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Got Diabetes? Free Class Helps You Cut through the Confusion about Food and Develop a Sensible Eating Plan

May 27, 2014

Every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes, reports the American Diabetes Association. Nearly 26 million Americans - children and adults - have diabetes, and another 79 million are at risk because they have pre-diabetes. In recent years, about 2 million new cases of diabetes have been diagnosed annually among adults in the U.S.

These statistics mean there are more than 100 million Americans who should be paying close attention to what they eat in order to help control their blood sugar and manage or prevent diabetes. But today, with all the news about food - what's healthy and what's not - following the right diet can be confusing and difficult.

On June 5, Washington Hospital's Outpatient Diabetes Center will sponsor a free education class for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes to learn about foods that may help keep their blood sugar in check. Research shows diabetes education aids people in preventing or delaying the disease or reversing complications through effective self-management. Called "Healthy or Hoax?" the class will review some common and long-time food myths and provide sensible eating advice for people who have or are at risk of having diabetes.

"It has never been easy to sort through the facts and fallacies about food. Clever phrases, marketing hoaxes, pseudo-science and testimonials don't help," said Kimberlee Alvari, registered dietitian and director of Food and Nutrition Clinical Services at Washington Hospital, who will lead the June 5 seminar.

The class is part of the Outpatient Diabetes Center's series of monthly diabetes education seminars called "Diabetes Matters," featuring expert speakers and group discussion. Topics focus on science-based information to help local residents increase their knowledge about diabetes.

Classes are held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium of the Washington West building next to Washington Hospital, 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. No registration is required. A Diabetes Support Group meeting follows the class from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Questions to be discussed during the class include:
* Does eating carbohydrates cause weight gain?
* Does eating sugar cause diabetes?
* Does cinnamon lower blood sugar?
* Is eating before bedtime fattening?
* Are calories fattening?Ê

"We'll also make recommendations about foods and dietary approaches that have proven to be especially effective for people with diabetes," Alvari added.

For example, she recommended that people with diabetes should consider eating broccoli, spinach and green beans because they are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. They may also want to consider a low-fat vegan diet, shown to be more effective than conventional diabetic diets in improving glucose levels and lipid concentrations in the bloodstream.
Alvari emphasized that following the dietary recommendations doesn't have to take the enjoyment out of eating: "You can still eat a wide variety of foods, including your favorites, if you do it in the right way."

Another key point is that eating a well-balanced diet is not the only thing needed to manage diabetes. It is also important to get regular physical exercise and follow any treatment regimen, such as medication, recommended by the treating physician.

Washington Hospital's Outpatient Diabetes Center, located at 3575 Beacon Avenue in
Fremont, has a dedicated team of certified diabetes educators who help people learn the skills needed to control diabetes for a lifetime. The staff works with patients, their family and physician to come up with a plan to fit the person's lifestyle. The Center's education program has been recognized by the American Diabetes Association for Quality Self-Management Education.

In Alameda County, local studies show 100,000 people have diabetes and an estimated one-third are unaware they have the disease. You may be at risk for diabetes if you have:
* High blood pressure
* Heart or blood vessel disease
* High cholesterol
* Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
* Dark, velvety patches of skin on the back of your neck, belly, arms or elsewhere (called Acanthosis nigricans)
* A family member, such as a parent, sibling or grandparent, with diabetes
* Given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
* Had gestational diabetes
* Been exposed to Agent Orange
* Taken certain steroids (prednisone)
* Ever had a high glucose level

You are also at risk if you:

* Smoke
* Drink regular soda
* Are overweight
* Are inactive
* Are African American, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander

Learn more.
For more information about the free class "Healthy or Hoax?" or other classes in the Diabetes Matters educational series, call (510) 745-6556. To learn more about the Outpatient Diabetes Center or Washington Hospital and its community seminars, education classes and events, go to www.whhs.com.

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