Every November is recognized as National Diabetes Month by the American Diabetes Association, which means it’s the perfect time to talk about diabetic foot care.
Of course, diabetes is a very common problem in the United States—more than 114 million adults are either diabetic or prediabetic, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—so it’s always time to talk about diabetes and foot health.
For context, the U.S. has a population of roughly 326 million people. If you do the math, it will show diabetes is a disease that either currently affects (or has the potential to affect) one-third of the general population. Clearly, this is a significant issue.
Today, we are going to look at how healthy living and diabetic foot care are related. To do so, let’s start by looking at how diabetes affects feet.
Diabetes is a disease marked by high blood sugar (glucose) levels. Excessive sugar can effectively impair the circulatory, nervous, and immune systems. These respective systems are essential for basically all areas of the body – including your lower limbs.
You probably don’t give this much thought, but your nervous system allows you to feel when you have problems in your feet. The pain you experience is important for recognizing issues on the parts of your body that are the farthest from your eyes (since sight is another way of realizing something is wrong). At the same time, your immune system plays a vital role in both healing wounds and fighting infection. And, of course, your circulatory system makes sure the tissues in your lower limbs receive the nutrients they need.
When those body systems are compromised by diabetes, you are at risk for serious medical complications. Charcot foot and diabetic foot ulcers are the primary concerns, and both could potentially require amputation.
That may be alarming, but the good news is diabetic foot care can help keep your feet safe!
To put it simply, diabetic foot care is a matter of taking measures aimed at both protecting feet from damage and identifying problems at their earliest, most treatable stages. This includes doing things like wearing diabetic shoes and inspecting your feet on a daily basis. Another important part of diabetic foot care is making healthy lifestyle choices.
As is the case with any human, the best lifestyle choices for optimal health if you have diabetes are centered on regular exercise and healthy eating.
Regular exercise is important, but it’s important to keep in mind you need to protect your feet when performing physical activity. This begins by making sure you choose the right kinds of activities. High-impact ones place excessive force on your lower limbs and put you at risk for injury.
A better path is to create an exercise plan consisting of low-impact activities. Walking, yoga, cycling, and swimming are all great options. 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.
With regards to healthy eating, it is imperative for you to avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates as much as possible. Center your diet on fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy products. Choose beverages other than soft drinks or other sugar-laden options.
Perhaps 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 help you identify measures to keep your feet safe and take care of those minor problems that could become major problems over time.
For more information—or to request an appointment—simply give us a call at (510) 647-3744 and we’ll be glad to help you!