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Happy World Health Day 2016

There’s a big important day coming up this week? No really, it’s true. We know that Easter has passed, Earth Day isn’t for a couple of weeks, and Mother’s Day is next month (yikes – noted!). Stumped? It so happens that this Thursday, April 7th, is World Health Day. Still stumped, and thinking about how you’ve somehow missed the greeting card section designated for this holiday? Let us school you: Since its inception in 1948, the World Health Organization has designated April 7th as a day to call attention to health concerns on a global scale. This day is a great opportunity to learn, spread the word and talk about relevant health issues that deserve a little extra publicity. In 2007 the focus was on international health security. 2008’s focus was protecting health from climate change. The focus for 2016 is an all-too-familiar one, in fact, affecting an estimated 350 million people across the globe. The call-to-action in 2016: “Beat Diabetes.”

Some things you may not know about diabetes:

  • In 2014 9% of all adults worldwide had diabetes
  • More than 80% of diabetes-induced fatalities occur in low-income or middle-income countries
  • Until recently, type 2 diabetes was found only in adults but is now becoming more common in children and teenagers
  • Being male and/or having a family history of diabetes increases your risk of getting it yourself
  • In the next 20 years, the number of people with this disease is expected to double, reaching a staggering 700 million worldwide

The irony of this highly prevalent and life-altering disease is that prevention is extremely simple and affordable. In short: eat moderately and healthfully, don’t smoke, stay active. However, if you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll be happy to know that receiving regular massage can help combat the effects of diabetes as well.

A commonly-known benefit of massage is that it improves circulation. This is beneficial for all of us, but even more so for those struggling with an insulin imbalance. It makes sense that happy, nourished cells are more readily able to receive and process insulin. Also, the relaxation and tension-release experienced during and after receiving a massage is a welcomed effect to those living with a disease that requires daily self-monitoring and self-care. Positive health choices have a way of multiplying themselves in us, and choosing to care for ourselves with massage can make our disease management easier and less stressful. While further studies are needed about whether massage can lower blood sugar levels in adults, a 1997 study reported in Diabetes Spectrum that children with diabetes experienced lower overall blood sugar levels after receiving regular, full-body massage from their parents for a month. Lastly, those with diabetes may experience a thickening of their connective tissue caused by raised blood glucose levels. Massage can help to increase muscle tissue elasticity that has been stalled by this thickening effect.

Education and awareness about a disease as prevalent and widespread as diabetes is crucial. Spread the word to someone you love. This, along with setting a positive example to others by caring for yourself, can make a world of difference.

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