Whenever you eat or drink certain foods that have carbohydrates (carbs) – your body separates those carbs into glucose (a sort of sugar), which makes blood sugar levels rise. Your body utilizes that glucose for fuel to help get you through the course of the day. This is what is referred to as “blood glucose” or “blood sugar.” When it comes to overseeing diabetes, the carbs you eat perform a crucial role. Once your body separates those carbs into glucose, your pancreas discharges insulin that helps your cells with absorbing that glucose.
Balance Is Key!
Whenever a person’s blood glucose is especially high, it’s called hyperglycemia. There are a couple of reasons for these highs to occur, which include not having sufficient insulin in your body to process the extra glucose in the blood, or cells. Therefore, your body doesn’t effectively respond to the insulin that is delivered, leaving additional glucose in the blood.
A low blood glucose is known as hypoglycemia, and these “lows” can be brought about by not consuming an adequate number of carbs, or a disparity in medications. Basically, the carbs we ingest affect our glucose, so balance is key!
Three Main Types of Carbohydrates
There are three principle kinds of carbs in food—fiber, starches, and sugar. You’ll notice that the food you purchase provides a list of nutrition labels, and the term “total carbohydrates” references these three types. The objective is to pick carbs that are nutrient packed, which is indicative that they have ample fiber, nutrients and minerals, as well as, low in added sugars, sodium and harmful fats.
When picking food that include carbs adhere to the following guidelines:
- Eat mostly natural vegetables without any starches such as asparagus, broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and green beans. These veggies have a ton of fiber and very few carbs, which allows your glucose to stay within normal levels. For example, carrots are high in vitamin A, which helps with immunity and healthy eyes. Also, tomatoes contain vital nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium. Keep in mind, these non-starchy vegetables make up a substantial portion of your plate as per the Plate Method.
“The plate method is a simple, visual way to make sure you get enough nonstarchy vegetables and lean protein while limiting the amount of higher-carb foods you eat that have the highest impact on your blood sugar.” – CDC
- Eat a small amount of processed carbohydrate foods. These are your starchy carbs that include organic products like apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, melon, and strawberries. Also, whole grains like brown rice, wheat bread, grain pasta and oatmeal. In addition, starchy vegetables like corn, green peas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and plantains; and beans and lentils like dark beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and green lentils. Assuming you’re using the Plate Method, these foods should make up about a fourth of your plate.
- Try to eat in moderation refined, highly processed carbohydrate foods, and especially those with added sugar. These include sugary beverages like juice, soda pop, and sweet tea, refined grains like white bread, white rice and sweet cereal, and desserts or sweets such as cake, candy, chips, cookies and ice cream.
Glucose or blood sugar, is the main sugar found in your blood. It comes from the food you eat, and is your body’s main source of energy. Your blood carries glucose to all of your body’s cells to use for energy. Carbohydrates are a primary source of glucose, which can impact your blood sugar levels, so it’s important to understand how to pick the right carbs because balance is key!
Did this article help to better explain how carbohydrates effect your blood sugar, and the importance of learning how to pick the right carbs?
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