11 Foods and Drinks to Avoid with Diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that has reached epidemic proportions among adults and children worldwide .
Uncontrolled diabetes has many serious consequences, including heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and other complications.
Prediabetes has also been linked to these conditions .
Importantly, eating certain foods can raise your blood sugar and insulin levels and promote inflammation, which may increase your risk of disease.
This article lists 11 foods and drinks that people with diabetes or prediabetes should avoid.
Why does carb intake matter for people with diabetes?
Carbs, protein, and fat are the macronutrients that provide your body with energy.
Among them, carbs have the greatest effect on your blood sugar by far. This is because they’re broken down into sugar, or glucose, and absorbed into your bloodstream.
Carbs include starches, sugar, and fiber. However, fiber isn’t digested and instead absorbed by your body in the same way other carbs are, so it doesn’t raise your blood sugar.
Subtracting fiber from the total carbs in a portion of food will give you its digestible or net carb content. For instance, if a cup of mixed vegetables contains 10 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber, its net carb count is 6 grams.
When people with diabetes consume too many carbs at a time, their blood sugar levels can rise to dangerously high levels.
Over time, high levels can damage your body’s nerves and blood vessels, which may set the stage for heart disease, kidney disease, and other serious health conditions.
Maintaining a low carb intake can help prevent blood sugar spikes and greatly reduce the risk of diabetes complications.
Therefore, it’s important to avoid the foods and drinks listed below.
1. Sugar-sweetened beverages.
Sugary beverages are the worst drink choice for someone with diabetes.
First, they’re very high in carbs, with a 12-ounce (354-mL) can of cola providing 38.5 grams .
The same amount of sweetened iced tea and lemonade each contain almost 45 grams of carbs exclusively from sugar .
In addition, these drinks are loaded with fructose, which is strongly linked to insulin resistance and diabetes. Indeed, studies suggest that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages may increase the risk of diabetes-related conditions like fatty liver disease .
What’s more, the high fructose levels in sugary drinks may lead to metabolic changes that promote belly fat and potentially harmful cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
In separate studies in adults with overweight and obesity, consuming 25% of calories from high fructose beverages on a weight-maintaining diet led to increased insulin resistance and belly fat, lower metabolic rate, and worse heart health markers .
To help control blood sugar levels and prevent disease risk, consume water, club soda, or unsweetened iced tea instead of sugary beverages.
2. Trans fats.
Artificial trans fats are extremely unhealthy.
They’re created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fatty acids to make them more stable.
Trans fats are found in margarines, peanut butter, spreads, creamers, and frozen dinners. Furthermore, food manufacturers often add them to crackers, muffins, and other baked goods to help extend a product’s shelf life.
Although trans fats don’t directly raise blood sugar levels, they’ve been linked to increased inflammation, insulin resistance, and belly fat, as well as lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and impaired arterial function (.
While more research is needed to gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between trans fats and insulin resistance, the links mentioned above are especially concerning for people with diabetes, as they’re at an increased risk of heart disease.
Artificial trans fats have been outlawed in most countries, and in 2018 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of partially hydrogenated oil — the major source of artificial trans fat in the food supply — in most processed foods (.
This doesn’t mean that all foods in the United States are now free of artificial trans fats. Manufacturers aren’t required to list trans fats on the nutrition facts labels if a product contains under 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving (.
It’s best to avoid any product that contains the words “partially hydrogenated” in its ingredient list.
3. White bread, rice, and pasta.
White bread, rice, and pasta are high carb, processed foods.
Eating bread, bagels, and other refined-flour foods has been shown to significantly increase blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes .
This response isn’t exclusive to products made with refined white flour. In one study, gluten-free pastas were also shown to raise blood sugar, with rice-based types having the greatest effect .