Identify The Interface Between Carbohydrates And Diabetes

Learning about the interaction between carbohydrates and diabetes helps a diabetic control blood glucose levels and avoid potentially serious complications resulting from uncontrolled diabetes. Simple carbohydrates are monosaccharides found in certain foods containing fructose, glucose and galactose, while disaccharide carbohydrates are obtained through consumption of lactose, maltose and sucrose-containing foods.

Carbohydrates and DiabetesComplex carbohydrates, or polysaccharides, represent starches, fiber and glycogen. Since all carbohydrates must be converted or hydrolyzed into a monosaccharide type of carbohydrate before the body can utilize them for energy, complex carbohydrates do not cause a diabetic’s blood glucose level to rise as fast as simple carbohydrates do. This is why eating a candy bar will elevate glucose levels faster than eating a complex carb such as a potato.

A pancreatic enzyme called amylase breaks down all carbohydrates into glucose as these substances travel through and are absorbed by the small intestines. Immediately after the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose, the blood soaks up this substance and sends any extra glucose to the liver. Excess glucose is kept in the liver where it is converted to glycogen, galactose and fructose.

Diabetics keep an elevated level of glucose in the blood because cells cannot absorb enough insulin to facilitate utilization of this glucose. As a result, the liver becomes stressed due to attempting to keep up with this overload of glucose, neglecting its other duties, which cause complications in other physiological systems. Carbohydrates and diabetes management is therefore a vital component in a diabetic’s overall maintenance program of diet, exercise and medication.

Foods Containing Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrate foods are a good source of quick energy as well as providing beneficial nutrients for diabetics. These foods include:

  • All fruits and fruit juice
  • Pasta made with enriched white flour
  • Honey
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Vegetables

Starchy foods that should be included in carbohydrates and diabetes diet are complex carbohydrates that contain necessary fiber. These include:

  • Whole grains
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Kidney beans
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Chick peas

When a Type 1 diabetic consumes low amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods, they need less insulin. Correspondingly, the less carbohydrate-rich food a Type 2 diabetic eats, the less stress the pancreas experiences. Diabetic patients who are insulin dependent will only need 1/2 to 1/3 the amount of normal insulin requirements when regulating the amount of carbs they eat.Blood sugar levels also remain moderated even when insulin injections or oral glucose-control medication consumption is decreased.

Added benefits of a low-carb diet also include:

  • Help in preventing obesity.
  • Reduced levels of LDL cholesterol and promotion of HDL cholesterol.
  • Reduced risk of losing the ability to produce insulin, in those suffering from Type 2 diabetes.
  • Optimized control of blood sugar levels, including levels found after eating.

Fiber, Carbohydrates and Diabetes

Carbohydrates and DiabetesIn addition to enhancing digestive processes and binding to cholesterol to help lower lipid levels, fiber effectively inhibits absorption of sugar, which improves regulation of blood sugar. Everyone, including diabetics, should try to consume around 25 to 30 fiber grams each day.

Fiber, considered a kind of carbohydrate, is not broken down the same way as carbohydrates, and thus does not affect glucose levels. However, many foods providing fiber, such as fruits, whole grains and vegetables, also have significant amounts of starches and sugars. This means the diabetic diet must take foods containing fiber into account.

Soluble fiber is the best kind of fiber for a diabetic to eat because it can reduce cholesterol and moderate blood glucose. Foods containing soluble fiber include oatmeal, brown rice, peas and potatoes.

Popular diets involving carbohydrates and diabetes menu plans are the Atkins Diet for Type 2 Diabetics and the South Beach Diet and Diabetes Program. The programs are similar, in that they promote weight loss by restricting saturated fats and promoting healthy carbohydrates for glucose control and overall enhancement of health.

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