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GBMC Experts Discuss Diabetes and Obesity

February 18, 2019
If you or someone you care about is one of the 30 million Americans who have either been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or is living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, you may be overwhelmed with everything required to manage the condition. GBMC Chief of Endocrinology, Dr. Ruth Horowitz understands how you’re feeling. She told Mary Beth Marsden, “Managing diabetes is hard work. It’s like a job. But with aggressive care and lifestyle changes, it is entirely manageable.”

Dr. Horowitz and Mary Beth talked about what causes diabetes, the role genetics plays in your risk of developing the disease, and when it may be time for a person living with diabetes to make an appointment with an endocrinologist. “In most cases, your primary care physician can do a good job of overseeing your care, but for people who are taking all the recommended steps and still having trouble controlling their blood glucose levels, the expertise that an endocrinologist has can help them take their treatment above and beyond the basics,” she explained.

As anyone who has tried to get their blood sugar under control and consistently at normal levels knows, understanding the plan for the treatment of diabetes and following through can be two very different things. Changing your diet, getting more exercise, losing weight if needed, getting adequate sleep, managing stress, and following your doctor’s recommendation for medications is a complex process and it can be easy to get frustrated and give up.

Added Dr. Horowitz, “Many patients are in denial about their diabetes. They don’t want to see the health consequences that will happen if they don’t get the disease under control. That’s why I approach my patients with realism, asking ‘What are you willing to do?’ We start with that, and then as the patient improves, we move up our goals and tactics. What people need to think about is that improving glucose control significantly lowers the risk of kidney, nerve, and eye damage and, unfortunately, poor control accelerates complications.”

She also shared her thoughts on effective diets for blood sugar control, the important role exercise plays, and the value of building a far-reaching diabetes management team that includes family, a diabetes educator, a nutritionist, and a trainer.

Joe Palmer, a physical therapist at GBMC Health Partners Rehabilitation Medicine, also talked with Mary Beth about how exercise is a key piece of the strategy for controlling diabetes. “All forms of exercise can be beneficial, but people are often hesitant to participate because they haven’t been active for a while and exercise causes pain in their joints or other areas. Our goal is to tailor a program for each person that helps them safely and more comfortably become active. We are mobility experts and work to keep people moving and independent. Exercise can be a very effective medicine for diabetes and many other health problems.”
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