How Diabetics Can Defend Themselves from Higher Risk of Infections

diabetes testing

Regardless of age, gender, and ethnicity, anyone can develop diabetes. This disease, depending on Type 1 (body cannot produce any insulin) or Type 2 (unable to use it properly), affects how your body makes or uses insulin and blood glucose content. If the instability of blood glucose persists, high blood sugar levels can cause problems in the heart, kidneys, nerves, and other organs. Because it affects how well blood flows and the function of organs, diabetes can hinder your body’s immune system. For this reason, improving immunity for a diabetic is through preventative measures and food or alternatives (eg. Glucerna) in their best interest. Here are a few major facts you need to watch out for.1, 6

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and how it affects the Immune System

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious health complication for diabetics if blood glucose is left unchecked. It is more common among Type 1 diabetics, but Type 2 patients are not safe from it either. DKA is where the body does not have enough insulin to properly use blood sugar for energy, so it digs into the fat reserves for fuel.1, 2 This produces an excess of acids called ketones. High amounts can damage the kidneys, degrade muscle quality, and aggravate any other health conditions. DKA also throws pH out of balance, affecting the functionality of immune system cells. If the body continues to cut into fat reserves, your body will no longer have protection against infections. Those affected by DKA have decreased alertness, deep rapid breathing, dehydration, fainting and low stamina. It is important to practice activities and eat immune boosting foods because falling ill often releases hormones that make it harder for your body to use insulin, thus aggravating the DKA condition.1, 2

Easy defense mechanisms

Since prevention is always better than cure, always monitor your blood sugar. It is especially important when you are ill. Try to keep your blood sugar at the target range and take necessary medication and check in often with a medical professional, even if you do not feel severely ill. Since thirst and frequent urination are symptoms of DKA, make sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially water.1, 2

Can you still work out to maintain good health? Heavy physical activity is not recommended as it can increase your blood sugar and increase ketones in your body, so it is best to follow a health care provider’s advice. Improving immunity for diabetes involves having a complete and balanced diet.1, 2

Just like keeping your regular blood glucose stable, never skip meals and eat as you always have, if they are healthy choices to begin with. Important nutrients a diabetic should get enough of to improve immunity are high quality proteins to improve antibody production and vitamin A for skin and tissue health. Zinc will promote cell production, while vitamin D will support the health of those cells. These vitamins and minerals are found in lean meats, eggs, carrots, citrus fruits, fish, and beans. Since blood glucose relies on carbohydrates, choosing a low GI (Glycemic Index, rating of food items from 0 to 100 of how fast it raises blood glucose) is what will keep it stable. Easiest low GI foods are whole grains and oats. Simplified, if your diet consists of plenty of vegetables, fruits, and lean meats, your diet is pretty much balanced.3, 4

Prevention is better than living with a cure but fixing your diet will solve most problems. If your diet consists mostly of healthy vegetables, lean meats, fruits, and low GI carbohydrates, you are well on your way. Can you use nutritional supplements to replace a few meals or as an accompaniment? Yes, you can, so as long as they are diabetic specific. For example, Glucerna has been scientifically formulated with 4x myo-inositol^ (key carbohydrate to mimic the actions of insulin activity and improve its sensitivity) and an advanced carbohydrate system+ to have blood glucose control within 3 months. # The new formulation of Glucerna has key immunity supporting high quality proteins, vitamin A, C, D, E and zinc. To see if Glucerna, the No.1 Doctor Recommended Diabetes Nutritional Formula in the US*, is right for you, please visit Glucerna Myanmar today for samples and additional information.5, 6

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^    Compared to previous formula of Glucerna

#    +Peng et al. 2019..

*     “IQVIA, using the ProVoice Survey, fielded to 13,040 physicians from November 1, 2022 to October 31, 2023 and recorded the OTC product recommended most often in the Diabetic Nutrition Supplement category, has validated the following claim at a 99% confidence level.”

+    Jenkins et al. Diabetologia. 1982

Additional Readings:

The Role of DSF (Playlist)

Interview with Dr. U Ye Myint