People with diabetes are at higher risk for infections, including COVID-19, and related complications. CDC has advised that having a chronic condition such as diabetes can exacerbate a coronavirus infection, increasing the odds of severe disease and death.
High blood sugars have a direct negative impact on the immune system and can make it more difficult for your body to recover. Good control of blood sugars can help boost immunity and prevent certain infections by allowing the body’s normal defense mechanisms to function at their best.
When the body becomes sick and is fighting an infection, blood sugars generally increase. In fact, high sugars can often be one of the first signs of an illness or infection! This makes for a dangerous cycle…. High blood sugars can worsen an infection, and the infection makes the high blood sugars even worse.
Make good blood sugars a priority especially during this time. Here are 7 tips to help minimize your risk:
1) Don’t go without your medications.
2) Reschedule nonessential appointments – including doctor appointments!
If you need medication refills or have a specific concern, call in to speak with a triage nurse before going in to the clinic for guidance. With the overwhelming demand on the healthcare system, they will likely be happy to work with you on alternative care options or a temporary supply of medication.
3) Order supplies online to avoid the crowds.
Avoiding the crowds is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. Many places such as Target, Walmart and local grocery stores offer drive up services where you can pick up supplies without even getting out of your car. Online vendors, like Amazon, can also deliver essentials usually in a short window of time.
4) Pick smarter non-perishable food options.
With grocery stores selling out of fresh meat and produce, most people are stocking up on canned goods and pasta in the event of an emergency. Generally, these foods can be hard on blood sugars. There are plenty of options that won’t affect blood sugars as negatively and provide a good source of protein. Consider frozen veggies – not corn, peas, or potatoes… but instead opt for green beans, edamame, cauliflower, broccoli, or brussels sprouts. Frozen veggie burgers, pickles, cottage cheese, and nuts are alternatives that generally don’t spike blood sugars. Canned beans can also be a good source of fiber (check the label). These foods can be higher in sodium, so be careful if you also have high blood pressure.
5) Try to stay active around home.
It is recommended to avoid gyms or community centers – but this doesn’t mean you need to be a “couch potato”! Other than diet, nothing is harder on blood sugars than being sedentary. Make a plan to get up and walk around the house, go up and down the stairs 3 times every afternoon, or if the weather permits – go for a walk around the yard. Bored? Try searching “You-Tube” for some fun exercise routines that you can do in your living room!
6) Consider natural ingredients to help boost the immune system and support blood sugar health.
7) Stay positive and try not to stress!
Stress itself can increase blood sugars. This is a time of anxiety and fear for many people. Try to remember that the risk is temporary, and this will pass. Engage in calming techniques such as meditation and reading.
Don't forget to wash your hands with warm soap and water regularly. Remember - if at any time you start having flu-like symptoms, call your healthcare provider for advice promptly.
Stay healthy and safe!
Dr. Stephanie Redmond, Pharmacist and Certified Diabetes Educator
Founder of Diabetes Doctor Supplements