SOUND MIND, SOUND BODY: Resource plentiful to help head off, deal with diabetes

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Nov-ember is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and the Walla Walla YMCA wants people to be aware of their risk for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes as well as what preventive steps you can take today to reduce that risk.

Currently, 6.7 percent of county residents have diabetes. We are not alone. Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and a staggering 79 million people have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose is elevated, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

While the nation's struggle with obesity and type 2 diabetes is well chronicled, pre-diabetes is a growing problem that can be prevented with changes in eating habits and increased physical activity.

People with pre-diabetes are at risk to develop not only type 2 diabetes but also cardiovascular diseases, stroke and other conditions.

Learning that you have pre-diabetes does not necessarily mean you will develop type 2 diabetes. In fact, it's the first step in preventing type 2 diabetes so you have the motivation to adopt more healthy eating habits and regular physical activity. You don't have to make the changes alone -- there are many programs in our community that can help.

Providence St. Mary Medical Center offers a series of "The Power to Reverse or Control Diabetes" support group meetings.

These meetings are usually offered the third Thursday of the month, except in December. The next scheduled meeting is Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. in the Providence Room at the hospital.

The topic for this one-hour meeting is "how do successful weight losers do it?" In addition, there will be diabetes classes Nov. 28 and 29 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. each day with different topics each day.

Free exercise books, videos and other printed material will be available. Participants will learn about healthy eating, being active, monitoring blood sugar and how to cope with diabetes. Pre-registration is not required.

For more information or questions call Ron Kammer, diabetes educator at St. Mary, at 509-529-8922.

Walla Walla General Hospital also provides diabetes group classes that are taught by registered nurse Betty Jo Vercio and registered dietician Trudee Nims.

Patients will meet weekly for five to six weeks, with the focus on encouraging a total wellness plan. The goal is to optimize health with the changes that each patient wants to make. Topics include exercise, stress management, blood glucose monitoring, diabetes management, dietary guidelines medications and more. Group patients receive an individual appointment with an educator and a dietitian. For dates and times call 509-527-8045.

If you have diabetes or want to learn more about it, WWGH is hosting a Diabetes Luau on Sunday, November 20, from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. This FREE health fair will include vendors, speakers, many giveaways, as well as glucose, osteoporosis, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings. Dr. Michaela Cosma, local endocrinologist, will be one of the speakers. Come take advantage of a chair massage, "Ask the Dietitian" booth, neuro biofeedback, cooking demonstrations, Hula -Hooping and much, much more! Bring a friend and receive an extra prize ticket! The Diabetes Luau will take place at WWGH Auditorium & Dining Rooms 1025 S. Second Avenue, Walla Walla.

The Walla Walla YMCA offers a program called "On the Edge." This is an eight week program for pre-diabetics that are willing to make lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes.

This course offers one-hour lectures each week, individual nutritional guidance with Maria Lizotte, a diabetes educator, plus exercise classes with our Y Wellness Coaches. The next class will start January 2, 2012. For more information, contact me. I'm the director of healthy living at the Y, and you can call me at 509-525-8863.

As one of the nation's leading nonprofits dedicated to strengthening community through healthy living, the Walla Walla YMCA urges residents of our community to assess their risk for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes by visiting YMCA.net/diabetes-prevention. Individuals can learn how background and lifestyle choices including family history, age, weight and activity level help determine the ultimate risk for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Some basic lifestyle changes that contribute to weight loss and healthy living can decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Among these are:

Eating fruits and vegetables every day.

Choosing fish, lean meats, and poultry without skin.

Aiming for whole grains with every meal.

Being moderately active at least 30 minutes per day five days a week.

Water to drink instead of beverages with added sugar.

Speaking to your doctor about your diabetes risk factors, especially if you have a family history or are overweight.

To learn more about the programs offered at the Walla Walla YMCA, Providence St. Mary and Walla Walla General Hospital please contact them directly.

Christy Druffel received her bachelor's from Oregon State University in exercise sport science and fitness program management. She has been working for the YMCA for the last 15 years and is currently the Director of Healthy Living.

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