Why Are Carbohydrates Important In Diabetes & How Much to eat?

The reduced intake of carbohydrate in diet as a therapeutic approach in people living with diabetes has become quite debatable subject since the advent of insulin. Carbohydrates are type of sugars, starches and fiber. Normally a large portion of our food consists of carbohydrates in some form or the other. Almost 50 to 60 percent of what we eat makes up for carbohydrate and the rest of energy source is derived from fats and protein.

There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. In both types there is disruption of carbohydrate metabolism.

Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar level is the salient feature of diabetes. Carbohydrate is considered to be the preferred source of energy for human body. All types of carbohydrates are converted into glucose, the essential fuel for body cells including brain.

Normally the body maintains proper glucose level all the time. If carbohydrates are severely restricted, the glucose storage will get exhausted and body derives its fuel by burning fats. But during the process of breakdown of fats it liberates a byproduct called ketones which in large amount can lead to ketosis.

So how much carbohydrate a person suffering from diabetes is the real question asked by many.

How Much Carbohydrates Should A Diabetic Eat In A Day?

Carbohydrate is present in starchy foods such as bread, rice, pasta, pulses and lentils. It is also present in fruits, vegetables, sugar and in dairy products. The amount of carbohydrate needed for each individual may vary according to his age, weight, and work. Actually the amount of carbohydrate eaten by a diabetic person is a major factor in controlling blood sugar and thus how much of carbohydrate he eats is valuable.

Nowadays, doctors recommend diabetic patients to eat a balanced diet comprising of lean meat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy and healthy fats. The amount of portion may vary from one individual to another depending on the factors such as his age and activity, but to an extent, moderate amount of carbohydrate is generally advised to be eaten by people suffering from diabetes.

When we talk of moderate amount of carbohydrate, insistence is on the type of carbohydrate that does not cause sudden rise and fall of blood sugar level. Rather it must maintain healthy level of sugar in the blood for a longer time. For example person must eat complex carbohydrates such as whole grain, vegetables etc instead of simple sugars. Research suggests that diet high in fiber helps to improve post prandial glucose level and helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease which is a common problem in people suffering from diabetes.

Also foods that contain carbohydrate contain many other types of healthy nutrients such as vitamins, minerals. Some of the foods of such category even help to lower blood cholesterol level. Vegetables and fruits are storehouse of vitamins and minerals. Low fat dairy products contain healthy amount of calcium and vitamin D which is essential for maintaining strong bones.

Having said these, there is no one fix criterion as the need of carbohydrate may vary. For one person eating moderate amount of carbohydrate may not be a problem as his blood sugar is maintained at the optimum level with the help of medicine and insulin he is taking. However, some other diabetic person may need to substantially limit the intake of carbohydrate if his blood sugar in not under control even after taking all precautions. Together with carbohydrate limitation, it is essential for patients to exercise regularly in order to maintain healthy level of blood sugar.