Diabetes, glucose, fructose and glycemic index

The seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. is diabetes. It affect 25 percent of American over the age of 65 and eats up 20 percent of health care spending. There are two types of diabetes.

Type 1 is also known as juvenile diabetes and most commonly begins in childhood or adolescence. It is essentially an autoimmune disease wherein the insulin producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed. Therefore, the pancreas cannot make insulin which lowers blood sugar (glucose) by escorting glucose into metabolically active cells and out of the blood.

Those individuals with Type 1 diabetes must monitor their blood sugar levels and adjust their insulin levels by insulin injections throughout the day. Those with type 1 diabetes represent 10 percent of the total population of those with diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is most common in adults and occurs when the body isn’t able to properly use the insulin that is made by the pancreas or when insufficient amounts are made by the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is most common in those people who are overweight and don’t exercise.

It is preventable, develops slowly, and it’s a lifestyle disease, which can be detected early by telltale signs such as frequent urination and excessive thirst and lack of energy.

In the case of Type 2 diabetes, treatment often relies on diet and exercise as well as oral medications that can increase the body’s own insulin production or increase the peripheral tissues ability to use insulin, or decrease the absorption of glucose in the intestinal tract.

Some people with Type 2 diabetes also require injections of insulin in order to keep their blood sugars levels down.

Management of diabetes involves a regime of diet and exercise, control of the HBA1c to indirectly monitor the average blood sugar level over time and monitoring the glycemic index of consumed foods.

The glycemic index of a given food is a measure of how fast that food will increase the blood sugar level or the glycemic load — which is a measure of the quantity a given food that will increase the blood sugar levels.

These management techniques are critical to minimize the negative side effects of diabetes which include complications involving the eyes, the ears, the kidneys, the heart, the gastrointestinal system, the skin, the peripheral arteries, sexual function and the nervous system. Amputations of the toes, feet and legs are common in late stage uncontrolled diabetes.

A low glycemic diet can help stabilize blood sugar levels and therefore energy levels throughout the day. Recognizing which foods have high glycemic index is important in controlling diabetes and there are charts on line that can help you determine which foods are appropriate and what quantities are optimal. Much of the information will likely surprise you.

A company that produces foods and information to assist those concerned about glycemic index is 50/50 foods. You can go to www.fifty50foods to learn more and see what they may have to offer you.

Fructose is a simple sugar that the body can use for energy but it has a low glycemic index. There are however, some concerns about fructose especially if taken in large quantities. The small amount found in fruit and veggies is not usually a bad thing, in fact there is some evidence that a little bit can help your body use glucose properly.

However, consuming too much fructose at one time can overwhelm the body’s ability to metabolize it properly. Because fructose is metabolized in the liver, if you consume too much of it at a given time, you will convert it into fats known as triglycerides, which raise your risk for heart disease. If you think of our ancestors — their diets contained only small amounts of fructose and very small amounts of glucose.

Compare that with the inordinate amount of sugar found in our modern day diet and you will realize why diabetes and heart disease are such prevalent problems. Fruit and veggies have small “normal amounts” of fructose, whereas the high fructose corn syrup added to many beverages and other sweetened foods has 65 percent fructose. Agave syrup is 90 percent fructose. These are very high amounts.

Become informed about glycemic index and glycemic loads so that you can make good and healthy choices. Exercise, and eat natural, clean and wholesome foods that nourish and replenish your body so that you can live a long and good life.


Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, (808) 212-8119 cell/text, www.janerileyfitness.com and www.discoverthis.isagenix.com


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