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3 Eating Patterns That Can Help Regulate Blood Sugar

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The vice president of the Latin American Diabetes Association recommends these three steps to maintain your blood sugar and stay healthy.




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Glucose is the most important fuel available to our body.

It is from her that we extract the energy necessary for our movement, our thinking and our heartbeats. It is essential for our vital functions.

But if this level of glucose (or sugar) in the blood is not adequate, serious health problems can occur.

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by high blood glucose levels. Over time, it causes severe damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.



Some foods help your glucose stay regulated

The most common type is type 2 diabetes, usually found in adults. It occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not produce enough insulin.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) estimates that 62 million people across the Americas are living with type 2 diabetes.

That number has tripled in the region since 1980 and is estimated to reach 109 million by 2040, according to the Diabetes Atlas.

The incidence of the disease has increased more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.



The incidence of the disease has increased more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

World Diabetes Day is celebrated on November 14th.

What to eat?

What foods should we consume – or not – to help keep blood sugar levels regulated?

To find out the answer, BBC News Mundo, the BBC’s Spanish-language service, spoke to Clara Eugenia P茅rez Gualdr贸n, vice-president of the Latin American Diabetes Association (ALAD) and a professor in the National University of Colombia’s School of Medicine.

Check out the expert guidelines below.

BBC News Mundo: Why is it necessary to always keep blood sugar levels regulated?

Clara Eugenia P茅rez Gualdron: Some might think that if you eat sugar, your blood sugar rises. But is not so. We have an enzymatic hormone disruptor complex that keeps glucose at optimal levels 24 hours a day.

But it’s important to keep it regulated. That is, make sure it doesn’t rise too much or fall too much. This is the problem that patients with diabetes often have.

If someone has very high glucose for long periods, it produces toxic substances in the body that, over time, damage the body. For example, small and large blood vessels.

A patient with diabetes and chronic hyperglycemia may lose, for example, eye and kidney function. He could also undergo amputations. These are the chronic complications of diabetes.

And the very low blood sugar level can lead to the death of the patient in seconds. Therefore, it is not good to have glucose too high, nor too low.

In diabetes, we have boundaries that define healthy glucose levels. It is known, for example, that – fasting for six to eight hours – we should have a blood sugar around 100 or less. And after eating, it shouldn’t go over 140. If it goes over those marks, there’s a problem.



Clara Eugenia P茅rez Gualdr贸n is Vice President of the Latin American Diabetes Association and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the National University of Colombia

BBC: Are there foods that help regulate blood sugar?

Perez Gualdron: There is a healthy eating pattern. Some foods help glucose stay regulated and others, on the contrary, prevent it from being regulated.

The healthy eating pattern includes three key components:

1. Consume fruit and vegetables;

2. Eliminate foods concentrated with sugar;

3. Cut down on foods that are high in saturated fat and replace them with those that contain monounsaturated fat.

Foods that we can consume and that regulate glucose very well are foods rich in fiber, such as wheat bran. And you also need to consume plenty of fluids.

The script is this.



Wheat kernels are high in fiber

BBC: What are these fruits and vegetables and how much should we eat?

Perez Gualdron: Eat as many vegetables as you can. We never abuse vegetables.

But the fruits, yes, we have abused them. Especially in Latin America, as the region is rich in fruit trees.

It is necessary to eat fruits in portions. The recommendation for the patient is the 3-2 formula: three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit per day. Or the other way around: three for fruit and two for vegetables.

Generally, in the established form of our food in Latin America, we include fruit for breakfast. In the middle of the morning we eat fruit. And, mid-afternoon, we went back to eating fruit. Vegetables are for lunch and dinner.

The secret is to eat vegetables of three different colors in each portion, because in this way we offer the body a complex of vitamins, mineral salts or trace elements contained in these foods.

People are sometimes single minded and start eating bananas, bananas and bananas. It is the favorite fruit of Latin Americans. But the banana just has a higher amount of sugar than other fruits.

Most fruits have 10% glucose. That is, 100 grams of fruit contains 10% glucose. And there are others that have 20%, such as bananas, while others have 5%, such as tangerines.

If someone eats four tangerines, it’s like eating a banana, in terms of sugar.

BBC: Which foods have a lot of sugar?

Perez Gualdron: In many places in the morning they drink coffee with milk and add sugar. We need to get rid of that sugar we add.

When the patient says “oh, but the coffee is too bitter!”, I recommend a substitute: the sweetener.

This sweetener can be caloric or non-caloric. Using a caloric sweetener causes glucose to rise. Therefore, a non-caloric sweetener is recommended.

But tests show that non-caloric sweeteners harm the gastrointestinal flora. And this has three important consequences for the body.

The intestinal flora serves to ensure the body’s immunity, regulate body weight and promote the production of neurotransmitters associated with happiness, so that people feel good.

As I tell my students, many are left fat, sad and with the flu. Because? Since they have no bacteria, they are eliminated with the non-caloric sweetener.

Many soft drinks are sweetened with non-caloric sweeteners, which destroy our gastrointestinal flora. And the consumption of sugary liquids, such as juices, is also high.

There’s a classic example for this question: Which is sweeter, a strawberry or a potato? Everyone replies that it is the strawberry.

But which one has more sugar? 100 grams of strawberries have 5% sugar and 100 grams of potatoes, or one large potato, have 20% sugar.

If you make a juice, the sugar in the strawberry becomes soluble and can be absorbed faster, so it’s best to eat the whole strawberry. On the other hand, the whole baked potato will take some time to digest. Therefore, your blood sugar will not rise as quickly.

And there is what I call hygiene in eating habits. This means eating accompanied, at the right time, seated and with the necessary amount of chewing. If I chew potatoes, satiety signals reach my brain within 15 minutes.



Do you drink coffee with milk: with sugar, sweetener or on its own?

BBC: And what are saturated fats?

Perez Gualdron: You need to reduce saturated fats and increase monounsaturated fats. For that, you need to use olive oil.

In the countries of the Southern Cone olive oil is widely consumed, but not in other regions of Latin America.

Instead of consuming olive oil, people use subcutaneous cell tissue from pork or chicken. That is, they melt the skin of animals.

Animal lard is saturated fat. Any solid fat at room temperature is high in saturated fatty acids. And, in high concentration in our blood, it causes insulin not to work properly.

If your insulin doesn’t work well, your blood sugar automatically rises.

On the other hand, about 20 milliliters of olive oil per day is an ideal fat intake. It makes your life work better and therefore the glucose level goes down

BBC: What should a diabetic eat and not eat?

Perez Gualdron: She should eat more fruits and vegetables and less concentrated sugary foods, avoid sugary liquids and consume positive fats such as olive oil. This fat is also found in nuts and fish from cold, deep sea waters.

But, in addition to food, it is essential to walk, walk and walk.

If you exercise, ride a bike or rollerblade, and swim, you’re in great shape. But take at least 7,000 steps a day.



Drinking wine in moderation has positive effects on the cardiovascular system.

It is necessary to abandon sitting hours. What kills people is the chair. He is a silent enemy.

If you spend eight hours a day sitting, start cutting it in half or a third. You can start work standing or walking and start moving. It is possible to implement.

All this complex nutritional plan must be accompanied by physical activity and will make you feel much better.

BBC: And is a glass of wine bad for blood glucose?

Perez Gualdron: Moderate drinking has positive consequences for the cardiovascular system. Drinking a glass of wine a day doesn’t hurt. On the contrary, it’s good.

Wine has a large amount of substances beneficial to health. The problem is that most Latin Americans don’t drink wine as they do in the south of the continent, where they drink one or two glasses a day with meals.

The bad thing is the accumulation. For example, if you drink all the glasses of wine for the week together on Saturday. In this case, it is recommended not to drink alcohol.

But wine is bad for the patient with diabetes who has hypertriglyceridemic-type dyslipidemia. This is because alcohol in the liver promotes the construction of new triglycerides which, ultimately, can harm the patient with diabetes.

BBC: Are there other factors that help us regulate glucose?

Perez Gualdron: Another very important point is the hours of sleep. Sometimes sleep nourishes more than the food itself.

How to improve the quality of sleep? Practice physical activity every day.

If you follow all these recommendations, you will soon see that everything will turn out very well.

– This text was published in https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/geral-63643761

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