The Fact Maker

Pandemic and Diabetes: What You Need to Know

-By Dr. Irfan Shaikh, Head Adult Nutrition, Scientific & Medical Affairs, Abbott’s Nutrition business

Blood sugar control and good nutrition are essential factors for supporting people with diabetes

The coronavirus pandemic is unchartered territory and healthcare providers are learning more about the disease as they are simultaneously taking care of patients. What we do know is that those with underlying health conditions are more at risk for complications with COVID-19, and there may be some unique considerations for people with diabetes, specifically.

For example, diabetes and hyperglycemia, a condition in which blood sugar is high, are linked to less favorable outcomes in people who have tested positive for the virus. Helping people achieve good blood sugar control can help improve outcomes, and appropriate nutrition therapy can serve a key role in helping people with diabetes manage their condition, enhance glucose control and improve health outcomes.

Prevalence and Impact of Diabetes and the pandemic

India has the second-largest share of individuals living with diabetes in the world with one in 11 Indian adults managing the condition.1 Globally, people with diabetes have a 50% higher decease risk than those without.2

People with diabetes can be more vulnerable to viral infections because of their impaired immune response, and some viruses may thrive in an environment of elevated blood glucose.

Nutrition’s Vital Role in Diabetes Management

Nutrition is a vital component to helping people manage their diabetes, achieve good blood sugar control, and improve health outcomes. Physicians caring for individuals with type 2 diabetes, including those infected with the virus, strive to keep blood sugar levels within normal ranges. For those who need nutritional support, diabetes-specific formulas (DSF), which are specifically designed for people with diabetes, can help blood sugar control. Diabetes-specific formulas provide key nutrients and health benefits such as:

  • slow-digested carbohydrates with a low glycemic index that can help minimize the effect on blood sugar levels
  • monounsaturated fatty acids that can replace saturated fats and support lipid levels such as cholesterol
  • prebiotics and dietary fiber that promote bowel health and improve cholesterol levels
  • High-quality protein and other nutrients for immune system support, including antioxidants (vitamins C, E, selenium), vitamin D, vitamin A and Zinc

Studies have shown that diabetes-specific formulas can result in improved health outcomes in people with diabetes. Consuming diabetes specific oral nutrition supplements, like Ensure Diabetes Care, can help manage blood glucose levels and support weight management in adults given its slow-release carbohydrate system.

 Although there are still many unknowns with virus, what we currently know is that there are some unique considerations for people with diabetes that can put them at more risk for serious complications. Good nutrition is especially important for people living with diabetes, to help them manage their condition and improve their overall health outcomes.