Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Piedmont Mountainside nutritionist emphasizes portion control, 30 minutes of daily exercise

March 25 marks the 20th anniversary of the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Alert Day, a one-day, "wake-up" call to inform Americans about the seriousness of diabetes. Nearly 21 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes. One in five Americans are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. More than six million Americans don't know they have the disease, also known as the "silent killer."

While these statistics are alarming, residents in Pickens County and the surrounding communities have a year-round warrior to help them identify their risk of getting diabetes. Louise Brown, MPH, RD, LD, CDE, is the nutrition services manager at Piedmont Mountainside Hospital. She is responsible for making sure all patients, visitors and employees have healthy food options available. She also talks to area organizations about the importance of eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight.

"Watching portion sizes and exercising are the best steps people can take to prevent diabetes or manage their diabetes," said Ms. Brown. "Eating smaller meals no more than four hours apart and exercising just 30 minutes a day can help lower blood glucose levels and help with weight loss."

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use sugar. Sugar, or glucose, is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause serious health problems.

However, Ms. Brown states that too many people focus on their sugar intake and not their diet as a whole. She says it's important to evaluate the amount of carbohydrates eaten at any given meal and focus on eating a high-fiber, low-fat diet. She recommends limiting carbohydrate intake to 45 grams per meal and consuming 25-30 grams of fiber daily.

It is estimated that 5-10 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have Type 1. The majority has Type 2, typically caused by poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Gestational diabetes affects about four percent of all pregnant women in the U.S. each year. Pre-diabetes, a condition where a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of Type 2, affects four million Americans.

Ms. Brown also stresses the importance of healthy habits for the whole family. Type 2 diabetes specifically can be passed down to generations so don't allow your child or grandchild to eat cake and cookies all day, she says. During her talks with patients or community presentations, Ms. Brown advises them to think of the plate as divided into three parts: 1/2 filled with non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli or carrots, 1/4 with a carbohydrate like whole-grain pasta or bread and 1/4 with protein such as lean meat or fish.

"There's no need to make separate meals for you and your family," stated Ms. Brown. "Everyone can eat the same nourishing, portion-appropriate meals, even the occasional sweets like a 1/4 cup of pudding or a one-inch square of cake with frosting."

Piedmont Mountainside Hospital provides diabetes education, testing and nutrition counseling for all patients. For more information about these services, visit For more information about Diabetes Alert Day, visit
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