World Health Day i.e., the 7 th of April is a day of immense significance in the medical world, and more so these days in the context of the Indian sub-continent and every place with a surfeit of lazy, sedentary folks whose staple diet include high doses foods (including processed foods) high in carbohydrates, sugars and fats including cooking oils and related mediums. These in the absence of restrains, sensible eating and the requisite exercises and physical exertions, such foods for anyone with high blood sugar levels can be a sure recipe for diabetes. Diabetes by itself under control with the right medication and physical exertion could be one thing. Letting it go out of hand with a lifestyle could be another. The latter in fact could open flood gates to other diseases – including high chances of Covid-19 infection!

But food can’t be given up in its entirety, and nor can a lifestyle, the bane of 21 st -century living. That said, what one can do is to be aware of foods that need to be consumed, and stay miles away from others which are sure to lead to an un-naturally increased state of blood sugar.

This World Health Day, Dr Ashwini Joshi, Physician & Diabetologist tells you of foods known to either contain excessive quantities of sugars or are likely to lead to that state, and why diabetics ought to stay away from them.

Milk-based refreshments (including dollops of ‘Shrikhand’ in all forms!)

Yoghurt (curd in this part of the world) without a doubt is good for the gut with all its probiotics. Problems arise when comfort and taste get added to it which invariably means dollops of sugary syrups of various kinds depending upon people’s taste buds (and moods!). The latter if eaten too often or in large quantities may lead to high blood sugar. The way out? Go back to good old curd and or add sugar in minimal quantities.

Fruit juices, fresh or canned

Juices, be they fresh or canned are the perfect way to get an instant sugar high given the absence of much-needed fibre and pulp that help release the sugar slowly. What then rule are flavour and sugar. In the case of canned juice, added sugars add to the misery! While fresh juices are good for everyone, in the case of diabetics, it should be held in check with whole fruits with their fibres and pulp which slowly release the sugars during digestion which in most cases one’s system can handle- unless one is severely diabetic in which case consumption under the advice of a medical practitioner is very advisable.

Finely ground flour (also called refined flour)

Wheat in any form is high in carbohydrates, another form of sugar. Eaten in any form, gives a sugar rush which means diabetics ought to be cautious. In the case of refined flour, the added problem is that with practically all of the fibres processed for instant digestion, it is almost like eating sugar which raises blood sugar almost immediately. While bread, baked items, etc should be had with caution. Instead, go for bread and baked items with whole wheat with lots of fibre.

Milk in its normal form with all fats in place (also called full-fat milk)

Milk has both carbs and proteins, both of which need to be broken down to create energy using insulin. Problems start when the number of dairy products overwhelms the body’s ability to supply insulin - a condition not exactly alien to diabetics. In diabetics, fats that aren’t broken down affect the liver where it’s stored as fats, besides other places in the body. Diabetics, in particular, should go easy on milk with full fats, and instead switch to toned or skimmed milk.

Foods heavy in cooking oil (fried and deep-fried foods)

Cooking oils are essential fats in almost all cases and need to be broken down using insulin, something a diabetic’s body may find hard to do given the limited production of insulin in their bodies. For this reason, diabetics should to the extent possible stay away from fried foods, and instead look for their baked, roasted or lightly sautéed forms.

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