Foot care tips for diabetic individuals

I am glad to share one more interesting post here. We all know about diabetes mellitus but to our surprise and shock, around 425 million people are affected by diabetes in India. By the end of 2045, this is expected to rise up to 151 million people (ref 1 below).

Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to properly utilise the sugars and starch in our diet. Although medical management of the disease is advancing rapidly, there is unfortunately no magical cure for diabetes. Intensive lifestyle modification is the only way to reverse and potentially completely cure diabetes.

Treatment of diabetes aims to minimise complications and help people to manage the disease better. Regular exercise and a balanced healthy diet are the two major components of disease control apart from medication.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, neuropathy or dysfunctional nerve endings occurs in about 70% of people with diabetes, leading to pain, numbness, lack of sensations and also to harmful infections (ref 2 below).

In fact, neuropathy is one of the reasons for silent heart attacks in diabetic individuals. A holistic approach to diabetes is extremely important to prevent end-organ damage shown in the picture above.

Diabetes puts your feet at higher risk for calluses, corns, bunions, blisters, and ulcers which may become gateways to potentially disabling infections. That’s why the diabetic foot is an important complication you should know about. So in this thread, I’ll discuss some key points on how to take care of your feet if you are diabetic.

Foot Care Routine

Inspect your foot – Look at your feet for red spots, cuts, swelling and blisters. If you cannot see the soles of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.

Wash your feet everyday– Wash your feet in lukewarm water (neither too hot nor too cold) and dry your feet with a towel, especially between the toes.

Moisturise – Apply skin lotion over the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes.

Trim toenails regularly – Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges with an emery board or nail file. 

Avoid walking barefoot – As sensations in your feet can be dampened, you may be unable to feel cuts and blisters which can become dangerously infected.

Take care of your diabetes – Work with your healthcare team to keep your blood glucose in your target range.

Wear diabetic friendly footwear – Support your feet with personalised footwear that is well-fitting, well-cushioned and protects your feet.

Quit smoking – As tobacco can also reduce circulation in the small blood vessels of your hands and feet and worsen the ability to feel pain, temperature differences etc, it is best to stay away from active as well as passive smoking.

Examination – Consult a podiatrist or foot specialist on a regular basis.

Burger’s Exercise:

This is an exercise that helps to improve circulation in your legs and prevent foot-related complications.

Position

  • Lie down in head-up position and lift your leg up to 45 degrees upward (if necessary keep something to support your legs as in the picture)
  • Hold the position for 2-3 min
  • Then sit with knees hanging down for 2-3 min
  • Then lie down in head-up position for 5 min
  • Repeat for 4-5 times /session
  • Plan for 3 sessions daily

Benefits

It improves peripheral circulation in your legs (ref 3 & 4 below).

Caution:

Assistance and medical supervision may be required.

The three stages of exercise should be done continuously.

References:

  1. https://www.idf.org/our-network/regions-members/south-east-asia/members/94-india.html.
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/nerve-damage-diabetic-neuropathies.
  3. https://file.scirp.org/pdf/OJN_2015020916173337.pdf.
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5120918/.

 

Active Hobbies for Heart Health

One of the questions I often ask the audience in my education sessions is “Is the heart dependent on the brain for it’s pumping action?”

Well, what do you think?

Mind Heart Connection

The heart has its own automaticity and therefore does not depend on signals from the brain to do its work. However, we are all aware that there is a close relationship between our minds and our hearts. We often feel our hearts racing fast and thumping aloud especially in a stressful or fearful situation. And we also feel a calm spread across our chest and our heart beat in sync with our mood when we are happy and grateful.

These feelings are nothing but the result of the innumerable nervous and hormonal connections between the brain and the heart. In fact, this branch of medicine is called Behavioral Cardiology and is very much studied and researched in the present time.

Happy Chemicals

We now know that there are the happiness hormones such as dopamine, endorphin and serotonin and that these hormones are responsible for a lot of the feel-good phenomena associated with exercise and outdoor activities. If you have ever noticed, a session of brisk exercise like fast walking, jogging or running makes blood gush into your head, makes you feel confident and energetic, gives you clarity of thought and even helps you solve a crisis situation with a fresh outlook!

Active Hobbies

Think of which of these active hobbies resonate well with you…in other words, which of these do you think you would enjoy doing in your free time.

  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Skating
  • Rowing, Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Gardening
  • Running
  • Dancing
  • Pilates
  • Surfing
  • Walking
  • Team Sports like football, basketball, hockey etc.
  • Individual sports like badminton, tennis, squash etc.

This is clearly not an exhaustive list but should definitely give you an idea of what an active hobby is: it is an activity that you love engaging in and something that lets you loose track of time.

Make time

You might think that a hobby is meant to keep you occupied in your free time but the aim of this blog post is to impress upon you that an active hobby needs to be pursued frequently to have a positive impact on your heart as well as overall health. Yes, it simply means you have to make time for your active hobbies. You have to learn to carve some time out of your daily routine to engage in one or more of these energy-boosting activities. And this time is known fondly as “ME TIME”.

Here are some tips to start taking time out for a healthy activity:

  1. Plan ahead & delegate – if you already have your plate full and are just about able to complete your daily tasks before hitting the bed, see if you can delegate some of your work and plan in advance for the time requirement of your active hobby.
  2. Prioritise – if there is one thing you should do for yourself everyday, it is 30 minutes of brisk exercise. So, try to swap your TV time, social media time or general chitchat time for a quick outdoor activity.
  3. Follow your passion – even if it’s your best friend, don’t feel bad to let him/her know that your interests are different from theirs; because if and only if you are passionate about the hobby will you pursue it relentlessly.
  4. Reward yourself – don’t be too hard on yourself; instead, reward yourself for your efforts and attempts at changing your lifestyle. Simple things like talking about your achievement to your friends or taking a much needed break as a reward might work wonders in keeping your motivation up.
  5. Activity groups – in the long run, knowing that someone you care about is equally interested in the activity you enjoy will help you stay focused and involved. But remember, it is not a competition or a power game, but a simple energy-expending, mind-refreshing and health-boosting activity that needs your continuous time and effort.

Let me sign off here but I sincerely hope that you are already thinking about YOUR active hobbies and ways to pursue them on a REGULAR basis!