How to manage foot health in patients with diabetes


Hand and foot pain

Getty Images / Anupong Thongchan / EyeEm

You may have heard that diabetes can cause foot pain and affect foot health, but how are the two linked? Let’s break down the complications of diabetes, the common side effects of peripheral neuropathy, and how to optimize diet to protect foot health.

What is diabetes neuropathy?

Peripheral nerves are all over our body (think: hands, feet, arms and legs) and are responsible for transmitting information back to the central nervous system (i.e. brain and spinal cord). In uncontrolled diabetes, long-term hyperglycemia can lead to complications, such as peripheral nerve injury called neuropathy, especially foot injury. This foot neuropathy is called peripheral neuropathy.

Studies have shown that high blood sugar interferes with the ability of nerves to send signals to other body tissues, such as feet. This can lead to inflammation, further damage to the nerves and eventually lead to neuropathy. Symptoms of neuropathy range from numbness, tingling and increased sensitivity to more serious problems such as ulcers and infections. Studies have shown that several risk factors are associated with neuropathy, including body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and high cholesterol levels. In fact, obesity is now considered the second largest risk factor for neuropathy after diabetes.

hot wire? Changes in diet and lifestyle can affect your blood sugar, weight and cholesterol levels, help prevent nerve damage and keep your feet healthy.

If you have diabetes, how can you help prevent neuropathy

If you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar within the target range and maintaining a healthy weight are the two most important ways to prevent nerve damage and neuropathy. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention, the target range of pre meal blood glucose should be 80-130 mg / dl, and the target range of individual blood glucose should consider factors such as age and overall health status. You can stay within your target range by balancing meals and snacks and the right part of a specific food group.

Five ways to balance blood sugar

Balancing blood sugar can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be complicated, especially when it comes to what’s on your plate. Here are some tips to help you eat in a way that helps control your blood sugar.

1. Start with the balance plate.

Fill half of the plate with non starch vegetables (such as green leafy vegetables, peppers, onions and tomatoes), one quarter with lean protein sources such as eggs, tofu, fish or chicken, and the last quarter with whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa or starch vegetables such as potatoes or pumpkins. Eating several groups of foods per meal will help you meet your needs for protein, carbohydrates and fat, so as to help the food digest at a healthy rate and keep your blood sugar stable. In addition, adequate intake of non starch vegetables can help you meet your nutritional needs. This can help you eat to balance your blood sugar and is in line with the recommendations of my plate’s general healthy eating pattern. Need some inspiration? We have a few simple, balanced plate meals for you to start.

2. Carbohydrate awareness.

Many people think that because they have diabetes, they need to avoid all carbohydrates, but this is not the case. Carbohydrates are an important part of a balanced diet, even for people with diabetes. What matters is the quality and quantity of carbohydrates you choose. Instead of refined and highly processed carbohydrates (think: biscuits, pretzels, French fries, soda and other sweet drinks, baked goods, white rice, high fructose corn syrup, etc.), choose whole grains, starchy vegetables, beans and whole fruits Other nutritious choices include quinoa, lentils, millet, Faroe, buckwheat, corn, walnuts, pumpkins, apples, berries and sweet potatoes, to name a few. There are several delicious and carbohydrate rich foods that are good for diabetes and can satisfy any taste.

3. Always match carbohydrates with lean protein and / or healthy fats.

Combining carbohydrate rich foods with lean protein and / or healthy fats can help slow down your digestion and thus make your blood sugar rise more slowly. This can also help you get more lasting energy and make you feel full for a longer time. If you use the balance plate method mentioned above, you have done this during meal time. But don’t forget to balance your snacks. Here are some quick and simple snack ideas that can keep your blood sugar good and stable.

1 banana + 1 handful of walnuts

1 container plain low fat Greek yogurt+ ½ Cup Blueberry

1 Apple + 1 tablespoon. Almond Cream

1 cup cucumber and sweet pepper slices + 1 / 4 cup hummus

1 slice of whole wheat toast+ ¼ Avocado, mashed (lemon juice on top)

4. Pay attention to the amount.

Although the portions are very personalized because everyone’s needs are different, it’s important to be aware of how much you eat, especially carbohydrates. Be sure to read the label and use the measuring cup (at least initially) to understand the appearance of the appropriate number.

Food portions: a visual guide

5. Eat regularly.

Yes, that means eating three meals a day and including snacks when needed. Try to avoid waiting until you are hungry. Not eating for a long time (think more than 4 to 5 hours) can lead to a sharp drop in blood sugar, resulting in a desire for refined carbohydrates and may lead to overeating. This will cause your blood sugar to soar and then plummet again. Avoid hunger by trying to eat a meal or snack regularly throughout the day.

Other factors that may lead to neuropathy

Although diabetes is the most common risk factor for neuropathy, it is important to consider other lifestyle factors that may contribute to the disease. Weight control is the key to overall health and foot health. In fact, studies have shown that obesity may be associated with neuropathy, even if blood glucose levels are normal.

Abnormal cholesterol levels have also become a possible risk factor for neuropathy, especially in people who already have diabetes. Scientists suspect that abnormal lipid levels can lead to inflammation, which can damage peripheral nerves, especially toes. Therefore, if you want to keep your feet healthy, please pay attention to your blood sugar while managing your weight and cholesterol levels.


We don’t usually think too much about foot health, but it’s important to remember them when you have diabetes. Be sure to check your feet daily for cuts, swelling or any other abnormal changes. You should also check your feet regularly at the doctor’s visit. Keeping your feet healthy can prevent some serious complications, including infection and even amputation. Be sure to balance your blood sugar, control a healthy weight, and control your cholesterol to help keep your feet healthy.

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