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Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Silent Role of the Sun in Fighting Diabetes

There is more to the expression ‘a sunny disposition’ than meets the eye. Sunlight helps us stay cheerful and positive, which matters when it comes to fighting morale-busting diseases such as diabetes, on a daily basis.

Those of us who live near the equator have so much of the sun all year around, that we take its effects for granted. However, a continuous spell of even a few days in a harsh winter, suffices to remind us of how dependant we are on the sun.

What does this have to do with diabetes?

Short daylight hours can affect the production of serotonin, a natural substance which the brain uses for communication with the rest of the body. Shortage of serotonin causes a temporary affliction called Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately, SAD for short!)

SAD is a kind of depression, which increases the cravings for sweet and starchy food. Now do you see the connection between sunlight hours and fighting diabetes?

A severe winter puts every resolve to fight diabetes to a heightened test. 2 things can help: first, use bright artificial lights to keep your serotonin levels up, and secondly, keep plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts at hand, to deal with cravings for all the things you cannot have in diabetes.

Doctors can prescribe short courses of supplements to boost serotonin, provided that the cardiac system is normal, and the person who prepares your diabetes diet can make adjustments to deal with low daylight hours as well. However, awareness goes a long way in fighting SAD, and most people can hold on until spring by themselves. Everyone with diabetes, or at risk of developing it, needs to take special precautions to keep away from increased fat, sugar, and simple carbohydrate foods with high glycemic indices, during the long dark nights of winter.


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