The Importance of Managing Diabetes After a COVID-19 Diagnosis

Diabetes and COVID-19 (Coronavirus) | Abbott Nutrition

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How Glycemic Control and Nutrition Support Your Health During Illness

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AUG. 04, 2020   3 MIN. READ

COVID-19 is uncharted territory for all of us. Even frontline healthcare workers are learning about the disease day by day as they care for others. Although much remains unknown about the novel coronavirus, we do know that it poses a higher risk of complications for those who have diabetes or another underlying health condition.

Targeted nutrition may be able to help. Diabetes management and nutritional therapy can help you achieve good glycemic control, a key component to better overall health and improved outcomes after a COVID-19 diagnosis. But first, it's important to understand how the two conditions intersect. 

How Does COVID-19 Impact People With Diabetes?

We know that hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is associated with reduced immunity and poorer COVID-19 outcomes. For people with diabetes who are also in hospital, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a target glucose range of 140–180 mg/dL for most patients. For those not in hospital, the ADA recommends a target A1c of 7%.

Research into the relationship between diabetes and COVID-19 is ongoing, but data strongly suggests that glucose control is important following COVID-19 infection.

  • CDC information suggests that about 28% of people in the US who are hospitalized with COVID-19 also have diabetes.

  • The presence of hyperglycemia at admission in COVID-19 patients, not just those with diabetes, may be an indicator or worse outcomes.

  • Practical recommendations for glucose control in COVID-19 suggest an A1c target of 7% or less.

  • Poorly controlled diabetes (A1c > 7%) was associated with a greater risk of death from COVID-19.

As we continue to learn more about transmission and prevention of COVID-19, managing blood sugar is key to better health outcomes, particularly for people with diabetes. Targeted nutrition is one way to help support those efforts.

Why Is Nutrition Vital in Diabetes Management and COVID-19 Recovery?

Regular diabetes management, as recommended by the ADA, includes medical nutritional therapy, which can help you achieve good glycemic control and includes personally optimizing carbohydrate intake and improving diet quality.

Balanced nutrition will help manage blood sugar levels and keep blood sugar within normal ranges as well as provide the daily required nutrients, especially when you're ill.

Eating smaller, regular meals and focusing on a balance of macro and micronutrients can help you manage your glucose both during times of illness and every single day. If you need additional nutritional support, consider adding a diabetes-specific formula (DSF) to your eating plan.

Diabetes specific formulas, like Glucerna can help you manage your blood sugar. They also provide several key nutrients and health benefits, including:

  • "Slow-release carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, which can help minimize the effect on blood sugar levels."

  • "Monounsaturated fatty acids, which are associated with several health benefits."

  • "Prebiotics and dietary fiber, which promote gastrointestinal health."

  • "High-quality protein and other nutrients for immune system support, including antioxidants (selenium and vitamins C and E), vitamin D, vitamin A and zinc."

The Look AHEAD study, has shown that meal replacements, including diabetes-specific formula, have improved outcomes versus standard lifestyle interventions.  The enhanced weight loss1 was associated with improved glycemic outcomes2, blood pressure3 and reduced healthcare costs over 10 years4.

Although there are still many unknowns surrounding COVID-19, one thing is certain: For people with diabetes, good nutrition is a key component of managing blood sugar following any diagnosis. Keeping your glucose in check is important for people with diabetes every day; incorporating DSFs to fill any nutrition gaps, or replace poor meal or snack choices, may help improve your overall health.

1 Look AHEAD Research Group, et al. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(6):1374–1383
2 Look AHEAD Research Group, et al. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(17):1566–1575
3 Wing RR, et al. Diabetes Care 2016;39(8):1345-55
4 Diabetes Care. 2014 Sep; 37(9): 2548–2556. doi: 10.2337/dc14-0093

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The recommended brand for people with diabetes