Diet and Exercise Key Players in Diabetes Management




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lobally 371 million people have diabetes, about half undiagnosed. As the diabetes epidemic rises rapidly in low and middle income countries, so do the costs of medicine and treatment.


November is diabetes awareness month. Balancing food and fitness is crucial to combating diabetes, especially for many people in underserved communities worldwide who suffer from this destructive and incurable disease and have little access to treatment. (See earlier stories for description of diabetes and its upswing.)


“My diabetes is such a central part of my life. ... It did teach me discipline. ... It also taught me about moderation. ...
I feel better when I am in control.”
— Sonia Sotomayor,
U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Diabetes is affected by what people eat, how much they eat and when they eat. Healthful eating helps people with diabetes keep their blood glucose in their target range and helps their medicines work better. A healthy diet containing leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, lean meat, unsweetened yogurt and nuts can cut the risk of type 2 diabetes and reduce complications in people with diabetes. Quitting tobacco and using alcohol in moderation also strongly affect the health of people with diabetes.


Physical activity performs an important role in preventing type 2 diabetes. Even a modest weight loss can delay and prevent diabetes. Being extra active can increase the number of calories burned. Simple additions to a routine such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make a difference.


Medical practitioners who work collaboratively with each other, and with all members of the health care team, such as primary health care providers, physician assistants, nurse educators and community health workers, can promote better outcomes for people with diabetes. But the most important member of any health care team is the well-informed patient. The more everyone learns about a disease such as diabetes, the healthier we all are.


WiRED International offers almost 20 different education modules in its series on diabetes. These include an overview (also in Spanish), courses for different target audiences, guides to eating, and segments on how diabetes affects the heart, eyes, teeth and gums, skin and feet.



Test Your Diabetes IQ!

Questions from the Eating and Diabetes module and the Physical Activity and Diabetes module.

1. TRUE or FALSE? Milk provides protein.


2. How long should a person warm up and stretch before exercising?

 a. 5 to 10 minutes
 b. 2 to 5 minutes
 c. 1 to 2 minutes
 d. 10 to 12 minutes

3. For people with diabetes, what they eat and when they eat depends on:

 a. Their eye color
 b. How much they exercise
 c. Whether they have asthma

4. What percentage of weight loss can delay and possibly prevent type 2 diabetes?

 a. 5% to 7%
 b. 10% to 15%
 c. 15% to 20%
 d. 20% or more

5. Aerobic exercise is an activity that requires the use of:

 a. Fine motor skills
 b. Large muscles
 c. Goggles
 d. Weights



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