What you need to know about carbohydrates and diabetes

carbohydrates food
Photo: silviarita, Pixabay

If you have diabetes, then ensuring that your level of blood sugar remains at a stable level involves being careful about what you eat as well as taking any supplementary medications such as insulin. A doctor may have also explained to you that you need to keep a close eye on the amount of carbohydrates you consume – so what are they and how do they play a role in your blood sugar?

Carbohydrates are of the nutrients we absorb from food when eating. There are two primary forms:

Sugars – lactose, fructose and glucose

Starches – potatoes, rice, corn, grains, breads

The majority of carbs end up being converted your liver into glucose. With the help of the hormone insulin, the glucose is able to travel the bloodstream to where it can be used by cells for energy.

If you have diabetes then it means you have problems with your insulin levels that in turn causes your level of blood sugar to rise. Type 1 diabetes means that the pancreas is unable to produce the hormone insulin while type 2 means that their body can’t respond properly to the insulin generated.

Including carbohydrates in a healthy diet

Carbs may typically seem bad for someone with diabetes as they increase blood sugar levels. However, they should not be totally avoided as they still have many health benefits and are important in maintaining a balanced diet.

Of course, some sources of carbohydrates are healthier than others. Whole-grains are obviously much better than soft drinks or chocolate as a source because they provide other nutrients your body needs.

Fiber is always important simply because it makes your stomach feel ‘full’ as well as keeps your digestive system functioning. High levels of fiber can slow down the absorption of sugar, which can take some pressure off for people with diabetes.

High sugar items like soft drinks and sweets will most often not have any fiber content and simply be calories with a low nutritional value. Eating too many of these ‘empty calories’ will ruin your appetite for healthier foods as well as increase your risk for obesity and oral health issues like tooth decay.

There are several great mental health benefits to switching to a low-carb diet.

Finding a way to balance your carbohydrates

carbohydrates
Photo: Double Brain, BS

Your blood sugar goes up after you consume carbs. In terms of diabetes control, you need to find the balance between your insulin levels and how much you eat.

Tracking and planning your meals can help you to limit your intake. Your doctor and/or diabetes support group can help you come up with a dietary plan to help you in this regard.

The plan will take into consideration important factors like your age, level of exercise and desired weight level. It will also include any medications you take as well as what kind of food you enjoy eating.

With all of today’s highly detailed nutritional information on most food packaging, it’s easy to find out how many carbohydrates are in an item before you buy it. Be extra careful with foods that are marketed as being for dieting but actually contain a lot of extra sugar.

It’s very possible to enjoy a varied and delicious diet while balancing your levels of insulin, physical exercise and carb intake. Hopefully the above information will help you to find a better balance in your nutrition that allows you to live your life to the full.

What do you think about it?