If you have diabetes, you’ve probably heard that low-carbohydrate diets and fasting can help manage your insulin sensitivity. If you’ve ever suffered from diabetic foot ulcers, proper nutrition and good meal planning are even more important.
Diabetic foot ulcers happen in 15 percent of patients with diabetes. They vastly increase the risk of dangerous complications in those with diabetes, like infection, amputation and stroke.
With good eating habits, patients can greatly decrease their chances of developing dangerous diabetic foot ulcers. What we do to treat a wound on the surface, like applying antibacterial ointments and dressing, is just as important as how we heal wounds from the inside.
Nutrition can help two-fold, both with improving blood sugar levels and the process of healing. Patients fighting diabetes can take part of their healing into their own hands by empowering themselves with the knowledge of what type of foods help reduce the chance of complications from diabetic foot ulcers.
How Do Diabetic Foot Ulcers Happen?
Diabetic foot ulcers often form because of a loss of sensation in the feet. This happens because of a type of nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy. High blood sugar causes damage to nerves. The loss of sensation that results means that patients with diabetes are less likely to notice a wound forming.
Diabetic foot ulcers start out as red bumps on the bottom of the foot and eventually form sores that struggle to heal on their own. The longer they go without healing, the more likely they are to become chronic wounds.
Who Gets Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
Diabetic foot ulcers are an especially widespread problem among older patients with diabetes. In fact, approximately 30% of patients over 40 develop diabetic foot ulcers.
Besides age, eating habits are a significant factor when it comes to increasing your risk to develop diabetes. Science has established a strong link between diabetic foot ulcers and poor nutrition. Besides high blood pressure, many patients with foot ulcers don’t get enough micronutrients in their diet.
Diets and Supplements
Research indicates that low-carbohydrate diets and fasting can be particularly helpful for diabetic patients. Sugar is a carbohydrate and most patients with diabetes know that they need to watch their sugar intake. But other studies have shown that all carbohydrates can raise blood sugar levels, even carbs from “healthy” sources like whole grains.
Studies have even demonstrated that low-carbohydrate diets can help some patients recover from type two diabetes altogether.
Originally, a low-carbohydrate diet was thought to be helpful because it helped with weight loss. Weight loss a helpful step toward managing diabetes. However, at least one study demonstrated that lowering carbohydrates helped to lower blood sugar regardless of whether the patient lost weight.
In addition to lowering carbohydrate intake, patients with (or at risk for) diabetic foot ulcers may also want to consider upping their levels of protein in order to ensure optimal wound healing, especially in seniors. Protein helps with wound tensile strength, the immune system response, and collagen.
Meat is an obvious choice for protein but older patients may struggle to get enough from food alone. In that case, supplementing with a high-quality, low carb protein supplement may be needed.
Scientists have discovered that protein is essential because of micronutrients called arginine and proline. They are both essential building blocks in the wound healing process. Seniors should make sure they’re getting plenty of protein, and supplementing with arginine and proline if necessary. Albumin is a type of protein manufactured by your liver, and your doctor might recommend that you supplement for that as well.
During COVID-19 and social distancing, many people are taking better control of their diets. Now is the perfect time for seniors to try new low-carb, high-protein recipes, to make sure they’re getting everything they need for a speedy recovery from diabetic wounds.