This article is part two in a series on Spring Into Action. To catch up, please read part one.

Last week I re-shared a few tips about daily diabetes management that can never be discussed too often. As with most lessons learned, you may pick up something new each time you go back and re-visit and old lesson. Today, I have a few more tips that are worth mentioning as we head into the summer months.

Let’s continue with some diabetes basics as we enter into the summer season. Remember to make changes slowly so that you are not overwhelmed. Concentrate on the fact that you will eventually feel better, stronger and will be doing your body good! The CDC just reported that only 14% of people with diabetes hit their recommended targets of blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol values and smoking cessation. You need to be a part of that 14%!

  1. Dream On It – Sleep is one of the most important things for our general health, but it is even more important when you have diabetes. It is documented that in 2012, 70 million people suffered from insomnia. Insomnia leads to exhaustion, confusion, limited concentration and less control of your blood glucose levels. A recent study in Diabetes Care done on 200 people showed that “circadian rhythm is involved in metabolic regulation.” Lack of sleep reduces insulin sensitivity and decreases leptin (a hormone which reduces appetite). The results showed that those who slept less, went to bed at a later time, slept late into the morning and those who ate most of their calories at a night time meal had worse glycemic control. The longer days of summer encourage us to be out late, which may not be good for diabetes control. Other studies have indicated that sleep deprivation leads to an increased craving and eating of carbohydrates which again leads to poor blood sugars. The cycle begins because poor blood glucose control causes increased thirst, urination and sweats during the night which prevents restful sleep. Many people with type 2 diabetes have sleep apnea and are not even aware. Sleep apnea can cause snoring, breathing irregularities and can develop into severe complications if not treated. What is keeping you awake? Think about it – is it Restless Leg Syndrome, racing thoughts, hunger, breathing problems, allergies or acid reflux? You need to identify the problem and take steps to rectify it. Sleeping pills may be the short term answer but the root cause with an action plan is more productive. Always discuss your options with your health care provider.
  2. Eat Well – Use the grill and move together. A recent study done at Stanford University lead by Dr. Abby King found that those who decided to jump into positive life style changes were able to follow through more when they combined positive eating habits with exercise. They saw benefits more quickly and felt better early on. They got the “best bang for their buck.” There really is nothing new in the exercise guidelines set by the major organizations – including the American Diabetes Association. Add aerobic activity 5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes and build up slowly if you have never exercised (check with your health care provider if you have cardiac issues). The good news is that research has finally shown us that breaking up the 30 minutes into several small increments in the day will still give you positive results. Walking is considered the easiest and cheapest way to get in your exercise; no more saying “I do not have the time.” Add some weight or resistance training for muscle mass, bone growth and improved glucose control. Try Pilates or yoga for stretching, or water exercise if you have orthopedic or balance problems. As far as an improved eating program – summer offers a great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. Add vegetables to a breakfast omelet or quiche along with whole grain bread. For a complete meal use vegetables as a pizza topping or in lasagna, try a new vegetable each week, eat veggie melts with low fat cheese, roast vegetables on the grill, even consider vegetable smoothies and make them sweeter by adding an apple or banana. Include lean protein on the grill and have quinoa, wild rice, whole wheat pasta, bulgur or a sweet potato to compliment the meal. Fresh berries or kiwi with orange slices can be the perfect ending. Stay hydrated with plain or sparkling water flavored with fruit.
  3. Shoes, Pool Shoes & Socks – The summer season encourages us to walk barefoot – whether it is in the park, yard, beach or house. I often get into a detailed discussion when patients do not understand the significance of keeping their feet covered at all times. It is known that not everyone with diabetes has neuropathy or lack of nerve sensation, but we like to teach prevention – which means keeping your feet safe at all times. People with diabetes do not heal as well or quickly especially if their blood sugars are elevated; white blood cells become less protective. Wash your feet daily in warm, not hot, water to lower the risk of infection or fungus – dry and place corn starch powder between the toes; keep heels soft and without cracks using a high emollient cream or lotion. Visit a podiatrist or trim your own nails straight across and file with an Emory board to prevent rough edges. Wear diabetes socks that offer a proper fit without binding the calf area, extra padding in the sole, and material designed to wick away moisture. Check your feet daily for color, temperature or open areas. Elevate them when you can to reduce swelling. Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes with support and breathable material. Purchase pool shoes for the beach or swimming pool.

These suggestions may sound elementary to some of you, but for others it may all be new. Repetition is good since many people do not get the message the first few times. If you are aware of these recommendations, offer them to someone you know who may have diabetes and is still learning. Stay motivated, stay active and stay informed!

NOTE: Consult your Doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.