Whole Grains and Diabetes: Managing Blood Sugar through Diet
When it comes to diabetes, you already know that tweaks in your lifestyle and, primarily, diet can help you balance your insulin levels. Being a diabetic, you need to eat less saturated fat, salt, and sugar and at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. But did you know how whole grains can add value to your diet? Sadly, we are not eating enough of whole grains.
What are Wholegrains?
Wholegrains are basically the seeds of cereal plants such as maize, corn, wheat, rye, oats, rice, barley, and quinoa. When whole grains are in their unprocessed state, it consists of three parts:
- The bran
- The germ
- The endosperm
The outer layer of the grain is the bran, a rich source of insoluble dietary fiber, phytochemicals, and vitamin B. The germ is a source of protein, "healthy" fats, vitamins B and E. Lastly, the endosperm is the central part, which is a focused source of starch.
When you refine these wholegrain to make white flour, for instance, most of the bran and the germ are removed along with its nutrients, dietary fiber, and other crucial components.
Ideally, wholegrain foods retain all three parts of the grain. You can eat them whole in brown rice or oats, cracked like bulgur wheat, or milled into flour to make bread or pasta.
Why is it essential to establish a healthy eating plan?
Whether you are diabetic or prediabetic, your healthcare provider will likely recommend consulting a dietitian to create a healthy eating plan. This plan serves multiple crucial purposes: it aids in managing your blood sugar (also known as blood glucose), helps you control your weight, and mitigates risk factors associated with heart disease, such as high blood pressure and fats.
Consuming excess calories and carbohydrates can lead to elevated blood sugar levels. Failing to control blood sugar can result in serious complications, including prolonged high blood sugar levels, known as hyperglycemia. Prolonged hyperglycemia can lead to enduring health issues like nerve damage, kidney problems, and heart damage.
To maintain your sugar levels within a safe range, making prudent food choices and monitoring your eating habits are essential.
Furthermore, for many individuals with type 2 diabetes, shedding excess weight can make blood sugar management more manageable. Weight loss brings a range of additional health advantages. If weight loss is necessary, a well-structured healthy eating plan offers a safe and nutritious path to achieving your weight goals.
What's the distinction between wholemeal, wholewheat, wholegrain, and granary bread?
Wholemeal, wholewheat, and wholegrain bread are synonymous terms, all referring to bread made from whole grains. However, granary bread is distinct. It contains malted wheat flakes, giving it a unique texture. It may or may not be made from wholemeal flour, so checking the label is advisable.
On the other hand, wheat germ bread is produced using white flour with added wheat germ and is not considered a wholegrain option.
Why are Wholegrains a Healthy Choice?
Whole grains are a wise dietary choice, not only for individuals with diabetes but for everyone in the family. For those with diabetes, whole grain foods are generally a better option for managing blood sugar levels due to their lower glycemic index (GI). This means they impact blood sugar more slowly than refined carbohydrate foods.
However, it's crucial to be mindful of portion sizes, as all carbohydrates can influence blood glucose levels.
Research indicates that incorporating whole grains into a healthy diet may reduce the risk of various health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, specific types of cancer, and Type 2 diabetes.
While the precise mechanisms behind these benefits aren't fully understood, whole grains can contribute to maintaining a healthy body weight over time when part of a balanced diet. They also promote gut health due to their phytochemical content.
Moreover, studies suggest that wholegrain foods are more satiating than their refined counterparts, curbing the desire for snacks between meals and aiding in weight management.
How to Eat More Whole Grains?
Boosting your whole grain intake is simple with a few dietary adjustments. Consider these easy swaps and ideas:
- Replace white bread and rice with wholegrain counterparts, like whole wheat bread and brown rice.
- Enhance the texture of dishes by including grains such as barley and bulgur wheat in soups, stews, salads, and casseroles.
- When baking bread or muffins, use a mixture of half whole wheat flour and half oat, amaranth, or buckwheat flour instead of white flour. These wholegrain flours can also be used in pancakes and waffles.
- Opt for popcorn as a wholesome alternative to crackers for a snack. Do not add butter and salt for a healthier choice. Unsweetened whole grain cereal is another great snack option.
- Start having rice with quinoa as a side dish. Also, use quinoa as a coating for shrimp and chicken rather than flour or breadcrumbs.
Having diabetes doesn't mean you need to give up all your love for food. You can still eat foods made with grains if you make them whole grains. However, you must always keep a check on your blood sugar levels and seek proper medication from your doctor.
If you are looking for reliable primary care services, CVMedPro has your back. Our extensive network of healthcare providers enables you to choose the right professional. Schedule an appointment today!
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