Nutrition, Fitness, Medication — Diabetes triangle of treatment


A familiar face and a new addition are working together to serve Band members who have diabetes — and those at risk.
Longtime fitness assistant Bobby Anderson is now the Diabetes Fitness Coordinator. He is joined on the team by Jackie Braun, the new Diabetes Program Coordinator. Bobby and Jackie work with the providers at Ne-Ia-Shing Clinic to offer a three-pronged approach to diabetes.

“The number one thing I tell patients with Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common type, is that it’s really a triangle of treatment: diet, exercise, and medications,“ said Jackie, who started her position on January 4.

As Program Coordinator, Jackie oversees the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, a grant from the Indian Health Service. Jackie works with patients with diabetes and pre-diabetes, as well as those who are at risk due to family history or being overweight.

She also is responsible for individual and group education, community outreach, and health promotion. For example, you might have seen Jackie in a YouTube grocery store tour sharing nutritional information.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Native Americans (American Indians and Alaska Natives) have a greater chance of having diabetes than any other US racial group.

Jackie says that’s due to a combination of genetic factors and insufficient access to healthy food in many tribal communities.

On the positive side, kidney failure has dropped among Native Americans more than any other group, showing that tribal communities and members are taking positive steps — including the “triangle of treatment“ and a team-based approach.

Diving into nutrition

Jackie came to her interest in nutrition through sports. “I was always an athlete, so I was interested in how the food I ate affected my performance,“ she said.

She participated in diving, gymnastics, and track in high school and went to state in diving three times. She was good enough to compete during college on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards, specializing in “twister dives.“

Jackie grew up in Sauk Rapids, attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and earned her master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Northern Illinois University. During her graduate program, Jackie was a dietetic intern at the Indian Health Board in Minneapolis, where she led group wellness classes and developed the Indigenize Your Plate Challenge intended to celebrate traditional and contemporary ways of living.

As she was finishing her program in December, she started looking for work closer to her Minnesota home, and before she had even received her degree, she had a job offer from the Band. “When I started graduate school, I wasn’t exactly sure which area of nutrition and dietetics I wanted to pursue, so I kept my options open,“ she said. “But when I worked with some certified diabetes educators and saw that there was a great need, I felt a calling in that area.“

Jackie is committed to building the diabetes program in all three districts to give Band members the service they need.

Fitness champion

Like Jackie, Bobby came to his expertise in fitness through a long history in sports — in his case, martial arts.
Bobby took up martial arts as a youth in South Minneapolis. After a successful career in the ring, including 16 grand national championships in kumite, he moved to Hinckley in 1998 to join the Mille Lacs Band community and start a fitness center. He continued to fight as well, winning a championship in 2006 and coming out of retirement in 2010 to win another heavyweight belt.

Fourteen years ago, he went to work for the Band as an assistant to long-time fitness coordinator Jim Ingle, who has since retired. Since then, he has received six fitness certifications and is also a certified life coach.

Bobby will rotate among Mille Lacs Band communities, with hours in District I on Tuesdays and Thursdays, District I on Mondays and Wednesdays, and District II on Fridays.

Bobby stresses low- to medium-impact cardio combined with upper body exercises. “I’m very committed to making other people’s lives healthier,“ said Bobby. “I’m a strong believer in longevity, health, and nutrition, and I’m very dedicated to my new position.“

In order to work with Bobby, patients will need a referral from their provider to the diabetes fitness program. The program is open to patients with diabetes, pre-diabetes, overweight, obesity, or at the discretion of the provider.

“We’re really excited to have Bobby on board,“ Jackie said. “I’ll focus on nutrition, and he’ll focus on fitness. We’ll share the patients between us, and with each of us sharing our expertise, they’ll get the best of both worlds.“