July 5, 1998 | By: Ellen Brightwell

Exercising regularly and watching your diet can help prevent and control diabetes, a major health problem affecting about five percent of Kentucky's population, or some 250,000 people. The good news is that a simple medical test can determine if you have this disease.

"The American Diabetes Association recommends that everyone over age 45 have a fasting blood glucose test at least once every three years. Kentuckians can have this test done at their local health departments, primary health care physician's office and often at health fairs," said Janet Tietyen, Extension food and nutrition specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

"The earlier diabetes is detected, the easier it is to live with this disease," she said. "Research shows that keeping blood glucose under good control can help prevent or delay the onset of other serious health problems. Untreated diabetes can lead to complications such as kidney disease, strokes or blindness. Complications from diabetes are greater for people with hypertension (high blood pressure) and for smokers."

Some groups of people have a higher risk of developing diabetes, according to Tietyen. These high-risk groups include people who are over age 45, are overweight, participate in minimal physical activity, have a sedentary lifestyle, or have a family history of the disease, such as brothers or sisters or parents with diabetes.

"A good diet and regular physical activity are important both in preventing the onset of diabetes and in helping control blood glucose," Tietyen said. "A healthy, high-fiber diet -- one with plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains -- will help control blood glucose. Reduced fat intake is another part of a healthy diet -- one that will reduce the risk of diabetes. Research has shown that fat, whether from food or in the body, interferes with the action of insulin, the hormone that helps the body regulate blood glucose.

"Regular physical activity also helps control blood glucose. Research has shown that even moderate physical activity such as gardening, cleaning house, or walking briskly are beneficial. One study revealed that for every 200 calories burned by physical activity, insulin sensitivity, which helps keep blood sugar under control, increased nearly two percent. To improve your health, take part in some physical activity for 30 minutes at least three times a week."

Contact: 

Writer: Ellen Brightwell
(606) 257-1376 

Source: Janet Tietyen
(606) 257-1812