Take steps to lower risk of diabetes

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March 26 is Diabetes Alert Day. There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood glucose, or “blood sugar,” is too high. Insulin helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes, your pancreas does not make enough insulin, doesn’t make any or doesn’t use insulin effectively. When this occurs, glucose stays in your blood.

Over time, diabetes raises your risk of other health problems such as heart disease, kidney disease, eye problems, foot problems, nerve damage and stroke.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults but can be diagnosed at any age. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in your pancreas leading to no insulin production.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, can be diagnosed at any age and occurs when you do not produce enough insulin or your body does not use insulin very well.

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and goes away after the baby is born; however, having gestational diabetes puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, urination and hunger. Symptoms also include fatigue, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, blurred vision and unexplained weight loss. Being overweight, having high blood pressure, family history and physical inactivity increase your risk of type 2 diabetes in addition to having high triglycerides and/or low HDL “good cholesterol.” According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, those with diabetes experience increased medical costs of $9,000 directly attributed to diabetes. You can reduce your risk through eating a proper diet and becoming physically active.

Adults should achieve 150 minutes per week of exercise. Of course, this does not all need to happen in one day or at one time. Exercising as little as 10 minutes per day for five days a week will help lower your risk of diabetes. Joining a gym or walking around your neighborhood are always options, but don’t forget that Wilson Medical Center offers a quarter-mile walking and jogging track out front that is completely free, has a playground for the kids and offers educational exercise diagrams.

Eating a proper diet will also help to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A proper diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Lean protein choices include fish, white meat poultry, nuts, beans and seeds. If choosing meats, choose meats that are less fatty such as 93 percent lean meat and meats that do not have much white marbling or visible fat.

Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are extremely important in consuming enough fiber (25g per day for women, 30g per day for men) and reducing your risk of diabetes. Whole grains include oats, whole wheat bread, popcorn, whole wheat pasta, quinoa and brown rice.

When choosing fats to use in cooking, use unsaturated fats that are liquid at room temperature such as olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, etc. Unsaturated fats help to raise your HDL “good” cholesterol. Low-fat dairy products are also included in a healthy diet. Studies indicate that vitamin D has shown to lower the risk of diabetes. Choosing low-fat dairy gives you the same amount of vitamin D and calcium without the extra calories and saturated fat as regular whole-dairy products. Saturated fat has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

To help get you on the right track to lowering your risk of diabetes, follow these tips:

• Instead of using traditional white pasta for your spaghetti, use whole wheat pasta or even half traditional and half whole wheat.

• Increase the vegetables in your dishes. If a recipe calls for one cup of spinach, use a cup and a half. To sauté vegetables, use olive oil instead of butter. When eating pizza, load up the veggies and lay off the meats. Small changes add up and lead to a healthy lifestyle — after all “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

• In everyday life, I love to get recipes online and then apply a little “recipe rehab” to make them healthy. Instead of regular sour cream, I use light sour cream. Rather than using butter, I swap it to olive oil. Rather than using regular macaroni, I use whole wheat elbow noodles and throw in some veggies.

Remember than recipes aren’t rules. Small changes are better than no changes, and “healthy-ish” is better than unhealthy. To get started on your healthy lifestyle and reducing your risk of diabetes, try out this recipe from the American Diabetes Association: https://www.diabetesfoodhub.org/recipes/shrimp-saganaki.html.

Because recipes aren’t rules, I would change this recipe by leaving olives out of the recipe and using unsalted chicken broth.

For more nutrition and cooking, check out Wilson County Cooperative Extension’s website at www.wilson.ces.ncsu.edu and view “Available Programs” for upcoming classes.

Shrimp Saganaki

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup yellow onions (thinly sliced)

1 clove garlic (thinly sliced)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound U16–20 shrimp (peeled and deveined and tails left on)

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (halved)

1/4 cup Kalamata olives (pitted, rinsed)

1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth

1 tablespoon fresh oregano

1 tablespoon fresh dill (chopped)

1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)

2 ounces feta cheese (reduced-fat, crumbled)

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.

Add the shrimp, tomatoes, olives, stock and oregano, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are pink and almost completely opaque. Add the dill, parsley, and feta, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to heat through.

Remove skillet from the heat. Season with the salt and pepper and serve hot.

Diabetes Food Hub