World Health Day, which is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), is an annual event held on April 7th, the anniversary of the founding of the WHO in 1948. A sub-agency of the United Nations, the WHO concerns itself with international health matters. This year, the focus of World Health Day is the growing concern regarding the reported increase in diabetes throughout the world.
Although cases of people suffering the symptoms of diabetes have been found throughout the ancient world, neither the Torah nor the Talmud discuss it directly. As is well-known, Type II Diabetes is closely related to lifestyle, and many of the recommendations for healthy living in order to avoid diabetes are encouraged in Jewish tradition as well.
One critical factor in preventing Type II diabetes is maintaining a healthy diet. Not only do the sages stress the importance of eating vegetables (Talmud Eiruvin 55b - “No scholar should dwell in a town where vegetables are unobtainable”), but gluttony is also one of the 365 negative commandments.
Exercise is also considered vital to staving off diabetes. As is frequently noted in the media today, a lifestyle without exercise is extremely detrimental. This fact was pointed out by Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides - 12th century Spain), “As long as you exercise, take care not to eat to the point of satiation and keep your bowels soft, you will not fall ill and your strength will increase. . .The opposite is true of someone who leads a sedentary life and takes no exercise” (Hilchot Deot 4:15).
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