Diabetes is about more than what you can and cannot eat to maintain a proper diet. This disease affects your entire body and, unless taken care of properly, could result in bigger health problems.
How do I maintain my internal health with diabetes?
Anyone with diabetes must be aware of the certain precautionary measures to remain healthy. People with diabetes can easily develop other health problems.
Here are some key things to remember:
- Keep up-to-date on vaccinations
- Do not smoke
- Have regular diabetes checkups
- Have regular checkups for your general health (optical, dental, etc.)
- Get regular exercise (approx. 30 minutes per day)
Exercise will help keep your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol under control. If you are taking insulin shots, be sure to consult your doctor before exercising.
Do I need to change the way I care for my external health?
People with diabetes have more sensitive skin than those that do not. About 1/3 of people with diabetes also develop skin problems. These skin conditions can cause issues such as: thickening of the skin, sores or small lesions. Depending on the severity and type of skin condition, some can be treated with moisturizers and lotions.
An amputation occurs approximately every 30 seconds around the world to someone with diabetes. Amputations are typically caused by an infection from a wound that has not been treated. One way to help avoid an amputation is to take care of your feet. If your nails are not properly trimmed, your shoes are too tight or you develop sores on your feet, infection can occur.
If you feel uncomfortable trimming your nails, visit a podiatrist to ensure that it is done properly. Another option is to have your nails trimmed at your local salon. There are serious procedures to confirm when visiting a salon. Before you begin, check to make sure that the tools are being properly sanitized, the salon has recently been cleared by the state and their certification is visible.
Having adequate space and comfort in your shoes is key. If your shoes feel tight or are rubbing and causing blisters, stop wearing them. The blisters can become infected and lead to larger health problems.
Do I have to change my diet?
People with diabetes are about twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone without diabetes. Depending on which type of diabetes you have, (Type 1, Type 2 or gestational), your doctor will give you guidelines to follow to maintain proper health.
One rule that everyone can follow is to keep your food portions under control. Here is an easy way to keep portions in mind:
- Look at your empty plate.
- In your mind, create different sections on the plate.
- Make one section large, taking the majority of the plate. This is the section for your vegetables and fruits.
- With the remaining space, create two small sections. One section is for meats, the other for starches.
Portion size is not the only thing to consider. Try to avoid eating fried foods or foods with high sugar. This does not mean that sweets are off limits; just keep your intake at a moderate amount. Have plenty of fiber in your diet, as this will help keep your glucose levels in check. A small way to help those with low blood sugar is to carry glucose tablets or snacks. Glucose levels can drop at any time and if you need something quick, tablets or snacks are great way to boost your glucose levels.
Maintaining your health with diabetes is very crucial to the health of your entire body. Speak with your doctor about making a proper health routine that is right for you.
Helen A. Borgenheimer, MD, FACP, is a Board Certified Internal Medicine Specialist at IU Health Ball Memorial Physicians - Blackford. For more information, please call 765.348.5776 or visit iuhealth.org/ball-memorial.