Many people know Dr. Oz for The Dr. Oz Show, for which he has won 10 Daytime Emmy awards. He is an attending physician at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and has authored more than 400 publications. When it comes to managing diabetes during the summer, he is full of advice and ideas to survive and thrive over the next few months.
“My mother’s side of the family has a rich history of overweight relatives who have high blood sugar,” said Oz, whose aunt has type 2 diabetes. He said these conditions seem to start around age 70 in his family and could often be avoided with diet and exercise. This issue is close to his heart, since he has seen in his personal life how these conditions can be avoided and managed with proper care.
In addition to the personal connection, Oz covers the topic of diabetes frequently on his show because more than 30 million people in the U.S. live with diabetes. “We can’t ignore those numbers,” he said.
“Millions of people also have prediabetes,” Oz said. “There’s still an opportunity to stop the progression of the disease at this point with the right diet and exercise. Simple changes — such as getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week and eating a diet low in sugar with fruits and vegetables and whole grains — can make a big difference. Without the right type of lifestyle interventions, up to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.”
When it comes to the warm temperatures of summer, people with diabetes are affected by the heat more than those who don’t have diabetes. “We know that diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves,” Oz said. “As a result, your sweat glands may not work as effectively.” Because of this, those with diabetes may have a hard time cooling off, which can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
“When you feel overheated, you should immediately find a place that is air conditioned to sit for a little while, especially because high temperatures increase absorption of insulin,” Oz said. He warned that warmer temperatures can also negatively affect testing instruments, like blood glucose meters and test strips, so it is crucial to keep them in a cool environment so they function properly.
Diabetes is often the focus of The Dr. Oz Show because Oz said he wants to give people with diabetes positive role models and real-life advice when it comes to their health.
“Eventually, all of the small changes you make to your daily routine will add up, but you have to be willing to make those changes and stick with them,” he said. “You have the power to take charge of your life, advocate for yourself and improve your health.”
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Sipping on water through the day is essential to staying healthy and cool. Try to avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as they can lead to dehydration and increase your blood sugar levels.
Particularly before, during and after you are active, check your blood sugar to make sure it is in your target range.
Avoid exercising outside during the hottest times of the day. If possible, exercise in an air-conditioned space or in a pool to avoid heat exhaustion.
Avoid walking around barefoot, even at the pool or beach, to avoid infection. Trim toenails straight across and check your feet at the end of each day for cuts, blisters, ulcers or discoloration. Wash your feet with lukewarm water every day, dry them completely and apply lotion to the top and bottom of your feet — but not in between your toes, as this can cause infection.
Wear sunscreen every time you are in the sun, and wear a hat and sunglasses for extra protection. Sunburns can increase your blood sugar levels.
Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing, especially when out in the sun.
Never store insulin or other medications, supplies, test strips or equipment in a hot car or anywhere else in direct heat.
When it comes time for your family road trip, keep insulin and diabetes medications in a cooler. Be sure not to put them directly on an ice or gel pack.
Keep an emergency kit handy and expect the unexpected. Your kit should include a copy of your recent labs, list of current medications and doses, a copy of your health insurance card and contact information for your doctor. It should also contain at least a week’s supply of your medications, insulin pump, cold packs, sharps container to safely carry needles and syringes, and juice or hard candy in case of low blood sugar.
Explain to your loved ones that the warm weather may impact your diabetes management routine. Ask them for support to devise a plan for sunny days and to help you as you take these steps to stay safe while still enjoying all summer has to offer.
Want to learn more about managing your diabetes during the summer? Read “Summer Portion Control: From Beach to Barbecue,” “Summer Day Trips With Diabetes,” “Summertime: Hazardous for People With Diabetes?” and “Planning An Active Summer.”
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