Lifestyle Tips To Live Well With Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you know caring for your health is a priority. It may be overwhelming at first to learn to control your diabetes, but changing habits can have big rewards. You can eat, work, travel and enjoy your friends and family if you are dedicated and committed to becoming a new you. A few of the keys to controlling your blood sugar levels are testing your blood sugar and taking your medication at the same time every day, checking your feet, and exercising regularly, but there are other things you can do to maintain your health. Here are a few tips to help you live well with diabetes.
- Diabetes can strike at any age. It is a serious, lifelong condition. In simple terms Diabetes is a dis-ease or imbalance of insulin and other hormones. As a result, diabetes has a ‘domino’ effect on the whole body. This causes cells to be become de-energized and malnourished which decreases the life sustaining ability of every tissue, cell and vital organ in your body including your skin, heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.Today, we have the knowledge, information and tools to manage your Diabetes as never before, allowing you to live a healthy, productive life while balancing and managing diabetes.Managing your diabetes is like playing a game of cards. It’s up to you how you play your cards. These cards include nutrition, physical activity, medication, body care, skin care and positive attitude. Play to win… the game of your life…Diabetes.
- ‘A’ stands for A1c, or as it is more commonly known, HbA1c– a routine blood test performed at least twice a year that measures your average blood glucose control during the last three months. Your HbA1c test should be at 7% or lower.‘B’ stands for Blood Pressureand the importance of controlling it to prevent health problems related to hypertension, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease and stroke. You should strive for a blood pressure reading of 130/80 or lower.Finally, ‘C’ stands for Cholesterol and the importance of monitoring your levels to help prevent the heart disease so common with diabetes. The ideal cholesterol counts are about 180 for women and 170 for men.
- Staying healthy when you have diabetes is a challenge but can be as easy as ABC.A is for controlling blood glucose levels. B is for Blood Pressure. C is for Cholesterol.Let’s look at Blood Pressure. As your heart pumps blood through your body, pressure is applied to the inside walls of your blood vessels. If you have high blood pressure, your heart is working harder than it should and this can cause health problems.High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke, heart attack and kidney disease. It is important to take action to keep your blood pressure under control.Blood pressure is easily measured at the doctor’s office or with a home blood pressure monitor. For most people with diabetes, blood pressure should be 130/80 or lower. Don’t let diabetes manage you.
Manage your blood pressure to help manage your diabetes.
- Staying healthy when you have diabetes is a challenge but can be as easy as ABC.A is for controlling blood glucose levels. B is for Blood Pressure. C is for Cholesterol.It is important that you control your Cholesterol. Cholesterol is a form of fat that builds up in your blood, putting you at an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes. It has three parts that can be measured: low density lipoproteins or LDL, high-density lipoproteins or HDL and triglycerides.Levels of LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, can lead to a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries when it is high. HDL, or “good” cholesterol, helps remove cholesterol from your blood. High triglycerides (a form of fat that floats in the blood along with cholesterol) may increase your risks of vascular and heart disease.It’s important that your cholesterol and triglycerides are within healthy limits.
For those of us with diabetes, our LDL should be less than 100, and our HDL should be greater than 40 for women and 50 for men and we need to keep our triglycerides less than 120.
Don’t let diabetes manage you. Remember, manage your cholesterol and triglycerides to manage diabetes.
- Daily testing of your blood sugar is essential to keeping your diabetes in check and improving your overall health. Regardless of whether you take medication or not, test at least 2 – 3 times per day or as directed by your doctor. The critical times to test are before breakfast and 2 hours after a meal. At fasting or before meals blood sugar levels should be between 80 and 120, or less than 150 two hours after a meal.Your blood sugar reflects a balance of the foods you eat, your level of physical activity and the medication you take. With today’s technology, testing can be simple and pain free. Remember, testing your blood sugar daily is essential to help you stay in control of your diabetes. Make your blood testing meter your best friend!
- Diabetes causes many skin-related problems, both easy and difficult to see. The most visible signs include slow wound healing, loss of skin elasticity and tone, and an increased sensitivity to sun and ultraviolet light. Other symptoms are not so easy to see, such as dry, itchy skin (and changes to all layers of the skin), dehydration, poor blood circulation, a general desensitization of the skin, neuropathy (nerve damage), arthritis and the pain associated with it, plus skin infections.When blood sugar levels are higher than normal and diabetes is out of control, infection-fighting white blood cells are much less effective. As a result of poor circulation, a deficiency of nutrients at the cellular level (and the resulting reduced blood flow to the extremities), chronic dry skin often occurs in, but is not limited to, the skin on the feet, the face, the hands and the body. Diabetic skin is at high risk for skin irritations and dry, cracked skin which can become easily infected. This can result in concerns such as slow wound healing, painful sores and skin ulcerations, as well as premature wrinkling and aging of the skin.
- Bathe or shower in warm water. Hot water can dry out the skin
- Avoid deodorant soaps which cause drying
- Avoid vigorous use of washcloth when bathing or showering. Pat or blot dry the skin with a soft towel.
- Limit your time to 10-15 minutes in the bath or shower. Washing excessively removes the natural oils from the skin causing dryness.
- Avoid bubble baths. This causes loss of oil in the outer layers of the skin, causing further dryness.
- Use a moisturizer daily to help soften the skin and keep it moist, for example Essential 24 Hand & Body Therapy.
- Avoid lotions or creams containing alcohol as the alcohol may contribute to drying or cracking of the skin.
- The best time to apply a moisturizer to the skin, every morning and at bedtime, is immediately after a bath or shower.
- Be careful not to put lotions or creams between your toes, in skin folds or in armpits. The extra lotion can contribute to a breakdown in the skin and the possibility of a fungal infection. The only exception is FDA approved Anastasia Diapedic® Foot & Leg Treatment – safe to use between the toes and Anastasia Essential 24 Hand & Body Therapy for the skin of the rest of your body.
- Use a home humidifier during cold months and in dry climates.
- When working outdoors (e.g., gardening, yard work) wear gloves.
- Areas that are exposed to the sun (e.g., face, ears, back of neck) should have a moisturizer containing a sun block or sunscreen of SPF 15 or great applied daily. The sun is responsible for a lot of damage done to the skin, causing wrinkles, rashes and blisters.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to rehydrate the body from the inside.
- Keeping blood sugars under control is the most important factor in preventing skin-related conditions in people with diabetes. Follow your health care provider’s advice regarding nutrition, exercise and medication. Proper skin care helps reduce the risk of skin-related conditions progressing into infections.
- Inspect your skin daily, especially your feet, between your toes, around the fingernails and toenails. Watch for redness, cuts, scratches, calluses or blisters.
- Keep the skin clean and dry. Use powder sparingly in area where skin touches skin (skin folds): groin, armpits and under the breast.
- Stay away from lotions and moisturizers that leave an opaque film on the skin. Such products make it difficult to see if an injury has occurred.
- Wear all-cotton underwear, which allows air to circulate better than other types. Don’t use feminine hygiene sprays.
- Do not smoke. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, including the tiny capillaries that serve the skin. This deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are needed for good health.
- Treat cuts in the skin immediately. Wash minor cuts with a mild soap and water.
- Cover minor cuts with a dry, sterile pad or bandage. Do not use antiseptics such as iodine, mercurochrome or alcohol because they irritate the skin.
- Only use antibiotic ointments or creams for a few days without consulting your doctor.
- Contact your doctor right away if signs of infection appear: redness, swelling, warmth, drainage and pain.
- When it comes to skin injuries, cuts or wounds, don’t assume anything. Diabetes slows and complicates the healing process. If not treated properly, a simple cut can lead to infection, ulcers and other more serious complications. Normally a cut takes a few days to heal, but with diabetes it may take weeks or months.
- Inspect the cut or skin injury every day.
- Cleanse the cut or skin injury with a mild non-irritating, non-deodorant cleansing lotion. Never use Betadine solution or Hydrogen Peroxide without consulting your doctor. These can be irritating and toxic if applied directly on the skin.
- Apply a triple antibiotic ointment for treatment or as directed by your doctor
- Cover the cut or skin injury with a clean dressing or Band-Aid every day.
- Monitor your blood sugar daily. Blood sugar must be under 200 for healing to occur.
- Finally, if the cut or skin injury does not begin to heal within five days, contact your doctor immediately.
Remember, when you have a cut or skin injury, be proactive to avoid complications and allow the healing to begin.
- Whether you’re walking, standing, driving, dancing or simply living, you depend on your feet all day, every day. Diabetes may cause pain, discomfort, lack of feeling and other problems in your feet, toes and lower legs.Clean: Clean and check feet every day. Gently wash feet with a mild, unscented soap and lukewarm water. Wash skin gently without scrubbing. Pat completely dry, especially between the toes. Check all over for blisters, red spots, bruises, cuts, corns, calluses dryness or cracks in the skin.Condition: Every day, use a moisturizing cream. Choose one without water, perfume or alcohol. FDA approved Anastasia Diapedic® Foot & Leg TreatmentCare: Trim toenails straight across with a slight curve at the corners. Avoid using drying medicines like iodine or medicated corn pads. Let your doctor or foot doctor take care of any calluses, corns, thick or ingrown toenails.Cover: Never walk barefoot. Always wear well-fitting, soft shoes, sneakers or slippers and clean socks to protect your feet. Make sure they fit correctly and don’t rub or scratch. Check and shake-out your foot- ware for foreign objects before putting shoes on.Caution and Call: Be careful as you walk in well-lit places. Take extra care when walking in icy or slippery places. Call your doctor if you have pain, swelling, soreness — any change in your feet or legs — even small problems can become serious.
- Pardon the pun, but Obesity is becoming a bigger and bigger problem! If you have diabetes, the already-compromised function of internal organs including your heart, nerve endings, and extremities will only cause morehealth problems if you are overweight.Obesity is a journey – it’s taken months or years to put on all that extra weight. Likewise it will require time and patience to shed your extra pounds with a lifestyle of eating less and being more physically active. Here are some simple food tips that can really help:
- Drink a big glass of water BEFORE you eat to curb your appetite;
- Chew each bite at least 25 times, also to help curb your appetite.
- Fill up on low-calorie fresh fruit and fresh vegetables;
- Eat smaller portions at every meal
But first, the journey to all weight loss begins with your brain. Think before you eat! Your weight and diabetes can be managed when you use your MIND to overcome your MASS!
- With or without diabetes, many of us are guilty of avoiding daily physical activity so beneficial to our health and physical appearance. Use those time-saving conveniences less often. Be creative, find ways to move your arms and legs every hour of every day. Here are some easy ways to improve your fitness without pinching your pocketbook.Park your car further away and walk a bit more. Take the stairs, avoid the elevator. Skip the snack and walk instead. Regular yard work improves muscle tone and provides a more beautiful yard. Walking your dog daily is beneficial to both you and your dog. Housecleaning is a great way to use your muscles and improve your physical fitness leaving you with a cleaner home and you feeling better.Being physically active lowers blood sugar levels, melts away fat, builds lean muscle, improves blood pressure and reduces stress. Plus, it makes you more mentally alert. So, get up, get out and get active for improved diabetes health and a better life.
- Nerves send messages to your brain about pain, temperature and touch. Nerve damage from diabetes is called peripheral diabetic neuropathy or neuropathy and can result in many symptoms such as numbness, prickling sensations, tingling in the toes or feet and pain at night making sleep difficult. Everyone with diabetes will eventually have some form of diabetic neuropathy during their lifetime. The best prevention is to control your diabetes, keep blood sugars between 80 and 120 and do not drink more than one glass of wine per day, since alcohol can trigger neuropathy.Treatment of neuropathy is essential; always follow the advice of your doctor. Oral medications such as anti-depressants, anti-seizure and analgesics are often prescribed for the pain of neuropathy. These medications may have serious side-effects and do not help restore nerve function but merely mask the symptoms.A treatment that is FDA Approved, helps restore nerve function, has no side-effect and is safe to use between the toes is clinically superior Anastasia Diapedic® Foot & Leg Treatment. Even after the pain is gone you must continue to treat the cause, not just the symptoms, every day.Don’t let neuropathy keep you down. Remain active, manage your blood sugars under control, treat the cause and you can stay ahead of the pain.
- Like reading food labels, persons with diabetes should be reading the labels of their skincare products to make sure they DON’T contain harmful ingredients!Look at the ingredient statement on the container. Ingredients are listed in descending order by volume so the first ingredient listed is the largest amount of ingredient in the product. To protect your skin, avoid using products that contain Water or skin irritants such as Mineral Oil, Alcohol and fragrances.Water-based creams or lotions evaporate quickly and don’t penetrate deeply into the skin to nourish and heal. Mineral Oil is a cheap synthetic oil that has no therapeutic effect. Alcohol and fragrances irritate sensitive skin and leave you feeling dry and itchy. Always read label directions for best results.A little bit of Label-Reading can go a long way toward saving your skin!
- For optimal skin health, it’s important to know your skin health products. You should carefully read skincare labels – not only to avoid harmful ingredients, but to find those that offer the healthiestingredients.Look for more natural ingredients – these will be friendlier to your skin and health;Water as an ingredient is fine for the face or cleansing products. Skincare products for feet, hands and body should be free of water, mineral oil or alcohol. Above all, ask your physician, Certified Diabetes Educator or pharmacist for guidance about reading skincare labels and their ingredients. The more you know, the more your skin will thank you!
- If you have diabetes (or know someone who does), here are several common-sense things to do to help avoid skin problems.
- Monitor your blood sugar daily. High blood glucose levels dry your skin and increase risk of serious infection.
- Every day, examine and moisturize skin. Pay special attention to feet, toes, legs, knees, elbows, fingers and face.
- Keep skin clean. Take quick showers in lukewarm water with moisturizing soaps or mild cleansing lotions. Avoid long hot baths.
- Use a broad-spectrum, UVA-UVB sun screen daily to avoid sunburn and protect from harmful ultraviolet light.
- Treat cuts right away. Wash with soap and water, gently pat with diluted hydrogen peroxide. Avoid skin-irritating antiseptics, alcohol or iodine. Cover with sterile gauze. Use doctor-recommended antibiotic cream. For a major cut, burn or infection, consult a physician.
- Take good care of your feet. Check skin daily for corns, calluses, blisters and cuts. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes that fit well. Check shoes for foreign object before putting them on.
- Make sure your diet is rich in plant foods: Vegetables and fresh fruits, greens and legumes. Drink at least 10 glasses of pure water daily for proper skin hydration.
- Exercise moderately to promote good circulation to your skin.
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco products, which reduce circulation to skin and feet.
- See your physician, diabetes specialist or podiatrist for regular skin examinations.
- Managing your diabetes requires an active daily lifestyle plan. A balanced diet, exercise and medication are important, but an often overlooked element is WATER. Water is the most abundant element in the body. Water is necessary to the life of every cell and acts as a carrier for nourishment and waste elimination. Drinking water aids in digestion and metabolism, lubricates the joints, the eyes, aids in breathing, hydrates skin and assists in temperature regulation and helps control your appetite.Truth is, we can survive for a long period of time without food, but not without water. The recommended amount of water to drink is TEN8-ounce glasses every single day. But here’s the rub: The water you consume in soft drinks, coffee, tea, flavored drinks and fruit juice does NOT count! Symptoms of dehydration may include dry skin, dizziness, fatigue and headache simply because one does not drink enough water.Now more than ever put water back into your daily lifestyle plan because WATER is the missing link to help manage your diabetes.
- As temperatures rise, so do the risks associated with diabetes. Watch out for the harmful effects that heat and humidity can have on your diabetes. A normal body regulates its temperature and blood sugar levels through increased sweating. But diabetes diminishes the body’s ability to sweat, increasing the risk of dehydration and heat-related illnesses. Drinking more water is critical, but high humidity levels can make normal perspiration slow to evaporate, which further interferes with your body’s ability to cool itself.In hot weather, diabetes medicines, insulin, test strips and meters lose a great deal of their effectiveness when exposed to temperatures above 80-degrees. So, keep your diabetes ‘meds’ and test strips climate-controlled, drink-in lots more water and soak-in more education on ways to protect your diabetes health!
- Do you know your diabetes ‘Heat Index’?This isn’t a trick question! It’s important to know that temperatures above 80-degrees can cause diabetes medicines, insulin, test strips and meters to lose their effectiveness – or fail altogether. In many areas of the country, the combination of air temperature & humidity – called the ‘Heat Index’ – distort how hot it truly is. On a sunny day with a temperature of just 75-degrees, a humidity reading of 55-percent or more can create a Heat Index of 90-degrees – hot enough to seriously compromise your insulin and other diabetic medicines. To prevent heat-related problems, persons with diabetes must know the Heat Index-adjusted temperature every day! As Heat Index figures climb above 80 degrees, lower your risks by drinking more water and keep your medicines and test strips cool to protect your diabetes health!
- The importance of proactive daily foot care cannot be overestimated. After all, your feet support your body andyour life – if your feet feel good, you feel good. Dry skin causes the skin to crack, tear or fissure (deep, severe cracking), opening the door to bacteria and fungal infection. Everyone with diabetes is at risk of developing skin-related foot problems. That’s why daily foot care is critical to good health and comfort.Diapedic® Foot & Leg Treatmentwill help your feet – and you – feel your very best. Use your sense of sight, smell and touch to help your feet stay as healthy as possible with these easy-to-follow foot care tips.
- Look at your feet.
Inspect both feet closely every day. Breaks in the skin, any discoloration of tissue, rough spots, corns or calluses, changes in nail coloring or hardened skin surfaces could signal infections, reduced blood flow, small objects embedded in the feet, or other issues that may need your attention.
- Feel your skin.
Feel for any unusual rough spots on feet or those areas that are difficult to see. Smell for any unusual odor, which could be the first sign of skin infection. With many diabetics experiencing a loss of sensation in their feet, your fingertips can often feel what your feet cannot.
- Look at your legs.
Inspect your ankles, shins and knees, looking for wounds, sores, blisters, swelling in the ankles (edema) and other signs of compromised skin or decreased blood flow that could signal infection or diabetic foot pain.
- Don’t get cold feet.
Touch your feet and notice if your skin is cold for hours at a time. You might be feeling the preliminary effects of diabetic nerve pain even before an official diabetes diagnosis. Keeping nerve pain under control at the onset can pay dividends to your long-term health and wellness.
- Feel for your feet.
Inspect shoes and socks for foreign objects as well as general wear and tear. Socks should always be clean, with no holes or threadbare areas allowing blisters to form. Shoes – especially running or athletic shoes – can lose their arch and ankle support over time. Alternate your shoes to extend shoe life and get rid of shoes which may have lost their support.