The benefits of Macadamia nuts in your diabetic friendly diet
What is diabetes?
Diabetes or medically known as diabetes mellitus, is a disease which affects the human metabolic system. This disease causes higher than average blood glucose levels which damages the patient’s organs, specifically the kidneys and eyes, which could potentially be fatal if not treated. The pancreas found in the human body naturally produces a hormone called insulin. This hormone’s function is to transfer glucose from your blood into your cells to be used as energy or stored to use later. However, when someone is diagnosed with diabetes their bodies cannot produce insulin naturally or simply cannot use the available insulin effectively.
Types of diabetes
Although diabetes is the general term, four different types of diabetes exist:
Type 1 diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes can be described as an autoimmune disease. In this case the immune system wrongly attacks its own pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. This is problematic since the pancreas create the needed insulin to regulate your blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes can be described as insulin resistance, which happens when the blood becomes saturated with glucose for a period of time.
Prediabetes can be described as an above average blood glucose level, although it is not high enough to be classified as diabetes yet. Therefore, diabetes can still be prevented with health and lifestyle changes.
Gestational diabetes might occur during pregnancy resulting of the placenta producing insulin blocking hormones.
Early symptoms can include, fatigue, regular urination, excessive thirst, sight problems as well as wounds not healing on the body. Although this is common symptoms of diabetes, it is advised to seek medical assistance if you suspect diabetes symptoms.
Luckily diabetes has been treated successfully for several years. The goal of treatment is to ensure your blood sugar is within the recommended range. Medication would be recommended by your doctor. However, health and lifestyle changes also play an important role to effectively treat this disease. The reason being that your blood glucose level is also affected by the types of food you consume daily.
Health and Lifestyle:
Foods containing high amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates have a negative impact on patients with diabetes. By consuming foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates results in a blood glucose spike due to your body not producing or using insulin effectively. Although sugar directly influences your blood glucose levels, carbohydrates also have a significant effect on your blood glucose level, the reason being carbohydrates are broken down into starches, sugar, and fibres by the body. Interestingly, fibre cannot be broken down by the human body, therefore does not affect the blood sugar level. As soon as a person with diabetes consumes carbs or sugar their blood sugar spikes and their bodies cannot effectively regulate the spike therefore medication, diet changes and exercise is needed to assist the body in regulating the blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is important to note that certain foods and drinks are best avoided when diabetic.
Foods and drinks to avoid when diabetic:
- Sugar sweetened beverages and foods – Any food source that is sweetened with sugar will instantly increase your blood glucose level.
- Processed carbs – Foods such as pasta, white bread and rice are broken down by the human body to fibre, starches, and sugar. Therefore, it causes blood glucose increases.
Diet and lifestyle changes can easily be implemented with the help of your medical doctor or dietitian by focussing on a balanced diet including proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. The amount of protein and fats included in your diet is important because it assists in steadily raising your blood sugar level. It is also important to consume nutritional dense foods such as vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats found in nuts and oils. More specifically macadamia nuts can be beneficial to add to your diet to reduce the risk for diabetes (1) or to add to your diabetic friendly diet. As macadamia nuts are low in carbs and sugar with a reasonable fibre content, this mixture ensures that your blood glucose level will not spike, therefore being an ideal low GI diabetic snack.
Macadamias Glycaemic Index (GI):
The glycaemic index is a value calculated to measure how much a specific food could potentially raise your blood glucose level. Foods are ranked on a scale from 0-100 where the food item lands between these values will determine whether it is, medium or a high glycaemic food. The lower the glycaemic index the less likely the food is to spike your blood glucose level. Luckily macadamia nuts have a very low GI because of a low carb and sugar content. They also have significant heart healthy fats, as well as protein and fibre. Macadamia nuts have a GI of 10
- High GI – above 70
- Medium GI – 56-69
- Low GI – Less than 55
- Lovejoy, J.C., 2005. The impact of nuts on diabetes and diabetes risk. Current Diabetes Reports, 5(5), pp.379-384.