Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Joint Effort To Cut Salt Intake by 20 Percent by 2014

Salt is a mineral consists mainly of sodium chloride. It is essential for human body as it helps maintain the body’s fluid balance. However, too much of it inside the body can never be good as it could cause high blood pressure that would in turn lead to heart disease and stroke.

Americans consume about twice the recommended intake of salt (1,500 mg for most adults and 2,300 mg for others) each day. Studies show that only 11 percent of the salt (sodium) intake in the daily diets comes from the saltshakers while nearly 80 percent of salt is added to foods before they are sold. In fact, much of the salt in Americans’ diets comes from breads, muffins and other foods that do not taste salty at all.

Every year, the number of deaths of heart attack and stroke as a result of high salt intake are roughly 23,000 in the New York City and more than 800,000 nationwide. This also costs American billions in healthcare expenses.

2 years ago, the National Salt Reduction Initiative was created with the aim of reducing the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent by 2014. This also means that the nation's salt intake can be reduced by 20 percent. This voluntary effort was coordinated by New York City.

Reducing sodium intake to the recommended levels could prevent between 44,000 and 92,000 deaths from heart attack and stroke, and save between US$10 and $24 billion in health care every year in the United States.

The program is actually modeled on a similar program in the United Kingdom, where food manufacturers have to reduce salt levels by at least 40 percent in some products. Other countries like Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Ireland, and New Zealand have also launched similar national initiatives to help cut the salt content in food.

On April 26, 2010, the first 16 companies announced their formal commitments to the National Salt Reduction Initiative, which is a public-private partnership that also includes 18 national health organizations, 29 cities, states and related entities.

The 16 companies are Au Bon Pain, Boar's Head, FreshDirect, Goya, Hain Celestial, Heinz, Kraft, LiDestri, Mars Food, McCain Foods, Red Gold, Starbucks, Subway, Unilever, Uno Chicago Grill and White Rose.

Mars Foods would lower the salt in its Uncle Ben's flavored rice products by 25 percent over 5 years. For Subway, their sandwich chain has already cut sodium by 30 percent in its European outlets and is working on reducing salt in its US restaurants. Heinz has already cut sodium in Bagel Bites frozen pizza snacks by more than 20 percent and would reduce sodium by 15 percent in all the ketchup it sells in the United States starting May 1.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is There A Faster Cheaper and Painless Way To Test Diabetes?

Diabetes, if not managed or treated with care, could easily lead to serious medical conditions including blindness, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, nervous system disease, stroke and amputation.

In order to diagnose whether a person is having diabetes or pre-diabetes, doctors usually use a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test to measure blood glucose in that person who has not eaten anything for at least 8 hours. Sometimes, an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), which measures blood glucose after the person fasts at least 8 hours and 2 hours after the person drinks a glucose-containing beverage, might also be employed.

For diagnosis of diabetes (not for pre-diabetes), a random plasma glucose test is used. The test, also known as casual plasma glucose test, measures blood glucose of a person at any time without regarding when this person last ate.

Here comes the so-called Wrinkle Test, which is considered as a faster and cheaper method to diagnose if a person has diabetes. The Wrinkle Test can identify a disorder in the sensors on a person’s skin and was developed by researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the National University Hospital (NUH).

Carrying out the test is fairly simple. Apply a local anesthetic as cream on the fingers of the person being tested. If the skin does not wrinkle after some time, then this person must has a nerve fiber disorder that could be caused by disease like diabetes.

The results of the test are compared against a scale of between zero and 4. Zero indicates there is no wrinkling and is a sign that the constriction of blood vessels is being impaired. Studies have shown that wrinkling is caused by a constriction of blood vessels. A patient with a small nerve fiber disorder, which disrupts the constriction, would have fewer wrinkles.

Though many diseases could actually cause a disorder on the small nerve fibers on the patients’ skin, diabetes is the most important cause because almost half of the diabetic patients in Singapore suffer from some kind of the disorder.

Nevertheless, Wrinkle test is surely not the only way to identify nerve fiber disorders. In fact, nerve disorder could be diagnosed by removing a skin sample, which was then sent to laboratory for testing. And it usually takes between 1 to 2 weeks before results can be known.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Can Resistance Exercise Really Help Those With Type-2 Diabetes?

When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, his or her body would have problem making or using insulin. Insulin is required for moving glucose (blood sugar) into cells, where it is stored and later used for energy.

An estimated 24 million people in the Untied States have diabetes, with 90 percent of them are diagnosed as Type-2 diabetes, which typically develops after the age of 45. And, it could be the result of unhealthy lifestyle habits.

The glucose levels found in patients with Type-2 diabetes are high because of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. Insulin resistance means that fat, liver, and muscle cells do not respond normally to insulin. As such, blood sugar does not get into cells to be stored for energy.

Once sugar fails to enter cells, abnormally high levels of sugar will accumulate in the blood stream. This will often trigger the pancreas to produce more and more insulin, but can never be enough to keep up with the body's demand.

Diabetes is already a chronic disease by itself. If it is not managed appropriately, it can surely place patients at a higher risk of developing other serious complications including heart disease, blood vessel disease, kidney failure, nerve diseases and even blindness and amputation of legs.

In September 2007, a paper published by Canadian researchers in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that Type-2 diabetics, who exercised regularly, could have better blood-sugar control, especially if they did aerobic exercises as well as lifted weights.

According to most doctors and health experts, exercise is another powerful way to reduce blood sugar, in addition to strict diet control and medication. In general, exercise would help diabetics reduce insulin resistance by allowing cells in the body to have a higher uptake of glucose in the blood stream. This certainly would improve blood sugar control.

Besides aerobic exercise, Type-2 diabetics are advised to perform resistance training at least 3 times a week. Resistance training is one that includes exercises conducted using weights, weight machines or elastic bands. Its purpose is to improve strength by slowly and progressively overloading the muscles over a series of exercise sessions.

Nevertheless, diabetics should be aware of some risks in overdoing exercise. The most common one is patients might experience low blood sugar after drastic exercise. As such, patients should have their blood sugar checked before and after performing their exercise.

Meanwhile, patients with diabetes over long period of time, or kidney, eye or feet complications from diabetes might encounter problems when exercising. So, it is better to consult a physician before starting to engage any training program.