Three Factors that Effect and Control Diabetes are Sugar Intake Fat Intake and Glycaemic Index of Foods

All diabetics know that they must avoid sugar, jaggery, sweets, cakes, pastries, jams, jelly, honey, soft drinks and juices, but they seem ignorant of the fact that oily, fatty and fried foods can also raise the sugar levels dangerously.

Please note 1 gm (sugar) carbohydrate gives us 4 cals. While 1 gm (oil) fat gives us 9 cals. All foods whether sugar or oil are finally broken down to glucose and sent into the blood stream. A lady once said, "Lisa, I never eat cakes or cookies at teatime but mostly I eat half to 1C mixture with my tea". This is disastrous! If your fasting sugar levels are above 120 mg/dl, I would advise you to completely avoid any fried snacks, nuts, coconut chutney, butter, ghee, mayonnaise, and red meats for the next 3 months or till the fasting level is below 110mg/dl. After that you may eat any one of the above items only once a week.

The second issue to be considered very seriously is the glycaemic index of carbohydrate rich foods. The glycaemic index is an index classifying the glycaemic response to carbohydrate rich foods. i.e. when I consume a particular food how quickly does my blood sugar rise. E.g. if I eat chapati's my blood sugar rises slowly as compared to if I have eaten only rice. Therefore, I would say rice has a higher glycaemic index than atta (whole wheat flour) Rice glycaemic index is 88, whole-wheat flour index is 60. When we eat rice the glucose levels will shoot up much faster and higher, whereas with atta it will go up slowly and will not rise so high. Similarly, rava has a high glycaemic index while ragi is lower. Among vegetables potato has a very high GI of 88 and among fruits mango is 55 GI, banana 53 while an orange is 43 and apple 36. So we say a diabetic may eat an apple or orange regularly but must avoid bananas and mangoes. Among dhals and pulses urad dhal (black gram dhal) is 46 while red gram dhal is 32, rajma is only 19, channa 33.

Most diabetics feel it is safe to eat idli and dosa made of rice and urad dhal. This is definitely a misconception. I advise that you eat idli or dosa not more than once a week and not on two consecutive days. Use whole wheat bread, stuffed dry rotis, oats or ragi porridge, wheat or ragi puttu or ragi dosa. Rava upma, avalakki, semolina should be strictly avoided till sugar levels are below 110. These have a high glycaemic index.

Rice may be eaten at lunch. But preferable to eat a little rice along with a roti rather than only rice. A little rice along with a small ragi ball, also may be eaten at lunch. At dinner strictly avoid rice and eat only two phulkas (dry roti), whole wheat bread or dahlia (broken wheat) cooked like rice, in a small quantity. Ragi ball is to be avoided at night.

Raw salads consisting of tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cabbage, radish, capsicum, etc. are high in fiber and when added to our lunch and dinner can play a major role in reducing the glycaemic response i.e. preventing the blood sugar from rising suddenly. Lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and low fat curd may be used to season the salad but no oily dressings like mayonnaise or olive oil are permitted. A salad consisting of only carrots or beetroot must be avoided, as their calorie value is higher than that of other vegetables.

Finally, if you are an overweight or obese diabetic you can almost heal yourself if you lose weight. The connection between diabetes and weight reduction is as follows. Extra food eaten at any meal or snack produces raised glucose levels in the blood. This has to be removed and sent into the fat cells for storage. Till age 30, as more and more fat is removed from the blood new fat cells to store this are created.

After age 30 no new cells are made but the existing ones keep expanding. After a while they say we can't expand any more. Then the extra glucose in the blood stays as it is instead of being removed as fat and blood sugar levels, in the blood keep rising. The minute you reduce weight, fat is lost from the cells and there is vacancy in the cells so a message is sent to the blood and insulin to remove the blood glucose as fat and send it out to the cells. Therefore, if you are overweight, weight reduction has to happen to lower blood sugar levels.

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