Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Carbohydrates – friend or foe of people with diabetes (or a little of both)? This video is the first of a series that will answer that question for you.
Carbohydrate……what reaction do you have when you hear that word……fear, anger, rebellion, sadness, longing….or maybe you’re not sure why you should have any reaction at all. Well, diabetes and carbohydrates are tightly linked,…in fact, we’re all closely linked to carbohydrates in ways you may not even imagine. Stay tuned.
Diabetes and Carbohydrates
Knowing about carbohydrates is essential for diabetes management. Over the next several weeks, I’m going to tell you about carbohydrates in a series of videos…..one each for the six food categories of carbohydrate foods we must be concerned within diabetes management, one about a really important category that’s not such a concern, and this one about carbohydrates in general terms.
Here we go….this is the foundation on which you can build a long and healthy life with diabetes. This information is “must know.”
Carbohydrates in food are sugars, starches, and fiber, and we can all be eternally grateful that plants manufacture carbohydrates. All the plants you’re surrounded by taking carbon dioxide out of the air, add some water from rain and some energy from sunlight, and in a process called photosynthesis to manufacture carbohydrates. Some we eat, some we use to build our houses and furniture or make baskets and paper and clothing. And to top it all off, the chemical reaction to make carbohydrates has an important leftover waste product……the oxygen we need to survive. We are lucky this world has carbohydrates.
The key carbohydrate to diabetes is the specific sugar glucose. Glucose is a “simple” sugar and is a building block for other sugars, starches, and fiber. Glucose is important because it is our bodies’ favorite fuel. So when we eat and digest foods that include sugars and starches especially, the glucose is separated indigestion and absorbed straight into our bloodstream to keep a supply available to every cell in our body. Got that? Glucose comes from carbohydrates- NOT just sugar! And this is where those of us with diabetes might begin thinking that carbohydrates aren’t so wonderful after all.
Be Sure To Check Out – Diabetes Management Quick Tip- Knowing Carbohydrates
You see, there’s a “just right” amount of glucose in the blood, and our bodies have a way to regulate this just like our bodies regulate our “just right” temperature….we like consistency. With body temperature, we like about 98.6 degrees, and with blood “sugar,” we like about 80 to 90 milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood. Keeping body functions like temperature and blood glucose smooth and level is called homeostasis. Diabetes is losing the ability to efficiently lower the amount of glucose circulating in our blood in a timely fashion after we eat carbohydrates …..there’s a glitch with type 2 diabetes and basically a total breakdown with type 1 diabetes in the system that uses insulin to bring high blood sugar levels down.
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In both cases, however, we have strategies and tools to help our bodies manage blood glucose levels in a healthy range. The alligator that lives in a pond down the street has to change his behavior every day to manage his body temperature….so much time in the sun, then back into the water. We have to be a little like the alligator….play an active role in something that used to be automatic. It takes a little knowledge and some commitment to play an active role in blood sugar management, but the benefits to our health are worth it.
Learning about carbohydrates is an essential step toward diabetes health. You’ll see as we go through the groups of carbohydrate foods that they are nutrient powerhouses….too nutritious to just eliminate from our diet. You’ll also learn that knowing portion sizes is key to managing the effect carb foods have on our blood sugar levels. Key point – we’ll talk about and compare carbohydrate food portion sizes which contain 15 grams of carbohydrate. A whole medium-sized apple, one-half a banana, or one 2 tablespoons raisins are examples of a fruit portion with 15 grams carbohydrate.
Ultimately, we can develop a respectful relationship with carbohydrate foods to manage diabetes and our overall health effectively. Don’t forget that managing diabetes is protecting our overall health and vitality! We’ll start next time with that group that can be our very best friend – nonstarchy vegetables.
See you soon.
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