Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert
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Type 2 diabetes means your body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce is not absorbed into the cells. This dysfunction causes blood sugar levels to rise because insulin is tasked with regulating blood sugar. High blood sugar levels can cause a host of serious complications, some of which can be permanent.
Fortunately, where insulin fails, diet succeeds. What you put into your body can have a moderating effect on blood sugar levels.
However, the reverse is also true: certain foods can cause blood sugar levels to spike shortly after eating them.
Carbohydrates are the worst offenders and some have a bigger impact than others.
The glycaemic index can help you to navigate this minefield.
The glycaemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 based on how quickly and how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating.
The higher a food ranks on the GI, the greater the impact it has on blood sugar levels.
“Eating many high-glycemic-index foods – which cause powerful spikes in blood sugar – can lead to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes,” warns Harvard School of Public Health.
There are some surprising items on the list. According to Harvard School of Public Health, ripe fruits and vegetables tend to have a higher glycaemic index than unripened fruit.
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Other high GI foods include:
- Sugar and sugary foods
- Sugary soft drinks
- White bread
- White rice.
Instead, you should opt for low or medium GI foods, which are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time.
- Some fruit and vegetables
- Wholegrain foods, such as porridge oats.
According to the NHS, some low GI foods, such as wholegrain foods, fruit, vegetables, beans and lentils, are foods we should eat as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
However, “using the glycaemic index to decide whether foods or combinations of foods are healthy can be misleading”, warns the health body.
It explains: “Foods with a high GI are not necessarily unhealthy and not all foods with a low GI are healthy. For example, watermelon and parsnips are high GI foods, while chocolate cake has a lower GI value.
“Also, foods that contain or are cooked with fat and protein slow down the absorption of carbohydrate, lowering their GI.”
According to Diabetes UK, eating to manage your diabetes isn’t just about GI ratings.
“Think of the bigger picture and choose foods high in fibre and wholegrains, as well as low in saturated fat, salt and sugar, as part of a long-term healthy diet.”
Type 2 diabetes – do you have it?
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision.
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