Friday, October 21, 2011

Diabetes Support Group and Turkey Vultures (Missed Them Again)

Yesterday, I woke up to a foggy morning and rushed out to wash the Jeep. It was too dirty to take to town, but it's such a tiny little car so it was a fast and easy job. Then I took off to town to attend the Diabetes Support Group meeting. When I came home, my husband asked if I had seen the hundreds of turkey vultures on the hillside by the road. No, I had not. Darned, I am so in love with these birds, but I didn't notice them at all. He said there were about 200 of them. The sky was black as they flew over our house and settled on the hill behind us. I imagine they decided to spend the night in the canyon before moving on to points south.

At the meeting, the subject was: Food, Fat, and Feeling Full.  Eve, the diabetes nurse educator who runs the group, does it on a volunteer basis, and she is wonderful. Love her and I have also made some, if not friends, but good acquaintances there. And you always learn something.

In this meeting I learned how genetics and hormones influence the way we eat:
  • Obesity has doubled in adults and tripled in youth since 1980.
  • Your mother's genes determines whether you will have a weight problem or not. This was news to me.
  • Appetite is the desire to eat. Hunger is needing to eat.
Eve's handout listed many other things; these were interesting:
  • Leptin is a hormone that is released by fat cells. It modulates food intake and energy expenditure. It also regulates bone mass. And - it makes us feel full.
  • Ghrelin is a hormone in the stomach that makes us feel hungry. It also increases digestive system movement, lowers blood pressure, and lower insulin secretion. Ghrelin is stimulated by the sight and smell of food and goes to the brain to give the hunger message.
  • Researchers are looking for ghrelin blockers and leptin sensitizers.
  • There are also hormones in the small intestine that make us feel full and tell the brain to put calories in storage. 
  • Fewer dopamine receptors in the brain can lead to carbohydrate addiction because the brain isn't getting the message that the body is satisfied. Exercise will help with this problem. 
We talked about a lot of other food related issues, but I found  genes and hormones the most interesting and new to me. A very good meeting, as always.

I will end by saying that the obesity problem in children and young adults scares me. Type 2 diabetes has increased in tandem with the increase in obesity in young people. Diabetes is a horrible disease and the earlier you get it, the worse your prospects for a healthy, happy, and long life will be. 

Finally, while my husband wondered in awe how hundreds of turkey vultures can fly and soar together without colliding, I wondered what they eat as they migrate. 


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