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Sun, Nov. 29

Walk for diabetes Saturday

Last Saturday, members of the Williams Diabetes Support Group were at the Williams Health Care Center’s health fair educating people about diabetes.

This Thursday, at 6:30 p.m. they will meet at Safeway to learn about nutrition with Lupe Wodson, nutritionist from North Country Health Center in Flagstaff.

"We’re going to go from aisle to aisle," said Rose Marie Rincon, sponsor of the Williams support group. "She’s going to show us how to read labels and what we should and shouldn’t eat."

Then on Saturday, the support group will be out in force walking to support diabetes research.

America’s Walk for Diabetes 2000 starts at the Norris Motel, on the west end of town.

"Registration is at 7:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 8 a.m.," said Rincon. "It’s open to everyone and it’s not a long walk."

The walkers will head east from the Norris until they reach the Mountain Side Inn. That’s where they’ll turn and start the return trip.

Each of the walkers has been out collecting donations to the American Diabetes Association. The disease affects one in every 16 Americans. And according to the ADA, a third of these people don’t even know they have it.

"Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and amputations," a diabetes brochure states. "If you or someone you know experiences extreme thirst, frequent urination, and/or unexplained weight loss, you should contact your doctor immediately."

The money will be used toward preventing and curing diabetes and improving the lives of people affected by the disease.

Part of improving the lives of local people with diabetes is educating them. The Williams Diabetes Support Group does just that. They meet the first Thursday of each month in the lobby of the Williams Health Care Center. Diane Phillips, nurse practitioner, told the group about risks associated with diabetes at the September meeting.

"Insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, beta cells from the pancreas fail — later the person has progressive beta cell failure and progresses to late-stage diabetes, which is not good," she said.

Diabetes causes the metabolism of the body to decrease so cholesterol goes up, blood pressure increases and obesity becomes a problem, Phillips said.

"Your body knows only one fuel — glucose," Phillips said. "All foods eventually turn to glucose and are used for fuel. The rest are stored as fat."

The beta cells are what produce insulin in the pancreas. Phillips said people with warning signs of diabetes or who currently have Type II diabetes must be careful.

"If the person diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t watch their diet and reduce cholesterol they will lose beta cells," she said. "Your body will produce less insulin and eventually you will lose all of your beta cells."

This will lead to the need for insulin injections.

"It can be prevented," Phillips said. "The most important thing to do is exercise. You can stop it (beta cell loss) with good control."

Keeping blood sugars low is the key to success, Phillips said.

"If you’re still in the early stages and can get better control of your blood sugar — you can reverse it," she said.

There are four steps to treating Type II diabetes:

Step one (for borderline diabetics) — no medicine is needed. Just learn to control fats and watch sugars, exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, start diabetes education classes and learn to check blood sugar levels.

Step two — add oral medicines to increase insulin production and decrease insulin resistance.

Step three — add insulin to oral medicines.

Step four — intensify and increase insulin.

Education is key, Phillips said.

"The more you know, the more you can help yourself," she said.

Anyone interested in learning more about diabetes or supporting the Williams group can attend the monthly meetings or come to the Walk for Diabetes on Saturday. In place of the November meeting, the support group is hosting a potluck at the Bill Williams Senior Center Nov. 2.

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