We’ve been talking a lot about diabetic foot care as of late for two key reasons – 1) this is a serious medical condition affecting millions of Americans and 2) November is National Diabetes Month. Given the widespread nature of the disease, a single month of recognition and awareness really doesn’t do this subject justice.
Diabetes is a disease that puts your feet at risk for serious medical complications. Now, we do provide advanced treatment options to help when problems arise, but a better course of action is to follow your diabetic foot care plan —if you don’t have a plan already, come see us as soon as possible and we can work with you to create one—and make healthy lifestyle choices.
Of course, making healthy lifestyle choices is important for any human, diabetic or not. When diabetes is in the picture, some of the things you need to do are things anyone should do. These include eating a healthy diet, exercising on a regular basis, and making sure you get plenty of sleep at night.
Starting with healthy eating, it is essential for you to manage your blood sugar levels. (Hopefully we aren’t telling you anything you don’t already know!) This means you need to follow doctor orders and base your dietary choices on foods like whole grains, fresh vegetables, legumes (beans, etc.), nuts, fish, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats. Avoid sugar-laden beverages and (at the very least) limit the amount of candy or sweet treats you consume.
(You might not have to completely avoid all sugar in your diet – you do, however, need to be sensible about it.)
Before we discuss exercise as a lifestyle choice that can protect your diabetic feet, we need to remind you that all activities must be approved in advance by a doctor. Your primary care physician plays a definite role in this, but don’t forget to have any of our doctors examine your lower limbs as well. We can identify potential issues and perhaps prescribe orthotic devices (if necessary) to reduce your risk of certain complications.
Exercise is proven to help individuals with diabetes, but you simply must protect your feet when staying active. This starts with choosing the right kinds of activities.
Instead of high-impact exercises—ones featuring lots of running and jumping (both of which place excessive force on your lower limbs)—create an exercise plan using low-impact activities. Swimming, yoga, stationary cycling, and walking are all wonderful options to improve your health – without giving too much risk for your feet and ankles.
When done correctly, weight-lifting is another exercise that can be beneficial. As with aerobic exercises, lifting weights can help improve blood flow down into the lower limbs. Further, muscle contraction can contribute to improved insulin uptake.
People are often quick to think about diet and exercise as healthy lifestyle choices, but don’t neglect the importance of a good night’s sleep!
Sleep deprivation is associated with raised levels of a stress hormone known as cortisol. This relates to diabetes because the hormone triggers insulin resistance. Lack of sleep also lowers levels of the hormone leptin, which controls appetite, while raising levels of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you want to eat more. This is a dangerous combination for weight gain (and obesity has a strong connection with type 2 diabetes)!
Of course, one of the very best healthy lifestyle decisions you can make is to recruit the help of medical professionals – like coming to see us for a diabetic foot care plan! We can work with you to identify measures to keep your feet safe and take care of minor problems that would otherwise become major problems over time.For more information—or to request an appointment—simply give us a call at 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if calling from Lake County)!