How to Delay the Onset of Diabetic Neuropathy
A range of factors cause neuropathy, a condition that causes pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness, but the leading one is diabetes. Studies show that 50% of people with diabetes Type 2 and 20% of those with Type 1 diabetes develop nerve damage. Commonly known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, the condition affects the nerves in the legs and feet, followed by arms and hands.
Neuropathy pain, which can be managed, doesn’t emerge overnight; it develops and worsens over time. Some patients develop the condition even before getting diagnosed with diabetes. However, for most people, it develops after a prolonged period of living with diabetes, even with excellent management. Sadly nerve damage caused by diabetes can’t be reversed, but patients can manage the condition to delay and avoid developing peripheral neuropathy. It all starts with controlling your blood sugar levels. Here are some handy tips:
1. Regular Blood Glucose Monitoring
Routine monitoring allows you to determine the amount of insulin your body needs. This means checking your blood sugar levels at least four times a day to decide whether you need to adjust your meals or insulin levels. Another critical part of monitoring blood sugar levels is taking a hemoglobin A1c test. The test shows your body’s average blood glucose levels in the last three months allowing you to determine your overall health. The recommended range for the HbA1c test should be <53 mmol/mol, but it varies based on the individual’s age, type of diabetes, and if the patient is pregnant.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Diet is critical to keeping healthy blood sugar levels. This means avoiding foods with high sugar levels and maintaining the right calorie count. Patients with type 1 diabetes should take 35 calories per kg of body weight, while those with Type 2 diabetes can take 1500-1800 calories a day. Here’s a breakdown:
- Eat fruits. They contain high amounts of fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants which help keep blood sugars steady
- Avoid coffees, sweetened drinks, snacks, candy bars, and processed snacks. They contain highly refined carbohydrates and sugars that cause sudden spikes in blood glucose. Avoiding these highs and lows is critical to preventing nerve damage
- Eat Healthy fat foods like nuts, oily fish, low-fat dairy products, avocados, and lean proteins like turkey and chicken. You also need to shift to the use of olive oil or other healthy oils because manufactured oils contain high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat that increases the risk of developing nerve damage.
- Include veggies and plant-based proteins (tofu, beans) in your diet
It not only reduces your blood glucose levels but also makes it easy to control it. Once you exercise, the body’s insulin sensitivity is heightened, so you don’t need to administer as much insulin to process carbohydrates. Exercising five times a week, 30 minutes every time goes a long way in managing your blood glucose levels. It would also help if you included weight training and aerobic activity in your workout routine.
Aggressive glucose management delays the onset of neuropathy in patients with both types of diabetes. With the help of an expert, you can effectively avoid developing peripheral neuropathy and even manage it if it develops. Contact us today to have any of your questions or concerns answered by an expert.