Diabetes type 2: Best diet for blood sugar levels – including the best types of carbs

This Morning: Type 2 diabetes can be 'devastating' says expert

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Diabetes type 2 is a lifelong condition that’s linked to a person’s blood sugar levels becoming too high. Blood sugar levels are directly impacted by a person’s diet and with so much misinformation out there regarding carbohydrates, Dr Sarah Brewer spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk to offer her insight on a healthy type 2 diabetes diet and whether to carb or not to carb.

The glycaemic index (GI) measurement scale determines how foods impact a person’s blood sugar levels.

Low GI foods are those that are broken down more slowly by the body.

Health experts advise eating foods with lower GI ratings which helps to lower blood sugar levels, lowers a person’s risk of heart disease, and can help prevent or mitigate type 2 diabetes.

To carb or not to carb?

The GI index bases its values on carbohydrates, said Dr Sarah Brewer.

She continued: “If you’re diabetic, you may have been told before to avoid carbs, as they are often linked with obesity and the symptoms of type 2.

“However, carbs are a large part of modern diets alongside fats and proteins.

“So how does your body use up carbs? The digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars, which in turn enter the bloodstream before heading to your cells for use as energy.

“The body can also process carbs into fat for energy for later use.

“The main issue is the use of refined carbs in processed foods. What we should aim for is avoiding the “bad” carbs rather than avoiding carbs entirely.”

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In a study published in the British Medical Journal, dietary and nutritional approaches for prevention and management of type 2 diabetes was further investigated.

The study further investigated the role of carbohydrates and its impact on type 2 diabetes.

The study found that whole grains and fibre are better choices than refined grains and that fibre should be at least as high in people with type 2 diabetes as recommended for the general population.

“Diets that have a higher glycaemic index and load are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and that there is a modest glycaemic benefit in replacing foods with higher glycaemic load with foods with low glycaemic load,” noted the study.

It added: “However, debate continues about the independence of these effects from the intake of dietary fibre.

“Some evidence exists that consumption of potato and white rice may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but this is limited and further research is needed.”

Dr Brewer recommends these types of carbohydrates for people with type 2 diabetes due to their low glycaemic index:

  • Wholegrain or rye breads
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and celery
  • Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams
  • Pasta and noodles
  • Brown rice
  • Lentils
  • Dairy products including cheese, milk, and yogurt

Foods with moderate glycaemic indices (acceptable in moderation): 

  • Breakfast cereals like Cream of Wheat
  • White potatoes
  • Corn
  • Couscous
  • Rye bread
  • Honey

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