.S. and globally, with its incidence increasing in the lower and middle income countries. There have been improvements in care so there is a slight reduction in the U.S. incidence of strokes, heart disease, end stage renal disease and amputation of lower limbs in folks with diabetes. But there is an uptick in our young people unfortunately, and many will eventually develop those health issues. What to do?

Risk management of diabetes is so important to prevent future health problems:

  • Early diagnosis of diabetes so that treatment can be immediately started
  • Glucose monitoring by the doctor and by the patient at home
  • Foot exams at least annually

Public health efforts are important, too:

  • Availability of community diabetes prevention programs
  • Programs to prevent obesity and promote health and activity

Encouragement of a healthy diet:

  • Water as the primary beverage, with a decrease in sugary drinks
  • More whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, brown rice and whole-grain pasta
  • High fiber foods at each meal, including whole-grains, fruits and vegetables
  • Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and nut butters

America does have an aging population because of the baby boomers, so it is fortunate that there is earlier diagnosis of diabetes. There are also more services available to people with diabetes to delay long term complications. But we have younger folks being diagnosed with diabetes, in part because of obesity and sedentary lifestyle, and so that means they are living more years with this chronic disease. They’ll want excellent control of their diabetes to prevent problems with their kidneys, eyes, heart and lower limbs. Diabetes is a tough disease causing disability and shortening lifespan by five years.

Here are some reminders if you have diabetes:

  • Keep those doctor appointments
  • Take those prescribed medications
  • Get in a daily walk or other form of physical activity
  • Enjoy healthy eating with a wide variety of wholesome foods

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.