Tagged: glycemic index

Carbohydrates and Aging

Carbs and Aging

Early on, I remember reading how Diabetes ages a person at least 10 years.  I never quite understood this theory but I knew I didn’t like it, and would do whatever I could to slow or prevent this from happening to me.  Recently, there has been much more written about this phenomenon and when broken down into phases, we diabetics should have enough understanding of carb counting to keep this at bay.

I’ve come across a recent article,  “Do Carbs Age Your Body Faster?” by Mike Geary, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Catherine Ebeling, an RN, BSN and author of  The Top 101 Foods that FIGHT Aging.  Simply put,  NO, it all depends on the amount and types of carbs consumed.  It is however, high spikes in glucose levels that cause the aging, and THIS IS caused by consuming carbs with no thought to  the consequences.  As diabetics, we should be aware of carb counting, if you are not, there are small, pocket sized books, that should be like your bible until you are comfortable with it.   All carbs will increase your blood sugar, but the difference is the timing.  Is it a slow process or a rapid spike, leaving your meds playing catch up later.    The author illustrated a  good example of the difference  as follows:

2 slices of whole wheat toast;  45 mins after eating, blood sugar spiked from an 86 fasting level to 156.

1 bowl of oatmeat, (equivalent grams of carbs as 2 slices of toast above) 45 mins after eating; blood sugar raised from 86 fasting to 112.

Now, everyone’s numbers  will be different, however, the food and portion is in your control.  Please reread my earlier posting on “Glycemic Index Basics” from April.  We have all been taught that  whole wheat is the healthier choice if breads and muffins are going to be eaten, however, now we are learning that whole wheat and other grains  have a unique type of starch which spikes blood sugar more that pure table sugar.  These high blood sugar spikes are what, over time, are responsible (at least in part) for accelerated aging.  High blood sugars circulating around in our bodies leave deposits  known as Advanced Glycation End Products  (AGEs) this is known as glycation.  It is these compounds which speed up the aging process including damage, over time,  to your organs,  joints and wrinkled skin.

Of course now we all want to run out and totally never eat another carb, however, carbohydrates DO have a necessary place in our diets.  Extreme low-carb diets like the once very popular Adkins was excessive.  Thyroid hormones, as well as, Leptin hormone levels can drop too low to  maintain a healthy metabolism (weight gain).  Since being diabetic, our main concern should, as always, be keeping out blood sugars down to a healthy number,  avoid spiking highs and lows, which in and of themselves are dangerous.  Always remember, there are such things as healthy carbs, in moderation, with attention to BS testing and getting to know how a particular one affects YOUR blood sugar.

Glycemic Index Basics

healthychoicesAn overload of nutritional information out there in the cyber world  has made finding the simplest answers extremely confusing,  even for me, who has felt fairly secure in my knowledge of “good vs evil” food exchanges and choices.  To add to the confusion, good carb/bad carb is now complicated by glycemic index numbers, and not just glycemic index, but glycemic load  numbers to add to the confusion.   The February 2014 issue of Diabetes Forecast,  one of my favorite Go-To resources has an exceptional article,  Carbs; Beyond the Basics,   which is where much of my following references are taken.

The glycemic index (GI) measures the glucose response to a given number of grams of  carbohydrates.  They would measure your glucose levels during the first 2 hours after consuming 50 grams of  carbs.  These carbs are then compared to the response of blood glucose spikes after consuming 50 grams of pure glucose.  They then, label these foods High GI or Low GI, obviously, Low GI are much better as glucose does not rise dangerously after your meal.  Sounds simple right? Wrong, because it was then realized by the ADA that following a low GI diet alone, did not make any measureable difference in you A1C.   So the Glycemic Load was invented.   This  factors in two important measures of diabetes control;  carb counting and the glycemic index.   While carb counting considers the total amount of carbohydrates,  the glycemic index accounts for the quality of THAT carbohydrate,  the glycemic load considers both.   The best example;  1 cup of mashed potato  vs 1 cup of watermelon, both high on the glycemic index, however, because 1 cup of mashed potato has a much higher carb count, its’  glycemic load is  higher.

There can be up to a “threefold difference in the glucose response to the same quantity of carbohydrates.”   to  confuse matters  more,  a foods origin, how it was cooked/prepared, the degree of processing, ripeness, and even the brand all affect these numbers.  Things to consider;  choose unprocessed foods, bypass “puffed” grain products, as well as “instant” products like oatmeal, instant potatoes, rice.   There is even a difference in over-cooked grains/starches, cold potatoes are preferred, and fruit which is not overly ripe.

I would advise that you get on the site for Diabetes Forecast and read this article.  They cover a bit more and explain in better detail the “why nots” of the above food choices.  I found this tid-bit of info amazing,   the glycemic index measures were not done on PWD?  Which qualifies my belief that our diabetes and our bodies respond differently than the next person, as a matter of fact, my body does not react the same way to the same foods eaten from day to day…..

Fruit Regarding Diabetes – What Are the Many Fruits Suitable for Diabetes Patients.

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Fruit is always a healthy food choice, however, when pertaining to diabetic patients, carb counting and  measuring is hugely important to prevent glucose spikes.  There is a learning curve each PWD will have to decipher for themselves, as each person uses, absorbs, expels and converts fructose differently, the “glycemic index” manuals have charts which are priceless for this equation,  to give you an idea of how fast that sugar will hit your bloodstream.   When picking a piece of fruit, small is best just to be safe.  Other factors in fruit;  pulp is good fiber, oranges, grapefruit, nectarines to name a few, which assist the transport of that fruit out before being absorbed into the blood.  Listed below are easy means to determine whether the actual fruit to be eaten will be of value to your overall nutrition or dangerous to your glucose control.

By educating yourself, keeping records at first; with time, fruit portion/size, activity after eating and for myself, I never eat anything without checking what my BS (blood sugar)is at the time, then rechecking later.  It can seem overwhelming, however, it is crucial for successful A1Cs at your next MD visit and simply just because every time I’m not feeling “right”, it is usually due to my BS levels.  Everyone’s body, especially metabolize, is hugely different, and I can only speak through my experience, that even my own varies dependent on many factors.  Do the work, keep track of what you put in your mouth.

Diabetics should pay special attention to avoiding the aforementioned foods with high glycemic value, and also include foods full of high saturated fats, trans fats, high quantities of sugars, and there are many hidden forms of sugars in nutrition labels, whether it is a sugar substitute,  (which do their own damage) or a preservative you cannot pronounce.  You can refer to the article on artificial sweeteners in this website for a full list.   Read more »

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