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Diet Tips for Amputees with Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to limb loss and other complications

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month -- a time to call attention to a disease that affects 1 in every 11 Americans.

It’s also a disease many amputees are already familiar with. According to the Amputee Coalition, each year, over half of all amputations in the United States are caused by diabetes mellitus and subsequent complications, with most being lower-extremity amputations.

Fortunately, there is much you can do to control -- or even reverse -- diabetes. And controlling it remains important even if diabetes has already led to lower limb loss.

So as we move into the time of year when people are celebrating around the family dinner table, we thought it would be useful to provide some tips for healthy eating for those trying to control diabetes.

While a dietician, primary care physician or endocrinologist can help you develop a diet specific to your individual blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol, there are some general guidelines for eating that can be helpful.

Foods to eat more:
  • Healthy fats from raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, whole milk dairy, or avocados

  • Fruits and vegetables—ideally fresh, the more colorful the better; whole fruit rather than juices

  • High-fiber cereals and breads made from whole grains or legumes

  • Fish and shellfish, organic, free-range chicken or turkey

  • High-quality protein such as eggs, beans, milk, cheese, and unsweetened yogurt

Foods to eat less:
  • Trans fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods

  • Packaged and fast foods, especially those high in sugar, baked goods, sweets, chips, desserts

  • White bread, sugary cereals, refined pastas or rice

  • Processed meat and red meat from animals fed with antibiotics, growth hormones, and GMO feed

  • Low-fat products that have replaced fat with added sugar, such as fat-free yogurt

In addition to a healthy diet, of course, exercise is also key. Even for amputees. And it doesn’t have to be a heavy workout -- 10 to 20 minutes a day is fine (and in fact, it’s better than an hour workout once a week). Watch for our upcoming exercise tips for lower limb amputees.

If you have diabetes and have had a limb amputated, you may think “well, the damage is done, so I’m not going to worry about it.” But diabetes can lead to health complications even worse than amputation, including heart disease and stroke, blindness and kidney disease. So it’s always important to do what you can to keep diabetes under control. We’re always here to help and to watch out for your overall health!

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