Diabetes is a severe condition that affects a large proportion of the worldwide population. There are two kinds of diabetes, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of the disease and is often linked to lifestyle habits. This means the condition is avoidable, yet many people follow diets and lifestyles that put them at risk of diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association1, an estimated 10.5% of the US adult population suffers from diabetes. This accounts for 34.2 million people in the country. There are also an estimated 88 million adults in the US who have prediabetes.
The food a person eats plays a significant role in their ability to control their blood sugar levels. Some foods can cause a spike in blood sugar.
This increases the risk of going from a prediabetic condition to developing type 2 diabetes. It also increases the risk of complications in people who have already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
The Relationship Between Blood Sugar And Diet
A person who had been diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes need to ensure they understand how their diet affects the condition. There are multiple ways in which diet can harm blood sugar regulation. A diet that is filled with certain foods is sure to cause a constant spike in blood sugar levels.
The first point of interest would be carbohydrates. There are carbohydrates in many foods that people consume daily. For most people, carbohydrates from the primary macronutrient in their diet. Certain foods are higher in carbs too.
Often called carbs for short, this macronutrient is broken down into sugars in the body. The sugar is used to produce energy within the body. When there is excess sugar that is not used as energy, it causes blood sugar levels to rise.
Calories also need to be taken into account. Apart from carbohydrates, the fats and protein found in food also contribute to the daily caloric intake.
When there are excess calories in the body, it gets stored as fat.
An increase in fat causes the body to become resistant to insulin. This means insulin becomes less effective at distributing blood glucose to cells, which leaves more sugar in the blood circulatory system.
This is why there is a strong link between obesity and diabetes. Obese individuals are at a significantly higher risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes.
One study2 explains that BMI should be taken into consideration in these cases. The study reports that several factors are to be taken into account when linking obesity and diabetes. This includes cytokines, hormones, fatty acids, pro-inflammatory markers, and glycerol.
The Importance Of Balanced Blood Sugar Levels
Elevated blood sugar levels have several adverse effects that people need to take into consideration. Long-term uncontrolled blood sugar causes a person to experience an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes, in turn, causes many serious problems with a person’s health. Several complications have been linked to diabetes. Some of these include:
- Heart disease
- Nerve damage caused by neuropathy
- Eye damage, due to retinopathy
- Kidney damage, also caused by neuropathy
- Hearing impairment
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Skin condition
Many people also find that problems develop with their lower extremities when they have diabetes. This can lead to foot damage. Blood circulation is reduced in the feet.
There may also be nerve damage due to the development of neuropathy in diabetic patients. This can cause long-term complications.
Blisters and cuts will take longer to heal. There is a high risk of infection when the person’s feet are affected by cuts or blisters too.
Diabetes is also a significant cause of lower-extremity amputations. When an infection develops in a cut or blister, it may cause serious complications. As a last resort, sometimes the toe, foot, or part of the leg needs to be amputated.
The condition can also affect a person’s hearing function. This can lead to hearing impairment.
Additionally, there is also a link between depression and diabetes. People with diabetes are more likely to suffer from depression. It has also been found that the presence of depression may interfere with the person’s ability to manage their diabetes effectively.
Gestational diabetes also comes with additional complications and risks. This includes problems with both the baby and the mother.
A pregnant woman is at risk of subsequent gestational diabetes and preeclampsia when they have diabetes during pregnancy. The baby is at risk of excess growth and low blood sugar. The baby’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes at an older age is also significantly increased.
Signs Of High Blood Sugar Levels
Several symptoms may indicate a spike in blood sugar levels. There are also certain signs that a person is developing type 2 diabetes.
People must be educated about these symptoms. Education regarding diabetes symptoms is even more important in people who are at a high risk of the condition.
It should be noted that symptoms do depend on a few factors. The level at which blood sugar has been elevated will play a role in which symptoms a person may experience.
There are also cases where a person may not experience early symptoms. They would only find out they have diabetes when the condition causes complications.
Common symptoms that have been associated with diabetes include:
- Weight loss with no obvious explanation
- An increase in thirst
- Urinating more frequently
- The person may feel very hungry most of the time
- Some people experience irritability
- Sores and wounds take longer to heal
- Vision may become blurry
- Some people experience fatigue
Many people who develop diabetes will also experience frequent infections. These infections will often affect the skin or the gums. In women, vaginal infections are very common among patients with diabetes.
It should also be noted that ketones are likely to be present in the urine when a patient has type 2 diabetes. The ketones are caused by a reduction in insulin secretion. When there is not enough insulin in the body, it causes fat and muscle tissue to be broken down.
10 Foods That Cause A Spike In Blood Sugar
People who are prediabetic or already diagnosed with diabetes need to take a closer look at their lifestyle.
In particular, they should consider the foods that they eat on a daily basis. This includes both the main meals during the day, as well as any snacks that they consume between these meals.
Several foods have been found to contribute to a spike in blood glucose levels. Constantly eating these foods may lead to a more consistent elevation of blood sugar.
This, in turn, can cause prediabetes to develop into diabetes. In people with diabetes, the consistent elevation of blood sugar can lead to serious complications.
We take a look at some of the most important foods that raise blood sugar levels:
- White Bread: White bread is high in carbohydrates and generally low in nutritional values. This type of bread is also generally made from refined flour. Due to the use of refined flour, white bread is known to cause a spike in blood sugar levels3.
- Rice: Rice is another important food that people with diabetes should stay clear of. Rice is high in carbohydrates. The carbs are quickly converted into sugars when a person eats rice. This will cause blood sugar levels to spike.
- Pasta: In addition to white bread and rice, pasta is another high-carb food that should be added to the list of foods to avoid. The high carbohydrate content means the body will break the macronutrient down into sugars. In turn, this leads to a spike in blood sugar levels.
- Flavored Coffee: There are many health benefits linked to coffee. The problem is, flavored coffees contain added sugar and processed ingredients. This also means a flavored coffee drink will be high in carbs, further adding to the spike in blood sugar levels.
- Honey: Even though honey is a completely natural ingredient, it is loaded with sugar and carbs. In fact, a tablespoon of honey contains more carbs than maple syrup, white sugar, and agave nectar. One study showed honey causes a spike in blood sugar levels similar to a serving of white sugar4.
- Maple Syrup: While on the topic of sweeteners, it is also crucial that a person avoids eating maple syrup. In fact, all kinds of syrups generally tend to contain a lot of carbohydrates and sugar.
- French Fries: Another food that many people love, yet is a dangerous snacking option for people with diabetes. Potatoes are high in carbohydrates. Add the carbs and trans fats that come with the vegetable oil used to fry the potatoes. This quickly adds up to a dangerously high level of carbs.
- Dried Fruit: Even though dried fruit contains more nutrients than the fruit before the drying process, sugar is more concentrated in this snack too. A cup of raisins contains more than 100 grams of carbohydrates, for example6.
- Certain Yogurts: Greek yogurt is known for its probiotic content. When yogurt is sweetened and flavored, however, it can lead to a spike in blood glucose levels. These yogurts are produced wither from low-fat milk or non-fat milk. To improve the taste, a lot of sugar is added. This all contributes to higher carb content.
- Sugary drinks: Evidence suggested a link between the intake of soft drinks with obesity and diabetes, resulting from large amounts of high fructose corn syrup used in the manufacturing of soft drinks, which raises blood glucose levels and BMI to the dangerous levels.
How Can You Naturally Balance Blood Sugar Through Diet
The first strategy for reducing blood sugar balance through diet is to avoid foods known to spike blood glucose levels. This way, there will be a reduced risk of experiencing an elevation in blood sugar levels during the day.
In addition to this strategy, certain foods can be added to a person’s diet. These foods may help with improving the regulation of blood sugar.
Fiber-rich foods are often cited as a great option for improving blood sugar balance. Studies have shown that fiber helps to reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. HbA1c was also improved when people consume enough fiber each day7.
Including certain foods in a diet can also be helpful. Some food options that have shown potential in helping with the management of blood sugar regulation include:
- Whole wheat bread
- Sweet potatoes
- Cold-water fish species}
- Leafy greens
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Oat bran
- Greek yogurt
Certain fruit with a low GI score can also help. It is important to consider fresh fruit with a GI score that is below 55.
These fruits contain water, as well as fiber. This can help to counter the effect of the sugar contained in the fruit. The fiber helps with managing blood sugar control.
Apples, grapes, and blueberries are potential options that a person should consider. The fruit should be consumed fresh and not dried. Fruits that are too ripe also contain a higher GI score. This is something that should be taken into consideration.
Most types of nuts are also helpful. They include unsaturated fatty acids, as well as additional minerals, vitamins, and even antioxidants. There is one study8 that also showed nuts might be helpful in the management of type 2 diabetes. Nuts also protect against heart disease, which is a complication linked to diabetes.
Diabetes is a worldwide public health concern. The condition contributes to many serious complications in the body. It is also a common cause of lower limb amputation.
People need to realize what affects their blood sugar levels. A diet with certain foods causes uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Avoiding these foods is one way of maintaining a lower blood glucose level. This could possibly prevent some complications associated with diabetes.