Health Fitness

Diabetic Foods: Fact or Fiction?

Diabetic Foods: Do They Really Exist?

What is a diabetic food anyway?

  • Anything to control your blood sugar?
  • A product that can really improve your diabetes?
  • A food to keep your glucose levels from getting worse?
  • Or something to cure diabetes?
  • Or a food that helps you lose weight?

Or could the term “diabetic food” be interpreted in the opposite way: foods that cause diabetes?

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a “diabetic food”. Food is just food.

But there are foods that raise blood sugar levels faster than others, those with a high glycemic index. When these foods are eaten, the normal the pancreas would respond with a surge of insulin, keeping blood sugar levels below approximately 160 mg / dL. In the diabetic, the pancreas cannot or does not produce enough insulin quickly enough to adequately control glucose levels. Also, in type II diabetics, the body’s cells that use glucose for metabolic energy cannot absorb the extra glucose as quickly as it is produced.

Foods that often raise blood sugar faster than diabetics can metabolize include: sugar, alcohol, high fructose corn syrup, fructose (fruit sugar) (in some people), white bread, rice white, white potatoes, pasta and others. simple carbohydrates and starches.

Foods that raise blood sugar less quickly are whole grains, sweet potatoes (yes!), Brown rice, vegetables, dairy products, and protein.

Because everyone likes to eat, including diabetics, the food industry has created a whole line of products sweetened with artificial sweeteners and alcoholic sugars. Artificial sweeteners (Nutrasweet, Splenda, Truvia) are very low in calories and therefore do not raise blood glucose like natural sugars. They are commonly found in diet drinks and sometimes in frozen treats and ice cream. However, these sweeteners do not bake or cook like sugar and will not produce the same results as sucrose if substituted for sugar in a recipe. For baked goods, Splenda Sugar Blend comes closest to producing the same texture and flavor as regular sugar, because it contains half the sugar and half the Splenda.

Because artificial sweeteners don’t work well in all situations, foods sweetened with alcoholic sugars have been marketed. The sugars in alcohol have as many calories as regular sugar, but they don’t raise blood sugar levels as quickly. Alcoholic sugars are used to sweeten “no added sugar” products, including chocolates, other candies, ice cream, frozen treats, not to mention cake with no added sugar. Cracker Barrel and Marie Callender, for example, offer cake with no added sugar. However, a single slice has almost 500 calories, which is still too many for most diabetics to enjoy for dessert. The total number of calories in the daily diet is usually more important than the source of calories. If you eat more calories than your body uses per day, they will be stored as fat, which will only make diabetes worse.

Ideally, a diabetic should eat the same as everyone else: plants, especially leaves.

If we all ate only what we could grow, we would all lose weight. I have never met anyone who gains weight eating only lettuce, tomatoes, celery, carrots, apples, cucumbers, onions, peas, green beans, squash, bananas, melons, peaches, grapes, and plums. But adding salad dressings, sugar, butter, or frying these foods doubles or triples the calories and gets us in trouble.

For type II diabetics, the general answer is, number one, eat less overall. Reduce your daily calories, lose weight, and you will surely control your blood glucose better. Beyond that, limit simple sugars and carbohydrates (“white” foods: sugar, flour, bread, pasta, rice, cereals, potatoes), especially processed foods. And if possible, find some kind of enjoyable exercise to replace the pleasure you get from eating.

Copyright 2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

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