Diabetes is a medical condition that occurs when the body cannot properly deal with blood glucose levels, and it can cause many serious health complications. People with type 1 diabetes are born without insulin, which normally regulates blood sugar spikes, or a person may develop type 2 diabetes later in life as the pancreas becomes resistant to insulin. Though type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented or cured, both types of diabetes can be managed with a healthy diet that minimizes blood sugar spikes by regulating carbohydrate intake.
How Do Carbohydrates Affect Blood Sugar Levels?
Carbohydrates are found in sugary and starchy foods, and they are linked to diabetes because of their effect on blood sugar levels. When a person eats carbohydrates, the body breaks them down into a form of sugar called glucose. A healthy person’s body produces insulin when blood sugar rises, and the insulin hormone helps the body to use glucose as a form of energy. For people with diabetes, this natural blood sugar regulating process is broken. Instead of being used in the cells, the glucose remains in the bloodstream, and consistently high blood sugar levels can damage kidneys, nerves, the heart, the eyes, and blood vessels.
Should You Still Eat Carbohydrates?
Many diabetics who hear that carbohydrates raise blood sugar immediately began considering a diet without any carbohydrates. However, a diet that consists of nothing but pure protein and fat is extremely hard to maintain, and it can cause other health issues. Carbohydrates are still an important form of nourishment and energy, and plenty of healthy foods still contain small amounts of carbohydrates. Depending on your individual needs, a number of carbohydrates you should eat can vary greatly.
For the average person just starting on a low carbohydrate diet, experts recommend eating roughly 45 to 60 carbohydrates at each meal, for a daily total of 135 to 180 grams of carbohydrates. However, very active, mild diabetics may benefit from up to 225 grams of carbohydrates each day while people with severe diabetes may need to limit themselves to about 30 grams of carbohydrates each day. Spread your daily amount of calories throughout several meals, instead of eating all of them at once.