There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding carbs, sugar and starch. Many people see them as being exactly the same thing, and that you should avoid them all. But what makes blood sugar Levels increase and why?
What Are Carbs?
In essence, carbs are a source of energy that the body can use right immediately, or store for later. It can be found in many different foods in the form of starches, sugars, or fiber. Different types of carbs affect blood sugar differently.
These have only one or two sugars, which means that the body can process and use them quickly. This also means that these cause your blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. Foods that contain simple carbs include table sugar, the added sugars in processed foods, and the sugars found in fruits and milk.
Complex carbs contain three or more sugars. It takes longer for the body to process and digest these carbs, but this means that it does not cause such sever blood sugar spikes. Foods containing complex carbs include the fiber in spinach, watercress, buckwheat, barley, wild or brown rice, beans, and some fruits.
The Glycemic Index (GI)
The GI of foods tells us how much they will cause the blood sugar to rise, and thus low-GI carbs would usually be the better option as they do not cause the blood sugar levels to increase as much as high-GI carbs do. Some good low-GI carbs include lentils, green beans, broccoli, spinach, plums, yogurt, and brown rice.
Choosing Better Carbs
In order to control things like blood sugar and weight, you should look at including the best possible carbs for this into your diet, and steering clear from the others as far possible. Limit the amount of added sugars in your diet. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially non-starchy veggies like leafy greens. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains, which lose fiber, vitamins, and minerals in the refining process. When you buy bread and cereal, look for whole grains as the first ingredient on the label.
How Carbs Cause Blood Sugar Levels to Rise
Carbohydrates from foods get broken down into glucose for energy in the body, which causes the pancreas to release insulin, which helps the body use or store the glucose. For simple carbs, this process happens faster and the pancreas has to produce more insulin in order to manage all the glucose in the body.
What about Fruit?
Many people believe that you should stay away from fruits as they contain loads of sugar. Well it might be true, you should not stay away from them as they have many other benefits like high fiber content and vitamins. The important thing to remember is keeping to your portion size.
It is vital to make sure that you know how many carbs are in the food you buy. Look for the amount of “total carbohydrate” grams instead of the “sugar” grams on the food label, as this may not always tell the whole story.
A Balanced Diet
Following a balanced diet with at least 3-5 servings of vegetables per day can help you lose weight and control blood sugar. Even though you might focus attention on counting carbs, you also need to eat enough protein and healthy fats. Don’t skip meals, and eat healthy snacks to help keep blood sugar under control.
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