Diabetes: Skin and Diet Care
Living with diabetes requires special care both with diet as well as skin. Most of the health issues in diabetic patients are related to poorly monitored diabetes and its side effects.
A relatively unknown side effect of diabetes is skin irritations, four out of five people will be bothered by dry and itchy skin. In fact, skin sensitivity and irritation can be one of the first signs, that a person has diabetes.
When suffering from Diabetes, skin care is more than just cosmetic. Diabetic skin cannot restore moisture like healthy skin and thus gets dry and can crack more easily – especially the feet. Increased blood sugar levels can cause damage to nerves and result in a loss of feeling. Injuries and simple cuts can go unnoticed and lead to infection.
Elevated blood sugar levels in Diabetes, affect small nerves & vessels as well as sweat glands. Therefore, the perspiration of your skin, which keeps your skin soft and moist, is reduced. To keep your skin moist and healthy you should look for special products for treating dry skin and follow a daily cleansing and moisturizing routine.
Here are some tips that Eucerin*, a dermatologist recommended skincare brand suggests:
Tips for diabetic skin care:
- Keep your skin moist and wash with a mild soap
- Use a moisturizing body care product, especially suitable for diabetic skin
- Drink lots of fluids and water to keep your skin healthy, moist and smooth
- Check your skin regularly and talk to the doctor about any skin issues
Tips for foot care:
- Inspection – You should check your feet for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling and infected toenails
- Corns & Hornification – Let the specialist, e.g. podiatrist, take care of it
- Shoes -Proper foot attire helps to keep your feet healthy and comfortable
- Dry your feet after the shower and carefully in between your toes
- To avoid possible injuries, don’t stay barefoot
Well-hydrated, healthy skin is your best defense against skin complications in diabetes!
Diabetes is a condition where your body is not making enough insulin or where the insulin is not being used properly. An imbalance between insulin & blood glucose levels may result in high glucose (hyperglycemia) or low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) levels in blood.
It’s very important to maintain blood glucose levels in the target ranges. Researches show that poorly maintained diabetes can cause complications in your eyes, kidneys, blood vessels and much more.
Take help of a diabetologist and create an individualized Nutrition Therapy and plan, create an exercise routine approved by your doctor/healthcare provider & follow your medications as required.
Besides following a regime, it is essential to keep a daily log of your meals; snacks & blood glucose levels to better understand the effect of food on your glucose levels. Learn to understand nutrition facts labels & ingredients listed on the product labels.
Here are some tips from Yamini Attri, Head of Dietetics Department at Metro Heart Institute, New Delhi. She is also an active part of the Diabetes in India Nutrition Guideline Study (D.I.N.G.S) with ADA.
Divide your plate
- Fill the largest section of your plate with non-starchy vegetables
- A small section of your plate with grains and starchy foods
- Another small section of your plate with lean protein
- Add fruit, and a serving of low fat dairy to your meal plan
- Complete your meal with a low-calorie drink like water, or unsweetened beverages
- Use less oil to cook and choose healthy fats
- Steam your veggies with very little water. Do not drain the cooking water from rice & veggies
- Try to eat small, frequent balanced meals at regular intervals
- Non-starchy vegetables satisfy your appetite and are full of vitamins, minerals and fibers like Sprouted Legumes, Asparagus, Baby corn, Beetroots, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Cucumber, Eggplant, Mushrooms, Okra, Tomato, Onions etc.
- Avoid processed white flour-based products and use whole wheat bread, pasta, and tortillas. You can also choose from whole grains like Bulgur (cracked wheat), whole wheat flour, whole oats, whole rye, brown rice, whole grain barley, and Quinoa.
- Take Fish (is high in Omega-3 fatty acids), seafood, chicken and other poultry, reduced fat cheese, egg whites in a regulated way in your diet. Stay away from the bread based and deep fat fried variety.
- Include plant-based proteins and citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes full of soluble fiber and vitamin C.
- Limit or avoid frequent use of “fast” or “junk” foods that are highly processed, high in fat, salt/sugar. Avoid foods high in salts like chips, pickles, canned & processed foods.
- Drink plenty of water, 6-8 glasses are usually recommended. Plain water is the best.
- Avoid excessive use of caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea & caffeine containing drinks and use alcohol only after talking to your physician/nutritionist.
Have routine medical checkups and know your basics of Diabetes (HbA1C, blood pressure & lipid profile numbers). Keep your weight under control, practice healthy eating, walk, ride, and watch your plate!
*Eucerin highly recommended by dermatologists are sold exclusively at leading pharmacies. Eucerin is part of the product portfolio of Beiersdorf AG is a leading provider of innovative, high-quality skin care products and has over 130 years of experience in this market segment. Other products include brands such as La Prairie, Labello, and Hansaplast.