What You Should Know about Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for people and provide them with all the nutrients necessary for good health and a balanced nutritional diet. All the carbs that you consume are broken down into glucose. That’s why the amounts and types of carbohydrates that you eat can make a huge difference in managing diabetes and your blood glucose levels.

Carbohydrate Types

  • Sugars that can be naturally occurring (some dairy foods, like lactose, and sugars found in fruits, such as fructose) and added sugars or sugar substitutes found in chocolate, sweets, desserts, and sugary drinks;
  • Starchy food products, including pasta, bread, breakfast cereals, yams, potatoes, and others.

Fiber is another carbohydrate type, and it has 2 types:

  • Soluble, such as apples, bananas, potatoes, carrots, barley, and oats (it helps you keep your cholesterol and blood glucose levels under control);
  • Insoluble found in brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and wholegrain cereals (it helps you keep your digestive system healthier).

Ensure that you consume both fiber types on a regular basis to get enough healthy carbohydrates for diabetics. Their good sources include vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, wholegrain bread, pulses, and oats.

How Much to Consume?
All people need carbohydrates on a daily basis. The amount that you should consume depends on such important factors as your:

  • Activity levels;
  • Age;
  • Goals you want to achieve, such as improving blood glucose levels, losing weight, or boosting your sports performance.

The number of carbohydrates will have a huge impact on blood glucose levels, and that’s why regular and correct carbohydrate counting is important for all diabetics.

Carb Counting and Insulin
If you have diabetes and need to take insulin, take that into account when consuming any carbohydrates. Learn more about the food products that contain them, how to calculate and determine carb portions, and how to monitor their impact on your blood glucose levels regularly.

There are different ways to include healthy carbs in your daily diet if you have diabetes:

  • Eat whole fruits instead of juices to get more fiber;
  • Select wholegrain cereals and bread;
  • Choose couscous and quinoa over pasta.

How Carbohydrates Affect People with Type 1 Diabetes
As you already know, all carbs are broken down into glucose. If people don’t have diabetes, their bodies produce insulin automatically to handle glucose that enters the bloodstream from any carb-containing products that they consume.

If you have Type 1 diabetes, the same principle is applied. However, you need to take insulin because your body can’t produce it naturally. It’s needed to lower your blood glucose levels after consuming any carb-containing meals. Most patients with this condition follow either basal bolus or twice-daily insulin regimes.

Twice-Daily Insulin
When taking a fixed amount of insulin two times a day, it can be beneficial to consume a consistent amount of carbs on a daily basis. This means that you need to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same time every day. That’s because consuming more carbohydrates than usually can raise your blood glucose levels too high while eating them less can lead to a hypo or very low levels.

Basal Bolus Insulin
If you need to stick to a special basal-bolus insulin regime, feel free to be more flexible in how much insulin you use and when you do that. Most patients following this schedule count the carbohydrates they drink and eat to calculate how much insulin they need to use. Its amount changes based on how much carbs are consumed.

How Carb Counting Can Help You
It’s beneficial if you have diabetes because this method can help you control blood glucose levels to:

  • Stay healthy longer;
  • Feel better and more energetic;
  • Delay or prevent different diabetes issues, including blindness, kidney diseases, blood vessel conditions, and nerve damage that may result in amputations, strokes, and heart attacks.

Checking blood glucose levels regularly can tell you if this method is effective. If they are too high, it’s necessary to make healthy changes in your eating habits and other important lifestyle changes.

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