When you have problems with your blood sugar, you have to pay close attention to the effect food has on your body. Having diabetes means that you may have to adjust the amount and type of food you eat in order to keep your blood glucose levels within a normal range.
When you eat carbohydrates, proteins and fats, they are digested and broken down into glucose. This can cause your blood sugar to spike. The tricky part is that each of these food groups is broken down in the body at different rates and therefore affects blood glucose levels differently.
So which food affects blood glucose levels the most? If you guessed carbohydrates, you’re right. Your body is capable of breaking down 100% of sugars and starches (two common carbs) into glucose in about two hours. In the past, diabetics were warned not to have any sugar in their diet. But medical researchers now know that both sugar and starch are broken down into glucose at the same speed. The issue has now become not what kind of carb you eat, but the total amount of carbs in your diet. The more carbs you eat, whatever the source, the more your blood glucose levels are affected.
Proteins and fats will affect your blood glucose levels less than carbohydrates. Researchers have been able to determine that only about 50% of proteins are eventually broken down into glucose. This process usually takes three to five hours.
Only about five percent to 10% of fat is changed into glucose. It takes your body six to eight hours to do this. However, fat still plays a role in elevating blood glucose. It blocks the action of insulin, speeding up the time it takes for food to travel through your intestines. You’ll want to be careful with fats, because, although your blood sugar may not rise initially, it might spike after a few hours.
Try to figure out how your body responds to different foods. Keep a diary. With a little bit of effort, you should be able to determine which foods, in which combinations, make your blood glucose rise rapidly.
Remember that insulin works with the foods you eat. If you can balance things out, this is the best way to control diabetes. If you eat too much food for the insulin level that is available to you, your blood glucose level will be too high. On the other hand, if you eat too little, your glucose level will be too low.