by TERESA SCHIFFER
An estimated 34.2 million Americans are living with diabetes, a disease that can have an enormous impact on an individual’s health. In many cases, the development of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or at least controlled through appropriate dietary measures and increased physical activity levels.
Some of the risk factors for a patient to develop type 2 diabetes include having a first-degree relative with diabetes, being obese, having a sedentary lifestyle, or being part of a high-risk ethnic group such as African-American, Hispanic, or Native American. Developing type 2 diabetes can lead to major health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetic retinopathy, neuropathy, kidney disease, hypertension and more.
Central Florida Health Care has specialists on staff to help patients learn the risks of type 2 diabetes and how they can better care for their own health, including an in-house optometrist who performs diabetic eye exams. Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist Dominiqua Lint is a certified family nurse practitioner who is passionate about patient care, wellness, and preventive medicine.
According to Lint, patients should be screened for diabetes if they are overweight (defined as having a BMI over 25), older than 45, have a first-degree relative with diabetes, are part of an at-risk ethnic group, have ever been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, or if they are having symptoms like frequent urination, yeast infections, constant hunger or thirst, or changes in vision.
Once diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it is important to make some lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss, increased physical activity, and close partnership with your primary care provider and a nutritionist. Limiting concentrated sweets and sugars as well as monitoring carbohydrates should become a primary dietary goal.
“I’m proud to work with this organization,” Lint says, “because we have everything to treat patients in-house to eliminate any barriers that patients may have. We have a diabetes self-care education program, providers to help with the medication management and monitoring their A1C levels and sugars, and we have a registered dietician to help with the nutrition aspect.”
Central Florida Health Care registered dietician Ron Lund advises patients to make sure they are getting at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity of moderate intensity. As for diet, he understands that a more personalized approach is the best way to help patients achieve their health goals, such as reducing carbohydrate and dietary fat consumption, limiting or avoiding sugary drinks, and considering lifelong eating approaches such as the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet or increased plant-based eating.
“When it comes to the patient,” Lund explains, “I really like to get their story so I can better understand them and find out what their concerns are.”
Ultimately, the person who will have the biggest impact on a patient’s health is the patient themself. The professionals at Central Florida Health Care have the tools and experience to empower patients to take control of their health through education, counseling and support.