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Around the Home: Diabetes newsletter offers advice
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Participants at the Northeast Georgia Diabetes 101 Conference recently learned many new ways to deal with this dangerous condition.

If you missed the conference, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and the College of Family and Consumer Sciences have resources to help you.

"Diabetes Life Lines" is an online newsletter for people living with diabetes. Published every other month by Connie Crawley, UGA Cooperative Extension Food, Nutrition and Health Specialist, the latest issue is jam-packed with great information.

You may access the newsletter at

In every issue you’ll find the latest information about new diabetes medications, tasty new recipes that will help keep your blood sugars in check, and timely information about foods to eat and physical activities to try. Here are two of the articles from the Fall 2011 issue:

What makes Americans fat?

An article in the June 23, 2011, "New England Journal of Medicine" reports that certain foods increase risk for becoming overweight and others decrease risk.

Data was gathered from the first "Nurses’ Health Study," "the Nurses’ Health Study II" and the "Health Professionals Follow-Up Study." Initially, the people studied were normal weight, but over a 20-year period, the average person gained almost 17 pounds. The researchers found that weight gain was linked with increased intakes of potato chips, other types of potatoes such as French fries, sugary drinks, red meat and processed meats. Also associated to a lesser degree was increased consumption of butter, juice, sweets, desserts, and refined grains like white flour. Foods found to prevent weight gain were yogurt, nuts, fruits, whole grains, vegetables and milk.

Drinking more alcohol and watching more TV also resulted in weight gain, as did sleeping less than six hours per night. If a person quit smoking, they gained an average of five pounds, but starting to smoke didn’t produce weight loss.

As expected, those who became more active gained nearly two pounds less over a four-year period than those who remained inactive.

Researchers aren’t sure why yogurt, nuts, fruit, whole grains, milk and vegetables were protective. It may be the fiber from the nuts, fruits, whole grains and vegetables, the beneficial bacteria in the yogurt or the feeling of fullness that occurs when we drink milk with our meals. All of these factors may contribute, but it could be that people who eat these foods just have an overall healthier lifestyle.

MyPlate catches up with diabetes recommendations

For years, diabetes educators have used the Idaho Plate Method to show people how to choose foods to control portions and carbohydrates. Plate methods visual representations of what a well-proportioned plate of foods and portion sizes looks like:

The most popular pattern, pictured right, fills half the plate with non-starchy vegetables, a fourth with starch and final fourth with a protein food. On the side are fruit and a cup of non-fat or low fat milk or yogurt.

Similarly the new U.S.D.A. MyPlate icon, pictured left fills one-fourth of the plate with a protein food and places the dairy food on the side. What differs is that half the plate has vegetables and fruits and a new section is called "Grains."

The Plate Method groups starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn with the grains since both have similar amounts of carbohydrate. In contrast, MyPlate combines starchy vegetables with non-starchy vegetables and separates the grains because they contain different vitamins and minerals with less emphasis on carbohydrates.

Both plates recommend we fill up on vegetables to promote good health, but encourage other food groups for balance. The key is portion control. Use these suggestions to balance your calorie intake.

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less and avoid oversized portions;
  • Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables;
  • At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains;
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk.
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals, choosing foods with the lower numbers.
  • Plain water is better for you than sugary drinks.

Remember radon

Radon is in the news on YouTube and national TV. Check out the new EPA Radon PSA where NFL Player Chester Pitts, offensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks, tells homeowners about radon.!

Watch Dr. Oz’s focus on radon in his February 2011 series on "The No. 1 Cancer Risk at Home." Parts 1 and 2 are available on his website, www. Search "radon" on the site.

Ginger Bennett is a UGA Radon Educator based in the Hall County Cooperative Extension Office. She can be reached at 770-535-8290 or

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