What Can I Eat Instead of Carbs in Diabetes? (6 options)

We will discuss some major and minor nutrients that a diabetic patient can have as alternatives, instead of focusing on carbohydrates aka carbs.

6 healthy alternatives for carbs in Diabetes

Sl. No.Nutrients Food options
1.ProteinsPulses, lean meat, skinless chicken, seeds, dry fruits, nuts, beans, etc.
2.FatsSkimmed dairy products, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, soybean, olives, avocados, dark chocolate, fatty fish, extra virgin olive oil, etc.
3.FiberBerries, whole grains, skinned vegetables, carrots, broccoli, corn, peas, beans, seeded nuts, citrus fruits, etc.
4.Vitamins and mineralsGreen leafy veggies, citrus fruits, skinned veggies, whole grains, eggs, milk, etc.
5.AntioxidantsVeggies – broccoli, spinach, carrots, lettuce, beetroot, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, kale, cabbage, asparagus, etc.

Fruits – berries, citrus fruits

Nuts, etc.

6.Low-carbsWholegrain bread, multigrain flours, red rice, brown rice, sweet potatoes, unsweetened yogurts, etc.

With these options and good care, you can have an effective and healthy lifestyle despite diabetes.

Let us begin with some macronutrients:

1. Proteins

Proteins are among the essential nutrients for the body. They are important for the growth and development of the body and help repair the systems.

Proteins also form a big part of one’s daily diet and are usually obtained from pulses, seeds, nuts, eggs, meat, etc.

Protein is also eventually broken down into sugar in the body, but protein breakdown is a lot slower compared to that of carbohydrates.

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Thus, proteins do not increase the blood sugar levels as suddenly and keep the blood sugars under control.

2. Fats

Well, fats are a rather controversial and confusing nutrient when it comes to diabetes. They can be harmful or helpful depending on the way you choose to employ them in your health.

The bottom line is that there are good fats that can help to keep your diabetic conditions stable. On the other hand, certain harmful fats and create complications and make other symptoms more severe.

Well, diabetics are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular and blood pressure-related disorders. Fats are a major contributor to heart risks. They may add cholesterol, which can affect the body in various ways.

But, there are good types of fats, which are advantageous to the body and assist in keeping the cholesterol levels low.

Choosing good fats can also aid in diabetes control.

3. Fiber

This is one of the most crucial nutrients that one should include in one’s diabetic diet. It is necessary to have fiber in the body to aid proper metabolism.

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Fiber helps to keep the sugar levels under control and also benefits digestive health in many other ways.

It is important to include good amounts of fiber in the diet.

4. Vitamins and minerals

These are the most helpful and harmless nutrients of all. Several types of vitamins and minerals are found in the vegetable, herb, and fruit families.

These nutrients help nourish the body, replenish the lack, strengthen the immune system, and offer protection against many diseases.

Some of the primary vitamins and minerals you need to acquire are – vitamin D, B12, B1, magnesium, iron, iodine, zinc, potassium, etc.

5. Antioxidants

Although these fall under the vitamin category, but is important to mention them separately due to their immense benefits on one’s diabetic health.

Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress in the body, which is often a major reason for diabetic discomforts. It also safeguards the body from free radicals that can cause chronic diseases and internal damage.

What are the effects of Carbohydrates on Diabetes?  

Diabetes is a disorder that starts from an individual’s metabolism and affects the metabolism the most. It is due to the improper functioning of hormones like insulin that negatively influence digestion and other metabolic functions.

Diabetes is a condition that affects the blood sugar levels of the body directly. Improper insulin secretion and function are responsible for the imbalance that is caused in the blood glucose levels.

High or low blood glucose levels in the body, as experienced by diabetic patients, can both be very problematic to the health and the overall working of the body. It can cause severe discomforts and also heighten the chance of acquiring other symptoms and chronic diseases.

As the diabetic conditions are determined and defined by the irregular fluctuations in the blood sugar levels, sugars are related to carbohydrates. Thus, carbohydrates become the reason for diabetic diagnosis.

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Carbohydrate is associated with being the immediate source of energy. Thus, carbohydrate-rich foods are appreciated for their instant energy-providing facility.

Well, this is not a false accusation that is attached to this energy-providing nutrient. When carbohydrates are broken down into simpler forms, they transform into glucose. These are responsible for increasing the level of blood glucose as well.

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Due to improper working of the insulin and other metabolic functions, the digestion of carbohydrates does not occur properly. This leads to sudden rises in the blood sugar levels of the body and risks of many other conditions.

But are carbs the only reason? Are all carbs bad for the body? Well, if there are restrictions, then what are they? Let us try to answer these questions.

Are all carbs bad for diabetics?

Are all carbs bad for diabetics

To answer this question, we first have to know well about what the various types of carbohydrates are.

Well, if we take common food items that are said to be rich in carbs, then they can be grouped into three categories:

  • Mostly starch-rich carbohydrate foods are mainly higher on the direct starch and include rice, wheat, potatoes, plantains, bread, yam, pasta, common breakfast cereals, etc. They are among the top contributors when it comes to rising blood sugar levels.
  • Direct and higher in sugar content are sweets, soft drinks, juices, ice-creams, chocolates, fruits, etc. Most of these foods are sweet due to the addition of sugar or the presence of natural sugars. For diabetic patients, these foods are also classified as risky ones as they can contribute directly to the body’s blood sugar levels.
  • Another form of carbohydrate-rich foods is the foods that are richer in fiber. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate. It is a form of carbohydrate that is difficult to digest. It is one of the best forms of carbs as it does not contribute to the sudden rising of the body’s blood sugar levels. On the other hand, foods that are richer in fiber are very beneficial for diabetic patients in many ways. Common fiber-rich foods include – sweet potatoes, whole grains, wholemeal bread, unrefined grains, fruits, vegetables, several whole bowls of cereal, nuts, oats, barley, etc.

Therefore, carbs can be good or bad for the health, depending on how they are included in the diet.

Do I have to eliminate carbs completely from my diabetic diet?

As we explained in the previous section, some carbs are good and bad for the health. It depends on what you choose and how much you choose to determine the effects on your diabetic body.

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But it is a myth that carbohydrates are all bad for the health. You do not have to eliminate carbs completely from your diabetic diets.

Sugar is a necessity for the body. It only becomes bad for the body when there are internal complications, which lead to problems in metabolic functions.

When the sugar obtained from the food is not turned into energy by the body due to metabolic dysfunction, it leads to rising blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates are important for the body. As a diabetic patient, you have to keep carbohydrates regular and nothing over the normal limits.

In addition to that, foods rich in carbohydrates also have several other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc. These are crucial for the body and assist in the control of diabetic health.

Therefore, you need not resist carbohydrates as a diabetes patient. You can make better choices that fit your health and body needs.

References

  1. http://www.aulamedica.es/gdcr/files/journals/1/articles/4324/public/4324.pdf
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/5/962
  3. https://diabetes.jmir.org/2020/1/e15030/?utm_source=TrendMD&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=JMIR_Diabetes_TrendMD_0
  4. https://europepmc.org/article/med/33231159
  5. https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/68/Supplement_1/806-P.abstract
  6. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/wk/aog/2016/00000128/00000006/art00032
  7. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2669724
  8. https://www.zliving.com/health/relieve-herb-cranberries-diabetes-62011/
  9. https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA140995709&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=01457217&p=HRCA&sw=w&userGroupName=anon%7Ea5fbf5dd
  10. https://epdiabetes.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Diabetes-Presentation-Final-SMALL.pdf

 

Dr Sharon Baisil MD

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