In the past year, the NorthBay Center for Diabetes & Endocrinology has added a new clinical dietitian, moved into the VacaValley Wellness Center, and completed another successful Ride to Defeat Diabetes fundraiser. It’s safe to say the center is having a banner year.
Good thing, too, since Solano County continues to carry the dubious honor of having the highest rate of diabetes in the nine-county Bay Area region, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s among the top 10 counties with the highest rates of diabetes in the state.
NorthBay Center for Diabetes & Endocrinology is on the front line of the battle to defeat the disease, which affects some 29.1 million people or 9.3 percent of the U.S. population. “Unfortunately, about 47 percent of the people in Solano County are prediabetic and another 13 percent actually have diabetes,” explained Deborah Murray, M.D., endocrinologist and medical director of the center.
The Center has undergone myriad changes since Dr. Murray became the medical director in 2007. Her goal: to create a center of excellence. Endocrinologist Miya Allen joined the practice in 2013.
Dr. Murray is excited about the potential for collaborating with the new HealthSpring Fitness Center in the building and envisions several patient-centered cooperative programs to improve patients’ fitness. Dr. Murray herself has been going to the fitness center almost every day and says she loves it, and plans to do walking appointments with patients on the indoor track.
On the frontline of community outreach and education is NorthBay’s newest registered dietitian Laura Hitt, who views the move to the new Wellness Center as just one more step in the right direction in NorthBay’s quest to improve the health of the community. “I think just being in a wellness center is great. It changes the vibe to be surrounded by health,” she said.
Her work involves meeting with patients one-on-one to talk about their dietary needs and challenges. “There are so many diets out there but it’s really about coming up with an individual meal plan based on the person’s own needs,” she explained. “A lot of what I do is education. When I first meet with a patient I listen to them and identify their needs. And most of the time they are surprised when they hear that it’s not about cutting things out and what you can’t eat, it’s more about what you can add into your diet to make you healthy so that you have a positive relationship with food.”
In addition to her nutrition education background, Laura attended culinary school, saying she just felt she needed a better understanding of the basics of cooking, something that comes in handy with her latest endeavor: a monthly cooking class at a local grocery store in Vacaville.
One Friday each month, she holds a cooking class, free to visitors at Raley’s, 3061 Alamo Drive in Vacaville.
“It really grew from me just wanting to cook and teach,” she said. The two-hour classes involve not only talking about meals but actually shopping for the ingredients, cooking it and letting people taste the results.
“They can come for a half hour or for the whole thing,” Laura said. “We go through the store and select each ingredient and I talk to them about why I pick a certain product or item. And I break down the nutritional values for the recipes, which I send home with them.”
While the classes are open to any-one, she admits she selects recipes that would work in a diabetic’s diet. “I always have that in the back of my mind. So I try to keep the carb count low because most Americans can ben-efit from that anyway, since our diet is so full of refined carbohydrates.”
The cooking program is funded partly by money raised by the annual Ride To Defeat Diabetes (R2D2).
This year’s R2D2 was held in September. The ride featured 10-, 25- and 60-mile routes, to make it enjoyable for cyclists of all levels. Dr. Murray led the 10-mile route.
“This was our fifth annual ride and it’s always a lot of fun for a great cause,” Dr. Murray said. “We’re planning more community education and outreach projects using some of the funds.”
The most common types of diabetes are brought on by either an immune system destruction of the insulin-making cells (Type I, previously known as juvenile diabetes) or an inability to respond to the effects of insulin (Type 2, previously known as adult onset diabetes), explains Dr. Deborah Murray, endocrinologist and medical director of the NorthBay Center for Diabetes & Endocrinology.
Insulin is one of the main hormones that regulates blood sugar levels and allows the body to use sugar (glucose) for energy. While many Type 2 diabetics can control their disease with just diet and exercise, Type 1 diabetics—because their pancreas no longer makes insulin—must monitor their blood sugar levels throughout the day, and administer insulin to keep those levels normal.
Type 1 diabetics must watch their blood sugar levels moment by moment, testing as often as six to 12 times daily, and sometimes requiring four or more insulin injections daily.
Risk Reduction Tips
Type 2 Diabetes
- Remember that, no matter your age or circumstance, you can make healthy changes.
- If you are overweight, aim to lose 7 percent of your body weight (or 14 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) because even a weight loss of 10 to 15 pounds can make a huge difference.
- Exercise moderately, such as walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Always consult your physician first to determine what level of activity is safe for you.
- Eat a balanced diet, avoid processed foods and simple sugars and control your portions.
- For some people with prediabetes, early intervention can actually return blood glucose levels to the normal range.
- Know the symptoms of diabetes, and be sure to consult with your physician if you experience frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, or slow-healing wounds.
For Your Education
There’s a Blog for That…
Diabetes may be a growing epidemic among Americans, but the good news is that it is often preventable. You can reduce your risk by adopting a lifestyle that incorporates a balanced diet, healthy eating habits and daily physical activity.
A blog written by Collette DaCruz, R.N., a certified diabetes educator at NorthBay Center for Diabetes & Endocrinology, offers valuable tips for patients on how they can manage and perhaps even prevent their disease. Check out the “Living with Diabetes 101” blog at NorthBay.org/blog.