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Wilburn: Control diabetes with right nutrition
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Everyone who has diabetes needs to follow an eating plan approved by their physician. And most should follow a physical activity plan, too.

For some people, weight loss and active living are enough to control type-2 diabetes. For others, pills and periodic insulin injections are needed to keep blood sugar levels under control.

Left unchecked, diabetes may cause major damage to your nervous system and to the blood vessels in your eyes, kidneys, heart and feet.

A type-2 diabetic diet isn't too different from any healthy eating pattern. Your doctor, along with a registered dietitian, can help you plan what's right for you - portion sizes, types of food and overall timing of meals and snacks.

Here are some nutrition tips for those with diagnosed type-2 diabetes:

Space meals and snacks throughout the day. Eat about the same time each day to help maintain a steady supply of glucose to the blood.

Eat less fat, especially saturated fat. Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and increases the risk for heart disease.

Choose foods high in fiber. Fiber helps maintain normal bowel function and may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Count all the sugar and starch in foods as part of your daily total carbohydrates. All digestible carbohydrates - sugars and starches - turn into blood glucose sooner or later. Eat whole grains, vegetables and milk throughout the day to provide the body with a steady supply of sugar for energy. Use table sugar, honey and foods high in sugar sparingly. If you have a sweet tooth, try a sugar substitute.

Drink alcoholic beverages sparingly or not at all. Alcohol use when you're taking insulin can cause blood sugar to fall too low.

Read the nutrition labels to choose healthy foods. This makes it easier to compare products and plan meals that help manage diabetes.

Source: University of Missouri Extension

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.

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