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©2017 by Meredith Wellman | Simply Wellman

  • Meredith Stone Wellman, RD, LD

Let's Tackle Diabetes in WV!

I can't control the weather, wars, or where I was born. I can't control viruses, genetic makeup, or accidents. I can control the thoughts I think and how I live my life right now.

For how many things we cannot control in life, we should be putting a little bit more energy towards the things we can control. Preventing and/or better managing lifestyle-related diseases could change the whole future of humans and healthcare, and the power is in our hands! Think about all the medications not needed, all the money saved, and all the deaths delayed...

On the other hand, some health conditions will happen no matter our efforts to be healthy. Above all, living a healthy lifestyle helps make life more full and our bodies and minds more strong.

As for lifestyle-related diseases, I see individuals with type 2 diabetes on a daily basis. Most didn't know the risk factors and preventative measures that could have been taken- This truly hurts my heart. I have seen what negative lifestyle choices can do to one's health, but I have also seen how positive lifestyle choices can turn their health (& life!) around. Keep reading to learn more about diabetes (type 2) and what we can all do starting now:

Leading Causes of Death in US in 2017:

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in US, and *three out of the other top 10 leading causes of death are comorbidities of diabetes. Note: This accounts for type 1 and type 2 diabetes, only type 2 is a lifestyle-related disease.

  • Heart disease: 647,457*

  • Cancer: 599,108

  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936

  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201

  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383*

  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404

  • Diabetes: 83,564

  • Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672

  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633*

  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173

"Diabetes has escalated to epidemic proportions in West Virginia, where approximately 12% of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes by a health care professional. West Virginians have also experienced higher prevalence of co-morbid conditions such as obesity, physical inactivity, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

The estimated number of persons with diabetes in West Virginia is 240,626. There are 65,210 West Virginians whom are undiagnosed.

Access to diabetes education, care and management is limited and/or non-existent in many rural areas of West Virginia. People living in these rural areas are therefore more likely to have devastating diabetes consequences. The social, psychological, physical and economic costs associated with diabetes, create a burden for individuals, families, the state and the nation."

-West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

"We also know a lot more about type 2 diabetes. We know that family history, obesity, and physical inactivity are risk factors for this condition, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes. NIH-funded research has shown that type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented. Basic lifestyle interventions — modest weight loss and regular exercise — slash type 2 diabetes risk by 58% over 3 years in people with pre-diabetes. Despite this good news, type 2 diabetes still accounts for 90% of diabetes cases nationwide and has been increasing at an alarming rate due to the rise in obesity in the United States.

-National Institutes of Health

Please be sure to note the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, which means the body attacks its own pancreas cells. This results in a need for an external insulin source. A healthy lifestyle can certainly help manage the disease, but at this time we cannot control and prevent onset.

Type 2 is very different. Type 2 diabetes covers over 90% of the total diabetic population (1). Lifestyle can contribute to developing this disease. "Your chances of developing type 2 diabetes depend on a combination of risk factors such as your genes and lifestyle. Although you can’t change risk factors such as family history, age, or ethnicity, you can change lifestyle risk factors around eating, physical activity, and weight." -NIH

Meaning, how we live life has a huge impact on type 2 diabetes. A strong family history is not a guarantee, you can change the future family history. Medication is not always necessary and living a healthy lifestyle can be a form of disease management. You do have control!

*Read more about risk factors and take a quiz to see if you are at high risk for type 2 diabetes: Click Here

Did you see that last section of the infographic, "What you can do to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes?" Consuming a nutritious and balanced diet, being physically active, seeing professional healthcare providers, and testing blood sugar can all help.

Q: Who can benefit from nutrition and lifestyle education about type 2 diabetes?

A) Those who have already developed type 2 diabetes.

B) Those who do not have type 2 diabetes and have a strong family history and/or have risk factors.

C) Those who do not have type 2 diabetes, nor a strong family history, but have risk factors.

D) Those who do not have type 2 diabetes, nor a strong family history, nor risk factors.

E) All of the above.

A: E- All of the above.

If you have already developed type 2 diabetes, do not get down on yourself- You can start now with where you're at! You have control and can help prevent complications from diabetes (stroke, loss of limb, blindness, etc.). If you have not yet developed diabetes, you can live a healthy lifestyle to delay or prevent onset.

What can you do starting right now?

1. Check for warning signs of type 2 diabetes:

1. Frequent urination: From constantly high blood sugar.

2. Weight loss without trying: The body cannot use sugar properly and turns to fat stores for fuel.

3. Frequent UTI or yeast infections: When blood sugar is high the kidneys are unable to filter properly, this can cause sugar in urine which is a good environment for bacteria.

4. Worsening vision: From constantly high blood sugar, this can damage eye nerves.

5.Frequent fatigue or exhaustion: From constantly elevated blood sugar levels and/or kidney damage.

6. Skin discoloration: Darkening of skin on neck and/or around knuckles, this is called "acanthosis nigricans" and can be a sign of insulin resistance.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

2. Do:

-If you experience any of the warning signs, make an appointment with your physician for further evaluation. Even if you do not have warning signs and have not had labs done in greater than 1 year, a check up may be of benefit. (It's easier to prevent than it is to manage!) You can also get an at home blood glucose monitor.

-If you already have type 2 diabetes, keep appointments with your physician for proper monitoring. Keep reading...

-Sit less and move more: Activity helps our bodies regulate blood sugar more efficiently.

-Get good sleep: Not necessarily more, but good rest. Sleep deprivation can disrupt insulin sensitivity, blood sugar control, and appetite. "Sleep deprivation is an often overlooked but significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes." Read more: National Sleep Foundation

-Add plant foods: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and herbs all contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients that can help the body work more efficiently. More of these foods can decrease intake of less nutritious, more processed, and high added sugar foods/drinks.

-Look for new recipes and make a plan to fix one, see snack ideas at bottom of page, or go to:

3. How can you learn more right here in good ole WV?

-HIMG's Diabetes Education Class: A comprehensive care group class taught by a dietitian (myself), endocrinology's nurse practitioner, and the psychologist. The three parts for total diabetes management and more chance for success! This is a very unique opportunity in this area.

Call 304-528-4600 for more information. (See: HIMG)

-Make an appointment with the dietitian for more personalized nutrition care: Call 304-528-4600, ext. 4667 or email When I provide nutrition therapy to my patients we are focusing on preventing or managing type 2 diabetes, but also paying attention to their whole picture health. Type 2 diabetes nutrition therapy may improve weight, cholesterol, and kidney function, too!

-Mark your calendar: HIMG's 11th Annual Diabetes Event (Diabetes Update!), Friday November 8 from 10:00a.m.-2:00p.m. Come have fun and learn about diabetes from every angle. Lunch is served. Please RSVP to 304-399-2367 if attending.


Prevention is key! It takes awareness, a little effort, and a whole lotta appreciation for your body and your future.

C'mon, let's tackle type 2 diabetes in WV!







'Lil Snack Recipes:

"Diet plays a significant role in the maintenance of blood sugar levels in in persons who are obese or who have pre-diabetes and diabetes symptoms. Mounting evidence suggests that nutritional therapy is useful for improving glycemic control and metabolism. Recent research into diabetes also suggests the importance of using evidence-based, rather than anecdotal-based, nutritional therapy that is based on a patient’s level of insulin [12–14]. Nutritional education in diabetes self-management programs is a critical component of a therapeutic plan for persons with diabetes (1)."