Type II Diabetes and behavior modification

diabetes“We know that if the patient had a situation of cancer, the patient would be all ears. We could say, ‘Do this and do that,’ and the patient would say, ‘Sure. I’ll start today.’ But with diabetes we usually hear excuses of why they can’t exercise or why they can’t lose weight,” says J. Marshall Devall, DPM, Podiatrist at the Temple Santa Fe Center.

The excuses have to stop. Your feet — and your nervous, circulation, and renal systems — depend on it.

Dr. Devall discusses Type II diabetes and making the necessary lifestyle changes to live longer and more healthfully.

What Is Dangerous About Type II Diabetes?

“Diabetes is a disease that damages the lining of your blood vessels. Because it’s a small-vessel disease, patients with diabetes are at high risk for problems involving their eyes, feet, skin, heart and kidneys,” explains Dr. Devall.

“Diabetes is a disease that requires a tremendous amount of risk factor modification. You’re talking about metabolic syndrome—obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, hyperlipidemia—fats, cholesterol—and poor management of all that,” Dr. Devall warns.

Patients with diabetes often have difficulty controlling their diets, which results in a complex series of problems that affects multiple systems. High-fat, high-sugar diets, coupled with sedentary lifestyles, often raise cholesterol and glucose levels and increases blood pressure, increasing the risk for heart disease, stroke and a host of other problems.

“As patients get older, they tend to have a lot of dietary indiscretions. Eating a lot of unhealthy foods may be fine when you’re 17,” Dr. Devall says, “but you’re not going to be able to do that forever.”

“Many of the side effects of a poor diet, such as poor circulation and neuropathy can be reversed if people just tighten control of their diets.”

For the diabetic, an unhealthy diet causes weight gain, which often makes it difficult to exercise. Without exercising, it becomes even easier to gain more weight.

As people with diabetes become obese, “the fat becomes an endocrine organ. It’s not that they’re not producing insulin, but the insulin isn’t as effective. People with diabetes have to change they way they eat to avoid foot problems, obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension—all that,” Dr. Devall says.

What Lifestyle Changes Should I Make?

Dr. Devall’s suggestions for healthier living with Type II diabetes include:

  • Get an annual physical exam with your primary physician
    • Or more frequently, if recommended
  • Get an annual foot exam with a podiatrist
    • Or more frequently, if recommended
  • Make healthy food choices
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables
    • Choose lower-fat meats, such as chicken and turkey
    • Avoid fried foods
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
    • Easier to exercise
    • Easier for your body respond to insulin
    • Lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure
    • Lowers your risk of damage to other organs
    • Lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Maintain a healthy cholesterol level
    • Lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke
    • Helps prevent circulation problems, which can cause foot ulcers
  • Get regular exercise
    • Helps control your weight
    • Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week
  • Don’t smoke
    • Lowers your risk of heart, nerve and kidney disease
    • Easier for your body to respond to insulin

“Our focus is on prevention. We don’t want to wait until you have a disastrous complication. I don’t like to have people walk into my clinic like a patient did recently. He said, ‘Dr. Devall, this is really bad because it stinks.’ Get control of your sugars, your weight, your diet and prevent problems before they start,” advises Dr. Devall.

“Many of the side effects of a poor diet, such as poor circulation and neuropathy [the loss of sensation in the feet] can be reversed if people just tighten control of their diets,” says Dr. Devall.

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Type II Diabetes and behavior modification