To understand how different types of food affect your blood glucose levels, we need knowledge about different categories of foods based on their functions and nutrition.
There seems to be a major shift towards low carb or no carb diet as a tool towards weight loss or weight management. Low/No carb diets like Ketogenic diet are being touted as healthy with proteins replacing carbohydrates. Undoubtedly, proteins are essential for proper functioning but a healthy diet never shuns carbohydrates – only limits or advocates portion control. In other words, nutrition should always be a balanced one and no food type should be excessively in high or low quantities. Having said that, it is not only the quantity that matters but the quality too; because each carb source affects blood glucose differently and it is wrong to categorize all sources on the same level. A simple rule to be followed in choosing the right carbohydrate is – avoid simple carbs. Carbohydrates are one category where the reverse is better – complex is better than simple and crude is better than refined.
Simple carbs like sugar, refined flour, potatoes etc, spike up the blood glucose levels and then bring them crashing down later whereas whole grains raise the blood glucose slowly and the drop is also gradual and slow. Whole grains and other complex carbohydrates also keep the stomach full and satisfied for a longer time, thereby reducing the need to eat more. This is especially mandatory for diabetics in preventing weight gain which aggravates the condition.
Similar to carbohydrates, different protein sources have different effects on blood glucose levels. Most meat products are comprised of only proteins so they will not raise blood glucose levels. But dairy products and other sources like pulses and legumes are a combination of proteins and carbohydrates. Hence, while consuming dairy and plant-based proteins, carbohydrate quantity should be reduced accordingly.
Fiber is essential for proper functioning of the digestive system and for better absorption of nutrients. For diabetics, in particular, fiber slows down the glucose absorption as well the carbohydrate digestion. Fiber is present only in plant-based foods, but there is no necessity to look for sources of food containing fiber. Choosing whole grains and foods with outer husk over other refined or polished grains is sufficient to get enough fiber in the diet.
The very name sends shivers down the spine not just for diabetics, but even for laymen. But as in any other food group, it is an essential part of a balanced diet and cannot be skipped at any cost. The reason behind its mandatory presence in an everyday diet is that fats delay carbohydrate digestion in a meal and also delays stomach emptying, which means the person feels full longer which is essential for healthy functioning of the system.
Every individual has different body and likewise, they have different carbohydrate requirements and calorific intake. A dietitian specializing in diabetes would be the best judge to formulate a diet that is both practical as well as beneficial. A diabetic diet being healthy requires only a slight tweaking of ingredients and hence can be adopted by the entire family without much compromise on taste.