Take Charge of Your Own Diabetes Care

Wednesday, November 06, 2013 4:53 PM comments (0)

diabetes careThere is no cure for type 2 diabetes but it can be controlled. Controlling type 2 diabetes can become a seamless part of your daily life, from eating a healthy, well-balanced diet to making time for regular exercise.  Lifestyle changes like these are important to prevent diabetic health issues, but it is equally important to stay on top of appointments and health checks with your physician. It doesn’t take long for high blood sugar to damage your body, so regular testing and checkups to catch problems as early as possible are vital. 

Mary Bennett, RD, LD, CDE, Diabetes Education Outpatient Manager at NorthShore, shares a checklist of important diabetic tests and when they need to be done to help you take control of your own type 2 diabetes care:

  • A1c test. Lowering A1c reduces diabetes complications.
    How often: Every 3-6 months.
  • Blood pressure. Lowering your blood pressure reduces your risk of stroke, kidney and eye problems.
    How often: Every visit.
  • Cholesterol (LDL) levels. Lowering your LDL level reduces your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
    How often: Every year.
  • Depression screen. A diabetes diagnosis can be difficult. This test monitors your emotional health and allows you the opportunity to discuss the effect that diabetes may have on your lifestyle.
    How often: Every year.
  • Diabetes kidney function test. Catching and treating early kidney damage may prevent the need for dialysis.
    How often: Every year.
  • Eye exam. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease. It can cause loss of vision and blindness. Early detection is very important.
    How often: Every year. 
  • Foot exam. Diabetes can cause neuropathy, or nerve damage. This nerve damage can lessen your ability to feel pain in your feet and extremities, which means injuries might go unnoticed and worsen over time. Check your feet daily. More comprehensive checks should be done by your doctor as well. He/she will observe your feet, check pulses and test sensation using a monofilament.
    How often: Every year. 
  • Immunizations. Some illness like the flu, pneumonia and tetanus can be very serious for people with diabetes. It is important to stay up-to-date on vaccines to prevent complications.
    How often: Every year. 

Join us November 14th at 10 a.m. for an online medical chat "Living with Diabetes: The Importance of Foot Health" with Harry Papagianis, D.P.M., NorthShore-affiliated Podiatrist. Submit your questions here. 

A Sugar High – Knowing When Too Much is Too Much

Thursday, January 03, 2013 11:01 AM comments (0)

It’s hard to avoid the temptation of having something sweet—whether it’s an after- dinner treat, a mid-afternoon snack or something you indulge in to reward yourself for a hard day’s work. Like most things, in moderation, sugar shouldn’t lead to any long-term health concerns. However, when consumed in excess—both in its natural form and processed form—sugar can lead to some very serious health conditions.

Mary Bennett, RD, LDN, CDE, a diabetes educator at NorthShore, identifies some of the health concerns that excess sugar can lead to:

  • Obesity – Sugary foods are usually higher in calories and can leave you not feeling full. A diet high in sugar can lead to excess daily calories, and if not burned off through exercise can lead to increased weight.
  • Increased risk of diabetes and heart disease – A diet high in sugar doesn’t necessarily lead to the onset of diabetes, but it can increase your odds. The same holds true for developing heart conditions, as a diet high in sugar can often increase cholesterol and fat levels (triglycerides) in the blood.
  • Added calories – Sugar adds calories and displaces nutritious foods. It is important to note that there is no difference between honey, maple syrup and molasses. Sugar is sugar.

The American Heart Association has set a limit for consumer consumption of sugar, which includes:

  • 9 teaspoons daily (150 calories) for men  
  • 6 teaspoons daily (100 calories) for women

How do you control your cravings for something sweet? What is your favorite alternative snack?

Salt – When Too Much is Too Much

Monday, November 12, 2012 2:11 PM comments (0)

A dash of salt here and there for flavoring can’t hurt, right? While moderate amounts of sodium in your daily diet are fine, it’s often easy to eat more than necessary. Look on any label – especially those of pre-packaged and more-processed foods—and sodium is almost certain to be one of the ingredients.

The American Heart Association recommends 2,300 mg daily as the highest daily acceptable level, and if you are over 51 years, African American or have heart disease including high blood pressure, the recommendation is 1,500 mg.

Too much salt can lead to health problems, including cardiovascular disease particularly hypertension. For this reason, it’s never a bad idea to learn some quick ways to pass on the salt.

Mary Bennett, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at NorthShore, offers the following tips to help reduce your daily sodium intake:

  • Read the label. Before purchasing and consuming food, read the label. If the total sodium value on the label is more than 5% of the recommended daily value of sodium, you may want to reconsider purchasing or at least limit your portion size.
  • Pass on passing the salt shaker. Maybe the easiest way to avoid eating too much salt is to not have the shaker on the table during mealtimes. If you are looking to add additional flavors to a dish, use herbs and spices. There are also sodium-free mixes available that can provide lots of flavor without the sodium.
  • Eat in, not out. More often than not when you eat out – especially at fast food restaurants—more sodium will be added than what you would typically use at home. The best way to reduce your salt intake when you’re out to eat is to avoid adding additional garnishes (pickles, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, etc.) to your meal and to watch your portion size.
  • Opt for the low- or reduced-sodium choices at the grocery store. If you can, choose natural ingredients and skip the frozen, processed and packaged food options.

What do you do to limit your sodium consumption? What is one salty food you couldn’t live without?

Diabetes - Knowing the Symptoms and Your Risk

Monday, January 23, 2012 8:20 AM comments (1)

This past week, diabetes has taken the spotlight after celebrity chef Paula Deen announced that she has Type 2 diabetes. As the most common form of diabetes, this condition affects more than eight percent of children and adults in the United States.

Mary Bennett, RD, LDN, CDE, a Diabetes Education Manager at NorthShore, identifies who is at risk for being diagnosed with diabetes. She also talks about key symptoms to be mindful of in her video interview.

Diabetes

According to Bennett, the following risk factors exist for diabetes:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Lack of physical exercise (less than 150 minutes each week)
  • Being overweight
  • High blood pressure (more than 130/80)
  • Being over 40 years old
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds or having had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Being African American, Native American, Asian American, Hispanic, Eastern Asian or Pacific Islander

What are you currently doing to help reduce your risk of diabetes?

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