October 3, 2023

Our body is naturally programmed to use carbohydrates as the main source of energy for all its processes or our daily activities. It is thus an essential part of our diet. For a balanced diet, the quality and amount of carbohydrates matter.
When carbohydrates are ingested, these are broken down to glucose, the simplest form of sugar. Once glucose is absorbed in the blood, the pancreas secretes insulin the hormone that facilitates the entry of glucose into cells in order to be used as energy source. Blood sugar level goes back to normal levels as glucose enters cells. When excess glucose is absorbed, insulin secretion increases as a normal body mechanism to bring the blood sugar level to normal range. The excess sugar is processed and stored in fat cells to be used for energy when glucose level in the blood becomes low.
In abnormal situations, excess blood sugar is not stored and the blood sugar level exceeds the normal range. The expected effects of insulin may not take place. This may be due to inadequate amount of insulin produced by the pancreas, or resistance of cells to the effects of insulin even if the amount produced is adequate. The level of sugar in the blood then becomes elevated.
After an intake of carbohydrates, blood sugar spike normally occurs. This after-meal blood sugar rise is temporary since insulin acts fast to lower blood sugar back to normal levels. In diabetes mellitus, however, the blood sugar lowering mechanisms are impaired. The American Diabetes Association recommends post-meal blood sugar below 180 mg/dl. Studies have shown that frequent elevation of blood sugar after meals can lead to damage in the kidneys, eyes, heart and brain. It has also been associated with dementia, brain fog, memory, and attention disorders and other medical complications.
Glycemic index is a measure of how much carbohydrate-containing foods raise blood glucose. Foods are rated on a scale of zero to 100. Low GI is 55 or less, medium GI is 56 to 69, and high GI is 70 or higher. Foods with high glycemic index are those that are easily digested and absorbed like white bread and potatoes, while foods with low GI are digested more slowly and lead to slower rise in blood sugar. Examples are legumes, nuts, non-starchy vegetables, and barley. Camote or sweet potato is a favorite local source of carbohydrates. It contains fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. Boiled camote has lower glycemic index compared to fried camote. Glycemic index correlates with the quality of the carbohydrate taken, glycemic load measures the effect of the quantity of carbohydrates taken. It is recommended by diet and nutrition experts that both the amount and quality of carbohydrates should be considered in our personal dietary plans.
What are some measures that help us minimize blood sugar spikes after meal?
Limit food with high gycemic index like white bread, pastries, pasta, rice, and sweets.
Choose the method of cooking that will give certain foods a low GI.
Medicines like metformin can help. Take these under medical supervision.
Choose foods rich in fiber because they are digested more slowly.
Exercise. Taking a walk for 15 to 20 minutes after a meal has been shown to improve blood sugar control. Doing some household chores can also help.
Eat smaller servings of food.