Celiac.com 04/04/2011 - Having been diagnosed with celiac disease, I know from having to follow a strict gluten-free diet that monitoring one's diet and health can be inconvenient, time-consuming, and challenging. Similarly, keeping one's blood sugar level under control for diabetics can be tough, but studies are showing how important this is, as it has been shown to prevent diabetic neuropathy, that is, nerve damage peculiar to diabetics, and its devastating effects.

According to Tedd Mitchell, M.D., President of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, there are two types of diabetic neuropathy, peripheral and autonomic. Peripheral neuropathy is "a degeneration of the nerves in the feet and hands," according to Dr. Mitchell, which, as it occurs "slowly but progressively," reduces sensitivity to touch while heightening sensations of pain and itching. The second type is autonomic neuropathy, which is, Dr. Mitchell says, "damage to nerves that control bodily functions, such as digestion, urination, heart rate, blood pressure, sexual function and even sweating." Some of the symptoms of this type are digestive problems, urinary problems, and reductions in blood pressure.

The longer one has been diabetic, the higher one's risk for neuropathy. Thankfully, evidence supports that long-term blood sugar control can reduce this risk. It may seem like a challenge for some diabetics to control their blood sugar, but with some determination and effort, it can successfully be achieved.

MedicalMoment.org, a website developed by Columbia St. Mary's, an organization of hospitals and clinics, offers various ways to get started controlling your blood sugar. First, in liaison with your health care provider, test your blood sugar and keep a record of your results and pertinent information, on a daily basis. Follow your doctor's prescribed diabetes medicine plan while eating foods low in fat, sugar, and sodium and high in fiber on a regular basis, aiming for the same caloric intake every day. It's important to get regular exercise, starting slowly if need be, such as swimming and walking. Your diet and exercise routine should be geared toward maintaining your ideal weight, which should be determined by your health care provider. You'll want to stay aware of signs of possible nerve damage such as sores that won't heal, blisters, swelling, and ulcers.

MedicalMoment.org also offers several tips for keeping blood sugar under control. Low blood sugar should be treated quickly with the use of special glucose gel or tablets. Smoking, which harms the heart and the circulatory system, should be avoided. Next, learn as much as possible about your diabetic condition and treatment; knowledge is power in this case, as I know from being a celiac disease patient. Lastly, avoid stress and get support by staying connected with friends and relatives or a support group who can help you keep your blood sugar under control.

It isn't unusual for me to focus some of my work as an author, researcher, and gluten-free and health advocate, on the area of diabetes; after all, according to Celiac.com, evidence is growing which supports that people with Type 1 diabetes are at high risk for celiac disease. In this research, the necessity of maintaining blood sugar is clear. With the help of your medical practitioner and other resources, you can achieve proper self-care in controlling blood sugar level and lower this risk of nerve damage.

Resource:
Mitchell, Dr. Tedd. "Nerve damage: One more reason to keep blood sugar under control." USA Weekend: July 9-11, 2010.

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