If you or your loved one has diabetes, you know that it impacts many aspects of the body, including the kidneys, heart, eyes, and even fingers and toes. When it comes to care protocols, exercise is one of the common recommendations because it can help reduce the adverse metabolic effects of diabetes. For some, sports are their chosen form of exercise, but can a person with diabetes be a competitive athlete?
Sports & Diabetes
The short answer: yes. But there are steps they’ll need to take to enjoy competition safely. Diabetes affects blood glucose, or sugar, which is used during exercise in different severities. The body needs extra glucose during exercise, and this thirst for sugar can cause blood sugar levels to drop. While this can be good for some people, it can cause problems if blood sugar levels drop too low, also known as hypoglycemia.
The concern around sports comes with the explosive nature of most athletic competitions. While most exercise recommended for diabetes is based on prolonged, moderate, consistent-intensity activity, most sports are based on short bursts of high-intensity activity. This can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Additionally, if a person with diabetes has significant hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), they shouldn’t exercise at all because it can exacerbate the issue.
Athletes also run a risk of delayed hypoglycemia. One of the benefits of exercise is that it has lasting benefits, even after the activity is over. That means that the muscles are still using up sugar even after the game, match, or practice is over, which can cause the delayed drop in blood glucose levels.
The Importance of Nutrition
For athletes, nutrition is an integral part of their training regimen. This is especially true for athletes with diabetes. One of the most common recommendations for diabetes care is to eat a healthy diet, but athletes may need to adjust their meal plans to accommodate the expenditure of energy. Snacking before, during, and/or after exercise may be necessary.
However, maintaining the proper diet for diabetes is imperative. Strategies like carb-loading before running or cutting back on food or water to drop weight for wrestling can be extremely dangerous for people with diabetes. Additionally, when they eat matters almost as much as what they eat.
Nutrition and Performance
For maximum performance, we must feed our bodies what they need to sustain these high levels of activity. High-performing athletes with diabetes have found success when using individualized patters of eating and insulization based on their needs. Other athletes eat a specific diet high in proteins, carbs, etc. to help fuel their endeavors.
Like the rest of our bodies, our eyes need to be nourished properly to perform at their best. Two antioxidants that are critical to eye health are zeaxanthin (zee-uh-zan-thin) and lutein (loo-teen). These two nutrients make up the protective layer in the back of the eye called macular pigment. This pigment is responsible for protecting our sensitive retinal cells from harmful light. The healthier, or denser, this pigment is, the better our protection. Low macular pigment is also a risk factor for eye health problems related to diabetes.
Dense macular pigment has been linked with improved visual performance functions like:
- Contrast sensitivity – the ability to distinguish two objects of similar colors (i.e. seeing a baseball against a light blue sky)
- Color vision – the ability to see colors vividly in all shades
- Visual acuity – the ability to see clearly and sharply; usually tested with an eye chart
- Photostress recovery – the ability to “see normally” after exposure to bright light like stadium lighting or sunlight.
For extra nutritional support, many athletes turn to supplements. Because the two most important nutrients for visual performance are quite scarce in the average diet, supplementation is often recommended to support eye health. EyePromise Vizual Edge Pro and Vizual Edge Chewable are two formulas crafted for athletes to help their eyes find peak performance.
Vizual Edge Pro™ is everything an athlete needs for visual performance in one daily convenience pack. With powerful ingredients like dietary zeaxanthin and lutein, Omega-3s, and Vitamin A, it helps improve visual performance, reduce dryness, and increase reaction time.
Vizual Edge™ Chewable is a performance eye vitamin in a simple, one-a-day, orange-flavored chewable tablet. This vitamin packs a punch in an easy-to-eat delivery method that meets anyone’s needs. Whether you eat it or blend it up in your protein drink, you’ll get 20 mg of zeaxanthin in every dose!
For athletes with diabetes, they need to be extra careful about what they put in their bodies and know the potential impact it can have on their blood sugar. For those with diabetes concerned about eye health and visual performance, EyePromise DVS is available. This clinically proven formula is packed with ingredients that can support vision and retinal health without impacting blood glucose levels. Additionally, these nutrients can help support and promote cardiovascular health.
For people with diabetes exercise and sports can become an important part of their healthcare routine, but they need to take extra precautions compared to those without diabetes. Be sure to talk with your healthcare professional to ensure your safe participation.