Photo via Pixabay by HannahWells
Diabetes has become an epidemic in America. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 29 million people live with diabetes in this country. The number is staggering, considering that another 8 million are estimated to have diabetes but are undiagnosed. To grasp the enormity of diabetes and its effects on the body, one only has to realize that the disease is caused by the way the body processes sugar in the bloodstream. Therefore, diabetes can have a massive effect on just about any part of the body.
Diabetes can either be Type 1–diagnosed in early childhood when the pancreas doesn’t process insulin properly–or Type 2, which is most common. In Type 2 diabetes, the sufferer has insulin resistance, meaning any sugar intake is overflow that spills into the bloodstream and overwhelms the cells. When this happens over a period of time, blood vessels begin to accumulate a fatty buildup, meaning blood can’t flow properly. In this way, diabetes affects the legs and extremities, and those who have severe diabetes sometimes lose their feet or legs.
The disease can also affect the teeth and gums, digestive system, and kidneys. Symptoms can include dizziness, severe thirst or dehydration, frequent urination, and frequent bladder issues. Gums may develop lesions and bleed easily, and gum disease is a common complaint among sufferers.
It’s important for anyone diagnosed with diabetes to consult a doctor regularly about what they can do to minimize health risks. This usually includes regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, and practicing self care.
Daily exercise is important to get the heart rate up and increase blood flow through the body. It’s also helpful to keep weight down, as people who are overweight are more at risk for diabetes and the risks involved. Cardio, such as swimming, which is a great calorie burner, can be great exercise for the heart and blood pressure. It’s also a great form of exercise for people with chronic pain or mobility issues because the weightlessness of water takes pressure off the joints and makes movement easier. A great step toward managing your diabetes is to find an accessible pool near you, and start swimming 2-3 times per week.
You’ll need to ask your doctor about what’s right for you, but most diabetes sufferers find that they need to cut refined sugars out of their diet: white bread, white rice, soda, and pasta are some of the things to avoid. Whole grains are the best bet, along with fresh vegetables and certain fruits. Those living with diabetes also need to watch their water intake and make sure they’re getting enough every day.
Self-care can be anything from pampering yourself once in awhile with a massage to making time to sit and read a book to de-stress, and it’s important to make sure you’re doing things to take care of yourself. Diabetes can affect the skin, leaving dry, scaly patches on hands and feet, so make sure you’re using a soothing ointment that absorbs easily. Leaving areas moist–such as between toes or under the arms–can lead to infection easily.
Making sure your body is well taken care of is essential when you live with a disease like diabetes. Consult your doctor to make sure you’re doing all you can to live your best life.