Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterised by an increase of blood sugar concentration (hyperglycemia) and disruption of the body’s capacity to metabolise glucose, either as a result of reduced secretion of insulin or due to a decrease of the sensitivity of body cells to insulin.
The main types of diabetes are type 1 , type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Diabetes may cause a series of serious complications such as cardiovascular disease, chronic renal failure, retinal damage, nerve damage, etc.
Insulin has an primordial role in the treatment of diabetes.
Glucose and insulin
- Glucose is the body’s main fuel
- Glucose is any food containing carbohydrates
- Glucose is essential to our body and is immediately consumed when we walk, run, or think
- Glucose is stored in the muscles or where fat is also stored
- Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas
- Insulin helps the metabolism of carbohydrates and transports the glucose in the blood
- People with diabetes are unable to produce insulin
The glycaemic index
- The glycaemic index of foods is a number (in a scale of 0-100) that ranks different foods according to how quickly they raise blood glucose (most commonly known as “blood sugar”). According to this definition, the glycaemic index essentially shows how quickly food is digested.
- When we consume food with a low glycaemic index, glucose is released slowly into the blood and the body has time to react and use it where it is needed.
- When we consume foods with a high glycaemic index, glucose is released abruptly and so is stored in the adipocytes.
How we can understand which foods help our body? In fact there are 6 key elements that determine the glycaemic index of foods:
- Does it contain carbohydrates?
- Does it contain starch? What kind?
- How much fibre does it contain?
- What kind of sugars does it contain?
- Does it contain fat? – The “chocolate-paradox”
- How acidic is it?
With these questions we get to know which foods we should avoid and which ones are “calming” for our body in order to place them in our daily diet.
Glycaemic index per nutritional group
- High: white bread, rice noodles, potatoes, rice, sweets, biscuits
- Moderate: bran-flakes, crisps, basmati, brown rice, bars, ice cream
- Low: barley bread, rusk, rye bread, oats, sweet potato
- High: broad beans
- Moderate: black-eyed peas, lentils, beans, fava
- High: watermelon, bananas, figs, dates, mango, red grapes
- Low: apple, kiwi, cherries, grapefruit, strawberries, white grapes, avocado, peach, pear, plum, tomato
- High: pumpkin, beetroot
- Low: zucchini, artichoke, asparagus, eggplant, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cucumber, endive