Maintaining a healthy diet is important for people with diabetes because what you eat directly affects your blood sugar levels. Foods like lean meats, vegetables, and fruits are recommended because they don't possess as many sugars and starches; however, some foods high in carbohydrates, like whole wheat bread, steel-cut oats, and whole grain cereal, are nutritious. While whole grains are good sources of fiber and low in fat, refined flour is detrimental to your health--especially if you have diabetes.
Unlike healthy, energy-boosting carbohydrates, refined flour only has a few grams of fiber. This lack of fiber means carbohydrates are absorbed more quickly into your bloodstream, causing your glucose levels to rise rapidly while your energy level drops. By replacing foods high in refined flour for whole grain foods, you can ensure that your carbohydrate intake does not cause serious complications.
Flour is most commonly made from wheat; however, it can also be made from barley, rye, corn or rice. During the refining process of flour, the parts with the most nutritional value, the germ and bran, are stripped from the grain kernel. Although this process extends the shelf life of flour, making it cheaper to purchase, it also results in the loss of essential vitamins and minerals, like fiber and iron. After the germ and bran are removed, the remaining grains are bleached, making refined flour unhealthier. The refining process transforms hearty whole grains into bland, chemically altered flour.
Unfortunately, many of the foods that you find in local grocery stores and restaurants contain refined flour. White bread, pasta, cake and cookie mixes, and other processed foods list refined flour as one their main ingredients. Although it may be difficult, it is important to refrain from eating these types of foods.
Refined flour can have harmful health effects on diabetes. According to the glycemic index, eating foods that contain refined flour can cause drastic changes in your glucose levels. The gylcemic index is a rating system for foods that are high in carbohydrates. This is a useful tool for people with diabetes because it shows how different types of carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels. You can find the glycemic index in nutritional books or medical brochures. Helpful tips and recipes are also available online. These resources can help people make more informed food choices. For instance, whole grains have a low G.I. because they are converted into glucose more slowly. On the other hand, refined flour has a high G.I. because it possesses less fiber, causing your body to convert sugars and starches into glucose too quickly. Consequently, your blood sugar levels begin to rise.
Having too high or too low glucose levels can cause significant short-term and long-term consequences to those with diabetes, including, nausea, faintness, diabetic coma, and organ damage. By continuing to eat foods with refined flour, you are also increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
In the end, managing a healthy diet is a key component in controlling your diabetes. By monitoring your intake of refined flour, exercising regularly, and taking medication, you can ensure that your glucose levels will remain stable and keep your diabetes always in check.