How Does Diet Affect Diabetes?

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Diet, food choices and the amount of food a person consumes have a direct impact on changes in blood sugar levels, which is a primary concern for diabetics, according to Mayo Clinic. Managing a diabetes diet includes being aware of portion sizes and the types of carbohydrates consumed. Carbohydrate foods have the highest impact on blood sugar, making it important for diabetics to accurately count carbohydrate amounts in each meal.

Carbohydrates are digested as sugar and then released into the bloodstream where insulin begins a process to move sugars into storage cells, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As sugar is stored, blood glucose lowers, and the pancreas produces glucagon, which allows the release of sugar so it can be used as energy. Type 2 diabetes is a condition wherein a person becomes resistant to insulin or stops producing it altogether, causing blood sugar levels to remain high for extended periods.

Different carbohydrates have different effects on blood sugar, and many people refer to the glycemic index of various foods in order gauge its impact, states Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The glycemic index is a system that ranks carbohydrates based on how quickly they drive up blood sugar levels. The higher the food is in the index, the faster the spike. Lower-index foods such as whole oats digest slower and are considered healthier choices for diabetics than high-index foods such as white bread.