Every family these days has a loving someone who is a diabetic. Just as much as advancements in technologies and related progress has eased our way of living, so has it also paved the way to diseases unheard of or uncommon before – diabetes being one of them. Doctors have hence listed diabetes in the category of lifestyle diseases for the very same reason. A rise or fall in the blood sugar of a person comes with its discomforts and risks to the person suffering from it and care should be met out without any delay to avoid life-threatening circumstances. Various factors contribute to fluctuations in a person’s blood sugar level. In this article, we will discuss in detail how carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels in a diabetic and how the same can be effectively controlled and regulated.
What is Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates can be defined as biomolecules consisting of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen which acts as the main source of energy to the human body. In dietary terms, carbohydrates are referred to as macronutrients and are split into 3 categories namely sugars, starches, and fibers. A healthy balanced diet comprises of food rich in carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients which when consumed in the right proportions, deems the person healthy, active, and strong. Carbohydrate-rich food or whole carbs consists of fruits, vegetables, potatoes, whole grains, tapioca, legumes, etc and a normal person’s diet should comprise 60% of the same. Just as there are good carbs there are bad carbs found in processed food which when consumed in excess can prove harmful to the human body. Bad carbs, also known as refined carbs, include sugar-sweetened fruit juices, pastries, white bread, white rice, white pasta, and others. Just as excess intake of anything can cause more harm than good, consumption of carbs should also be controlled. Some experts have stated that an excessive intake of carbs can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which can bring about life-altering changes and related inconveniences in the lives of those suffering from it.
How Does Carbohydrates Affect Diabetics
It is a well-known fact that food rich in carbohydrates affects blood sugar in a person’s body on a higher scale as compared to any other nutrients. For the same reason, those with diabetes are always advised by doctors and loved ones to refrain from or reduce the intake of a carbohydrate-rich diet. Carbohydrate, when consumed, is broken down into sugar by the digestive system, which then enters the bloodstream. When this happens the hormone insulin produced by the pancreas aids cells to absorb the blood sugar, causing a fall of the same in the bloodstream. The absorbed blood sugar is used up as energy while some of it is stored. When blood sugar level falls the pancreas produces the hormone glucagon that in turn prompts the liver to release the stored blood sugar for metabolism. It is important for cells throughout the body, especially of the brain to get a steady supply of blood sugar. But the same doesn’t happen in the case with diabetics.
Carbohydrates are classified into 2 categories. Let us take a look at how each category affects blood sugar in the body:
- Simple Carbohydrates
This category consists of sugars having simple chemical structures and consists of monosaccharides and disaccharides, as in the case of glucose and fructose. The simple structure of these carbohydrates deems it easy for the body to utilize it as energy leading to an increased rate in the secretion of blood sugar and insulin which in turn has an adverse effect on a person’s health. Simple carbohydrates are found in dairy products, whole fruits, candies, soft drinks, etc and diabetics should hence generally avoid or control portion intake of the same.
- Complex carbohydrates
This category consists of sugars having complex chemical structures and consists of polysaccharides and oligosaccharides. Food rich in complex carbohydrates takes longer to digest and consists of vitamins, fiber, and minerals. This indicates that they don’t cause a surge in the blood sugar levels in the body as high as compared to those consisting of simple carbohydrates. Complex carbs are found in food like green vegetables, sweet potato, yam, taro, peas, etc. Some refined food like white bread, white pasta, and others also contain complex carbs however it is advised to practice portion control while consuming these.
Significance of Glycemic Index and how it is important to Diabetics
Glycemic index or GI refers to the ranking of the level of carbohydrates in food products and how it affects the blood sugar levels. Simply put, it just means how quickly the food we consume can cause our blood sugar levels to rise. This index is most significant in the case of diabetics. It ranks food on a scale of 0-100. Food with a higher ranking in the glycemic index, ranging between 70-100, is often quickly digested and absorbed and this, in turn, leads to a rise in the blood sugar levels in the body. These kinds of food items are rich in refined carbohydrates and sugars and are often deemed unhealthy. It can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease (1), obesity (2), and in some cases infertility, colorectal cancers, and others. On the other hand food with a lower ranking in the GI index, ranging 55 or less causes a slower rise in blood sugar levels as they are rich in fiber, fat, and protein. They take time to digest and they are hence deemed as a healthier option in terms of diabetics. A study on carbohydrate quality and chronic disease conducted in 2014 showed that food with a low GI index offered anti-inflammatory benefits. It also aids in weight-loss as well as has proved to control and regulate type 2 diabetes. Those already having a history of diabetes in the family should practice extra precaution in the kind of food they consume as they are more prone to become diabetics themselves. Unhealthy food consumption regularly, especially junk food and processed food rich in bad carbs, is best avoided or it can lead to various health issues and chronic diseases.
Precautionary Measures To Be Followed By Diabetics
Diabetes is a life-long illness and extra care and precaution should be taken to avoid further complications which can result owing to the same. Listed below are some of the simple steps that need to be taken to regulate diabetes for healthy living:
- Firstly, make a self-commitment to keep one’s diabetes regulated by changing one’s eating habits. Make healthy eating a part of one’s routine diet. Avoid intake of food rich in bad carbs and practice portion control when it comes to good carbs.
- Strictly follow instructions as advised by the doctor and take medications on time without fail. Monitor blood-sugar levels and note it down to convey the same to the doctor upon the next appointment. All-natural formulas like Blood Sugar Formula in the market also helps to keep one’s diabetic woes at bay especially since it reaps no side effects.
- Make daily workouts habitual and keep one’s weight under control at all times.
- Avoid smoking as this can lead to complications like heart diseases, kidney failure, nerve damage, reduced blood flow to legs, and feet which may end up being amputated and others.
- Maintain teeth hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing, and booking timely dental check-ups. Diabetes can lead to gum infections if not cared for properly.
- Reduce intake of alcohol as it can cause high or low blood sugar levels depending on the consumption levels. Those who take insulin shots should practice extra precaution as it can lead to low blood sugar and related complications.
- Give proper attention to one’s eyes and feet as both can have life-altering impacts in the case of diabetics if not cared for properly.
Eating good, nutrient-rich food is a person’s fundamental right. But just as much as food intake is a part and parcel of our existence, eating food that is healthy and in the right proportions is an obligation that we have towards our bodies. The less care and attention we throw on this subject, the more our body suffers and over time it can lead to life-altering and chronic illnesses like diabetes which deems life itself less pleasant to live through. Surely, prevention is always better than cure but when it comes to illnesses like diabetes it is best advised to reduce carb intake, adhere to the BMI index to keep a check on one’s weight, exercise daily, and lead a healthy, happy life along with our loved ones.