How Adding Grains to Your Diet Can Reduce Your Risk for Diabetes
When we think of carbohydrates, we often think of desserts and potatoes and candy.
What we don’t generally remember is that grains are carbohydrates that help us keep our blood glucose levels steady.
The Three Types of Carbohydrates
Sugar is the carbohydrate that has the fastest and most severe impact on blood glucose. Sugar metabolizes quickly, meaning that it clears the digestive system and enters the bloodstream quickly. This can result in spikes in blood sugar level.
Starches are also carbohydrates. Starches are comprised of long chains of glucose, and because of their more complex design, take longer to break apart and complete digestion. This makes them take a bit longer before they hit the bloodstream.
Fiber is the third type of carbohydrate. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber does not. Fiber comes primarily from plant sources. Because it is made up of resistant starches, resistant dextrins and inulins, it takes much longer to digest.
Grains are fiber. There are whole grains, with bran, germ and endosperm comprising the whole grain, and refined grains, where the bran and the germ are removed.
Refining grains makes for a finer texture and longer shelf life. It also strips out B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid), iron and the fiber that benefits us. Enriched grains have the B vitamins and iron added back, but not the fiber.
When consuming carbohydrates, the addition of grains slows the digestion of everything eaten along with it. This lessens the impact on blood glucose.
Adding grains to the diet also adds to the feeling of satiety or fullness after a meal. This means that smaller portions can give increased satisfaction, making it easier to transition to a healthier diet.
Advice for the Pre-Diabetic
If you have been told that you are pre-diabetic, there is still time to make the changes necessary to prevent diabetes.
Increased exercise and weight loss are two parts of the picture. The third is dietary changes.
Start by adding some healthy grains to your daily diet. A bowl of unsweetened oatmeal in the morning, particularly if it is made with steel cut oats, can be a good start to the day. A bran muffin is another good choice.
Using 12 grain or rye bread instead of white bread on your sandwich for lunch will help you feel full for the afternoon.
Brown rice or quinoa can be a healthy substitute for potatoes at dinner.
All of these changes will slow digestion and, therefore, slow the release of sugar into the blood. That will help you avoid spikes, and help you keep your A1c lower. Making these types of exchanges is a good habit to get into.
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