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I eat healthily

I eat healthily

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All about sugar

It is commonly known that we should limit our sugar intake, but it is also important to realize that we all need sugar for the normal functioning of our body, even people with diabetes. It’s all about knowing a few things: what the different categories of sugar are, how they impact blood sugar levels, etc.

LET’S TALK ABOUT CARBOHYDRATES

It is indeed more accurate to talk about carbohydrates than sugar, which can characterize both a food and a nutrient. Carbohydrates are macronutrients, just like fats or proteins. The first thing to know is that carbohydrates are our main source of energy. For some of our organs (such as the brain), they are even the main “fuel”. 

There are several categories of carbohydrates, characterized by specific structural and functional properties:[1]

  • Simple carbohydrates: these have a short molecular structure, which leads to faster digestion, and therefore a high peak blood sugar level but one which does not last over time. This is called “fast” sugar. Fast sugars include powdered sugar, fruits, or even sweets.
  • Complex carbohydrates with a longer structure are digested more slowly and therefore have a more moderate impact on blood sugar levels, but one that lasts over time: they are called “slow” sugars. Pasta, bread, rice and potatoes are slow sugars.

WHAT ABOUT THE GLYCEMIC INDEX?

The glycemic index (GI) of a food represents its ability to raise blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that cause a rapid and high rise in blood sugar have a high GI, while those with little influence have a low GI. Each food has its own glycemic index. 

As well as reflecting the quality of the carbohydrates present in a food, the GI also varies according to several parameters:[2]

  • How you prepare your dish, including temperature and cooking time. For example, a cooked carrot will have a higher GI than a raw carrot.[3]
  • The botanical origin and varieties of foods: for example, not all varieties of apples or grapes (white, pink, red) systematically have the same GI. 
  • The degree of maturity: this is particularly true for fruit. A ripe fruit will have a higher GI than an unripe fruit.
  • The consumption mode: a carbohydrate consumed alone will be absorbed more quickly than if it is consumed during a diversified meal. That’s why diabetics are advised to combine fruit with yoghurt or bread.

These few tips should give you an informed view of your sugar intake. The idea is not to ban sugar, because it is often synonymous with pleasure!


[1] Manger Bouger Pro, glucides complexes et glucides simples

[2] Diabète québec, Aliments et nutriments, Indice glycémique, 2018

[3] Cerin, Indexe glycémique

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