World Diabetes Day is earmarked for November 14 ever year, to honour the birthday of renowned Canadian scientist and Nobel laureate, Sir Frederick Banting. He, along with two other prominent researchers, American-Canadian Charles Best and Scottish biochemist John James Rickard Macleod, are credited with the discovery of insulin in 1922. This global health campaign was inaugurated in the year 1991, by the collaborated efforts of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), to address the alarming number of diabetes cases around the world. The chief objective of this wellness crusade is to inculcate knowledge about diabetes amongst the general public, as well as facts regarding the prevention and treatment of this non-communicable yet chronic ailment.
Currently in its 30th year of spreading awareness about the dangers of high blood sugar levels, the theme of World Diabetes Day 2020 is “The Nurse And Diabetes”, focusing on the central role of nurses in providing proper care to patients affected by diabetes. It also stresses upon increasing education and training provided to nurses across the globe in being ideal caregivers for chronic diabetics, as the number of people with diabetes is rising at a rapid pace every year. While healthcare providers, nurses administer pertinent treatment in the form of prescription medications and insulin injections to patients, they also emphasize the importance of adhering to a moderately restricted, healthy, wholesome diet, in preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar.
Since diabetes arises in individuals owing to defects in the function of the pancreas, failure of insulin to metabolize glucose, eventually leading to high blood sugar levels, the key to managing the condition lies in eating a proper, wholesome diet. While the popular notion is that a low-carb diet is recommended to cure diabetes symptoms, since the sugars cannot be processed in the body, not all forms of carbohydrates are bad, be it for weight loss purposes or diabetic diets. What this actually implies is decreasing sugar, starch forms of carb levels in food, while taking in more fiber-rich dietary sources – fibers also being a type of carbohydrate. The important factor is to monitor the types of carbohydrates, along with the amount being consumed, as part of the daily diet. It is hence crucial to understand what are the different kinds of carbohydrates in food – sugars, fibers, starches, how healthy they are, as well as how much of each to ingest for overall wellbeing and keeping diabetes in check. Read on, to know more about foods rich in sugars, fibers, starches, as well as foods to avoid, for effectively lowering blood sugar levels and alleviating all discomforting indications of diabetes.
The Different Types Of Carbohydrates In Food:
Carbohydrates are defined as organic chemical molecules that carry single, double or multiple sugar i.e. saccharide components. Three distinct types of carbohydrates exist in the food we eat, namely sugars, starches, fibers.
Sugars are simple carbohydrates with merely one or two saccharide molecules and generally have a very sweet taste. Upon consuming sugars, blood glucose levels rise promptly, which in turn stimulates insulin production and release from pancreas, to convert glucose to energy.
Since in diabetes, the insulin mechanism and pancreas function is hampered, people with the condition must avoid consuming high amounts of simple sugars as part of daily diet. These include foods like white sugar, packaged juices, processed foods of pastries and desserts like cakes, pudding and pre-packaged sweetened yoghurt, milk, breakfast cereals.
Starches are complex carbohydrates that are made up of several saccharide units, with a characteristic paste-like flavour. Just like sugars, starches are also broken down in the body by insulin and pancreatic action, into energy for cells and tissues and hence result in a rise in blood sugar.
As diabetics have a compromised insulin synthesis and pancreatic operations, they must keep in mind to limit the daily consumption of starchy foods like potatoes, winter squash, sweet potato, besides packaged, highly sweetened pasta, bread.
Fibers are also a type of complex carbohydrates that are composed of numerous saccharide molecules in each unit. However, as far as diabetes is concerned, while sugars and starches are considered the “bad carbohydrates” fibers, on the other hand, are the “good carbohydrates”. This is because fibers, unlike sugars and starches, do not undergo processing by insulin in the body to release energy. They remain undigested, pass through the stomach and intestine, promoting digestion and aiding in smooth bowel movements.
Although a low-carb diet is advised to diabetics, they are still told to consume ample fibers, since they do not raise blood glucose levels in the body. Fiber-rich foods include most vegetables, fruits, but opt for fruits with a low glycemic index. Also, nuts, seeds, legumes, peas, beans, whole grains like oats, barley are all ideal fiber-rich foods for a diabetic diet.