Changing habits can help control diabetes

By Sue Cody

Diabetes food pryamidDiabetes is a serious medical problem that is growing. But there is some good news: Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by a few simple lifestyle changes. And when people have more information about their diabetes, they can do a better job of controlling it. People in Clatsop County have a lot of support for fighting or managing diabetes.

Looking at some statistics, shows why education is important:

• Oregon has 287,000 adults diagnosed with diabetes and the rate has more than doubled in the past 20 years.

• Clatsop County adults are more likely to have diabetes – 9.7 percent compared to the state average of 8.2 percent, according to 2013 statistics from the Oregon Health Authority.

• Treating diabetes costs about $3 billion a year according to the Public Health Division of Oregon. Complications of untreated diabetes include heart disease, damage to eyes, nerves, hearing, feet and kidneys. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, toe, foot and leg amputations not caused by trauma, and new cases of adult blindness.

Risk factors include being overweight, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and low physical activity. These risks can be reduced, however. In one federal study, 58 percent of prediabetics did not develop diabetes after exercising more, eating healthier food and losing 5 to 7 percent of their weight.

Diabetes preventionWhat is diabetes?

Columbia Pacific CCO (CPCCO) describes type 2 diabetes this way:

“Insulin is a hormone that helps the body’s cells use sugar (glucose) for energy. It also helps the body store extra sugar in muscle, fat and liver cells. Type 2 diabetes happens when your body can’t use insulin the right way. Over time, the pancreas can’t make enough insulin.

“Without insulin, this sugar can’t get into your cells to do its work. It stays in your blood instead. Your blood sugar level then gets too high.”

It’s the high blood sugar that damages eyes, kidneys, circulation and contributes to greater likelihood of stroke or heart attack among diabetics.

Blood sugar can be tested at home, but that is a short-term measure. A hemoglobin blood glucose test (A1c) shows how much sugar has been in one’s blood during the past two to three months. The normal level is 4 to 6 percent. Diabetes is diagnosed when the A1c registers 6.5 percent or higher. Prediabetes is diagnosed with a test of 5.7 to 6.4 percent. The goal for diabetics is to get below 7 percent.

The most common symptoms of high blood sugar include:

• Feeling very thirsty
• Urinating more often than usual
• Feeling very hungry
• Blurred vision
• Losing weight

Diabetes prevention Beth SchwenkEducation and implementation

“Education can be a very effective medication,” says Beth Schwenk, certified diabetes educator at Seaside Providence Hospital.

“Diabetics who tested 8.6 percent before education, tested 7.2 percent after education and implementation,” she said

Factors that influence blood sugar include stress, food, smoking, exercise and medications. By eating the right kinds of food at the right times, it’s easier to control the blood sugar level, says Vann Lovett, Nutrition Services manager for Columbia Memorial Hospital (CMH).

“Being physically active can help control blood sugar levels,” she says. She recommends healthy foods and exercise 30 minutes five times a week to help lose weight and delay or prevent the onset of diabetes.

“Activity is like taking medication,” Schwenk says. “Muscles can absorb sugar when they are being used. You can lose weight and decrease stress.”

As a dietician, she likes to talk about the size of food portions. Smaller portions can lead to better eating habits. It is important for patients to take charge and make their own goals for diet and exercise.

“One of the simplest things we could all do to have a more nutrient-rich, weight-loss promoting diet, is eat at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables,” Schwenk says. “Any combination of the two food groups will do, and eating them in any form (fresh, frozen or canned) is better than not eating them at all.”

She also suggests eating more fiber and complex carbohydrates like those found in whole grains and beans. And never go more than five hours without eating, except while sleeping.Diabetes prevention Vann Lovett

See your doctor

Getting yearly checkups is important to catch diabetes early, says Schwenk.

The Way to Wellville encourages annual health exams, physical activity, weight control and healthy eating. Columbia Pacific CCO patients are covered for yearly checkups.

Most insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid pay for diabetes care. Medicaid in Oregon pays for testing supplies, lancets, meters, syringes, oral medications and insulin.

The Columbia Pacific CCO covers lancets, a spring-powered device for lancets, test trips, glucose monitor and replacement battery, glucose control solution, medications, alcohol wipes and diabetic shoes.

Beginning in 2018, Medicare will pay for the Diabetes Prevention Program.

Diabetes prevention 1Local classes

In January, Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District offers a Diabetes Prevention Program that includes 16 weekly meetings, followed by six monthly meetings. The time and dates will be determined by the participants. The registration fee is $50/$65, as well as proof of a membership pass to Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District for the duration of the program.

Trainer Zoe Manhire has certification from the Diabetes Training and Technical Assistance Center and is a certified health coach and fitness instructor. To register, call Manhire at 503-738-7393, ext. 2, or email:

Providence Seaside Hospital offers a free monthly diabetes support group. For information visit or call 503-215-6628.

Columbia Memorial Hospital offers self-management classes, group instruction, prediabetes classes, individual instruction and group support. For information, visit or call 503-338-4012.

National DPP flyer January 2017_1