Type 2 Diabetes Food List – Carbohydrates
Food List – Capricious Carbs?
Today I bring you Part 1 of my Type 2 Diabetes Food List, which talks about Carbohydrates. The topic of food is so big I feel it needs at least three parts to do it justice and to cover all the material. I thought I knew a lot about food and nutrition before, but WHEW! I learned a lot from this one, I think my brain is swollen.
What is a Carbohydrate?
As defined or supported by most dictionaries. “A carbohydrate is an organic compound that occurs in living tissues or food and that can be broken down into energy by people or animals.” Sugar, starch, and fiber are three types of carbohydrates. They are essential for two main and distinct functions in the body, energy and digestion. The two types of carbohydrates in foods are simple and complex, you will learn more about these in the following sections. There are at least two more parts to the Type 2 Diabetes Food List yet to be written, Protiens and Fats.
Where do They Come From?
Almost all foods contain at least some carbohydrates. The key is to know which foods contain the simple carbs, and which contain the complex carbs. In my previous article Foods to Avoid for type 2 Diabetes, I mentioned some Real Bad foods. Most of those contain mostly simple carbohydrates. In my article Best Way to Reverse Diabetes, I include a short list of foods that help fight diabetes. These are foods that generally contain more of the complex carbs. Read on for a better example list of foods for each type.
What Happens to Carbs in the Body?
Carbohydrates convert into glucose, which is sent off to the cells to be burned as energy. Left-over glucose is converted into glycogen and stored, usually in the muscles or liver. The liver controls the glucose flow to the cells, so it uses the glycogen between meals to provide energy. Ideally the amount of glycogen stored in the liver and muscles is just about right for what the body needs. If not, the excess is turned to fat, eventually causing you to become obese. Remember; obesity is the #1 cause of type 2 diabetes. So in Part 1 of the Type 2 Diabetes Food List you will be reading all about simple and complex sugars and carbs.
Simple sugars are processed by the body far faster than complex sugars. Because of that, simple sugars can cause a spike in your blood sugar level very quickly. Where complex sugars are processed slowly so sugar spikes are less likely to happen. Even people that are not diabetic should be careful when consuming lots of simple sugars. But it is especially dangerous for a diabetic, due to the probability of complications for the heart, kidneys, and brain.
Food Substitution Suggestions for Diabetics
As a general rule, you cannot find a comprehensive list of all foods that are good for all diabetics. Part of the reason for this is there is almost an infinite number of combinations of foods and people. With that, below is a list of commonly consumed foods for which diabetics may need to find a substitute. I have also included some common, and I think reasonable healthy substitutes to use in their place. I found that substituting one food for another was easier than completely changing the way I ate. To be sure though, you still have to watch your portion size. I remind myself all the time that I should eat only as much as I need to.
Sugar and Sugar Substitutes
No Type 2 Diabetes Food List would be complete without a part on sugar and substitutes. When you are first diagnosed with diabetes and are told to avoid sugar at all costs, don’t panic. Yes, refined white sugar is most probably the #1 enemy of a diabetic. The glycemic index of this sugar is right at the 100, the maximum possible.
Refined sugar vs. Raw sugar
Refined sugar was raw sugar until they removed the molasses from it. Raw sugar isn’t really “raw”, it just hasn’t been refined as much as white sugar. For a diabetic there is virtually no difference, so you should consume neither. Some say cane sugar is better for you, but I could find no proof of that.
These contain saccharin. Saccharin can cause potentially severe allergic reactions in some people. Prior to 2000, warning labels were place on saccharin-sweetened products. At that point the FDA reversed its position on saccharin, declaring it safe for human consumption. Things that make you go Hmmmmm comes to mind here. I don’t know about you, but I am not sure I trust my life to the FDA, so I stay far away from this artificial sweetener. I don’t like the risk factor of an allergic reaction, and don’t recommend it for anyone, and especially diabetics.
These contain aspartame. The list of claims about this artificial sweetener is lengthy and includes health problems like cancer, seizures, depression, ADHD, dizziness, Alzheimer, diabetes, Parkinson, Lupus and birth defects. I highly suggest you stay away from aspartame, even if most of the claims are untrue. It is certain that somebody had a problem with it, so I ask why risk it, when there are better substitutes. In addition, 92% of independently funded studies discovered adverse effects.
These artificial sweeteners contain Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-k). One of the chemicals found in Ace-K is the carcinogen methylene chloride. There have been studies on this sweetener, but some doctors are challenging the completeness of the studies. Risk is what it is all about with this sweetener for me. If there is any risk that I might face health issues when I use it, I don’t.
Splenda is made of sucralose, an artificial sweetener and sugar substitute. Sucralose is non=caloric because it is not broken down by the body. Although there is no scientific proof that sucralose is detrimental to your health, there are a number of claims against it. Some say non-caloric sweeteners cause weight gain and sucralose is one of those.
Sugars from fruits and other natural sources tend to be the best sugars for anybody. This is especially true for diabetics and obese people, and in this category you will find the absolute best sugar substitutes. I believe the best natural sugar substitutes are Raw unfiltered Honey, Stevia plant, Maple Syrup, and Coconut Sugar. Each one of these has its strengths, and ‘best used’ situations. For any diabetic, choosing one or more of these over any artificial sweetener is not only wise, but essential.
Choose Your Sugar Wisely
Now we come to the point where a decision on which sugar or substitute to choose. But, choosing only one substitute may not be the right answer either.
For coffee and green tea I use Stevia. The best stevia comes directly from my organic stevia plant in my back yard. The way to use it is to pick a couple of leaves from the plant, wash them and crush them in your cup. However, since it is winter and the plant is in hibernation mode, I use the best stevia packets I can find. I sometimes use raw unfiltered honey when I make my cinnamon, ginger and honey tea as well.
For baking and general cooking, you can use raw honey, Coconut Sugar, Stevia, or Maple Syrup. It will sometimes depend on what you are making to make the taste come out right though. Fruit sugars are also a good option for cooking and may add flavor as well. Another substitute I haven’t mentioned yet is called Xylitol. Xylitol is used in sugar free gum and candies, and has many positive attributes. One of those attributes is that it doesn’t lose anything at high temperatures, like cooking.
Carbohydrates are in all plant provided foods, and are essential to every living person around the world. In a manner of speaking, the body reacts to the simple carb on a different time scale than the complex carb. The rapid response to simple carbs are what is dangerous to a diabetic. Therefore it is best to educate yourself on the effects carbohydrates before you inadvertently end up killing yourself with food. I wrote this article in hopes that it can serve as a foundation for that knowledge.
This Type 2 Diabetes Food List is nowhere near exhaustive, even for carbohydrates. If this article has provided you with inspiration or you found it beneficial, please leave me a comment. also sign up and visit soon for the next part in this series.