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Carbohydrates, Fiber, and Diabetes

Carbohydrates are found in sweets, fruit, milk, yogurt, bread, cereal, rice, pasta, potatoes, and other vegetables.

Certain carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar faster than protein or fat, because your body breaks carbs down earlier during digestion.

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Total health care costs for diabetes in the U.S.: $218 billion. Estimated number of people in the U.S. who have prediabetes: 79 million. Total health care costs to cover prediabetes: $25 billion. Reduced risk of developing diabetes over three years if you follow a healthy food and exercise program: 58%. Length of time diabetes diagnosis may be delayed through lifestyle or medication intervention: up to 10 years. Reduced risk of developing diabetes over three years if...

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When you have diabetes, it helps to count your carbs and split them evenly between meals. Here's how: 

  • Plan how many carbs you get based on the amount of insulin or medication that's available to process it. That insulin could come from your body or from insulin you take.
  • Throughout the day, monitor how many carbs you're eating or drinking. If you eat more carbohydrates than your insulin supply can handle, your blood sugar level goes up. If you eat too few carbohydrates, your blood sugar level may fall too low.

A registered dietitian can help you figure out a carb-counting plan that meets your specific needs. For adults, a typical plan generally includes three to four carbohydrate choices at each meal, and one to two carbohydrate choices as snacks. (Each "carbohydrate choice" equals 5 to 15 grams of carbs.)

With carbohydrate counting, you can pick almost any food product off the shelf, read the label, and use the information about grams of carbohydrates to fit the food into your meal plan.

Counting carbs is most useful for people who take several daily injections of insulin, use an insulin pump, or want more flexibility and variety in their food choices. The amount and type of insulin you are prescribed may affect the flexibility of your meal plan.

You don't have to count carbs. You could use the food exchange lists instead.

Fiber and Diabetes

Fiber comes from plant foods. It helps with digestion, normal elimination, blood sugar control, and lowering cholesterol levels.

Most Americans should get more fiber in their diets. It's simple if you eat more of these fiber-rich foods:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Cooked dried beans and peas
  • Whole-grain breads, cereals, and crackers
  • Brown rice
  • Bran products
  • Nuts and seeds

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on January 19, 2015

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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