Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Encourages Everyone to Eat Right and Exercise to Prevent and Treat Diabetes
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CHICAGO – With more than 25 million people in the United States currently living with diabetes and another 79 million with prediabetes, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages all Americans to take positive steps towards improving their health as part of American Diabetes Month and beyond.
What are Diabetes and Prediabetes?
Simply defined, diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body converts sugar, starch and other substances found in food into energy. People with diabetes have a high level of glucose in their blood, which can be caused by too little insulin being produced by the pancreas, the body not accepting or using the insulin it produces, or a combination of both. Blood glucose (blood sugar) levels must be controlled through a healthful eating plan as designed by a professional like a registered dietitian nutritionist, physical activity and, for some people, medication or insulin injections.
"Prediabetes occurs when your blood glucose levels are higher than the normal range but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Toby Smithson. "If left untreated, 15 to 30 percent of people diagnosed with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years."
How to Prevent Diabetes
While Type 1 diabetes often begins in childhood and the onset is sudden and often unpreventable, Type 2 diabetes develops slowly, and diagnosis usually happens after age 40, but increasingly is being diagnosed in children and adolescents.
Type 2 diabetes is associated with certain risk factors, including older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity and race/ethnicity. Research has demonstrated that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by weight loss through moderate diet changes and physical activity.
"If you've been diagnosed with prediabetes, it's not too late," Smithson said. "Studies have identified two effective strategies to help manage prediabetes and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes."
- Reduce your body weight by 7 percent. "While this weight loss may not put you at your goal weight, it is a step in the right direction toward managing your blood glucose levels and increasing your sensitivity to insulin."
- Get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. "A great way to get started is by walking. Aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking five times a week."
How to Treat Diabetes?
"There is no one diet for all people with diabetes. There is, however, a 'recipe' for eating healthfully that is similar to recommendations for heart health, cancer prevention and weight management," Smithson said.
Following a balanced diet and eating meals at consistent times can help with weight loss and blood glucose control.
Smithson recommends, when putting together a meal plan, keeping the following tips in mind:
- Be mindful of the amount and timing of the carbohydrates you eat.
- Eat a variety of quality carbohydrates every day, like whole-grain foods, low-fat milk or yogurt, fruits and vegetables.
- Eat less saturated and trans fat.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol.
- Monitor your overall sodium intake throughout the day.
"A registered dietitian nutritionist is one of your best resources for developing a plan to make these lifestyle changes," Smithson said. "If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, an RDN can create a simple eating plan tailored just for you, taking into account your weight, medicines, lifestyle, tastes and other health problems you may have. The expert advice of an RDN can help you manage your diabetes while ensuring you get the nutrients your body needs."
Registered dietitian nutritionists are food and nutrition experts who have completed multiple levels of training established by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some RDNs also have a specialty interest or an advanced credential such as Certified Diabetes Educator. An RDN who is a CDE will have a unique and specialized skill set to help educate people with diabetes on how to manage their condition and improve their outcomes. Visit www.eatright.org to find a registered dietitian nutritionist near you.
Are You Covered?
Find out if your health insurance plan covers nutrition services for prediabetes and diabetes, along with access to qualified practitioners, like registered dietitian nutritionists. Call the member services number located on the back of your insurance card today.
All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The Academy's Board of Directors and Commission on Dietetic Registration have determined that those who hold the credential registered dietitian (RD) may optionally use "registered dietitian nutritionist" (RDN) instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at www.eatright.org.