10 Unhealthy Foods And Drinks You Should Avoid With Diabetes
10 Unhealthy Foods And Drinks You Should Avoid With Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic health condition – one that has attained epidemic proportions globally (1). When left uncontrolled, diabetes can cause many complications, such as kidney disease, heart disease, blindness, etc. It is important to note that some foods can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. These foods can also promote inflammation, which increases your risk of complications (2). In this article, I’ll list some foods and drinks that you should avoid as a diabetic patient.
1. Sugary beverages
Diabetics should avoid sugary beverages at all costs. They are the worst kind of drink you can take as a diabetic. Why? Well, for starters, sugary beverages are loaded with carbs. For instance, a 12-ounce can of cola loads you with 38.5g of carbs (3). A 12-ounce can of lemonade or ice tea contains 45g of sugary carbs (4). Also, these drinks contain a lot of fructose, and fructose is associated with diabetes and insulin resistance.
Scientific studies have shown that sugar-sweetened beverages can increase a person’s risk for fatty liver disease and other diabetes-related conditions (5, 6). Also, the fructose in sugary drinks triggers a lot of metabolic changes that cause you to develop belly fat, as well as high triglyceride and cholesterol levels. You can replace your sugary drinks with unsweetened ice tea, water, or club soda.
2. White rice, pasta, and bread
White rice, pasta, and bread are heavily processed and contain a lot of carbs. Nutritional studies have shown that eating bagels, bread, and other foods made with refined flour cause a significant increase in blood sugar levels in type 1 and 2 diabetics (7, 8). But this is not only peculiar to foods made with refined flour. A study has shown that pasta-free without gluten also tends to increase blood sugar levels (9).
It is also important to note that high carb foods decrease brain function in type 2 diabetes patients (10). These foods are deficient in fiber. Fiber is a very important dietary component. It slows sugar absorption into the blood. Eating high-fiber foods causes a significant reduction in blood sugar levels in diabetes patients.
- Sugary beverages
- White rice, pasta, and bread
- Trans fats
- Sweetened yogurt
- Sweetened breakfast cereals
- Dried fruit
- Coffee drinks with flavor
- Maple syrup, agave nectar, and honey
- French fries
- Fruit juice
3. Trans fats
Trans fats are very unhealthy. How are artificial trans fats created? Well, what many food producers do is add hydrogen to unsaturated fatty acids. This makes the fatty acids more stable. Trans fats are present in food products like peanut butter, margarine, spreads, frozen dinners, and creamers. They are also added to muffins, crackers, and most baked foods so that they can last longer. While trans fats may not increase blood sugar levels directly, they contribute to insulin resistance, inflammation, and belly fat. They also reduce the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) (11, 12).
4. Sweetened yogurt
People with diabetes can take plain yogurt. It is healthy. However, the sweetened varieties aren’t so good after all. Sweetened or flavored yogurts are made from low-fat or non-fat milk. They also contain a lot of sugar and carbs. A cup of flavored yogurt contains as much as 31g of sugar. Technically, this means that sugar makes up more than 60% of its calories (13).
Many people think that fruit-flavored yogurts are better and healthier than ice cream. Well, the truth is that its sugar content is almost the same as or more than ice cream’s (14, 15). You can replace your sugary yogurts with plain yogurt made with whole milk. It helps with weight control, appetite, and digestive health (16, 17).
5. Sweetened breakfast cereals
A cereal breakfast isn’t the best way to start your day as a diabetic. Cereals are heavily processed and contain a lot of carbs – far more than you think. Also, carbs are deficient in protein. Protein is a very important nutrient. It fills you up and stabilizes your blood sugar levels during the day (18). It is important to note that the so-called “healthy breakfast cereals” are not so healthy after all, they are one of the 10 Unhealthy Foods.
It should be avoided by diabetics. Why? Well, a ½ cup of granola, for instance, contains no less than 44g of carbs. What’s more? Grape nuts contain 47g of carbs as well. Apart from that, their protein content per serving rarely exceeds 7g (19, 20). To maintain your blood sugar at healthy levels, adopt a protein-based breakfast with low carb content.
6. Dried fruit
Fruits are a great source of minerals and vitamins. Dried fruits, however, are bereft of water, leading to a very high concentration of vitamins and minerals. What’s more? The sugar in these fruits also becomes more concentrated. For instance, a cup of grapes provides no less than 27.3g of carbs, while a cup of raisins contains 115g of carbs (21, 22). So, you’ll have more carbs in raisins than in dried fruit. Other dried fruits also contain more carbs than the fresh varieties.
But this doesn’t mean that a diabetic patient should avoid fruits. No! Instead, you can take fruits that are low in sugar, like a small apple or fresh berries. They are beneficial to your health and will also maintain your blood sugar at healthy levels.
7. Maple syrup, agave nectar, and honey
Diabetes patients should drastically reduce the amount of white sugar that they consume, that’s why these made it to the 10 unhealthy foods that a diabetic should avoid at all cost. It is also important that you take very little or no cookies, pie, candy, and other treats. Sugars can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, and this is not only peculiar to white sugar. Even natural sugars in maple syrup, agave nectar, and honey, as well as brown sugars, can do the same. Agreed, these sugars are not processed, but they are loaded with carbs.
A tablespoon of white sugar contains 12.6g of carbs (23), honey contains 17.3g of carbs (24), maple syrup contains 13.4g (25), while agave nectar contains 16g (26). In a particular study, individuals who had prediabetes experienced increasing levels of insulin, sugar, and inflammatory markers in their blood after taking 1.7 ounces of honey or white sugar (27). You should stick to natural low-carb sweeteners and avoid the 10 Unhealthy Foods.
8. Coffee drinks with flavor
Coffee has many health benefits. Studies have also shown that it even reduces the risk of diabetes (28). But then, coffee is more of a liquid dessert than a beverage. The brain processes solid foods and liquids differently. When calories are taken from drinks, you usually don’t compensate for it by taking less later, thus, there’s a chance of weight gain (29). These drinks also contain plenty of carbs.
9. French fries
French fries are very unhealthy for people with diabetes, reason why they have been added to the 10 unhealthy foods to avoid. You see, potatoes are loaded with carbs. For instance, there’s more than 34.8g of carbs in a medium potato. Of these, 2.4g comes from fiber (30). After peeling and frying potatoes in oil, they become somewhat toxic.
For instance, deep-frying potatoes produce high amounts of aldehydes and advanced glycation end products, also part of the 10 Unhealthy Foods. These are toxic compounds that cause inflammation. Eating too many French fries may also cause cancer and heart disease (31, 32, 33, 34).
10. Fruit juice
Most fruit juices contain a lot of sugar, almost as much as sodas. They also contain a high amount of fructose which can promote weight gain, increase your resistance to insulin, as well as your risk of cardiovascular disease (35).
What’s the conclusion?
You must know what to eat and what not to eat as a diabetic patient. Avoid at all costs the 10 Unhealthy Foods cited above. The key, however, is to avoid sugars, unhealthy fats, and processed grains. Also, avoid foods that are loaded with refined carbs. This way, you’ll remain healthy, and your risk of developing diabetes complications will reduce.