Nutrition and Diabetes – Understanding Carbohydrates

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In diabetes, carbohydrates are the major players. Controlling their intake is the first and foremost step in the management of nutrition and diabetes as such in terms of controlling blood sugar. Understanding what they are, how they work, and how they influence your health is very important if you want to take care of your diabetes. Here is more about carbohydrates in the Nutrition and Diabetes series.

Nutrition and Diabetes – Understanding Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates can be classified into categories based on their chemical structures. Carbohydrates are those nutrients that help the body in energy production and for diabetics this is the challenging part. Because, to be able to balance the carbohydrates in your diet is to be able to keep your blood sugar in control.

Simple Carbohydrates

  • These are the kind of carbohydrates that you should be worried about nutrition for diabetes. Simple carbohydrates are usually fast acting simple glucose and sugars. They are fast acting, as in they are absorbed into blood directly as there is no breaking down process involved as energy can be produced from them directly. But, without insulin or without responding to insulin the cells cannot use these carbohydrates resulting in increase in blood sugar.
  • Foods such as table sugar, corn, candies, sweets, cakes, food baked with all purpose flour, and some packaged foods that are highly processed contain simple carbohydrates.
  • Consuming these type of carbohydrates frequently will result in erratic control of blood sugar. Unless necessary to do so, it is best to avoid sugars and other food items that are fast acting.

Complex Carbohydrates

  • Complex carbohydrates are those that are formed by combining two or more simple carbohydrates and are difficult to digest. Before they can be absorbed into blood, they have to be broken down into their simple versions which takes some time, which is why they are slow acting carbohydrates. Starch and fiber come under complex carbohydrates.
  • Almost all fruits and vegetables and foods that are made of whole grains are a good source of complex carbohydrates. However, some foods that are made from processed grains, though are complex carbohydrates, are broken down faster than those made from whole grains.
  • These type of carbohydrates are best choice for long term control of blood sugar as they are absorbed slowly and you will have a constant, yet moderated, supply of glucose.

Proper nutrition and diabetes management requires a positive and strict adherence to your diet plan. It is much easier to control your blood sugar when you know what kind of carbohydrates you need to take and when.


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