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March 27 is American Diabetes Alert Day

From staff and wire reports -   Mar 22, 2012

Are you at risk of diabetes? Tuesday, March 27, is American Diabetes Alert Day, an annual event sponsored by the American Diabetes Association to alert Americans of their risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious health problem in the United States, said LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames. Currently, 26 million Americans are living with diabetes and an additional 79 million are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Approximately 10 percent of Louisiana residents have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.

"People who are overweight, under active and over the age of 45 are at risk for the disease," Reames says. "African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and people who have a family history of the disease are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes."

To find out your risk of diabetes, Reames suggests getting the free Diabetes Risk Test, in English or Spanish, by visiting on the Internet or by calling 800-342-2383.

"Although Diabetes Alert Day is a one-day event, the Diabetes Risk Test is available year round," she says.

Type 1 diabetes usually is recognized and treated quickly, but for many people with type 2 diabetes, diagnosis may come seven to 10 years after the onset of the disease, Reames says. In order to start treatment and delay or prevent some of the complications, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death, early diagnosis is critical.

"Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be delayed and even prevented by making simple changes in your lifestyle," Reames says. "Knowing your risk for type 2 diabetes is the first step to a healthier lifestyle."

Diabetes is a serious disease that affects the bodyís ability to produce or respond properly to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose (sugar) to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy. Reames points out three different types of diabetes:

• Type 1 diabetes occurs because cells in the pancreas canít make insulin. Type 1 makes up 5 to 10 percent of all diabetes cases and used to be called "insulin-dependent diabetes" and "juvenile diabetes." Type 1 diabetes canít be prevented and is treated with insulin by injection or pump.

• Type 2 diabetes occurs because the pancreas canít make enough insulin or the body canít use insulin properly. Type 2 used to be called "adult-onset diabetes" and "non-insulin-dependent diabetes" and makes up 90 to 95 percent of all diabetes cases. Type 2 is increasing in children and teens and may possibly be prevented or delayed with a healthful lifestyle.

• Gestational diabetes is a condition in which high blood sugar (glucose) levels are first recognized during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs in approximately 4 percent of all pregnancies.

Healthy eating is important for managing diabetes, Reames says, offering the following tips for making healthful food choices:

• Eat lots of vegetables and fruits.

• Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products. Try brown rice with stir fry or whole wheat spaghetti with pasta sauce.

• Include dried beans (like kidney or pinto beans) and lentils in meals.

• Include fish in meals 2-3 times a week.

• Choose lean meats like cuts of beef and pork that end in "loin" such as pork loin and sirloin. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.

• Choose non-fat dairy such as skim milk, non-fat yogurt and non-fat cheese.

• Choose water and calorie-free "diet" drinks instead of regular soda, sweet tea and other sugar-sweetened drinks.

• Choose liquid oils for cooking instead of solid fats that can be high in saturated and trans fats. Remember that fats are high in calories. If youíre trying to lose weight, watch your portion sizes of added fats.

• Cut back on high calorie snack foods and desserts like chips, cookies, cakes, and full-fat ice cream.

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