American Diabetes Month


As many of you know, Varick Church and the AME ZION Churches in the Hartford District have been collaborating with Yale University to raise awareness about the importance of clinical research. It’s important that our community participates and is represented in clinical studies. Participating in a clinical study may not only benefit you, it may also benefit our community and future generations. You do not have to have a medical condition to be in a clinical study. Many studies also look to recruit healthy volunteers to better understand our health. This is the first of many articles about health and different medical conditions that I hope you will read.

American Diabetes Month

November is American Diabetes Month, when increased attention is focused on preventing and treating this disease. Usually diagnosed in children and young adults, Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into the cells, over time it may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It affects more than 15 million Americans. Unfortunately, African Americans have higher rates of diabetes than the general population.

Tips for Controlling Diabetes

When you take care of your diabetes, you’ll feel better. You’ll reduce your risk for problems with your kidneys, eyes, nerves, feet and legs, and teeth. You’ll also lower your risk for a heart attack or a stroke. Your doctor may prescribe medication, but you can also take care of your diabetes by being physically active and following a healthy meal plan.

Healthy Eating

Learning what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat plays an important role in taking good care of yourself if you have diabetes. Making wise food choices can help keep your blood glucose — also called blood sugar — under control, help you lose weight if you need to, and lower your risk for heart disease, stroke and other problems associated with diabetes. You should eat a variety of foods and know how they may affect your blood sugar:

  • Starches, which include bread cereals, grains, pasta and starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes, have the highest amounts of carbohydrates. These foods have the greatest effect on your blood sugar levels. You should eat starches at every meal, but stick to reasonable portions and choose healthy alternatives, such as whole grains.
  • Vegetables also contain carbohydrates but much less than starches. The healthiest way to eat vegetables is raw or cooked with little or no fat, sauces or dressings. You can add flavor with lemon juice, broth, herbs and spices. If you do use fat, choose canola or olive oil.
  • Fruits contain carbohydrates, but like vegetables, provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. Avoid fruits or juices with added sugar, buy smaller pieces of fruit, and choose fruit instead of juice because it is more filling and contains more fiber.
  • It’s important to include milk products in your diet. Besides carbohydrates they contain calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals. Choose fat free or low fat dairy products.
  • Meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, fish and tofu are great sources of protein. Healthy portions of these foods are one to three ounces. Three ounces of cooked meat is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • You should limit the amounts of fats and sweets you eat. Serving size is especially important with these foods. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way: one strip of bacon equals one serving of fat! Sweets should be eaten sparingly. Try sharing a dessert in a restaurant or ordering a child-size portion of ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Get Moving

Being physically active can help lower your blood glucose, improve your body’s ability to use insulin, lower your risk for heart disease and stroke, and help you lose weight.

  • At work, walk over to see a co-worker instead of calling or emailing.
  • Stretch or walk around instead of taking a coffee break and eating
  • Walk around while you talk on the phone.
  • Walk down every aisle at the grocery store.
  • Park at the far end of parking lots.
  • Some medications can cause low blood glucose levels, especially during exercise. Always check with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise program and find out if you should check your blood glucose level before exercising.

Courtesy of NIDDK

Research at Yale University

Doctors at Yale, where the insulin pump to treat Type 1 diabetes was developed, are conducting research on Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. They are focused on research to detect the causes of diabetes and obesity, as well as clinical studies to find better treatments for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and ways to prevent these diseases.

If you have Type 1 diabetes, November is a good time to have your family members screened to see whether they might qualify for studies to try to prevent the disease. It’s also a good time to learn about research designed to find out which medicine has a better effect on Type 2 diabetes in the long term and which is better tolerated by patients.

For more information on nutrition, exercise and diabetes, visit the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.

To find out more about diabetes and obesity studies at Yale, visit www.yalestudies.org or call 1-877-978-8343.