Ever wondered what information you get from a body scan? Advanced scanners can reveal your true bone age, whether you're at risk from diabetes and heart disease - and as long as you go to a clinic with the right expertise - how to lower your risk of all of these serious conditions. The ideal body scanner to look for is a DEXA. DEXA – also referred to as DXA – is short for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.
A low radiation DEXA scanner
A DEXA scanner has the advantage of using a far lower radiation level than CT scan or MRIs. You don’t need to be referred to a doctor. You can walk into a clinic and discover the true state of your health with a quick, safe and non-invasive scan. The level of radiation is so low, the operator remains in the room with you.
The DEXA scan is best known for its super-accurate method of detecting the risk of osteoporosis. A DEXA measurement compares and calculates your bone density to other people who are the same age and sex, giving a good indication as to whether you’re at risk of conditions such as osteoporosis and osteopenia- when the bone thins - often a precursor to osteoporosis.
If a DEXA scan reveals you are at risk from osteoporosis you can make lifestyle changes in consultation with your doctor – such as taking vitamin D, upping your weight-bearing exercise, or, if needed, you can take bone-strengthening drugs.
DEXA for body composition
However, a DEXA scan isn’t just for detecting osteoporosis. A DEXA scanner with advanced diagnostic features can offer a huge insight into your overall health, and inform you of any necessary changes to diet and your exercise regime.
Look for a DEXA scanner with ‘Advanced Body Composition’ software, which can provide a reading of the total fat in the trunk area of your body. Abdominal obesity or excess stomach fat has been seen to contribute more to the risk for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as in the hips. A DEXA reading can indicate whether you’re at risk of this.
The DEXA ‘Core Scan’ option gives an even greater reliability, and can tell whether the fat is visceral fat - the kind that wraps itself around the internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines - risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and cancer rise.
Fat cells in the abdomen are broken down rapidly and routinely, releasing fatty acids, hormones, and chemical messengers that can trigger heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.
Reduce your risks from visceral fat
The advantage of these readings is knowledge is power. Once you know you are at risk from visceral fat, you can find ways to reduce your risks.
Cutting carbohydrates, such as sugary foods, bread, potatoes and rice is a good move.
Too many carbs make your body create more insulin. Insulin signals to the body that it should be storing fat.
It’s tempting to start targeted exercise to get rid of belly fat, but this won’t on its own do much for visceral fat. Your best option is to do a mixture of aerobic exercise – the kind that gets you out of breath, as well as strength training.
A report prepared by an expert in DEXA
Whenever you have a scan done, it's always important to make sure any information you are given is put into context by a medical professional. Professor David Reid, one of the UK's leading authorities on DEXA and a consultant rheumatologist at Twenty-five Harley Street says: "One in two women over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime but the good news is that fracture risk can both be predicted and in many cases safely prevented by treatment." He adds: "The fact that DEXA can also reveal visceral fat distribution makes DEXA a very valuable tool."
A condition in which the protein and mineral content of bone tissue is reduced, but less severely than in osteoporosis.Full medical glossary