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Manage Your Diabetes from head to Toe

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If you have diabetes, your life doesn't have to be over. You can manage the disease with these helpful tips to control diabetes symptoms from head to toe.

Diabetes affects over 25 million people in the United States. It is estimated that nearly 10 percent of the entire population of the United States has either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is far more common because it can develop as a result of an unhealthy diet.

According to Dr. Christina M. Farrell, DPM, up to 70 percent of individuals with diabetes also suffer from nervous system damage which can lead to the development of issues in the hands and feet. In 2008, 70,000 people had to have a limb amputated due to diabetes. You can avoid complications like these by treating diabetes with respect and managing your disease from head to toe.

The Risks of Diabetes

Diabetes can bring with it a whole host of other problems. Diabetics are at a greater risk for developing problems like gum disease, heart disease, obesity, nerve damage, eye problems, high blood pressure, and much more. As a person with diabetes, you cannot be too careful in monitoring and managing your disease from head to toe. With the right management strategies, you can avoid many of the common side effects of diabetes, and may even be able to increase your insulin sensitivity which can reduce the effects of diabetes and help you live a normal life. Use the following tips to care for the areas of your body likely to be affected by diabetes.

Tips for Oral Health

Diabetes increases your risk for developing gum disease, which in turn, makes it harder to control blood sugar levels. If you have poor dental health, you may have higher bacteria levels in the mouth, which could lead to the development of gum disease and other dangerous oral problems. According to research conducted by the Center for Oral Health and Systemic Disease in 2006, poor oral health is also linked to an increased risk for health problems like heart disease.

You can avoid dangerous side effects of poor oral health by using a regular brushing and flossing routine, and by increasing the nutrients in your diet. The right balance of minerals and vitamins will strengthen your teeth and make it less likely that you will develop oral diseases.

Additionally, a study from Ireland in 2012 found that brushing with coconut oil can help kill the bacteria that lead to tooth decay in the mouth. This brushing method may be more effective at preventing tooth decay than traditional toothpaste.

Tips for Eye Health

According to Everydayhealth.com, a person with diabetes is 60 percent more likely to suffer from cataracts (clouding of the eye lens). High blood sugar damages the blood vessels leading the eye, which can lead to vision problems and blindness. Have your eyes examined every year to detect vision

Tips for Organ Health

Diabetes affects the organs in drastic ways. Diabetes can negatively affect the skin, heart, and kidneys.

Skin: Nerve damage can lead to an increased risk for skin infections. Diabetes also leads to poor blood flow and an increased risk for ulcers. Skin problems can be easily prevented by washing the skin daily, checking for sore spots frequently, and taking supplements to boost the circulation of blood in the body. Australian site Natural Medicine and Health recommends the following supplements to boost circulation:

Circulating-Boosting Supplements



Kidneys: High blood sugar levels are damaging to the kidneys and the blood vessels that feed into the kidneys. Chronic high blood sugar leads to diabetic nephropathy, which causes the kidneys to excrete protein in the urine. This can lead to the eventual need for a kidney transplant. The best way to avoid this problem is to avoid blood sugar spikes. A few herbs can also help lower blood sugar naturally.

Blood Sugar-Lowering Herbs


  • Bitter melon
  • Vanadium
  • Gymnema aylvestre


Heart: According to studies, diabetes can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and a host of other heart problems. Regulating your blood sugar will help prevent much of the damage to your kidneys. 

Tips for Foot Health

Poor management of diabetes can quickly lead to foot problems because flow can be reduced when blood glucose levels are high. Nerve damage can make it impossible to feel pain in the feet, which can lead to even more problems. Warning signs for foot problems include:


  • Pain or cramping in legs and feet
  • Reduced sense of touch or temperature
  • Dry and cracked skin
  • Thick, yellow toenails
  • Loss of hair on the feet
  • Fungal infections
  • Blisters and other sores


Preventing foot damage from diabetes is relatively easy. In addition to having your feet regularly checked for signs of damage at your doctor’s office, you can take the following additional steps. Check your feet daily for warning signs. Wash your feet daily and watch out for fungal infections. Trim your toenails following the natural curve of your feet but do not trim the corners. Do not use a razor to cut calluses. Protect your feet from extreme cold and heat. Test bath water with your elbows. Wear shoes on the hot ground. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Maintain an active lifestyle and exercise often.

Diet Tips for Diabetes

According to the book “Ending the Food Fight” written by Dr. David Ludwig, diabetics can benefit from eating a diet with a low glycemic index. This basically is a diet that avoids unnecessary sugars to prevent blood sugar spikes. Dr. Ludwig has 8 principles for the diabetic diet.

1. Eat non-starchy produce. Eat a variety of vegetables, beans, and fruits that have a low starch content. These foods include bananas, beans, apples, peaches, berries, papayas, broccoli, and almost anything other than potatoes.

2. Eat minimally-processed grains. The more processed the grain, the higher the sugar content. Look for “unbroken” foods; such as brown rice, wheat berries, stone-ground wheat, steel-cut oats, whole barley, or millet.

3. Limit sweets. Avoid unnatural amounts of sugar. This includes all desserts, and even fruit juice products- which have a lot of fructose without the benefit of fiber, which can reduce some of the effects of the fructose.

4. Eat a lot of protein. Eat a protein source with most meals. Beans, chicken, beef, fish, and other sources of protein will all work.

5. Eat healthy fats. Hydrogenated fats, vegetable oils, and soybean oil are some of the worst possible fats to eat. Switch out these unhealthy fats for fats like animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil, and palm kernel oil.

6. Eat 3 meals and one or two snacks daily. Never skip breakfast, but do not eat a breakfast high in sugar.

7. Always eat slowly, and stop eating when full.

Helpful Supplements

ALA: Removes sugar from the blood.

Chromium: Regulates blood sugar.

Zinc: Regulates insulin production.

Magnesium: Removes excess blood sugar and regulates insulin production.

Tips for Whole Body Health

Diabetes is often related to obesity. Obesity does not cause diabetes, but many of the same issues that lead to obesity lead to the development of diabetes. What makes one person more likely to develop diabetes than another is mainly due to genetics. Some people simply have a better ability to process sugar without developing insulin resistance.

One of the best strategies for preventing obesity in addition to a healthy diet is regular exercise. Exercise will benefit diabetics in a variety of ways other than simply promoting a healthy weight. According to a study conducted by the American Diabetes Association in 2004, exercise can benefit diabetics in the following ways:

Glycemic control: Regular exercise has been linked to an increase in insulin sensitivity for up to 5 years after cessation of the exercise.

Prevention of heart disease: Regular exercise can help prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol and reducing total body inflammation.

High blood pressure: Insulin resistance also contributes to high blood pressure. Regular exercise can lower blood pressure and increase insulin sensitivity.

Caring for Diabetes From Head to Toe

If you have type 2 diabetes, it is important to monitor the disease and keep careful track of all potential problems with the disease. Although it may be possible to reverse type 2 diabetes, most patients who are diagnosed with diabetes must deal with the issue for the rest of their lives. You can control your diabetes symptoms and reduce your risk for developing serious side effects and other dangerous health problems by using the above steps to manage your disease. With just a little extra effort, you can prevent your diabetes from controlling you and improve your overall health.





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