Low-carb diets help many people learn about carbohydrates. For those dieters, controlling carbs equals weight loss. For diabetics, counting carbs equals survival. It determines how much insulin they need.
Carbohydrates are the food that affects the blood sugar level, so diabetics must understand what carbohydrates are.
Registered dietitian Erin Cross tells her clients there are two types of carbs -- complex carbs and simple sugars.
"When carbs are broken down, they turn into glucose and the rate at which it's broken down depends on whether it's a simple sugar or complex carb," Cross said.
Complex carbs include things like high-fiber cereal, oatmeal and whole grains. They do not affect the blood sugar as quickly as simple sugar, which we see normally in sweets and desserts, cookies, brownies, any white products, meaning white bread, white rice, white pasta.
"We don't have to exclude those things from our diet completely, but we want to limit them," Cross said.
Cross teaches her diabetic clients to combine protein-rich food with their carbs, like meat sauce with pasta or egg whites with high-fiber bread.
"When you combine carbohydrates and protein, it lessens the effect of the carb on blood glucose level," said Cross.
Many patients with non-insulin dependent diabetics can be completely cured by reducing down to a normal weight. Many who are diagnosed as pre-diabetic can avoid the disease all together by achieving a normal weight.
Health experts said 50 percent of Americans have diabetes and do not even know it, so it's important to have regular physical exams which include a blood test.
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