A Guide To Nutritional Supplements For Patients With Diabetes

By John Hahn, DPM, ND

Nearly 21 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 6.2 million of these people are not aware they have the disease. The CDC also estimates that over 40 million people have pre-diabetes, a condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Over 20 percent of adults 60 years of age and older have diabetes.

“Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness, limb amputation, kidney disease and nerve damage,” notes Frank Vinicor, the Director of the CDC’s diabetes program.1
Podiatrists see patients with diabetes on a fairly regular basis. While podiatric physicians do not treat the systemic disease of diabetes, the resultant vascular and neurological complications can certainly come into play with lower extremity complications from the disease.
These patients present many challenges when it comes to managing the multi-system effects of diabetes. The diabetic patient population also presents a greater risk of postoperative complications due to vascular and neurological pathology directly attributed to diabetes.
Most of the diabetic patients whom podiatrists see are already under the care of their family practitioner or internist when it comes to medications and diet. However, there is a group of patients that we see as podiatrists who may not be diagnosed with diabetes but have some of the disease characteristics that could affect a surgical outcome. There are also patients with diabetes who are under the care of their primary care physicians but do not have good blood glucose control. As podiatric physicians, it behooves us to make sure we do everything in our power to assist these patients in their disease management as it affects their lower extremities.
Accordingly, let us take a closer look at self-management tools (see “The Glycemic Index: A Valuable Tool For Self-Management” below) and nutritional supplements that podiatrists can recommend to help these patients maintain better blood sugar control and better peripheral vascular perfusion.

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