The more a person knows about their diabetes diagnosis, the more opportunities they have to take charge of their health through nutrition, medication, and proactive care. Proper management helps individuals lead normal healthy lives. Along with a primary care provider, patients may see an endocrinologist, nutritionist, wound care doctor, and others for comprehensive care.
Start With Diet
Martin Del Real Navarro, MS, RDN, LDN, a registered dietitian at Regional One Health, recommends the following guidelines for diabetes: consume adequate complex carbohydrates, limit sugars (including added sugars), and practice portion control. Martin says, “We all eat differently and we all like different foods. Visualize a healthy plate and apply your culture to it.”
The American Diabetes Association recommends a plate with half non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth lean protein, and one-fourth whole grains. Choose foods with healthy complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Avoid simple carbohydrates, found in processed foods with added fat and sugar.
Martin also suggests healthy cooking methods like grilling or baking, limiting condiments and sauces, not adding salt or sugar, and pairing indulgences with lighter choices. Also, practice portion control by reading labels carefully and sticking to reasonable serving sizes.
“With proper resources and knowledge, patients can fit the foods they eat into a healthier plan,” he says. “The idea is to use nutrition to manage weight and chronic conditions. We should eat this way regardless. It helps with overall health and wellbeing.”
Get Special Care
While proper nutrition can help manage diabetes, patients may need medication and specialist care as well to avoid complications. Primary care providers and endocrinologists can help patients find the right type and dosage of medication to manage blood sugar. They can also address common diabetes complications like cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, and vision problems.
Some patients also require specialized wound care. Diabetes can cause poor circulation, making it hard for blood to reach the extremities. Patients can develop ulcers on their feet, and limited blood flow inhibits healing.
As the medical director for wound care at Regional One Health, I specialize in using hyperbaric oxygen therapy to help heal diabetic wounds. Patients undergo treatment in a chamber that delivers 100% oxygen under pressure, with the goal of sparking the body’s own healing processes. This can help the patient grow new blood vessels into their wounds, and with that extra blood flow, we can heal their wounds. I get consistent results with closing wounds for patients who had literally tried everything else without success.
Tony Alleman, MD, is the medical director of wound care at Regional One Health. For more information, visit Regionalonehealth.org.