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Diabetes Prevention – You Have A Fighting Chance

Diabetes is a disorder that interferes with the body’s ability to produce insulin and use glucose (blood sugar). The body’s cells use glucose as a fuel to carry out their normal functions. Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, acts as an escort allowing glucose to enter the cells. In the case of diabetes, blood sugar levels elevate and the cells starve. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels can lead to long-term complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage. Diabetes is 3 times as common in overweight people.

The most common form of diabetes is type 2 diabetes – formerly called non-insulin dependent or adult onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is responsible for 90% of the cases of diabetes. Some of the symptoms are excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, recurring bladder or vaginal infections, and tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet.

Higher body fat levels and lower muscle mass content contributes greatly to the development of diabetes in adults. This is actually good news. Most cases of type 2 diabetes are not the result of a biological, age-related breakdown in the pancreas’s ability to secrete insulin. And since body fat and mass muscle levels are controllable through exercise, one can greatly reduce their risk of developing diabetes by maintaining a regular exercise routine (which includes weight training) throughout their lifespan. Your best diabetes prevention plan should include maintaining a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and have an inexpensive blood glucose screen performed every 3 years starting at age 45.

Shaky Legislation and Dietary Supplements

Consumers have been victimized by some very poor legislation in regards to dietary supplements (herbal and vitamin/mineral preparations). In 1994, The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) removed dietary supplements from the regulatory control of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With this move, supplement manufacturers were allowed to make virtually any claim about the health benefits of their product – even if it had not been proven effective or there was little or no scientific evidence to support their claim. Additional legislation was passed in February 2000 that further eroded public safeguards and allowed manufacturers to make even bolder claims. As a result, manufacturers cannot claim their product will actually treat, prevent, or cure specific diseases – but they can insinuate that their supplement will help improve health conditions (symptoms) which may be associated with certain diseases. In other words, a supplement label cannot claim to cure hypertension, but it can say it will help you relax and relieve stress. Or, because “aging” is not an actual disease state, a supplement label can make the unsubstantiated claim that the product will help with memory loss or other age-related conditions. Obviously, this legislation has benefited the supplement industry.

So, does this represent a health hazard for the public? Maybe, maybe not. While some supplements can have adverse reactions, especially when taken with certain medications, most dietary supplements appear to be safe (See January-March 2002 issue of Precision Fit for exceptions). They may not actually improve your health, but they probably won’t hurt you either.

The biggest health concern regarding the use of supplements may be for those who self-treat. Without appropriate medical attention, proper diagnosis may be delayed. And remember, early detection is often the best medicine for effective treatment. If you are going to use dietary supplements, do so under the guidance of your physician.

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