Debunking Diabetes Myths: Part 2

By The Registered Dietitians at 2 Your Health

Diabetes Myth Bananas

This is Part 2 in a series.  See Part 1 here.

Diabetes Myth: If a food is high on the glycemic index scale like bananas, pasta, and potatoes, I can’t have it.

Fact: Remember, here at 2 Your Health, we truly believe that “all foods can fit.” Bananas are rich in vitamins, and minerals, including potassium, vitamin B6, manganese, and fiber. Yes, they are high on the glycemic index (with a score of 62, compared to glucose which is 100), but unless you are eating two and three at a time, the nutrition benefits of including a serving (which is ½ banana = 15 g carbs, 1 exchange) with your meal or snack outweigh the negatives. This approach works with pasta, potatoes, and white bread along with other white items. When eaten in conjunction with protein and fat, the carbohydrate load will affect your blood glucose levels less than if eaten alone or in large portions. However, it is true that we can make better choices related to pasta, white bread, white rice and concentrated sugar items. For example, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread can be more beneficial than their white counterparts. They are higher in fiber which seems to slow down the rate at which the carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels. Potatoes (glycemic index of 111) are rich in potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin C, but it is the portion size, frequency, and preparation method that is going to make the difference in blood glucose levels.

Diabetes Myth: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or corn sugar is the same as cane sugar (also called sucrose or table sugar).

Fact: There have been many research studies, arguments, and professional controversies about the role of HFCS on diabetes, obesity, and its contribution to other serious diseases and conditions. Both cane sugar and HFCS can carry similar health risks because they are both about half fructose (HFCS is a 55 to 45 fructose to glucose ratio, hence the name “high fructose”) and when we have an excess amount of sugar to break down it can be stored as fat which may lead to insulin resistance and the by-products of the process can damage our cells. HFCS and sugar in various forms are found in numerous foods including crackers, salad dressings, cookies, sauces, juices, sodas, bread, and countless other foods, just pull something out of your pantry and take a look at the ingredient label. You may be surprised where HFCS is hiding.

It has been postulated that the pathway of HFCS does not trigger an insulin response and instead is absorbed into the bloodstream with the fructose going to the liver and beginning the process of lipogenesis, which means production, or making of fat. The truth is we don’t have all the answers on the consequences of HFCS. Limiting the amount of foods high in HFCS or sugar is what is going to be most important. Enjoy a 4oz. glass of soda, a cookie, but make it part of a balanced, whole food diet and lifestyle choice.

Have you noticed a trend here yet? The focus has not been on ‘elimination,’ but on limiting and reducing intake of certain foods or ingredients that may contribute to increased blood glucose levels. A ‘diabetic diet,’ ‘carbohydrate controlled diet’ or ‘carbohydrate counting’ is actually a very healthy plan applicable to most everyone. The ratio of carbohydrate, protein, and fat is usually around 50% of calories from carbohydrate, 25% from protein, and 25% from fat, depending on the individuals’ specific lifestyle and needs. Some great resources, along with talking to your physician and registered dietitian to explore menu plans, and more information related to this topic include:

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Author: Carla Spencer

Carla Spencer is a Registered Dietitian and founder of 2 Your Health. Her extensive career working with individuals with health challenges led her to create this site dedicated to helping people enjoy their lives while working to prevent or minimize the impact of kidney disease.

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