Diabetes, depression, and exercise as medicine


In America, there are currently 27 million people with diabetes and 67 million with pre-diabetes.  By 2020 half of all Americans are projected to be diabetic or pre-diabetic and a recent analysis by the United Health Group, reveals that the health-care costs associated with treating this disease may reach as high as $3.35 trillion dollars.

While poor diet and inactivity are typically cited as the primary causes of type-2 diabetes, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health recently conducted a study that linked depression to the disease.    Inversely, diabetics were also more likely to develop depression, suggesting that the chemical changes associated with diabetes may actually influence depressive symptoms and vice-versa.

It is worth noting that diabetics taking insulin had a higher incidence of depression than diabetics who were not on insulin therapy.  Similarly, individuals who took medication to treat their depression were more likely to become diabetic.

In a case of misplaced incentives, even the best intentioned doctors are financially rewarded when patients require ongoing medical treatment.  Pharmaceutical companies also have a clear motivation to capture as much profits as they can from the growing population of diabetes/depression patients, even when their medications themselves are dangerous.

Conventional, chemical means of treating both diabetes and depression need to change.  In pre-diabetics, lifestyle interventions such as improved diet (reduction in processed/simple carbohydrates) and regular exercise can stop, and even reverse, the progression of the disease.  Individuals with full-blown diabetes can reduce their dependence on medication with similar lifestyle based interventions (combining cardiovascular and resistance exercise was particularly effective).

In a separate Harvard study, research showed that regular exercise (defined as 60 minutes 3 times a week or 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week) was more effective in the long term relief of depression than popular the popular SSRI Zoloft.   

We need to petition our insurance companies so that they extend medical coverage to preventative treatments like gym memberships, nutritionists, personal trainers, and massage therapists.  Also, doctors who keep patients from getting sick in the first place should be rewarded financially.  Otherwise, our nation faces the risk of drowning beneath the rising tide of out-of-control healthcare costs and crippling illness.
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About Tony Fed

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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