We are currently commemorating World Diabetes Month, with World Diabetes Day on November 14; and many of us still aren’t educated as to the effects of diabetes. Worse, many persons living with diabetes continue to eat in the same manner, not exercise, drink alcohol and smoke. Most of us have this disease running in our family; have a spouse, a friend or colleague living with it. It’s not a life sentence but rather a change in lifestyle. We need to take preventative steps to fight the odds of getting this disease.
Recently, for a voluntary project, I had to go shopping to source items for hampers for diabetics. It was an eye opener, quite a task. I requested and got a representative at the supermarket to assist me. As we strolled through the aisles, we discovered that life as a diabetic could be challenging. I quickly got frustrated at the limited amount of items on the shelves that were appropriate. I even bounced up a client with diabetes who was happy to see my despair, exclaiming that this was her life. Again not a life sentence, but a challenge!
Often, enough clients ask me about diet. I’m definitely not a dietician and would not claim to be, but I give basic guidelines; and the usual refrain is how hard it is to stick to the limited choices/styles of cooking. Because, often enough, diabetes and hypertension go hand in hand, so it’s little or no sugar one way… and little or no salt the next. Quite difficult for the average person!
How can I take better care of my feet?
By following the foot care advice below you can keep your feet healthy:
· Wash your feet daily.
· Examine your feet for cuts, bruises, discolouration, differences in temperature and smell. This is particularly important if you are diabetic since untreated cuts or breaks in the skin can easily develop into diabetic ulcers.
· Remove hard skin from your feet. This should be done monthly and preferably professionally, taking care not to damage your skin.
· Dry your feet, particularly in between your toes, to reduce the chance of nail fungus and athlete's foot.
· Moisturise your feet with a good moisturiser. This will help to keep your skin soft, preventing the skin on your feet from drying out and cracking.
· Trim your toe nails regularly and straight across, to prevent ingrown toe nails or over grown toe nails.
· Change your socks or stockings daily to prevent your feet from becoming damp, sweaty and smelly.
· Drink a lot of water.
· Exercise your feet and ankles. Flex your toes and rotate your feet at the ankle, as well as walking regularly, at least half hour three times per week.
I have diabetes, do I need special footwear?
If you are diabetic, good quality footwear is especially important. Shoes that rub or are too tight can damage the skin leading to ulceration.
It is important that appropriate footwear is selected for both indoor and outdoor use. You need to protect your feet around the home; therefore your indoor slippers should not be flimsy. When selecting men or ladies outdoor shoes, make sure they are good quality to help protect your feet.
Always try shoes in the afternoon since feet swell during the course of the day. Remember to check the comfort of your shoes whilst standing up and whilst walking. Ensure that your toes have enough room to move. The width of your shoes should match the width of your feet.
Footwear should take into account the exact shape of the foot. In cases where there is deformity of the foot or altered biomechanics, foot-specific shoes may need to be made. Diabetic patients with neuropathy and/or ischemia (an inadequate supply of blood to a part of the body), must take extra care when fitting shoes, particularly when foot deformities are also present.
“Save your limbs”
A campaign that the Minister of Health stated he’d be starting. It’s much needed as there are lots of persons walking around who are in a bad way health-wise. Nonetheless, I’m making an appeal to those of you with the disease to please start taking care of yourselves... After all, it begins with you!
Your feet mirror your general health... cherish them!
Leana Huntley is an English trained foot health practitioner attached to ALMAWI Limited — The Holistic Clinic. Check for the clinic at www.almawiclinic.com.