Did you know that 86 million people have pre-diabetes and that nine out of ten don’t know it? According to Michele Bernreuter, Manager of Hurley’s Diabetes Center, 15-30 percent of those diagnosed with pre-diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years. Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. If you have Type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance.
Hurley Medical Center offers a Diabetes Prevention Program that educates people who have pre-diabetes on what they can do to prevent progression to Type 2 diabetes. It is a nationwide program which is also offered through the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. The DPP is a one-year curriculum presented by trained facilitators, a registered dietitian and an exercise specialist.
According to Bernreuter, the first six months focuses on eating healthier, increasing activity, coping with stress and with challenges like eating out or holidays and getting back on track. The second six months is about enhancing the skills learned, tracking food and activity, setting goals and motivation.
The goal is to lose seven percent of your body weight, the manager explains. “This reduces the risk of getting diabetes by 50 percent.” The DPP also informs patients about looking at the fat content in food and the importance of reading food labels. “The goal is to reduce fat, not eliminate it,” says Bernreuter. “Fat contains nutrients and it is a necessary part of the diet. But it’s a real eye-opener for people when they look at the calories and fat content in what they eat.”
It is important for people to know that what Hurley’s program teaches isn’t a “diet,” but a lifestyle. Bernreuter also says that sugar does NOT cause diabetes. “But if you have diabetes, you do have to watch the amount of sugar you consume.”
“It’s much easier to prevent diabetes than to treat it. Take action now. You have to take care of YOU first.”
What causes diabetes? According to Bernreuter, the cause of the disease is genetics, lack of activity and poor eating habits. “Research shows that a healthy lifestyle reduces or delays the risk of diabetes.”
The recent concern is that the medical community is seeing diabetes in much younger age groups. The problem with this is that diabetes, as it progresses, can lead to complications such as heart disease, kidney failure or amputation due to damaged nerves and blood vessels. “Type 2 is more common and can be controlled through diet and exercise,” she adds, “but it’s hard to have control if you don’t have the knowledge.”
The Diabetes Prevention Program is a community wellness curriculum and sessions are held at senior citizen centers, libraries, churches and for corporate wellness programs. Sessions are also held at the Hurley Diabetes Center located at 2065 S. Center Road in Burton, and at the YMCA. And the best thing about the program is that it offers group support. “It’s not just lecture,” she says. “People share experiences because they all have the same goal: to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s not just a class. You get the tools you need, group support, and the time to practice new healthy habits to get through the whole year.”
What Bernreuter wants people to know is that there IS something you can do if you are pre-diabetic. “I call it the ‘action phase,’” she says. “You have to do something or you will have it. If you can prevent it, you should. And, it’s not just for you. It’s good for the whole family.” She adds that it’s a healthy diet – healthy fats, lean meats, lots of fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products. “It’s all about making people aware of what they eat. When you write down what you eat in a food journal, you learn a lot.” Participants also write down the number of minutes of exercise, as activity is also a very important part of the program.
“It’s much easier to prevent diabetes than to treat it,” Bernreuter says. “Take action now. You have to take care of YOU first.”
For more information about all of Hurley’s Diabetes Education programs, visit hurleymc.com/wellness/programs/diabetes-education-programs/
Diabetes Prevention Tips from the American Diabetes Association
1. Increase your physical activity.
There are many benefits to regular physical activity. Exercise can help you: lose weight, lower your blood sugar, and boost your sensitivity to insulin – which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range. Research shows that aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes. The greatest benefit comes from a fitness program that includes both.
2. Get plenty of fiber.
Fiber may help you reduce your risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control, lower your risk of heart disease, and promote weight loss by helping you feel full. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts.
3. Go for whole grains.
It’s not clear why, but whole grains may reduce your risk of diabetes and help maintain blood sugar levels. Try to make at least half your grains whole grains.
Many foods made from whole grains come ready to eat, including various breads, pasta products and cereals. Look for the word “whole” on the package among the first few items in the ingredient list.
4. Lose extra weight.
If you’re overweight, diabetes prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every pound you lose can improve your health, and you may be surprised by how much. Participants in one large study who lost a modest amount of weight – around 7% of initial body weight – and exercised regularly, reduced the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60%.
5. Skip fad diets and just make healthier choices.
Low-carb diets, the glycemic index diet or other fad diets may help you lose weight at first; but their effectiveness at preventing diabetes and their long-term effects aren’t known. And by excluding or strictly limiting a particular food group, you may be giving up essential nutrients and often crave such foods. Instead, make variety and portion control part of your healthy-eating plan.
When to See Your Doctor
The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose screening if you are age 45 or older.