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Posts Tagged ‘inflammation’

Exercise and Your Body: How Your Internal Organs Are Affected

     In this Blog I will explore how the human body benefits from exercise, and discuss my personal lifetime of experience with exercise-related activities. I will raise important questions people sometimes have when they initiate a new (exercise) program, and finish with the specifics as to how exercise affects various diseases we all know about, and their effect on the various systems and organs in the human body. If one is contemplating starting a new exercise program I highly recommend you first consult with your doctor or primary care physician.

It’s long overdue for a more precise understanding of just what impact exercise does, in fact, have on the human body, specifically our internal organs. All too often we hear one should exercise and that it is good for us. But most catch phrases are generalities at best. That is the primary question I am going to answer. Therefore, I am initiating a Blog on Exercise and Your Body: How Your Internal Organs Are Affected.

Connections

     I used to play a lot of sports when I was growing up. When I graduated from high school I was in the best shape of my life. In my late 20s I did scuba diving taught by a U.S. Navy Seal and in my 30s did some bodybuilding with weight training, and played on an adult softball team and a couple’s volleyball team. For a short time a buddy of mine and I did a 100 mile program of swimming at the local YMCA. During my 40s I no longer exercised regularly but, in my 50s, I played golf every week for 5 solid years going from a 30 handicap to a 14. In my early 60s I had a good walking program but was inconsistent in terms of how often or how long I walked.

In 2010, at the age of 67, I joined USA Track and Field and competed in the Master’s Program for two and a half years (4 gold medals, 6 silver medals, 3 bronze medals and a number of 4th through 7th place finishes) in local, regional and national master’s track and field events. My events included the shot put, hammer throw, weight throw, discus and javelin. The highlight of all my track & field meets was an honor to participate in the 2011 Master’s World Games as a member of Team USA. My Olympic type events at the Master’s World Games included Shot Put, Weight Throw, and the Javelin. I came in 6th in the world in the javelin, 12th in the weight throw, and 17th in the shot put. I was in the 65-69 year old age group at the time I competed.

In 2013, I had to drop-out of USA Track & Field due to a bad case of Sciatica. With good physical therapy I was able to regain my balance and ability to walk in a normal way; however, I was a long way from regaining full strength and physical fitness and my readiness to once again compete in track & field. Over my lifetime I would best describe myself as a kind of a sporadic athlete, not one normally committed to a regular and consistent program of exercise.

After some procrastination my wife and I finally made a commitment to join a health and fitness club. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of our lives. In fact, I became very angry with myself for having NOT joined a fitness club 10-20 years earlier.

On November 15, 2013 we started to work out for 1 hour and 45 minutes, three times a week, exercising 35 minutes of cardio (stationary bike or treadmill) and 1 hour 10 minutes doing weight training (machines and free-weights).

Here are some personal tips regarding how diet, and other personal choices, can help your body become healthier even if you can’t fully commit yourself to an intense, regular exercise program. For the last three years I have been a vegan. The vegan diet is great for providing nutritional needs for your body and includes: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber.

However, recently I added fish back into my diet (wild salmon, tuna, and sardines). The fish, besides being a great source of protein (for building muscles), provides Omega-3s in ample supply, particularly where salmon is concerned. Also, I am no longer taking any artificial sweeteners, caffeinated coffee, carbonated drinks, or any form of over-the-counter pain killers. Follow these dietary/other suggestions and your strength and vitality will return in no time.

What about Exercise?

Because of my background as a researcher I always have lots of questions about everything. Exercise was no exception. We know exercise is good for one’s health. However, I’ve already said that’s fine as a generality. But what are the real, specific internal benefits on the various systems and organs of the human body? All of us are different with different needs. Some of us have medical conditions and some of us do not. Should one engage in certain types of exercise, but not others? In the weight room, what exercises are better for a particular muscle, or major muscle group? For example, which exercises are best for the abdominals, deltoids, oblique muscles, trapezius, biceps, or quadriceps? Is blood flow better when one does cardio or when one does weight training, or is the blood flow simply different in different parts of the body? Is there an optimal level of sets and reps for exercising different types of muscles?

My quest for answers has taken me in a lot of different directions in a very short period of time; all of the questions I’ve posed are important for you to answer if you want to get the most out of any full-body exercise program.

In this blog, I am committed to answering what I think is the most important question of all: What Impact Does Exercise Have on the Internal Organs of the Human Body?

If you want justification to help motivate you to get out of that easy chair and starting exercising, answering the above question just might do the trick.  But first there is something everyone needs to know.

First Things First—Those First Few Weeks of Exercise

Many people have different goals when they start to exercise, such as lose weight, look better, or maintain or improve one’s health. For those of you who have weight reduction as a goal, here are some hints to understanding why you should not become disappointed at first when you’ve worked so hard but that scale of yours doesn’t seem to cooperate. You’ll come to understand the term hydration and its importance. I found an article on the SparkPeople website (in the section Ask the Experts). This question was asked of the experts: I just started exercising to lose weight, but I’ve gained weight. Why did this happen?

According to Dean Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer, “When you start doing more exercise, your body begins storing more fuel in your muscle cells, where it can be used easily and quickly to fuel your workouts. The process of converting glucose (carbohydrates) into fuel that your muscles actually store and use (glycogen) requires three molecules of water for every molecule of glucose. As your muscles are building up glycogen stores, your body has to retain extra water for this purpose. That’s what causes most of the initial weight gain or lack of weight loss. This is a good thing—not something to worry about.

However, despite what the scale says, you are actually losing fat during this time. The extra water retention will stop once your body has adjusted to the new activity level. At that point, the scale should start moving down. You’ll end up with less fat, and muscles that can handle a larger amount.”

The following is an article written by Judith Blake, a staff reporter, for the Seattle Times.

Full-body workout: Exercise benefits mind, organs, resistance to disease

“Need another reason to exercise? We’ve dug up a bundle of ’em.

Of course, there’s always that old standby, a sleeker body. It’s the reward that lures legions to the jogging trail, the health club or the aerobics class.

But did you know that exercise might alleviate depression, help keep cancer out of your colon, increase the number of cells in your brain (or at least in a mouse’s brain) and boost your immune system?

People have always believed that exercise is good for them, says Dr. John O’Kane, University of Washington sports-medicine expert and lead physician to the UW’s athletic teams. The latest research shows just how good for us it is.

Health experts also say you don’t have to run marathons or hit the gym for endless hours to gain significant benefits. Probably the best-known benefit is heart health, and for that, a program of regular, moderate exercise will do just fine, O’Kane said.

‘If you can just get yourself to start walking 30 minutes a day, that’s a good start,’ he said.

‘You do get benefits from more vigorous exercise,’O’Kane added. You burn more calories and gain endurance, for instance. And one study suggested that men who exercised vigorously had lower rates of prostate cancer.

Exercise does its best work when teamed with healthy eating. But studies now show exercise has its own beneficial impact, even when you’re not also following an ideal diet, he said.

The same is true with weight loss. A study at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas showed that even when individuals remained obese, exercise was linked to fewer heart attacks.

Exercise gets points today not only for health maintenance but for recovery. Jack Berryman, a UW medical historian, says that ‘for thousands of years we realized that exercise was healthy.’ Yet until the 1950s, complete bed rest was prescribed for many conditions, including heart-attack recovery.

That changed, he said, when President Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack while in office. Well-known cardiologist Dr. Paul Dudley White soon had him up walking and playing golf.

‘That was the beginning of the important movement of cardiac rehabilitation’ employing controlled exercise, Berryman said. Today, exercise is part of the recovery program for many conditions.

Here’s some of the latest research on health and exercise:

Cancer

Breast cancer: Regular physical activity may lower risk. Of about two dozen studies on breast cancer and exercise, about two-thirds have found reduced risk of up to 30-40 percent with exercise, says Dr. Anne McTiernan, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Possible reason: Exercise may reduce production of estrogen (a possible cancer promoter) by the ovaries and by fat cells.

Exercise may also boost the immune system, possibly helping fight cancer. McTiernan and others are researching exercise’s impact on both the immune system and on estrogen levels in women.

Colon cancer: Exercise appears to reduce risk by up to 50 percent, based on about three dozen observational studies around the world, says McTiernan. She and others will try to learn more about the protective mechanism in a new study. They’ll take biopsies from the colon and rectum of exercising and nonexercising participants at the start and finish of the study to observe how cells are growing, dividing and dying. They’ll also check the balance of “good” and “bad” prostaglandins, body chemicals thought to be involved in colon cancer.

(For information on participating in the study, call 206-667-6444. Researchers are recruiting men and women who are basically sedentary and who have had a colonoscopy, a type of colon exam.)

The Brain

Mental sharpness: Exercise may help preserve it as you age. A recent study found that among women 65 and older, the least amount of cognitive decline over eight years occurred in those who exercised the most (walking 18 miles per week), while decline was greatest in those who exercised the least (walking half a mile per week). Decline decreased with each added mile. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and others studied 5,925 women 65 and older without cognitive impairment or physical limitations.

Brain cells: Physical activity may increase their numbers. In one study, researchers found that adult mice doubled their number of new cells in the hippocampus — a brain area involved in memory and learning — when they had access to running wheels. Whether exercise increases brain cells in humans has not yet been demonstrated.

Depression: Studies suggest exercise reduces symptoms, possibly by releasing mood-altering brain chemicals, such as endorphins.

The Rest of the Body

Impotence: Exercise may reduce risk. A study of nearly 600 men over eight years found that physical activity amounting to least 200 calories a day — the equivalent of walking briskly for 2 miles — may reduce a man’s risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Possible reason: Exercise boosts blood circulation, which may aid erectile function.

Enlarged prostate: One study showed a 25 percent lower risk of noncancerous prostate enlargement in men who walked two to three hours a week than in men who seldom walked.

Diabetes: Many studies show regular physical activity helps prevent or control diabetes. Exercise works on diabetes in two ways: By burning energy in the form of blood sugar and by reducing body fat (fat contributes to Type 2 diabetes by impairing the body’s ability to process insulin).

Bones: Many studies indicate that weight-bearing exercise such as walking and weight-training helps prevent the porous, fracture-prone bones of osteoporosis.

Regular exercise, including strength training, may also help older people avoid falling and breaking their bones. In one study, older women assigned to a home-based strength-and-balance exercise program had fewer falls than women who didn’t exercise.

In another study, researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Utah asked women ages 50 to 75 to wear weighted vests while performing lower-body strength and power exercises. Results after nine months: Improved lower-body muscle strength and balance — especially balance to the side. ‘This has been very exciting for us to find, because falling to the side raises the risk of breaking a hip 20 times over falling forward,’ said Christine Snow, the study’s co-author.

Arthritis: Both aerobic exercise and strength training, in moderation, can reduce joint swelling and pain and extend mobility.

The Heart: Perhaps the best-known effect of regular exercise is its benefit to the heart. Many studies indicate lower heart-disease risk with regular exercise, which boosts oxygen supply. Exercise also helps bring down high blood pressure, reducing risk of stroke.

And that’s not all: Studies also point to the power of exercise to help prevent or control sleep disorders, gallstones, diverticular disease (an intestinal disorder) and more.”

Sources: University of Washington medical faculty; Oregon State University; the Society for Neuroscience; Seattle Times files. This article includes information from the Associated Press, the Washington Post and Nutrition Action Health Letter.

 

The following is an article by Catherine Field of Demand Media.

What Major Organs of the Body Benefit the Most From Exercising?

Exercise benefits major organ systems and the body as a whole.

“The health benefits of general exercise are well-known. Those who exercise, in general, feel better and suffer from fewer health problems. Even those with chronic health conditions — like diabetes — can manage their conditions better with exercise. But depending on the type of exercise, some of the human body’s major organs benefit the most from exercise. And it’s this reaction that helps the exerciser obtain results such as weight loss, lower blood pressure and reduced blood sugar.

The Heart & The Cardiovascular System

The cardiovascular system is primarily comprised of arteries, veins, and, at the center, the heart. The heart is the system’s muscular power house that needs to be exercised to keep in top form. Exercises that increase the heart rate exercise the heart muscle and pump blood more efficiently throughout the body.

Running, jogging, aerobic exercises are just a few examples that will work the cardiovascular system. As the cardiovascular system improves the resting heart rate will decrease, circulation will improve and blood volume will increase. In addition, blood pressure will decrease, ‘bad’ cholesterol can decrease while good cholesterol can increase, and less plaque will build in your arteries.

The Muscular System

Through a process known as hypertrophy — an enlargement of cells — muscles, when exercised, not only become bigger but become stronger. Activities that create new muscular proteins, like weight training and non-bearing weight exercises such as lunges and squats, increase muscle activity and encourage muscle growth. Eating protein after a workout targeting strength training will encourage muscle growth.

Lungs & The Respiratory System

The lungs are exercised through normal respiration. The simple act of breathing exercises the lungs and the diaphragm. Performing aerobic exercises that increase heart and respiration rate, the amount breathed in at one time, will exercise the lungs. As the lungs are exercised, the body will take in more oxygen and be able to use it efficiently.

 

 

The Brain & The Central Nervous System

The central nervous system involves the brain and the spinal cord. The central nervous system is responsible for maintaining the human body’s autonomic functions, or the functions that are outside our control. These are, for example, breathing and heart rate. When the body exercises, it produces hormones. The brain produces its own hormones called neurotransmitters: serotonin, epinephrine, adrenaline, and endorphins. These can reduce pain and provide a euphoric feeling that can help those who suffer from mild, non-clinical depression. The release of these neurotransmitters can also improve sleep and help curb appetite.

 

The Role of Inflammation and the Effect of Exercise on it

Back in January, 2013 I wrote a Blog called: Update on Type II Diabetes in America [Epidemiology and New Research Findings]. During the course of researching for that Blog, I found out and reported that Inflammation (both low-grade and chronic) may be a causal variable in Heart Disease, Cancer, Stroke, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, forms of arthritis such as Rheumatoid and Lupus, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, Sepsis (blood poisoning or the body’s inflammatory response to infection), Multiple Sclerosis, and allergies. And, it may be linked to all conditions ending in “itis.” Because this blog is about the effect of exercise, I found an article about exercise and inflammation.  This article was written by researchers at the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ.

Lifestyle Measures to Reduce Inflammation

 

Abstract

Chronic low-grade inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (T2D) may be ameliorated with exercise and/or diet. High levels of physical activity and/or cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with reduced risk of low-grade inflammation. Both aerobic and resistance exercise have been found to improve inflammatory status, with the majority of evidence suggesting that aerobic exercise may have broader anti-inflammatory effects. In particular, aerobic exercise appears to improve the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory markers. Improvement in inflammatory status is most likely to occur in persons with elevated levels of pro-inflammatory markers prior to intervention. A number of dietary factors, including fiber-rich foods, whole grains, fruits (especially berries), omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins (e.g., C and E), and certain trace minerals (e.g., zinc) have been documented to reduce blood concentrations of inflammatory markers.

Anti-inflammatory foods may also help mitigate the pro-inflammatory postprandial state that is particularly evident after ingestion of meals high in saturated fat. Intensive lifestyle interventions involving both exercise and diet appear to be most effective. For the most part, anti-inflammatory effects of exercise and diet are independent of weight loss. Thus overweight and obese men and women, who are most likely to have a pro-inflammatory profile, do not necessarily have to normalize body mass index to improve inflammatory status and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

                       

The following is an article written by Sarah Klein of the Huffington Post in their HUFFPOST Health Living section.
This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Exercise

“Whether you do it to lose weight, to reach a fitness goal or — dare we say it? — Just for fun, exercise changes you.

There’s the red face and the sweating, the pounding heart and pumping lungs, the boost to your alertness and mood, the previously nonexistent urges to talk about nothing but splits and laps and PBs.

But while we all know that staying physically active is essential to a long, healthy, productive life, we don’t often understand exactly what’s happening behind the scenes.

We asked the experts to take us through — from head to toe — what happens in the body when we exercise. Neuroscientist Judy Cameron, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine, Tommy Boone, Ph.D., a board certified exercise physiologist, and Edward Laskowski, M.D., co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center spill the beans on what gets and keeps you moving.

Muscles

The body calls on glucose, the sugar the body has stored away from the foods we eat in the form of glycogen, for the energy required to contract muscles and spur movement.

It also uses adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, but the body only has small stores of both glucose and ATP. After quickly using up these supplies, the body requires extra oxygen to create more ATP. More blood is pumped to the exercising muscles to deliver that additional O2. Without enough oxygen, lactic acid will form instead. Lactic acid is typically flushed from the body within 30 to 60 minutes after finishing up a workout.

Tiny tears form in the muscles that help them grow bigger and stronger as they heal. Soreness only means there are changes occurring in those muscles, says Boone, and typically lasts a couple of days.

Lungs

Your body may need up to 15 times more oxygen when you exercise, so you start to breathe faster and heavier. Your breathing rate will increase until the muscles surrounding the lungs just can’t move any faster. This maximum capacity of oxygen use is called VO2 max. The higher the VO2 max, the more fit a person is.

Diaphragm

Like any muscle, the diaphragm can grow tired with all the heavy breathing. Some argue that as the diaphragm fatigues, it can spasm, causing a dreaded side stitch. (Others argue a side stitch is due to spasms of the ligaments around the diaphragm instead, while others believe the spasms to originate in the nerves that run from the upper back to the abdomen and are caused by poor posture!) Deep breathing and stretching can alleviate the discomfort in the middle of a workout, and preemptive strengthening in the gym can ward off future issues.

Heart

When you exercise, heart rate increases to circulate more oxygen (via the blood) at a quicker pace. The more you exercise, the more efficient the heart becomes at this process, so you can work out harder and longer. Eventually, this lowers resting heart rate in fit people.

Exercise also stimulates the growth of new blood vessels, causing blood pressure to decrease in fit people.

Stomach & Intestines

Because the body is pumping more blood to the muscles, it takes some away from the systems and functions that aren’t top priority at the moment, like digestion. That can result in tummy troubles. Movement, absorption and secretion in the stomach and intestines can all be affected.

Brain

Increased blood flow also benefits the brain. Immediately, the brain cells will start functioning at a higher level, says Cameron, making you feel more alert and awake during exercise and more focused afterward.

When you work out regularly, the brain gets used to this frequent surge of blood and adapts by turning certain genes on or off. Many of these changes boost brain cell function and protect from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or even stroke, and ward off age-related decline, she says.

Exercise also triggers a surge of chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters, which include endorphins, often cited as the cause of the mythical “runner’s high.”

The brain releases dopamine and glutamate, too, to get those arms and legs moving, as well as gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a prohibitive neurotransmitter that actually slows things down, to keep you moving in a smooth and controlled manner.

You’ll also likely feel better thanks to a bump in serotonin, a neurotransmitter well known for its role in mood and depression.

Hippocampus

This part of the brain is highly involved in learning and memory, and it’s one of the only sections of the brain that can make new brain cells. Exercise facilitates this, thanks to the extra oxygen in the brain.

Even when you stop exercising, those new brain cells survive, whereas many other changes in the brain during exercise eventually return to their normal state should you become less active.

Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is responsible for body temperature, as well as salt and water balance, among other duties. As your body heats up, it tells the skin to produce sweat to keep you cool.

Pituitary Gland

This control center in the brain alerts the adrenal glands to pump out the hormones necessary for movement. It also releases growth hormones. As the body searches for more fuel to burn after using up your glycogen stores, it will turn to either muscle or fat, says Cameron. Human growth hormone acts as a security guard for muscle, she says, telling the body to burn fat for energy instead.

Kidneys

The rate at which the kidneys filter blood can change depending on your level of exertion. After intense exercise, the kidneys allow greater levels of protein to be filtered into the urine. They also trigger better water reabsorption, resulting in less urine, in what is likely an attempt to help keep you as hydrated as possible.

Adrenal Glands

A number of the so-called “stress hormones” released here are actually crucial to exercise. Cortisol, for example, helps the body mobilize its energy stores into fuel. And adrenaline helps the heart beat faster so it can more quickly deliver blood around the body.

Skin

As you pick up the pace, the body, like any engine, produces heat — and needs to cool off. The blood vessels in the skin dilate, increasing blood flow to the skin. The heat then dissipates through the skin into the air.

Eccrine Glands

At the hypothalamus’s signal, one of two types of sweat glands, the eccrine glands, get to work. These sweat glands produce odorless perspiration, a mixture of water, salt and small amounts of other electrolytes, directly onto the skin’s surface. When this sweat evaporates into the air, your body temp drops.

Apocrine Glands

This second type of sweat gland is found predominantly in hair-covered areas, like the scalp, armpits and groin. These sweat glands produce a fattier sweat, typically in response to emotional stress that can result in odor when bacteria on the skin begin to break it down, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Face

The capillaries close to the skin’s surface in the face dilate as well, as they strain to release heat. For some exercisers, this may result in a particularly red face after a workout.

Joints

Exercising puts extra weight on the joints, sometimes up to five or six times more than your bodyweight, says Laskowski. Ankles, knees, hips, elbows and shoulders all have very different functions, but operate in similar ways. Each joint is lined with cushioning tissue at the ends of the bones called cartilage, as well as soft tissue and lubricating fluid, to help promote smooth and easy motion. Ligaments and tendons provide stability.

Over time, the cushioning around the joints can begin to wear away or degenerate, as happens in people with osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis.

The final article (actually a Blog from My 24, 2012) relates to exercise and dental health. The Blog was called 5 Ways Exercise can improve Dental Health and was written by Janet Lynch.

“The health of your teeth and gums is directly linked to your overall health. The link is a two way street because people who have healthy habits tend to have good dental hygiene habits and people with a healthy lifestyle have an easier time maintaining a healthy mouth. A healthy diet is essential for a healthy mouth, but what most people do not think about is how important a role exercise plays in oral hygiene.

Burn off excessive carbohydrates

Sugar and refined carbohydrates are responsible for a great deal of the tooth decay we see today. While it is true that exercise does not keep the carbohydrates out of your mouth, it does help keep blood sugar in check. This can also keep you at a healthy weight. Being overweight is a known risk factor for tooth decay.

Reduce inflammation

Exercising is a good way to reduce the body’s inflammation response. Keeping the inflammation response in check can help reduce periodontal disease.

Help the body use vitamins and minerals more effectively

Exercise helps the body digest and use food more efficiently. Your body will be able to better absorb the vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy mouth.

Prevent Diabetes

Diabetes is another known risk factor for oral diseases. Regular exercise can prevent and even help reverse diabetes.

Improve circulation

Exercising helps make your cardiovascular system healthier. Better circulation overall means better circulation to your mouth. This will help your mouth stay healthy and help stop tooth decay.

It is important to realize that exercise should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Exercise should be part of a regimen that includes regular exercise, healthy diet and regular oral hygiene care. Diet is as important as exercise. While exercising can help burn off extra carbohydrates, it is even more helpful to take in fewer carbohydrates. This is especially true of refined carbs and sugar.

When you eat grain you should be eating whole grains that are high in fiber. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole, but it is even better if you stick to all high fiber, whole grains. You can kick the health benefits up a notch by limiting yourself to 2-3 servings of grains per day. The rest of your carbohydrates and fiber should come from fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables contain a high amount of fiber for a low amount of carbohydrates and low amount of sugar. Fruit is good as well, and is even better if you choose low sugar fruits. The best choices are melons and berries. Melons and berries provide you with a great deal of nutrition for low amounts of sugar. Once you stop eating sugary snacks you will find that these fruits can satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your oral health.

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for oral health. Exercising daily is important to help maintain weight, but if you need to lose weight to get to a healthy weight then you need to reduce your calorie intake. Substituting vegetables and fruits for starches can help you a great deal with just this one change. Other healthy steps include drinking water and measuring foods.

It is easy to overeat when you do not measure your food. Buying a food scale and a set of measuring cups is inexpensive and can help you properly measure your food intake. Measure everything you eat and track those numbers with a computer program or even a notebook.

Drinking water is important. Not only does water not rot your teeth the way sugary drinks do, it also keeps your mouth moist. A dry mouth is a perfect place for tooth decay, so keeping it moist with water can prevent oral problems. Drinking plenty of water keeps you hydrated and this is especially important if you are exercising.

Oral care is essential to improving dental health. In addition to exercising daily you should be brushing twice a day. Brushing after meals and snacks is better. You should be flossing once a day as well. Regular dental visits are important too. You should be seeing your dentist every 6 months.

There you have it. Exercise is important for your health and the health of your mouth. There are several benefits to regular exercise that have a direct impact on your teeth, gums and mouth. Make exercise a non-negotiable part of your day and you will start to see benefits in your body and your mouth as well. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. 

POST SCRIPT

I hope from this Blog you are able to take away some knowledge on how exercise can improve one’s level of fitness, help improve most kinds of medical conditions and, above all, help you feel and look better in the process.

What you do with this knowledge is up to you. But remember this: Our culture these last 100+ years has made it easier to live life in so many ways. And yet, such easy living has made us fatter and less physically capable, and dare I say it, less mentally fit as well despite all the technological improvements.

Bottom line: Our culture has inadvertently created the conditions whereby we are killing ourselves with little fanfare as the nation, including our children, become more obese, and less physically fit (physical education has been dropped in many high schools throughout the country or reduced substantially from five days a week).

The writing is on the wall. Be tenacious and start exercising your body on a regular basis. Encourage your children to do the same. Good luck!

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Part II

Update on Type II Diabetes in America

[Epidemiology and New Research Findings]

Introduction

In Part II a short review of new research on diabetes is provided. In the last decade thousands of studies on diabetes have been carried out in a variety of settings including hospitals, medical schools, pharmaceutical research laboratories, and universities involving both private and or public funding. As a person with Type II Diabetes the last 22 years I’ve chosen to review just a few exciting research projects involving Type II Diabetes.

One of the long-standing areas of research over the last several decades has been obesity among Type II Diabetics. Obesity appears to be growing exponentially on a global scale and has correspondingly contributed to the increase in diabetes worldwide. While treatment plans for diabetes normally involve diet, exercise, hypoglycemic medicine and various forms of insulin, there is also a lot of pending weight loss drugs in the wings from the pharmaceutical industry. In recent decades close daily monitoring of blood sugar has also helped diabetics immensely along with the usual standard treatment plans. The future for overweight diabetics is getting better all the time as new strategies are developed. However, many diabetics are not overweight and this has led to other areas of research. Nevertheless, research on why obesity is related to diabetes so intimately is still the focus of major research efforts to find a cure for diabetes.

What everyone has realized for some time is that there is a very close relationship between Type II diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance. This latter relationship between insulin resistance and obesity has been found to be connected in recent years through a new factor that has emerged in the medical research on Type II Diabetes. That factor is Inflammation. But first here is a review of what is known about insulin resistance. 

Insulin Resistance   

 All humans need energy to live. Consequently, every cell in the body needs energy, including cells in our large muscle groups. How do our cells get this energy? Normally, the foods we eat provide that energy. The food is then converted to blood glucose (blood sugar) and leads to circulation in our blood stream. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, and sends it into your bloodstream to travel to the various cells of the body. Insulin then attaches to a receptor on the cell’s surface and causes the cell membrane to permit blood glucose to enter. That is the normal process.

However, in Type II diabetes this system doesn’t work very well. The insulin gets to each cell; however, when it arrives, it has trouble unlocking the door to each cell and then the cell fails to permit the glucose to enter. Since glucose cannot get into the cells, it then builds up in the bloodstream. This condition is called Insulin Resistance.

The mystery of Type II diabetes has always been to find out why insulin resistance occurs. We now have a pretty good idea of the cause. So, what is the cause of Type II diabetes? Insulin’s ability to work is blocked in the human cell (like gum jamming up a lock as the metaphor suggests) by actual FAT. The cell’s receptors are blocked or jammed by fat.

Normally small amounts of fat are stored for energy in an emergency in each cell. However, in a diet (like the Western diet high in fat and cholesterol) excessive fat builds up in each cell creating the jamming process that prevents glucose from entering. If fat, called intramyocellular lipid, accumulates inside the cell it interferes with insulin’s intracellular signaling process.

Tiny organelles, called mitochondria, are supposed to burn fat. But their failure to keep up with the accumulating fat may be the origin of Type II diabetes. It turns out fatty foods actually do more than add excessive fat to each cell—they also interfere by turning off the genes that would help them create mitochondria and thus burn fat. The genes become disabled and do not allow the cells to produce the needed mitochondria. Your ability to eliminate fat inside your cells seems to slow down when you eat fatty foods.

Continue this faulty intracellular activity long enough, and guess what—you end up being diagnosed with Type II diabetes. This scenario of explanation is a good one, but new research is suggesting that other variables are involved in connecting obesity to insulin resistance. All of this leads (in this diabetic’s humble opinion) to answering the question why does the excess fat in a cell lead to the disabling of genes? What is the etiology of disabled genes in diabetics.

New Research Findings Emerge

 In November 2007 Science Daily reported that researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have discovered that Inflammation provoked by immune cells called macrophages leads to insulin resistance and Type II diabetes. Their discovery may pave the way to novel drug development to fight the epidemic of Type II diabetes associated with obesity, the most prevalent metabolic disease worldwide. But, as you will shortly see, inflammation is intimately related or involved in a number of medical conditions and diseases.

 A Quick Definition of Inflammation and Its Relationship to Disease

 A quick definition of inflammation is needed. Inflammation is the first response by the immune system to infection or irritation. It often involves redness, heat, pain, swelling, and dysfunction of the organ involved. Chronic inflammation is an ongoing, low level of inflammation, invisible to the human eye and is associated with many diseases (this was an eye opener to me) including: Heart Disease, Cancer, Stroke, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, many forms of arthritis such as Rheumatoid and Lupus, Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, age-related Macular Degeneration, Sepsis which is infection in the blood stream, Multiple Sclerosis, hundreds of diseases ending in “itis” including Meningitis, Acne, and everyone’s favorite—Allergies. The mechanisms of Inflammation are complex, but just understand that it is controlled by fatty acids called prostaglandins. Just like cholesterol there are “good” prostaglandins and “bad” prostaglandins.

 Discovery of Inflammation and Diabetes

In recent years, it has been theorized that chronic, low-grade tissue inflammation related to obesity contributes to insulin resistance, the major cause of Type II diabetes. In research done in mouse models, the UCSD scientists proved that, by disabling the macrophage inflammatory pathway, insulin resistance and the resultant Type II diabetes can be prevented.

The findings of the research team, led by principle investigators Michael Karin, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology in UCSD’s Laboratory of Gene Regulation and Signal Transduction, and Jerrold Olefsky, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Scientific Affairs, were published as the feature article in an issue of Cell Metabolism.

According to Olefsky, “Our research shows that insulin resistance can be disassociated from the increase in body fat associated with obesity.” Macrophages, found in white blood cells in the bone marrow, are key players in the immune response. When these immune cells get into tissues, such as adipose (fat) or liver tissue, they release cytokines, which are chemical messenger molecules used by immune and nerve cells to communicate. These cytokines cause the neighboring liver, muscle or fat cells to become insulin resistant, which in turn can lead to Type II diabetes.

The UCSD research team showed that the macrophage is the cause of this cascade of events by knocking out a key component of the inflammatory pathway in the macrophage, JNK1, in a mouse model. This was done through a procedure called adoptive bone marrow transfer, which resulted in the knockout of JNK1 in cells derived from the bone marrow, including macrophages.

With this procedure, bone marrow was transplanted from a global JNK1 knockout mouse (lacking JNK1 in all cell types) into a normal mouse that had been irradiated to kill off its endogenous bone marrow. This resulted in a chimeric mouse in which all tissues were normal except the bone marrow, which is where macrophages originate. As a control, the scientists used normal, wild-type mice as well as mice lacking JNK1 in all cell types. These control mice were also subjected to irradiation and bone marrow transfer.

The mice were all fed a high-fat diet. In regular, wild-type mice, this diet would normally result in obesity, leading to inflammation, insulin resistance and mild Type 2 diabetes. The chimeric mice, lacking JNK1 in bone marrow-derived cells, did become obese; however, they showed a striking absence of insulin resistance — a pre-condition that can lead to development of Type 2 diabetes.

“If we can block or disarm this macrophage inflammatory pathway in humans, we could interrupt the cascade that leads to insulin resistance and diabetes,” said Olefsky. “A small molecule compound to block JNK1 could prove a potent insulin-sensitizing, anti-diabetic agent.”

The research also proved that obesity without inflammation does not result in insulin resistance. Olefsky explained that when an animal or a human being becomes obese, they develop steatosis, or increased fat in the liver. The steatosis leads to liver inflammation and hepatic insulin resistance.

The chimeric mice did develop fatty livers, but not inflammation. “Their livers remained normal in terms of insulin sensitivity,” said Olefsky, adding that this shows that insulin resistance can also be disassociated from fatty liver. “We aren’t suggesting that obesity is healthy, but indications are promising that, by blocking the macrophage pathway, scientists may find a way to prevent the Type II diabetes now linked to obesity and fatty livers,” Olefsky said.

In a related study, it was found that inflammation-causing cells in fat tissue may explain the link between obesity and diabetes. The findings came from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers in Melbourne, Australia. The discovery, by Professor Len Harrison and Dr John Wentworth from the institute’s Autoimmunity and Transplantation division, opens the way for new anti-inflammatory treatments that prevent insulin resistance (where the body is unable to respond to and use the insulin it produces) and other complications associated with obesity.

“We have shown that insulin resistance in human obesity is closely related to the presence of inflammatory cells in fat tissue, in particular a population of macrophage cells,” Professor Harrison said.

Once again this research team had similar findings to those of UCSD scientists. That is, macrophages, white blood cells derived from the bone marrow, are immune cells that normally respond to infections. In obese people, macrophages move into the fat tissue where they cause inflammation and release cytokines, which are chemical messenger molecules used by immune cells to communicate. Certain cytokines cause cells to become resistant to the effects of the hormone insulin, leading to diabetes and heart disease.

My hypothesis (as a diabetic, not as a medical doctor) is that these cytokines cause the genes that produce mitochondria in our cells (especially adipose cells) to become disabled. It is only a hypothesis of mine but it would be theoretically very informative if some future research were to experimentally prove this.

 Other Studies of Importance

 It probably should be no surprise that inflammation in the body has an effect on other medical problems, including Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition whereby a combination of medical disorders that, when occuring together, increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Some studies have shown the prevalence in the USA to be an estimated 25% of the population, and prevalence increases with age.

Individuals who are obese are at increased risk of developing a combination of medical disorders associated with type II diabetes and heart disease known as the metabolic syndrome. Recent studies have suggested that adipose (fat) tissue obesity induces an inflammatory state that is crucial to the development of the metabolic syndrome. UCLA researchers demonstrated that an over-the-counter dietary supplement may help inhibit development of insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, conditions that are involved in the development of Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which affect millions worldwide.

In this early preclinical study, a naturally produced amino acid-like molecule called GABA was given orally to mice that were obese, insulin resistant and in the early stages of Type II diabetes. Researchers found that GABA suppressed the inflammatory immune responses that are involved in the development of this condition.

According to study authors, GABA helped prevent disease progression and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, even after onset of Type II diabetes in mice. Researchers also identified the regulatory immune cells that likely direct GABA activity in inhibiting inflammation.

Researchers note that in the future, GABA taken as a supplement or related medications may provide new therapeutic agents for the treatment of obesity-related Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome. However, like any substance science does not know what side effects there may be with GABA. Don’t run out to your health store just yet. Wait for the proper medical research to be conducted on GABA efficacy and safety. Nobody wants to wait forever for something that may work but FDA approval and the proper research protocols must be followed first. Does this mean we can’t utilize the new research to our advantage right now? No— not at all. One area we do have control over is the food we eat and the lifestyle we choose for ourselves. It’s time we all come into the 21st C entury folks. Your doctor isn’t responsible for your health—YOU ARE.

Connections

I am a 69 year old diabetic who has had diabetes since August 1991 (I was 48 years old at time of diagnosis). I ask myself, how can this new information help me? I’ve been a Vegan for two years that helped launch me down the road to successfully losing weight (16 lb weight loss in 2011, but virtually very little weight loss in 2012).

In 2012 Sciatica visited the nerves in my lower back and down my left leg, hamstring, thigh, and buttocks. The pain impacted my ability, particularly after my USA Track & Field Meets were over in July, to exercise 4-5 days a week the rest of the year. This in turn helped explain why my weight loss stood still in 2012.

With physical therapy I have been getting better and intend on returning to a good schedule of exercise in 2013. In terms of food consumption, as a tool to fight inflammation, I have decided to integrate my Vegan diet with the Anti-Inflammation Diet. For those interested in understanding the Vegan diet please read some of my earlier Blogs.

People should be asking themselves this question: If inflammation (low-grade or otherwise) plays a role in many other diseases besides Diabetes what dietary changes can I make to increase the success in lessening inflammation in the body? I’m glad you asked. Here is what I’m going to do about it. As always, see your primary care physician before undertaking any program.

Because of what is involved in using the anti-inflammatory diet and the vast amount of information available I simply, with the rest of this Blog, want to accomplish two things: (1) make the reader aware of two books I found valuable with reducing inflammation, and (2) give the reader a preview of the kinds of food one can eat right away to reduce inflammation in the body. These books are: (1) The Idiot’s Guide to The Anti-Inflammation Diet by Christopher P. Cannon, M.D., and Elizabeth Vierck., and (2) The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book by Jessica K. Black, N.D.

 Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory and Inflammatory Foods

The above books listed go into great detail on the Anti-Inflammation Diet. In the meantime, here are some quick suggestions.

 Foods to Consume:

  • Wild Alaskan Salmon
  • Kelp
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Cruciferous Vegetables
  • Blueberries
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Green Tea
  • Sweet Potatoes

 Foods to Avoid:

  •  Sugar
  • Common Cooking Oils
  • Trans Fats
  • Dairy
  • Feedlot-Raised Meat
  • Red and Processed Meats
  • Alcohol
  • Refined Grains
  • Artificial Food Additives

 Final Advice:

      Add lots of fruits and vegetables to your diet, nuts and legumes, whole grains, take a daily multiple vitamin-mineral; and, when in the grocery store—READ THE LABELS.

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Part I

Update on Diabetes in America
[Epidemiology and New Research Findings]

Introduction

This is Part I of a two-part series on diabetes in this country. Part I will be an epidemiological look at this disease in terms of statistical estimates disaggregated by age, race, and gender.

Part II of the series will concentrate on presenting some of the new research findings as they relate to Type II diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and a new factor that is emerging as important—Inflammation.

2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet

Diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes in the United States, all ages, 2010

Total: 25.8 million people, or 8.3% of the U.S. population, have diabetes.
Diagnosed: 18.8 million people
Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people

Estimation Methods

The estimates in this fact sheet were derived from various data systems of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Indian Health Service’s (IHS) National Patient Information Reporting System (NPIRS), the U.S. Renal Data System of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Census Bureau, and published studies.

The estimated percentages and the total number of people with diabetes and prediabetes were derived from 2005–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2007–2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 2009 IHS data, and 2010 U.S. resident population estimates.

The diabetes and prediabetes estimates from NHANES were applied to the 2010 U.S. resident population estimates to derive the estimated number of adults with diabetes or prediabetes. The methods used to generate the estimates for the fact sheet may vary over time and need to be considered before comparing fact sheets. In contrast to the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, which used fasting glucose data to estimate undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes, the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet used both fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c (A1c) levels to derive estimates for undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes. These tests were chosen because they are most frequently used in clinical practice.

Diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes among people aged 20 years or older, United States, 2010

Age 20 years or older: 25.6 million, or 11.3% of all people in this age group, have diabetes.

Age 65 years or older: 10.9 million, or 26.9% of all people in this age group, have diabetes.

Men: 13.0 million, or 11.8% of all men aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Women: 12.6 million, or 10.8% of all women aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Non-Hispanic whites: 15.7 million, or 10.2% of all non-Hispanic whites aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Non-Hispanic blacks: 4.9 million, or 18.7% of all non-Hispanic blacks aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Sufficient data are not available to estimate the total prevalence of diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed) for other U.S. racial/ethnic minority populations.

Diagnosed diabetes in people younger than 20 years of age, United States, 2010

About 215,000 people younger than 20 years have diabetes (type 1 or type 2). This represents 0.26% of all people in this age group. Estimates of undiagnosed diabetes are unavailable for this age group.

Racial and ethnic differences in diagnosed diabetes

National estimates of diagnosed diabetes for some but not all minority groups are available from national survey data and from the IHS NPIRS, which includes data for approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States who receive health care from the IHS. Differences in diabetes prevalence by race/ethnicity are partially attributable to age differences. Adjustment for age makes results from racial/ethnic groups more comparable.
• Data from the 2009 IHS NPIRS indicate that 14.2% of American Indians and Alaska Natives aged 20 years or older who received care from IHS had diagnosed diabetes.

• After adjusting for population age differences, 16.1% of the total adult population served by IHS had diagnosed diabetes, with rates varying by region from 5.5% among Alaska Native adults to 33.5% among American Indian adults in southern Arizona.

• After adjusting for population age differences, 2007–2009 national survey data for people aged 20 years or older indicate that 7.1% of non-Hispanic whites, 8.4% of Asian Americans, 11.8% of Hispanics, and 12.6% of non-Hispanic blacks had diagnosed diabetes. Among Hispanics, rates were 7.6% for both Cubans and for Central and South Americans, 13.3% for Mexican Americans, and 13.8% for Puerto Ricans.

• Compared to non-Hispanic white adults, the risk of diagnosed diabetes was 18% higher among Asian Americans, 66% higher among Hispanics, and 77% higher among non-Hispanic blacks. Among Hispanics compared to non-Hispanic white adults, the risk of diagnosed diabetes was about the same for Cubans and for Central and South Americans, 87% higher for Mexican Americans, and 94% higher for Puerto Ricans.

New cases of diagnosed diabetes among people aged 20 years or older, United States, 2010

About 1.9 million people aged 20 years or older were newly diagnosed with diabetes in 2010.

New cases of diagnosed diabetes among people younger than 20 years of age, United States, 2002–2005

SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth is a multicenter study funded by CDC and NIH to examine diabetes (type 1 and type 2) among children and adolescents in the United States. SEARCH findings for the communities studied include the following:
• During 2002–2005, 15,600 youth were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes annually, and 3,600 youth were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes annually.

• Among youth aged

• Non-Hispanic white youth had the highest rate of new cases of type 1 diabetes (24.8 per 100,000 per year among those younger than 10 years and 22.6 per 100,000 per year among those aged 10–19 years).

• Type 2 diabetes was extremely rare among youth aged 9%) were 2.9 times more likely to have severe periodontitis than those without diabetes. The likelihood was even greater (4.6 times) among smokers with poorly controlled diabetes.

• About one-third of people with diabetes have severe periodontal disease consisting of loss of attachment (5 millimeters or more) of the gums to the teeth.

Complications of pregnancy
• Poorly controlled diabetes before conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy among women with type 1 diabetes can cause major birth defects in 5% to 10% of pregnancies and spontaneous abortions in 15% to 20% of pregnancies. On the other hand, for a woman with pre-existing diabetes, optimizing blood glucose levels before and during early pregnancy can reduce the risk of birth defects in their infants.

• Poorly controlled diabetes during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can result in excessively large babies, posing a risk to both mother and child.

Other complications
• Uncontrolled diabetes often leads to biochemical imbalances that can cause acute life-threatening events, such as diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar (nonketotic) coma.

• People with diabetes are more susceptible to many other illnesses. Once they acquire these illnesses, they often have worse prognoses. For example, they are more likely to die with pneumonia or influenza than people who do not have diabetes.

• People with diabetes aged 60 years or older are 2–3 times more likely to report an inability to walk one-quarter of a mile, climb stairs, or do housework compared with people without diabetes in the same age group.

• People with diabetes are twice as likely to have depression, which can complicate diabetes management, than people without diabetes. In addition, depression is associated with a 60% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Preventing diabetes complications

As indicated above, diabetes can affect many parts of the body and can lead to serious complications such as blindness, kidney damage, and lower-limb amputations. Working together, people with diabetes, their support network, and their health care providers can reduce the occurrence of these and other diabetes complications by controlling the levels of blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids, and by receiving other preventive care practices in a timely manner.

Glucose control
• Studies in the United States and abroad have found that improved glycemic control benefits people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In general, every percentage point drop in A1c blood test results (e.g., from 8.0% to 7.0%) can reduce the risk of microvascular complications (eye, kidney, and nerve diseases) by 40%. The absolute difference in risk may vary for certain subgroups of people.

• In patients with type 1 diabetes, intensive insulin therapy has long-term beneficial effects on the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Blood pressure control
• Blood pressure control reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease or stroke) among people with diabetes by 33% to 50%, and the risk of microvascular complications (eye, kidney, and nerve diseases) by approximately 33%.

• In general, for every 10 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure, the risk for any complication related to diabetes is reduced by 12%.

• No benefit of reducing systolic blood pressure below 140 mmHg has been demonstrated in randomized clinical trials.

• Reducing diastolic blood pressure from 90 mmHg to 80 mmHg in people with diabetes reduces the risk of major cardiovascular events by 50%.
Control of blood lipids
• Improved control of LDL cholesterol can reduce cardiovascular complications by 20% to 50%.

Preventive care practices for eyes, feet, and kidneys
• Detecting and treating diabetic eye disease with laser therapy can reduce the development of severe vision loss by an estimated 50% to 60%.

• About 65% of adults with diabetes and poor vision can be helped by appropriate eyeglasses.

• Comprehensive foot care programs, i.e., that include risk assessment, foot-care education and preventive therapy, treatment of foot problems, and referral to specialists, can reduce amputation rates by 45% to 85%.

• Detecting and treating early diabetic kidney disease by lowering blood pressure can reduce the decline in kidney function by 30% to 70%. Treatment with particular medications for hypertension called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) is more effective in reducing the decline in kidney function than is treatment with other blood pressure lowering drugs.

• In addition to lowering blood pressure, ARBs and ACEIs reduce proteinuria, a risk factor for developing kidney disease, by about 35%.

Post Script

In Part I, data were presented on diabetes in order to give the reader an epidemiological look at this disease. In Part II data will be presented on some of the research looking to understand, or at least better treat, this dreadful disease. It is hoped that as each year passes, researchers will eventually find the cure for diabetes.

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