Type 2 diabetes sends a signal that your body is not producing enough insulin or the insulin it is producing is not being taken up by the cells. Insulin polices blood sugar – the main type of sugar found in blood. Without insulin control, blood sugar levels can spike to dangerous levels and this can give rise to unwanted and in some cases life-threatening effects.
Some of the most obvious signs of blood sugar damage can show up in your extremities, namely your feet.
When this happens, it may signal nerve damage, a process medically known as peripheral neuropathy.
“It generally starts in the feet, and it tends to start in both feet at once,” explains the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
As the ADA notes, pain or increased sensitivity are telltale signs of blood sugar damage.
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Voicing the following complaints may signal peripheral neuropathy:
- I have burning, stabbing or shooting pains in my feet.
- My feet are very sensitive to touch. For example, sometimes it hurts to have the bed covers touch my feet.
- Sometimes I feel like I have socks or gloves on when I don’t.
- My feet hurt at night.
- My feet and hands get very cold or very hot.
How to respond
The primary response to peripheral neuropathy is to stabilise blood sugar levels.
There are two key components to blood sugar control – diet and exercise.
There is no such thing as a special diet exclusively for people with type 2 diabetes.
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However, carbohydrates that rank high on the glycaemic index (GI) are to be generally avoided or cut back on.
The GI is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates.
It shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own.
Carbs that are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high GI rating.
“For example, watermelon and parsnips are high GI foods, while chocolate cake has a lower GI value,” explains the NHS.
What’s more, “foods that contain or are cooked with fat and protein slow down the absorption of carbohydrate, lowering their GI”, explains the NHS.
“For example, crisps have a lower GI than potatoes cooked without fat.”
It adds: “However, crisps are high in fat and should be eaten in moderation.”