Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the United States and Canada. In the US, one in three people have some level of the ailment. In very urban and very rural areas, however, this number may be even higher. One of the biggest problems with diabetes is that complications resulting from it really slow down the body. If you have high blood sugar, the condition affects your whole body; even the tiniest of capillaries. Blood circulation also affects the millions of nerve endings across your body.
Nerve damage from diabetes
The term to name and describe nerve damage and nerve disorders is neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy occurs when the body is unable to process insulin correctly. This results in your system having to deal with the nerve complications from diabetes. Often, these symptoms arise in the extremities. However, it should be noted that it is also possible to have these symptoms without being diabetic.
Approx. 70 percent of all people living with diabetes have nerve damage.
An estimated 70 percent of all people with diabetes also incur nerve damage. On most occasions, these problems can be severe. A lot of older diabetes patients deal with ‘tingling’; the primary symptom of diabetic neuropathy. If you really want to learn about neuropathy, we recommend checking out The Neuropathy Solution. You can read more about it on the website The Neuropathy Solution, alternatively read our review. It is essential to recognize and treat these issues. Just a bit of tingling or numbness can signal more important and pressing issues happening underneath the skin. Digestive problems and neuropathy are sometimes caused by the same problem. However, most people think they are not related. Having issues with blood flow is a dangerous situation to be in. Circulation’s essence is, of course, oxygen. Oxygen is as important to your body as your lungs are.
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Management without Cure
The most important information on diabetic neuropathy and diabetes in general is that there is no ‘cure’. There is no pill you can take that will destroy the disease or make the symptoms go away. The reason behind this is that diabetes and diabetic neuropathy arise from a broad number of factors. Containing the problem requires us to work on all of those – sometimes varied things – at once. Imagine you are planning to drive a long way. If you are worried about the fuel system in your car, the first thing you would probably do is check your gas gauge. Do you have enough gas? Is the gas burning too quickly, or does your car smoke as it burns gas? Blood sugar levels for a person with diabetes are basically their gas gauge.
A lot of factors can affect diabetes. However, the first thing you should find out is what your blood sugar levels are. To do this, see a doctor and get tested for the glucose (sugar) levels at a healthcare center. Once you get your readings and baselines, your doctor can concisely explain to you what your issues could be. Keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level requires eating a balanced and healthy diet. It also requires regular exercise. The two activities mark half the battle with diabetes and neuropathy. Once you have your blood sugar baselines, you can consult your doctors on what mode of treatment to follow.
Fried Foods and Refined Sugars are a No-No
Either way, it’s critical as stated above to start eating a healthy diet and getting exercise. Some tips on dietary intake: stay far away from fried foods, and stay far away from refined sugars. These include those found in sodas and processed, packaged sweets. Instead, look for unprocessed, ‘raw’, whole foods and try to cook by yourself, for example using these 10 helpful websites for healthy recipes. Also, avoid refined carbohydrates. Examples of refined carbs include white bread, white rice, and white pasta. For many people, cutting down on refined carbs is a tough thing to work through. Mostly, this is because ‘white carbs’ are the cheapest type of carbohydrates available in stores. Alternatively, pasta and red sauce (or pasta and olive oil, pasta and pesto, etc.) can fill you up for a low dollar count.
When too many refined carbs are introduced to someone with a problem processing carbs and sugars, a problem occurs. ‘White carbs’ act like sugars once they are absorbed by the body. They have been ‘stripped’ of other nutrients in their primary creation process. This makes their absorption easy for the body. The simplicity of digesting a white carbohydrate causes the body act like you just ate a few packets of sugar. A small amount of sugar can be converted by your body into energy. A large amount, however, is something that’s fairly unknown and rare in nature. This is why sugar is so tasty and addictive to us. The product is a rarity in the natural, caveman-type of world that our bodies inhabited for thousands of years. When our bodies suddenly receive a surplus of white carbs or sugar, they react by storing these foods for later use.
Why are refined carbs harmful to diabetics?
As the white carbs or sugar enters the body, we produce insulin to break down these compounds and store them specifically as fats. These are stored for future use to produce energy. As a result of this process, there used to be a long-held belief that carb-loading was good for people who planned to compete in endurance sports days later. People believed the carbs and sugars are sent packing away, for use by the body in the future. Unfortunately for diabetics, these types of foods tax their system too much. That does not mean that carbohydrates are ‘bad’. You just need whole-grain and complex carbs in your diet, and not so much of the other kind.
Fruits and Vegetables: An alternative carbohydrate source
The best carbohydrate sources for your body’s needs come from vegetables and fresh fruit. Carbohydrates of this type contain B vitamins which specifically include enzymes. These enzymes trigger your body to turn the carbs into energy instead of ‘packing them away’ as fats. Refined carbs, on the other hand, have been associated with many types of diseases. They affect the heart, liver, pancreas, and kidneys negatively. Research has shown diets high in refined carbohydrates lead to issues such as learning problems, hyperactivity, and violent tendencies. When your body has an inconsistent energy source, it begins even to affect things like your mood. Finally, do not believe processed food manufacturers that like to blaze on their packages phrases like ‘fortified with B vitamins’. Science has proven that this kind of artificial ‘fortification’ does not help your body at all.
Let us also talk about the use and consumption of refined cereals and grains. As we mentioned earlier, ‘fat’ from actual meat consumption is nowhere near as bad as the use of refined grains and carbs that act like sugars in the body. In the 1990s particularly, ‘low-fat’ and ‘lite’ foodstuffs and diets were en vogue. Sadly, a lot of people replaced protein fats with carbs and grains. Diabetes follows where those nutrients go.
Vegetables and fresh fruits are high in fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes.
The ability for a stomach to break down a piece of food is referred to as its ‘Glycemic Index’. Types of foods with high glycemic indexes take a long time to digest and sometimes take a lot of energy for your body to absorb. However, this does not always make food with a high glycemic index bad for you. Fruit juice, for example, has a very high glycemic index due to natural sugars. However, there aren’t very many things better for you than fruit juice. Corn, rice, and other grains like wheat also have very high glycemic values. They are very starchy. This tends to ‘fill you up’ quickly.
The amount of actual nutrients in these types of foodstuffs is not very large. It is better to fill up on food sources like vegetables and fresh fruits. Here, you can and should go wild. All types of these foods are high in fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. You should also consider foods that are high in fiber. Fresh berries, coconuts and coconut water as well as peas, okra, and Brussels sprouts are what you’re looking for. Don’t overlook legumes. Any type of beans, for example, contain a high amount of fiber. Look for foods that are full of nutrients and low in artificial ingredients. A simple ‘life hack’ that can make a major difference when it comes to diabetes is to replace your daily sodas with drinks like water, juice, and herbal tea. Rather than chugging sports drinks after workouts (which are loaded with sugars and artificial ingredients), you can dilute orange or apple juice with water. Try out filling one-third of your glass with juice and two-thirds with water. It tastes similar to a sports drink, but only has ingredients that are good for you.
Another necessary ‘life hack’ is TO broil and roast foods instead of frying them. Avoid fried foods as well as excess starch and white carbs. Also, chow down fruits and vegetables. Those are the basics, but let’s dive into the subject a bit further. As always, it’s a good idea to check out the excellent guides and articles over at the Neuropathy Solution. Their website is The Neuropathy Solution if you’re interested.
Diversifying Your Food Sources
Continuing with our theme on dietary improvement, there are many other components to a diabetes-fighting system we will go over a bit more. You know about cutting down on ‘white carbs’ and processed foods. You know about stocking up on fruits and vegetables. But there are also a few more tricks.
Remember, your body thrives on a balanced diet. As such, it is a good idea to throw some healthy fats and things like wild-caught fish into the dietary mix. Wild-caught (vs. farm-raised) fish are loaded with nutrients that fight diabetes. Wild salmon, for example, are full of omega-3 fatty acids that mainly regulate some of the symptoms of diabetes and neuropathy on their own. Yes, you can take fish oil supplements, but there’s no real substitute for the real thing. There’s also a lot to be said for ‘healthy fats’ which also help prevent the body from incurring the complications of diabetes and neuropathy. Chia seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, and many other nuts and seeds are splendid for you.
Another less-obvious choice to help regulate blood sugar levels is to eat a fair and healthy amount of lean protein. Sadly, this is a situation where low-cost options might not be so healthy. On the other hand, pricier options like grass-fed beef and pasture raised instead of cage-raised poultry are good for you. These types of lean protein are an instant fuel for your body. Also, they do not negatively affect your insulin supplies. Substitute your table sugar for stevia. Most ‘sugar substitutes’ are even worse for your body than actual sugar. Stevia, however, is natural and does not negatively affect your blood sugar levels.
Keeping Hydrated and Avoiding Sodium
Another compound you need to try and avoid if you want to diminish the effects of diabetes and neuropathy is sodium aka SALT! Strange, but a lot of prepackaged and processed foods are loaded with salt. Don’t even get us started on the fast food! Most of the items available on menus at places like McDonald’s and Burger King are just loaded with salt. Even salads at many popular fast-food establishments are very salty thanks to the dressings and cheeses on top.
Finally, remember to drink a lot of water. Hydration is crucial for whole-body health, and it is water that will curb any adverse effects of a high-fiber, low-white-carb diet. Most dietitians recommend staying under 2000 or 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. In a lot of cases, that’s just a burger and big-size fries at a fast-food joint.
So if fast food is out, what is in? Healthy snacks. You can get around eating junk if you pack a backpack or bag full of tasty things that will both fill you up and not make you sick. Think protein bars and granola bars instead of candy bars and street food snacks – most of which are loaded with sugars and preservatives. Check the ingredients on some of those ‘granola bars’ and ‘trail mix’ packages and find out how healthy they are. Fortunately, most of those snacks are just as sugary as their candy counterparts. Oatmeal is better for you in the morning than a sugary cereal, and fruits and nuts are a much better snack than any candy. ‘Fruit Leathers’ and homemade fruit snacks that come out of a food dehydrator are a very good idea. If you do not have the time or drive to make them yourself, most healthy food stores have a snack section that sells these kinds of snacks. Hit that up and pack a bag instead of eating something greasy or fried at lunchtime; your body will reward you later for it.
The Importance of Exercise in Containing Diabetes
The other extremely vital component to stopping diabetes and neuropathy is of course exercise. There’s a popular Reddit post entitled ‘no zero days’ where the author talks about the idea that you should always take steps, no matter how small, that will help you achieve your goals. This is how you should start approaching exercise and sports if you are not currently working out. If you are not used to it, even walking for a while or lifting weights for approximately 15 minutes can be physically tiring. All the same, push through it. Strengthening your heart and your cardiovascular system will help fight nerve damage.
A good idea, especially if you’re a workout noob, is to try low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or riding a bicycle. Not only are these types of events great cardio and effective for fighting diabetes, but it is also relatively easy to ride a bike or go for a walk, even if it’s just for a short time. Do it daily or at least five days a week. Soon, your body will start rewarding you with better feelings. Once you get in better shape, your body will react better to insulin and to fighting neuropathy symptoms. Your circulation will improve, and these types of physical fitness regimes will also reduce ‘bad cholesterol’ and decrease your stress levels.
Less Stress, Less Complications
If you’re stressed, your body will respond to the symptoms of diabetes and neuropathy more negatively. Sports, hobbies, and being around friends or family should help! Being happy is clearly part of this whole wellness program. The happier you are, the less stressed you will be. It has even been proven that stress induces and increases the swelling associated with diabetes. If you fight stress, you’ll not only be happy but healthier too. I hope this article helps you beat diabetes! For more info check out The Neuropathy Solution.
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