Diabetes affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe and causes the deaths of millions of people each year. The most alarming thing about this disease is that no age group is safe from it. Even children can become victims of diabetes.
Pakistan has more than 7 million diabetic patients and the number is expected to double by 2040.
How Dangerous is Diabetes?
Diabetes, if uncontrolled, can lead to severe ailments such as heart diseases, kidney diseases, blindness, and much more. Doctors are very frequently updating their knowledge when it comes to controlling diabetes, as this disease can only be suppressed, not cured.
Pakistani doctors are working hard to control the disease in an efficient manner but nothing helps more than controlling your intake of certain food items that have been known to contribute to diabetes.
A lot of foods contribute in raising the blood sugar and insulin levels in the body, causing an increased chance of a disease. These 11 foods are to be strictly avoided if you need to keep your blood sugar level at safe levels.
Why Diabetes Patients Need to Monitor their Carb Intake?
Carbohydrates are an instant source of energy for the body. Good thing right? Well, in the case of diabetes, no.
Carbohydrates, when processed into energy by the body, are broken down into sugar and/or glucose, and then introduced to the bloodstream. This causes the blood sugar levels to rise up.
Although carbs include starches and fiber along with sugar, but fiber isn’t absorbed like sugar is absorbed by the body. So, subtracting the amount of fiber from the amount of carbs is the net carb content which will raise your blood sugar level. Intaking larger amount of carbs will raise you blood sugar level, and in diabetes, higher sugar levels mean danger.
Higher levels of blood sugar will gradually damage the body’s blood vessels, and nerves, which will lead to heart disease, kidney disease, and more. If the blood sugar levels can be controlled, the patient can stay healthy. Yes, it will be a bit of a tasteless life, but it will be a healthy one.
Here are 11 things diabetic patients need to look out for while eating:
Drinking sugar-sweetened and carbonated beverages would be akin to suicide for a diabetic person. These beverages have a very high net carb content even in very small servings. A 354-ml serving of soda contains 38 grams of carbohydrates, while sweetened iced tea and lemonade contain 36 grams of net carb content in a 354-ml serving.
Such beverages also have high fructose content, which is linked directly to insulin resistance. Multiple studies have concluded that sugar-sweetened beverages will increase risk of diabetes-related diseases. High fructose levels will also cause your metabolism to lose efficiency which will then cause large amount of belly fat, and raise the cholesterol and triglyceride levels that may be very harmful.
Instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, the smartest choice to stay healthy would be to drink water and unsweetened iced tea if you are a diabetes patient.
Margarines, peanut butter, spreads, creamers, all contain trans fats. Some food processors also add trans fats to crackers, muffins, and other baked food. Trans fats are known for increasing inflammation, insulin resistance, belly fat, and decrease the HDL cholesterol levels. Trans fats are also linked to impaired arterial function.
Good news is that the world has openly objected to production and use of trans fats in foods. Stay vigilant and read the ingredients list of whatever you eat. If the ingredient list says “partially hydrogenated” put the item back to the shelf and move on.
White Bread, Rice & Pasta
Earlier in this article, we discussed how carbohydrates play a role in making your diabetes condition worse. White bread, pasta, and rice contain high amounts of carbs, and are bad for your health if you are a diabetes patient. Refined-flour foods will raise your blood sugar level if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Gluten-free pasta also has a negative impact on blood sugar levels of the body.
The one constituent of carbs which is your friend, fiber, is present in less quantities in these food items. Fiber helps in slowing down the absorption of sugar inside the body’s blood stream. Keeping that in mind, high-fiber bread will not only calm your blood sugar levels but will also reduce further absorption of sugar in your body. Better controlled blood pressure and reduced cholesterol levels are a bonus.
While plain yogurt is good for one’s health, the same yogurt can become dangerous when injected with excess amounts of carbs and sugar, in order to develop their flavor. Each 245 grams of flavored yogurt can contain up to 47 grams of sugar, imagine the chaos it can cause inside your body.
Frozen yogurt is often considered as a healthy substitute to ice cream. Unfortunately it isn’t, fro-yo contains same amounts of sugar as ice cream. Plain yogurt made from whole-milk is the far better option when it comes to yogurt.
Sweet Breakfast Cereals
Breakfast cereals are bad for your health if you have diabetes, regardless of their flavor. Manufacturers of these cereals intensively advertise the healthy factor of their cereals and even the box is full of such statements. The manufacturers definitely try to “health-ify” cereals, but they just cannot.
Cereals contain shockingly high carb content after the extensive processing they are subjected to. These cereals contain low amount of protein which aids the feeling that you aren’t quite full yet.
Just like plain yogurt, plain coffee has an immense amount of positive effect on the health. And just like flavored or frozen yogurt, flavured coffee is full of carbs. Flavored coffee has one more dangerous effect on the system.
Calories that you intake through liquids will not make your body want to eat less, increasing chances of weight gain.
As for the carbs, no form of flavored coffee contains a healthy amount of carbs. Light caramel flavored coffee will contain 30 grams of carbs in 454-ml serving, while the same serving of the caramel coffee will have 67 grams of carb content.
The only healthy form of coffee is plain coffee or espresso coffee. You can add-in small amount of cream if you want, but that should be it.
Honey, Maple Syrup & Agave Nectar
One common misconception for people is that white sugar is going to be loaded with exponential amount of carbs, while other natural sweeteners won’t. That’s not usually the case, natural sugars and brown sugars including honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar also contain dangerous amount of carbs.
Even before being processed, the above mentioned sweeteners either contain the same amount of carbs or more than the amount present in white sugar. According to a study, patients of diabetes showed similar signs of blood sugar and insulin level increases on consuming 50 grams of white sugar and 50 grams of honey.
After going through the drying process, fruits, which are very healthy before the process, lose all the water, which increases the concentration of healthy nutrients like vitamin C and potassium. At the same time, the amount of sugar in the mixture also get concentrated.
An instance of this can be extracted by comparing grapes and raisin. A cup of grapes packs 27 grams of carbs, one gram of which is fiber content. The same serving of raisin packs 115 grams of carbs, including 5 grams of fiber. Other such dried fruits also have the same attributes, and should be avoided by diabetes patients. Fresh fruits usually have low sugar content and can be consumed without increasing your blood sugar to catastrophic levels.
Packaged Snack Foods
You should stay away from packaged foods if you are a victim of diabetes. These foods have a large amount of net carb content and aren’t healthy. To make matters worse, studies have found out that these snacks contain almost 8% more carb content than the ingredient list states.
Fruit juices might not be as healthy for you as you might expect, especially for those who have diabetes. The reason is same as in sugar-sweetened beverages. These juices contain quite some amount of carb content which raises your blood sugar levels. Don’t think that we are talking only about juices that have added sugars. These stats go the same for all-natural fruits too.
Eating these fruits solid is a better option. As you can get enough to eat and can also keep your blood sugar level monitored. But juices always have to be a glassful, and it requires more than one solid unit of fruit to make a full glass’ serving. This increases the carb-content of the serving, making it unhealthy for you. Water with a squeeze of lemon is probably the healthiest flavoured drink among fruit juices.
Potatoes are loaded with shockingly large amount of carbs. And people tend to eat more than one potatoes’ worth of French fries at a time. Not only is this recipe bad for diabetes patient, but even for those who do not have diabetes.
Once they are fried, potatoes become more unhealthy for you, as they produce toxic substance including AGE’s and aldehydes. These toxics promote the risk of diseases. French fries have been popularly listed in the “Dangerous food to eat in diabetes” list.