Cynthia Payne, MS, RD, CDE, FADA
In this time of shifting paradigms in health care, it is no longer news that Americans are using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In an era in which one out of every three people has employed an herbal, massage, manipulative, or biological therapy and in which some insurance companies are reimbursing for guided imagery, mind-body groups, and acupuncture, complementary therapies have taken a place of greater prominence on the health care landscape. 1,2 As health care professionals in the era of increasing consumer reliance on the Internet, it is often challenging to stay abreast of therapies our patients may explore or employ. There is much in health and healing that we do not yet understand. As the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center on Complementary and alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Website notes, “The list of practices that are considered CAM changes continually as CAM practices and therapies that are proven safe and effective become accepted as ‘mainstream’ healthcare practices.”3 The NIH funds multiple centers for CAM research. Its Office of Dietary Supplements funds several centers for research on dietary supplements. (Table 1). In addition, NCCAM spent $68.7 million last year on research into five major domains of CAM: biological therapies, manipulative and body-based therapies, alternate systems of healing, mind-body medicine, and energy medicine (Table 2). Because of the wealth of emerging information about the various CAM therapies, we have spread this From Research to Practice section over two issues of Diabetes Spectrum.
Belinda S. O’Connell, MS, RD, LD
Vitamins and minerals play diverse roles in our bodies. Initially, the nutri-tion community focused on the roles micronutrients play in preventing deficiency diseases such as scurvy, pellagra, and rickets. As our understanding of nutritional science grew, it became clear that nutrients act in far broader ways. We now know that micronutrients can regulate metabolism and gene expression and influence the development and progression of many chronic diseases.
Eventually, we may be able to tailor nutritional recommendations to individuals’ unique genetic makeup, thus increasing the potential benefit and positive outcomes of medical nutrition therapy.
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that our bodies require in small quantities for specific functions. They most commonly function as essential coenzymes and cofactors for metabolic reactions and thus help support basic cellular reactions (i.e., glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, lipid and amino acid metabolism) required to maintain energy production and life. Even moderate deficiencies can lead to serious disease states. Micronutrienthave been investigated as potential preventive and treatment agents for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.