Ways to manage diabetes and its nerve complication diabetic neuropathy
- Diabetic neuropathy is one of the many complications of diabetes. It happens because of the high blood sugar levels that can cause injury to nerves including those of hands and feet.
Diabetes is a disorder in which the body’s ability to control glucose levels in the bloodstream is impaired. According to WHO, 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the number is expected to rise to 642 million by 2040. One of its complications includes nerve damage which is known as Diabetic Neuropathy. High blood sugar (glucose) can injure nerves throughout the body, but most often damages nerves in hands and feet.
In India, 1 in 3 patients suffer from Diabetic Neuropathy according to International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Atlas 2019. People who lead a sedentary lifestyle with poor dietary habits and high-stress levels are at risk of developing diabetes. According to IDF Atlas 2019, 77 million people in India are diabetic. Patients with diabetes have a higher risk of heart diseases such as coronary artery disease, stroke, and heart failure. In addition, genetic susceptibility further increases Cardiovascular disease risk.
Here are the ways in which diabetes and diabetic neuropathy can be better managed.
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What are the symptoms of Diabetic neuropathy?
Depending on the affected nerves, diabetic neuropathy symptoms can include:
* Tingling, burning or numbness in legs and feet
* Problems with the digestive system
* Urinary tract issues
* Blood vessels and heart complications
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult a doctor. Ask your doctor about the role of Vit B12 combinations in reducing tingling and numbness sensations and the antioxidant power of Vitamin E in reducing diabetes related health risks.
Ideal ways to better manage the disease
Getting blood sugar levels under control
The most crucial element in managing diabetes and diabetic neuropathy is to get blood sugar levels under control and within target range as advised by the doctor. Controlling elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels are equally important. While managing blood sugar levels, a diet rich in Vitamin B and antioxidants such as Vitamin E is imperative.
Role of Vitamin B12
It is an essential dietary nutrient. A B12 deficiency can lead to several serious conditions, including nerve damage which can lead to a condition known as neuropathy and anemia.
A B12 deficiency can occur due to a vegetarian diet, impaired absorption, or certain medications. Low B12 levels can lead to improper functioning of nervous system and brain as a result, medications that reduce stomach acid should not be taken with B12 supplements. Many other conditions, procedures, and medications are associated with a reduced ability to absorb B12.
Role of antioxidants
Oxidative stress due to high blood sugar is a crucial factor in the development of diabetic complications. Antioxidants play an important role in reducing the associated tissue damage by neutralizing and destroying free radicals. Therefore, supplementation of antioxidants may be advisable to help control complications of diabetes.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals and keeps them nourished. Patients suffering from diabetes and diabetic neuropathy can include foods rich in vitamin E in their daily diet to ensure adequate vitamin E intake. Foods such as Avocado, Wheat Germ Oil, Almonds, Sunflower seeds and Peanuts are high in this vitamin.
Check with a doctor about the right amount of Vitamin E required in diabetes care. Vitamin E is also beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk in people with diabetes and the Haptoglobin (HP2-2) genotype.
People with diabetes have an increased risk of dehydration as high blood glucose levels lead to loss of water from the body. Water is ideal as it does not contain sugar. If dehydration is associated with hyperglycaemia, drinking high-sugar liquids such as fruit juices and high-sugar carbonated drinks can exacerbate the problem.
Research has shown that regular exercise helps improve blood circulation, improve muscle, and nerve health which in turn can aid in controlling blood sugar levels. However, it is recommended to speak with your doctor before starting any physical activity.
(Dr Sachin Pawar is MD Head –Medical & Technical affairs – India Cluster, Procter & Gamble Health Limited; the views expressed by the author in the column are his own)