Role of Carbohydrates in Diabetes Mellitus

Role of Carbohydrates in Diabetes Mellitus

All of us eat food at least a few times in a day and this goes on continuously till we are alive. All the food that we eat has been divided into seven categories – Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats; minerals, water, vitamins and fibre. Out of these, the first three can give us energy by getting digested. This energy is counted as calories. The last four are very vital to our body and for better health but they do not produce any calories.

If we compare them with the running of a car – Carbohydrates, Proteins and fats are like Petrol, Diesel and CNG(Gas). Without them, the car can not run. But the rest four(mineral, vitamin, water and fibre) are like brake oil, engine oil and coolants. These cannot give energy to the car, but without them, the car will break down.

Fats are available in the form of oils, butter, dry fruits, cheese and mostly provide calories to the body. They are not good for heart disease and obesity – and can help to improve diabetes by way of reducing weight. So it is better to cut down fats for Diabetics. Proteins are mostly available in Pulses and legumes apart from animal foods. All cereals also have some proteins. Eating proteins in good quantity is also recommended as one needs to cut down calories from Carbohydrates. Except for diabetics with kidney, disease proteins are not as harmful as food.

Now comes to the most important food for our body – the Carbohydrates. These foods form about 70% of our diet. They form major parts of all cereals( wheat, rice, corn, oats, jawar, bajra, ragi etc), fruits and vegetables/salads. Sugar, Honey, Jaggery are also Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide our body with energy which can be counted in Calories. Carbohydrate is the only food due to which glucose level goes up. When we eat carbohydrate(wheat, rice, corn, oats, jawar, bajra, ragi etc), they broke down to produce glucose in different stages in our digestive tract. The digestion process of the carbohydrate takes 10 minutes to 2 hours. This digested food is now pushed down the small intestine where the glucose is taken up by the blood. Like this glucose is released from the carbohydrates. There are two kinds of carbohydrates. First is simple carbs and second is complex carbs. Both carbs released glucose, but then what is the difference between them? The difference is that simple carbs released glucose in 15-20 minutes in the blood whereas complex carbs released glucose from 2-3 hours. Now this increased glucose has to be taken up by every one of the billions of cells. This intake is only possible if a hormone called Insulin is present in the blood. On the outer wall of every cell, there are insulin receptors and once the Insulin joins the receptors the glucose can be taken up by the cells. This arrangement is like a lock and key – the key being Insulin and lock is the receptors.

Thus, as soon as the Insulin combines with the receptor the doors are open for glucose to enter each and every cell of the body. They are then broken down to produce energy in the presence of oxygen – which ultimately let the cells survive.