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Published November 22, 2013, 10:35 AM

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Do you know someone with diabetes? Pause a few seconds and think of those around you. Maybe one or more of your relatives or friends have the disease. Maybe you have it, or maybe you don’t know you have it.

By: Julie Garden-Robinson, INFORUM

Do you know someone with diabetes? Pause a few seconds and think of those around you.

Maybe one or more of your relatives or friends have the disease. Maybe you have it, or maybe you don’t know you have it.

In about 10 seconds, I could think of five people who have a form of diabetes. Three are adults, including a pregnant woman, and two are children. All of them are doing well managing the disease, which is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels.

People with diabetes have a shortage of insulin and/or the inability to use insulin. Insulin helps move blood sugar into the cells to use as energy.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Uncontrolled diabetes can result in serious complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations and/or blindness, if not managed effectively. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

Some people have Type 1 diabetes, which often appears in childhood or early adulthood. People with Type 1 diabetes manage their disease with insulin injections or other medications and diet.

A growing number of people have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was called “adult onset” diabetes, but today more children are being diagnosed with this form of diabetes. Women may develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Sometimes gestational diabetes goes away after the birth of the child.

Other people have a condition known as “prediabetes.” This condition also is marked by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. The condition may progress to diabetes.

Pause again and answer these two questions. 1) Name at least three factors that put you at greater risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for more than 90 percent of diagnosed cases of diabetes. 2) Name at least three symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes.

As you ponder these questions, here are some statistics that outline the importance of knowing your risk. Diabetes cases are on the rise. From 1990 to 2010, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes tripled among adults ages 18 to 79.

About 6.9 percent of North Dakota adults have the disease, according to the 2012 Diabetes Report Card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alabama and Mississippi have the highest rates of diabetes, with 11.1 and 11.3 percent of adults diagnosed with the disease, respectively.

Let’s return to the earlier questions. Did you think of at least three risk factors for Type 2 diabetes? Some risk factors are beyond our control. We can’t control the fact we are getting older with each passing day, but advancing age puts us at greater risk for developing diabetes. Our family history or genetic background also may put us at greater risk.

Our race might put us at greater risk of developing diabetes. For example, Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans have a greater risk of diabetes. Women who have experienced gestational diabetes also are at greater risk for developing long-term diabetes.

Obesity and physical inactivity are among the risk factors that we can manage. We can change our way of eating and the amount of exercise we get.

How many symptoms of diabetes could you list? Be aware that some people with diabetes experience none of the symptoms on this list. In addition, those with Type 1 diabetes may experience flulike symptoms such as nausea or vomiting.

• Frequent urination

• Excessive thirst

• Unexplained weight loss

• Extreme hunger

• Sudden vision changes

• Tingling or numbness in hands or feet

• Feeling very tired much of the time

• Very dry skin

• Sores that are slow to heal

Balanced nutrition and physical activity play key roles in helping prevent chronic diseases, including diabetes. People with diabetes can avoid the long-term effects and live a long, healthy life by working with qualified health professionals, including physicians and other healthcare providers, registered dietitians and certified diabetes educators. You can learn more about diabetes by checking out the CDC diabetes resources at http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes.

Diabetes can have serious implications for eye health, so this week’s recipe features eye-healthy spinach. This quiche recipe is featured in “Recipes for Diabetes,” a free online cookbook courtesy of the University of Illinois Extension available at http://www.urbanext.illinois.edu/diabetesrecipes.

Crustless Spinach Quiche

5 large eggs, beaten

6 ounces of low-fat (1 percent) cottage cheese

4 ounces feta cheese

½ cups shredded Swiss cheese

2 tablespoons margarine

½ teaspoons nutmeg

1 (10-ounce) box frozen spinach, thawed and drained.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a quiche pan or 10-inch pie pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the spinach. Stir in spinach. Pour into a pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes until slightly browned on top.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 146 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbohydrate, 11 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber. In the diabetic exchange system, this counts as one medium-fat meat, one vegetable and one fat.


Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.

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