Proper foot care is of the utmost importance for diabetic patients.
Diabetic patients face a number of painful side effects. The more common ailment is foot ulcers, in which skin in and around the toes begins to crack and tear, leading to pain and the risk of infection. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, somewhere between 14 percent and 24 percent of all diabetic patients will develop foot ulcers. Not only that, but as the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality Effective Health Care Program pointed out, foot ulcers can double the costs usually associated with diabetes management.
It’s those factors and more that illustrate the importance of self-care for most diabetic patients, specifically as it pertains to a proper diet and ongoing foot care. Without these components, diabetic patients may face more dire health issues, especially when it comes to proper wound care.
The right diet
Ulcers are the result of neuropathy, in which persistent high blood sugar damages the nerves in the actual foot. High blood pressure is often the result of a poor diet: one lacking the nutrients to address diabetic-specific issues. The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel compiled a list of nutrition-based guidelines to help reduce the risk of foot ulcers. These guidelines include:
- Immune function: Any well-structured nutrition plan should include the right vitamins and minerals. These substances can help improve your immune system, which can help your body heal certain wounds and overcome infections. Diabetics should emphasize zinc, vitamin A, magnesium, vitamin C and copper.
- Weight loss: In diabetic patients, weight loss can actually help address high blood pressure. In fact, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Diabetes Care, it takes a total weight loss of just 5 percent to greatly lower someone’s blood pressure. However, some diabetic patients lose weight by ridding themselves of carbohydrates, which include a slew of helpful minerals.
- Glycemic index control: Also called GI, this index refers to how carbohydrates affect your body. Slow-release carbs – fresh fruits, nuts and sweet potatoes – are much better than fast-acting carbs like cereal, pasta and white rice. According to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, high A1C – the result of a nonaligned GI – can actually slow down the wound healing process.
Proper foot care
According to the National Diabetes Association, there were 73,000 adult non-traumatic lower-limb amputations in the U.S.; 60 percent of those patients were diabetics. Fortunately, proper foot care can often prevent the need for this procedure. Courtesy of the National Diabetes Education Program, here are a few foot care protocols to keep in mind:
- Frequently trim your toenails. Doing so is not only cosmetic but also a great way to find any possible cracks or skin splits.
- Take care of your skin. Use moisturizer on the tops of your feet but not in between the toes.
- Exercise your feet specifically. Once a day, wiggle your toes, which will help to improve your overall blood flow and circulation.
- Protect your feet from the weather. Wear socks when it’s cold and put sunscreen on your feet during the summer.
- Wear the right footwear at all times. You want shoes that are comfortable and somewhat loose around the toes.
- Check your feet every day. Be on the look out for cuts, bruises, swelling, red spots and any other irregularities.
Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients.