While it’s important for people with diabetes to get enough exercise, eat a healthy diet, and maintain a healthy weight, it’s just as important for them to focus on other types of specific care that often go overlooked. It’s also crucial for those at risk of the disease to care for themselves as though they’re already living with it; your doctor can help you create a plan if you’re pre-diabetic, and seniors who are at risk for type 2 diabetes can take advantage of Medicare’s Diabetes Prevention Program. Still, there are a lot of easy ways to manage your symptoms without the help of a medical specialist. With that in mind, here are a few crucial head-to-toe health tips that anyone with diabetes needs to know.
Pay Extra Attention to Your Oral Health
As someone with diabetes, you know that managing blood sugar is everything. Did you know that high blood sugar is linked to a variety of oral problems, including cavities and gum disease? In fact, the periodontitis associated with diabetes can put you in a vicious cycle. According to the American Diabetes Association, “The relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way. … People with diabetes are more susceptible to serious gum disease, [and] serious gum disease may … contribute to the progression of diabetes.”
Alongside keeping your blood glucose in check, you should make sure to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day — no exceptions! Study your gums every morning, and look for signs of a problem, including bleeding, redness, swelling, and dry mouth. You should also go to the dentist more often than other people (at least a few times a year).
Get More Exercise at Home
Exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy body weight, but it also helps you to control your blood glucose (your muscles use glucose when they are worked). This is what makes it vital to any diabetes healthcare plan. While it’s sometimes hard to motivate yourself to work out, you can make it easier by investing in a basic, low-cost home gym setup. Some of the essential equipment pieces you should invest in include kettlebells, resistance bands, and a doorframe pull-up bar. These are inexpensive, and provide hundreds of individual workouts.
Know What’s Good for Your Feet
Having diabetes puts you at a greater risk for foot problems. You are at a higher risk of corns, bunions, blisters, and ulcers, and your condition makes it more likely that these relatively minor (but annoying) problems could become infected and turn more serious. You are also at a risk of neuropathy (nerve damage), which can lead to dry, cracked feet that can become infected.
True diabetes foot care starts with keeping your feet extra clean every day, but avoid soaking them; this can make damaged skin more vulnerable. You should put lotion on your feet on a daily basis, but don’t put it between your toes, which can lead to fungal problems. Additional tips include wearing wool socks (they’re better than cotton for moisture absorption), getting enough exercise to keep the blood flowing to them, and refraining from using salts or astringent chemicals on them.
Insert Proven Diabetic-Helpers into Your Daily Diet
Everyone knows that diabetics should lower their sugar and alcohol intake, eat healthy carbs, eat more vegetables, and reduce their fatty meat consumption — but that’s good advice for anyone. For better health as a diabetic, try adding foods that are known to help people with this condition. Some of these foods include chickpeas, blueberries, olive oil, and peanut butter.
Diabetes is a condition that tends to affect you from head to toe. A truly comprehensive healthcare plan for someone with diabetes must focus on the feet, gums, teeth, cardiovascular system, and digestive system. Above all, staying on top of your blood sugar levels will help you better manage all the side effects of having diabetes, so stay vigilant.
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