Diabetes is affecting more people every day and growing at an alarming rate amongst younger and younger individuals. At the moment over 400 million people have some form of diabetes in the world . Though there are many obstacles people with diabetes need to overcome, a healthy diet is proven to stabilize glucose levels and lead to an overall healthier body. By following a diet that focuses on limiting and eating the right carbohydrates, choosing foods with a low glycemic index, and intaking the appropriate amount of fiber, this can help to lead to a more energized, full, and in-control life.
Reducing and Eating the Right Carbohydrates
How the Body Uses Carbs
In order to have a better diet to manage diabetes, it is important to understand how the body works. The human digestion system takes carbs and breaks them down into simple sugars, primarily glucose. Insulin is what allows for circulating blood sugar to enter cells and be used as an energy source. When the process is working efficiently, blood sugar levels stay within a healthy target range. This process does not work the same in a person with diabetes. If the right amount of insulin is not created by the pancreas, or if the insulin released does not work efficiently (insulin resistance), the body’s blood sugar levels can increase well above the healthy range. Over time this can lead to damage of vital organs and other side effects . This is the case with diabetes. However, there is a way to help manage diabetes through a healthy lifestyle, diet, and reduced carbohydrate intake.
The Benefits to a Low Carb Diet
Before insulin was discovered and used to treat diabetes, the sole treatment was a low carb diet . More recent studies show that low-carb diets are successful in managing diabetes as long-term treatment. One study in particular tracked individuals with Type 2 diabetes who sustained a low carb diet for six months. A three year follow up on those individuals showed that their diabetes remained under control by adhering to a low carb diet .
Target Amount of Carbs to Intake
Though there is not an ideal amount of carbs to consume for all people, some studies found that those who limited themselves to about 20 grams of carbs a day saw improved blood sugar levels . Whereas other studies present better blood sugar levels in individuals who reduced their carbohydrate intake to about 70-90 grams . The results will vary based on an individual’s genetic make-up and lifestyle, however, across the board results continue to defend a low carb intake as ideal for those with diabetes.
Some individuals have found encouragement in companies such as Innova Nutrition, which provide nutritionally balanced and delicious Stabilyze nutrition bars. Stabilyze nutrition bars are diabetic friendly and are formulated to be used as a meal replacement or snack depending on a person’s individual, needed caloric intake. Karen J. writes about her experience with Stabilyze.
“I’ve been a diabetic for 43 years-Type 1.I’ve never had a nutritional bar that really helped me with my blood sugar until now, was skeptical at first but sold now!!“
Foods with a Low Glycemic Index
Foods with a low glycemic index are carbohydrate containing foods that when consumed elicit a slow increase of blood sugar levels over a period of time, usually two hours . Many refined carbohydrates and most simple sugars have a high glycemic index and raise blood sugar levels quickly after being consumed. Sugar is an added ingredient found in many foods, but interestingly our body does not need added sugars to function.  By choosing these types of foods, one’s body automatically adjusts to going without the added sugars and refined carbohydrates, and the cravings for such unhealthy ingredients melt away .
For example, broccoli has a GI (glycemic index) of only 15, and dates a GI of 103. While they both seem like healthy choices, the broccoli is much friendlier to a person with diabetes. There are several charts available such as the one from University Health News to help with selecting foods with a low GI. It may be surprising to see just how many foods are lower on the GI scale.
Do Not Forget About Fiber
Making such dietary changes can be difficult, but there is one factor that helps immensely, fiber. Fiber is a carbohydrate, but it does not raise blood glucose levels because the human body does not have the necessary enzymes to digest and break fiber down to usable simple sugars . Those who choose foods high in fiber will feel full longer and have subdued cravings for unhealthy foods. It is important to choose foods high in fiber, that also support a low carb and low glycemic index diet.
Stabilyze nutrition bars support a high protein, fiber, low carb, and low GI diet. Joni P. uses Stabilyze bars to keep her going, and here’s what she shares about the product.
“My nutritionist recommended these delicious bars to me last spring. I LOVE THEM! I often have one a day, especially if I am hiking or need a quick fix. I have Type 2 Diabetes and these bars will help me settle an upset stomach, boost my energy, and fill me up all the while providing a virtual party in my mouth! Hard to believe they are "legal" for me to eat. Chocolate peanut butter is my favorite flavor, but they are all yummy.”
For more options of low carb and GI foods to grab when needing a snack check out “ On the Go Gluten Free Snacks”.
Overall health is more than just a few changes in a diet. However, proper nutrition has a ripple effect on other areas of life which is important to all individuals and especially those with diabetes. When people make the switch to better foods, they fuel their body to perform in a better way. In addition, portion control is easier when consuming fiber which keeps you feeling full longer. A low carb, reduced sugar diet will grant you more energy to conquer the day and help you make better choices throughout your daily meal planning routine.