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‘Living Well with Diabetes’ class offered

by Alison Crane | September 19, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Alison Crane - Submitted photo

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes causes more deaths per year than breast cancer and AIDS combined, and having diabetes nearly doubles your chance of having a heart attack.

In ancient and medieval times, a diagnosis of diabetes was basically a death sentence. The good news today is that medical advancements and lifestyle changes can help you manage your diabetes and reduce your risk for diabetes complications while allowing you or your loved ones to lead a full and satisfying life.

Diabetes can have serious complications if left untreated or mismanaged. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease and it is also the leading cause of kidney failure and blindness in adults. People with diabetes are also 10 times more likely to experience lower limb amputation and 60-70% have nerve damage.

We recognize the potential complications from diabetes, but have you ever wondered why diabetes affects your body so strongly? Most people have heard the terms: blood sugar, glucose, carbohydrates, and insulin, but that does not mean they understand how those words affect the life of a person with or without diabetes. Understanding the clinical aspects of how to keep diabetes under control and how to prevent it can be a game-changer.

Our bodies need energy (sugar, also called glucose) to support all bodily functions. We get that energy through the foods we eat. Once eaten the food is broken down into usable parts to be transported around through our circulatory system. Our blood serves as a vital transportation system to bring all the necessary nutrients and oxygen that our individual cells need to function and do their thing.

The problem with diabetes is that the key (insulin) to opening the door to the cells and letting everything in is either not being produced by our body or not effective. This causes a backlog of glucose in our blood that has to go somewhere. Our kidneys then have to work extra hard to filter all of the extra sugar out of our blood and after a while that can place a strain on them. If the kidneys are not working properly or are damaged, then it affects our heart and other body systems.

The best thing to do is to take steps to prevent diabetes from ever developing but in the case of Type 1 diabetes or family history, sometimes all you can do is manage it. This includes keeping up with your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol. There are some basic actions that everyone can take to help prevent diabetes from developing and/or manage their health and blood sugar:

• Lose weight. Research has shown that people who lose 5-7% of their body weight can prevent or stop diabetes.

• Follow a healthy diet low in sugar, salts, and fat. This does not mean food does not get to taste good anymore. has some great recipes and tips for maintaining a healthy diet.

• Exercise. There is no denying the importance or benefits of exercise. The CDC recommends that the average adult should get a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity each week and participate in muscle-strengthening activities two or more times each week.

Living well is a lifetime of commitment and learning. Living well with diabetes can be challenging but it can be done. Most people have to do this with medicine and lifestyle changes.

The Garland County Extension Service is offering a free four-week class, "Living Well with Diabetes," in partnership with the Garland County Library for people with diabetes or those who have loved ones with the disease. The classes will teach an overview of diabetes to help take the medical terms down to everyday language and how to prevent complications from diabetes. Participants will also learn about nutrition management and healthy meal planning. Food demonstrations and tastings will allow opportunities to try healthy recipes that are diabetic-friendly and low-cost. This program is intended to supplement but not replace individualized meal planning instruction from qualified health care providers.

For more information about this or other Extension wellness programs, contact the Garland County Cooperative Extension Service at 501-623-6841 or email [email protected] To register for the "Living Well with Diabetes" class, contact the Garland County library at 501-623-4161 or visit Class size is limited.

4-H information

There are several 4-H Clubs for Garland County youths who are 5 to 19 years old. For more information on all the fun 4-H activities that are available, call Carol Ann McAfee at the Extension Office, 501-623-6841, or email her at [email protected]

Master Gardener information

Master Gardener meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at the Elks Lodge. Meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome. For more information, call Luke Duffle at 501-623-6841 or email [email protected]

EHC information

Interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For more information on EHC, call Alison Crane, family and consumer sciences agent, at 501-623-6841 or email her at [email protected]

photo Diabetes is a serious disease, but can be successfully managed by taking steps to avoid complications. - Submitted photo

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