In my previous post, I explained the different types of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and the differences in the body's absorbtion rates for each. If you did not catch that post, I encourage you to read over: Food and Diabetes- Part 1: The Basics
Now, let's talk about how that absorbtion rate reflects on diabetic blood sugars.
It is important to note, every diabetic reacts differently to food (and anything and everything else that can affect blood sugars).
Simple carbohydrates, since your body absorbs them the quickest, are often in and out of your system quickly. They spike your blood sugars temporarily, which is why it is good to use a simple carbohydrate such as 100% fruit juice to bring your blood sugars up from a hypoglycemic reaction.
Complex carbohydrates break down quicker than fats and protiens, but not quite as fast as a simple carbohydrate does. Some examples of complex carbohydrates are: breads, crackers, pastas, etc. Complex carbs will raise your blood sugars relatively quickly, yet not as quickly as a simple carbohydrate. Which is why, if you have low blood sugar, you should take a simple carb to correct it, instead of a complex carb.
Proteins break down within a few hours. It can take your body 2-3 hours to break down proteins into energy your body can use. Protein helps to maintain your blood sugar levels longer. Often times, people say that proteins and fats slow the absorbtion rate of carbohydrates.
Fats take the longest time for your body to break down. It can take your body up to 12 hours or more to break down fat consumption. Like protein, people often say that fat slows the absorbtion rate of carbohydrates. They say that because of that, that is why it is good to have a little fat in your diet, to help maintain blood sugar levels.
Often times, someone with diabetes will be able to manipulate the way food works with their body to prevent future hypoglycemic reactions due to high activity/exercise. For our family, we give Lenny extra fat if we know know he is going to have a high activity kind of day, like for gym class or wrestling practice. By giving him the extra fat, it gives the body extra stuff to break down over a longer period of time, ultimately preventing an after gym/practice low. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to determine just how active he can/will be, so sometimes we do still have hypoglycemic reactions, and other times we may experience hyperglycemic reactions. The key is to never give up, and continue to work with foods as well as insulin coverages, to find what works for you. It's all a balancing act! But, it is one that becomes easier to figure out over time.