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Understanding why carbohydrates are so important in type 2 diabetes

by , 07 August 2017
Understanding why carbohydrates are so important in type 2 diabetes
Carbohydrates are so important in type 2 diabetes. The right kind of carbohydrates - and spacing them out evenly throughout the day - can prevent your blood sugar levels from elevating too high, too fast.

Furthermore, about 90% of the carbohydrate calories you digest end up as glucose, so they have a much larger impact on your blood sugar levels than protein or fat. Keep reading for more on why carbohydrates are so important if you have type 2 diabetes...

The goal is to consume enough carbohydrates to nourish yourself, but not cause blood sugar spikes

When it comes to consuming carbohydrates, your goal should me to consume enough to nourish yourself, but never so much that it causes blood sugar spikes, according to Linda Sartor, a diabetes nutrition specialist at the Penn Rodebaugh Diabetes Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in the United States.
 
Right up until the mid-1990s, scientists were adamant that people with type 2 diabetes should never eat foods that contain “simple” sugars, such as those found in sweets and cakes, and instead eat “complex” carbohydrates, or those with longer chains of sugar molecules, such as fruits, vegetables, grains and potatoes.
 
Nowadays, scientists know that all types of carbohydrates can cause blood sugar spikes. For example, white pasta, pastries and potatoes can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. On the flip side, beneficial ingredients in food, such as fibre, cause your blood sugar to rise more gradually.

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The best carbohydrates to eat in type 2 diabetes are those packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre

So which carbohydrates should people with type 2 diabetes be consuming to keep their blood sugar levels healthy? It’s simple: Carbohydrates that contain good stuff, such as vitamins, minerals and fibre. The carbohydrates to avoid include those that have little nutritional value, are packed with calories or fat, or boost blood sugar levels too much.
 
The best way to develop a meal plan to get a healthy balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat and an appropriate amount of calories is to consult a dietician or diabetes educator. They’ll teach you how to manage your carbohydrate intake either through the exchange diet, plate method, modified food guide or carbohydrate counting to keep type 2 diabetes under control.

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