Both children and adults worldwide are victims of diabetes, a chronic disease whose spread has reached epidemic dimensions. Heart, lung diseases, cases of blindness, among others, are all linked to lack of control during diabetes, as well as to prediabetes. There are certain foods that can increase blood sugar. In turn, they generate an increase in insulin levels, causing inflammation and enhancing the risk of diseases such as those mentioned. This is why we recommend to those with diabetes or prediabetes a list of 11 foods that they should avoid.
The Importance of Carbohydrate Intake:
When providing energy to our body, the three macronutrients that fulfill this function are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. However, it is the latter that, when divided into sugar molecules (or glucose) and absorbed, cause the best possible effect on blood sugar levels. Starch, sugar and fiber are the main types of carbohydrates. Fiber, however, does not increase blood sugar, since it is digested and absorbed by our body differently from the rest. Take as an example some vegetables that contain 10 grams of carbohydrates and 4 of fiber. This would leave us with a “net” content of 6 grams of carbohydrates. We can see how, by extracting the fiber from the total, we will result in the digestible amount of carbohydrates. Consuming too many carbohydrates in a meal can generate a dangerous increase in blood sugar, which in the long term can be the cause of heart, kidney, or other diseases due to damage to blood vessels and body nerves. We know then that, with a low and controlled intake of carbohydrates , we can greatly reduce the complications of diabetes, such as sudden spikes in blood sugar. For that, we list below the foods that are very important to avoid.
1. Sugary Drinks:
Without a doubt, there is no worse beverage choice for someone with diabetes than sugary drinks. In addition to being full of fructose (strongly linked to insulin resistance and diabetes), they contain very high levels of carbohydrates. A simple can of 354 milliliters of soda concentrates 38 grams. The same amount of lemonade or sweetened iced tea contains, only in sugar, 36 grams of carbohydrates. As so many studies show, this type of beverage is prone to generate problems such as fatty liver. As well as changes in metabolism or increased body fat, high levels of fructose in sugary drinks can bring risky levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Other studies have revealed that, in obese or overweight adult people, a high fructose beverage intake that reaches 25% of total calories, within a weight maintenance diet, caused increases in insulin resistance and of body fat, in addition to a significant reduction in metabolic rhythm and worsening of heart health. Drinking water with or without gas, or unsweetened iced tea instead of sugar drinks will contribute to the control of blood levels, preventing the risk of disease.
Summary: Blood sugar levels are increased by high concentrations of carbohydrates in sodas and sweet drinks. Insulin resistance and the risks of obesity and fatty liver, among other diseases, have also been linked to high amounts of fructose in these drinks.
2. Trans Fats:
These industrial fats, created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fatty acids to stabilize them, are extremely unhealthy. Generally used to keep cookies, muffins and other products for longer on display, Trans fats can be found in peanut butter, margarines, glazes, creams and frozen foods. Trans fats have very dangerous effects for people with diabetes , who are already at high risk of heart disease. Although they do not increase blood sugar levels directly, they have been linked to high inflammation, insulin resistance, increased body fat, low levels of HDL cholesterol (with high-density lipoproteins – in English ” High-Density Lipoproteins ”-, “ good ”cholesterol) and damaged arterial functions. The Food and Drug Administration of the United States, however, managed in 2015 the disappearance of trans fats from products in the American market (to be completed in three years), thus adding to the action previously taken by several countries. The words “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list of any product will then be a “do not buy” signal, at least until this type of fat disappears from the market.
Summary: Linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, high level of body fat and heart disease, trans fats are unsaturated fats, altered to increase their stability and the duration of the products in which they are applied.
3. White Bread, Pasta and Rice:
Bread, bagels , rice and pasta, among other refined flours, are processed foods, and their participation in blood sugar increases has been demonstrated in people with type 1 and 2 diabetes. Gluten-free pasta, according to a study, also increases blood sugar, with rice-based pasta being the most affective. This shows that the problems mentioned above are not limited to wheat products. People with type 2 diabetes should take special care with foods that contain bagels , with a high concentration of carbohydrates, since they are at risk not only of a high level of blood sugar, but also of decreased brain functions and a mental deficit general.
“Another problem that occurs with these processed foods is the low amount of fiber they contain, which helps to slow the absorption of blood sugar”.
People with diabetes have significant reductions in their blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, all by replacing white bread with bread with high fiber concentrations, according to another study.
Summary: Beyond having a large amount of carbohydrates, white bread, pasta and rice have very low levels of fiber, which is not good for controlling blood sugar levels. It is preferable to prevent it from increasing by choosing foods with a lot of fiber.
4. Fruit Yogurts:
Fruit yogurt is a variety that, even more tempting, is very different from simple when it comes to a patient with diabetes. Considering that in a simple serving of 245 grams of fruit yogurt 81% of its calories are made up of sugar, we can show how heavy the carbohydrate load of this meal is. Another mistake is to try to replace ice cream with frozen yogurt , since the latter contains the same or even more sugar. This is why the best choice to control both our weight and our appetite, in addition to avoiding spikes in sugar and insulin levels, will always be a simple yogurt or whole milk.
Summary: Always choose whole milk and plain yogurt to control your diabetes and your overall health, since fruit yogurts, even if they are low in fat; contain very high levels of sugar.
5. Sugary Cereals:
Do not be fooled by the health claims we see in their packaging. Even the “healthy” breakfast cereals are a bad choice for someone with this disease. Many people overlook the huge concentration of carbohydrates in these cereals . Highly processed, they are probably the worst way to start the day for someone with diabetes. Proteins are key to having a true feeling of satiety and satisfaction during the day, as well as helping to keep blood sugar levels stable. The shortage of this nutrient in cereals is yet another reason to avoid them. Reach with 55 grams of granola to be ingesting 30 digestible carbohydrates, or the same amount of Post-Grape Nuts , grape seed cereals, to collect 41 grams. Not to mention its scarce 7 grams of protein per serving of each. It is preferable to choose a good breakfast based on protein and low carb to start the day without hunger.
Summary: Breakfast cereals – lots of carbohydrate and few proteins – are a bad option for those with diabetes. A protein and low carb breakfast is the best alternative to control hunger and start your day off right.
6. Flavored Coffees:
There is a big difference between normal and flavored coffee. Just as coffee is known to have great benefits to our health – even reducing the risk of diabetes -, flavored coffee is a different story. It is better to consider it a liquid dessert, and not get carried away by the fame of the word “coffee”. Eating less after drinking a caloric drink will not solve the problem, since studies have shown us that these two are not processed in the same way by our brain, generating weight gain even when we believe we are avoiding it. The “light “versions are also misleading when it comes to this type of coffee. Take as an example a caramelized Starbucks frapuccino . 454 milliliters are enough to give us 67 grams of carbohydrates, being reduced to a little less than half with the light version (30 grams). Blood sugar levels are very likely to rise with any flavored coffee, since they all concentrate very high amounts of carbohydrates. You have to go with the simple option, normal coffee or espresso , with a small spoonful of cream or with milk.
Summary: With very high levels of carbohydrates, those in sugar will rise greatly, and you will still feel hungry. Avoid flavored coffees.
7. Honey, Agave Nectar and Maple Syrup:
These are not alternative types of sugar for people with diabetes. Choosing honey, agave nectar or maple syrup to avoid white sugar is not a good choice, since they are equally likely to cause increases in blood sugar levels. They will not be as processed, but these sweeteners not only contain the same amount of carbohydrates as white sugar, they can have even more. The amount of carbohydrates in all these in a simple small scoop are very high. Honey on its side contains 17 grams of carbohydrates, leading the list; Agave nectar is very close with 16 grams, followed by maple syrup and white sugar with 13 and 12.6 grams respectively.
Summary: Inflammation and increases in blood sugar and insulin are the same effects generated in both white sugar and honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. Being less processed does not make them less dangerous for those with diabetes.
Vitamin C or potassium is some of the many vitamins and minerals that fruits possess. However, its drying process has negative consequences for people with diabetes. Water loss greatly concentrates these nutrients, just as it does with sugar. One serving of raisins contains more than 4 times the amount of carbohydrates than one of normal grapes, rising from 27 grams to 115, and only increasing from 1 to 5 grams in fibers. However, red fruits or a small apple are still a good food option. Fruits with low sugar levels should not be abandoned, as they are good for keeping blood sugar levels at bay.
Summary: Do not stop choosing fruits, as long as they are low in sugar. Nuts, on the other hand, when they find their nutrient and sugar content so concentrated, become harmful.
With high concentrations of easily digestible carbohydrates, snacks such as pretzels or cookies should be avoided. Made usually based on refined flours, they have very high levels of carbohydrates and few nutrients, where 28 grams of crackers, whole wheat flour or pretzels have between 21 and 22 grams of carbohydrates, and only one fiber. Nor should we trust what is contained in the packaging. Studies have shown that on average snacks contain 7.7% more carbohydrates than they claim in the nutritional information. Therefore, it is always better to choose some nuts or vegetables with few carbohydrates, and also some cheese, to control hunger between meals.
Summary: Highly processed and based on refined flours, snacks are only harmful to blood sugar levels.
10. Fruit Juices:
They may have even more sugar and carbohydrates than soda and other sugary drinks. Unlike the latter, they are considered a healthy drink, but they have consequences on very similar sugar levels. For example, a glass of 250 ml of apple juice not sweetened and gas equivalent, both contain 24 grams of sugar, while the same amount in grape juice can contain up to 32 grams. In addition, the levels of fructose, which generates insulin resistance, obesity and heart problems, are very high, as in sugary drinks. For a carbohydrate-free and virtually calorie-free drink, try water with a slice of lemon.
Summary: Insulin resistance, weight gain and risk of heart disease are the result of high levels of fructose in these drinks. It doesn’t matter if the juice is 100% natural, since they have at least the same amount of sugar as a soda.
11. French Fries:
Once peeled and fried in vegetable oil, a simple potato is no longer an option for a diabetic. In itself relatively high in carbohydrates in its natural state (half a potato with skin contains 37 grams of carbohydrates, 4 of which are fiber), French fries are enormously harmful. Heart disease and inflammation, and even cancer, are the result of eating fried foods on a regular basis, which contain highly toxic compounds such as aldehyde and advanced glycation products due to the frying process. Therefore, the best option to not abandon potatoes definitively are sweet potatoes.
Summary: The increase in inflammation, risk of heart disease and even cancer are the consequences of consuming chips, among other foods fried in unhealthy oils. In addition, they have high levels of carbohydrates that increase the level of blood sugar.
It is essential to avoid unhealthy fats such as Trans, processed grains, liquid sugars such as honey or maple syrup, and other foods with refined flour. Meals that disrupt blood sugar levels and cause insulin resistance should be neglected to maintain a minimum risk of future complications and be healthy today. The task of knowing what to eat and what not may seem arduous, but with this guide we seek to facilitate problems.