Five Tips for Staying Comfortable and Healthy During Warmer Weather
By Mercy Health Endocrinologist Cyprian Gardine, MD
According to the CDC National Diabetes Statistic Report 2020, in 2018 (most recent statistics), an estimated 7.3 million U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (2.8 percent) had undiagnosed diabetes and 88 million adults (34.5 percent) had pre-diabetes. It was also estimated that 26.8 million U.S. adults (10.2%) had diagnosed diabetes. Of those 26.6 million, 90-95 percent had the most common type of diabetes: type 2 diabetes.
In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin that is produced by the pancreas. The pancreas compensates for this resistance by producing even more insulin. Eventually the pancreas creates as much insulin as it can, but the resistance increases. Insulin resistance leads to high blood sugars.
Once a patient has high blood sugars that are untreated, those blood sugars damage blood vessels, particularly the small vessels that supply glands and tissues. The organs most affected are eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.
While there can be a genetic component to type 2 diabetes, there is a correlation with weight gain and specifically abdominal fat. Trying to stay lean will help most people avoid issues with blood sugar control. Losing weight can help improve the health of a person with diabetes.
If you are living with type 2 diabetes, there are simple steps you can take to stay comfortable and healthy during the warm summer months.
When a person’s blood sugars are high, body fluids can shift. In the warmer weather, diabetic patients can become even more dehydrated than others, so it is essential to remain hydrated with water. Water is the best choice — not sports drinks, pop, juices, coffee, or tea. Be sure to drink about eight glasses of water during the course of each day.
Continue to Exercise
With type 2 diabetes in particular, we encourage people to stay physically active. So even during the pandemic, it is important to find a place where you can stay cool and remain active or exercise during the warmer months. Whether you walk or participate in another sport, be sure you have well fitting, comfortable, supportive shoes. We do not recommend going barefoot or wearing sandals. It is best to wear shoes that offer support, protection, and coverage.
Eat More Locally Grown Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Processed foods tend to be higher in simple sugars and carbs that could raise your blood sugars even more. Unprocessed foods are better because your body has to work harder to metabolize their sugars. Following an average healthful diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, is a good place to start. Depending on your diabetes, you may want to be mindful of eating fruits and vegetables with a higher glycemic index. As an example, bananas, carrots, and corn are foods with a higher glycemic index that can be absorbed more quickly than other vegetables and fruits.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
With the longer hours of daylight, it is still important to pay attention to your sleep environment so that it promotes quality sleep. Find a cool, dark and quiet place to sleep. Sleep apnea can occur among patients with type 2 diabetes. If you have sleep apnea, consult a sleep specialist to help promote better sleep.
Protect Injectable Medications
If you use injectable medication for your diabetes, it is important to remember that the medication needs to remain at room temperature, which is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. During warmer months, keeping your injectable medication in your car or outdoors could reduce its effectiveness by allowing it to reach a higher temperature.
If you are living with diabetes or caring for a person with it, it is good to remember that diabetes is a chronic medical condition: There will be good days and bad days. Be gentle with yourself if you falter. No one is perfect. Tomorrow is another day, so pick yourself up, and do your best to follow guidelines that can improve your health.
Mercy Health invites you to learn more about diabetes and endocrine disorders at www.mercyhealth.com/diabetes.