In a morning rush? No problem, instant cereal should save you all the trouble. But, have you thought if this cereal is good for your health if you’re diabetic? Selection of the cereal containing the right ingredients will help you to avoid any inconveniences.
Breakfast is a very important meal of the day as it provides you with the energy required to make it through the day comfortably. Mornings on week days are usually frantic and tough. As a result, many people opt out for instant fix food. But for a diabetic person, choosing cereal and milk for breakfast without having proper knowledge about the ingredients of the cereal is a bad choice.
As a diabetic patient, one should always keep in mind how crucial it is to maintain their blood sugar level. Breakfast should have a balanced diet with adequate protein, carbohydrate and healthy fats. It must contain low sugar content, high fiber, nutrients and minerals.
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Maintenance of Blood Sugar Level in Diabetes
In diabetes patients it is pivotal to maintain the blood sugar level. As you may know, in a diabetic person insufficient or no insulin is produced in type-1 and type-2 diabetes respectively. Insulin is a hormone which regulates the amount of glucose in blood. When insufficient or no insulin is produced then our body fails to keep the sugar level in our blood under control. As a result a person becomes diabetic.
For a diabetic person it is very important to have a balanced diet as their body cannot maintain their blood sugar level on their own. Thus, due to this insufficiency it becomes necessary to maintain the blood sugar level with proper intake of balanced diet.
Here comes the question: Is it healthy to have cereals for breakfast? What are the alternatives of instant cereals? Is it possible to maintain a balanced diet even after having cereals? All your doubts are going to be clarified in the following section.
What is Glycemic Index?
If you have diabetes then you may have already heard the term Glycemic Index or GI. The glycemic index or GI is a measuring scale which measures the rate at which carbohydrate spikes the blood sugar level if an individual. Foods with lower GI ratings take longer to digest preventing spikes in your blood sugar level. Whereas, foods with high GI ratings are digested quickly causing your blood sugar level to rise.
Harvard School of Public Health provides the following GI ratings:
- Low GI rating of food is 55 or less
- Medium GI rating of food is 56-69
- High GI rating of food is 70-100
Factors Affecting Glycemic Index:
It is necessary to know which factors affect the GI. These are:
1. Type of starch:
Starch which is a type of carbohydrate contains two types of molecule namely: amylose and amylopectin. Amylose absorbs less water whereas amylopectin absorbs more water. For example, kidney beans have a low GI rating.
2. Chemical composition of starch:
Different starches have different starch structures which affect the digestibility. Starches having higher amylose content are harder to digest but starches having higher amylopectin content are easier to digest. So, starches having higher amylopectin content have higher GI as they are easier to digest. Whereas, starches having higher amylose have lower GI as they are harder to digest.
3. Size of the particle:
Cereals made from larger particles have lower GI rating that that of the cereals made from smaller particles.
4. Type of the fiber and its content:
Foods that consist of soluble fiber delay gastric emptying and thus contain lower GI rating. Whereas, fibers that are insoluble have negligible amount of effect on digestibility and absorption of carbohydrate food.
Sugar competes with the liquid of the starch for gelatinization and thus decreases the GI of food that has very high GI.
6. Fat and protein:
In presence of fat and protein in food the GI of the food may be decreased. Anyhow, it is not recommended to add extra fat to food to decrease its GI as it may cause health related problems in the future.
Anti-nutrients are generally found in fruits and vegetables. These anti-nutrients decrease the GI of food by slowing the digestion of the food.
The acid content of the food is inversely proportional to the GI rating of that food.
Cooking increases the digestibility of the food and consequently increasing the GI of that food.
10. Resist starch:
The crystalline structure of the starch is changed to resist starch after cooking and cooling it. This resist starch is harder to digest. Hence, this lowers the GI rating of the food.
11. Speed of eating:
Studies show that eating at a slower rate causes blood sugar level to rise rapidly.
12. Processing of food:
Processing of food increases its GI rating. So, processed food is measured to have higher GI than unprocessed food comparatively. Cereals such as corn flakes falls under the category of processed resulting in a higher GI rating.
How to know if corn flakes is good for diabetes?
To know if cornflakes is good for a diabetic patient it is necessary to know about its GI ratings. American Diabetes Association provides the information that corn flakes have a GI rating of more than 80. From the above paragraph you can see that corn flakes are rich in carbohydrate hence having a high GI rating. So, corn flakes are not recommended for diabetic people. If it is taken for breakfast then you should balance your diet for the day by taking low carbohydrate containing food for the other meals of the day.
You can also take mixed foods to balance the GI ratings. For example, you can eat yogurts and nuts with food having a high GI rating to slower your digestion and to prevent your blood sugar level from spiking.
Corn flakes are Low Protein Food:
Although corn flakes make you feel satisfied and sated after a meal, it has a low protein content which is responsible for cravings within a few hours of having the meal. As a result of further intake of food to satiate your hunger, there’s an increase of weight. This weight gain will cause your blood sugar level to rise.
We see corn flakes brands encouraging the product to be helpful for weight loss, don’t we? Well, that is only possible if you are able to impose limits on your intake of food into minor portions.
Furthermore, if you add sugar, honey or any kind of sweetener to your cereal to satisfy your taste buds then it will increase the sugar content of the cereal. For viability, the cells of our body need glucose. But excess intake of glucose can increase GI leading to health problems in diabetic patients.
Alternatives of Corn Flakes:
If you are unable to avoid cereals then don’t worry there are plenty of options other than corn flakes. You can estimate which cereal is best for you by checking if your blood sugar level is at goal.
For, a diabetic person it is best to have cereals which are made from grains such as wholegrains or refined grains. Grain containing cereals play a vital role in maintaining blood sugar level especially in people having type-2 diabetes by digesting carbohydrate at a slower rate as they have lower GI. Some recommended cereals are Nestle shredded wheat, Weetabix, Alpen (no extra sugar), Kellogg’s fruit and fiber etc.
Look out for incognitos of sugar on cereal box labels:
For a diabetic patient it is very essential to know about the ingredients of the cereal taken by them. By comparing the carbohydrate content of the cereal with their range of diabetes they can choose which brand of cereal if preferable for them. If you check the listing of ingredients on the cereal box you will see that they are listed in descending order depending on how much of it is included in the food.
The main issue is that sugar has a lot of incognitos. You will notice these incognitos of sugar are mentioned several times on the ingredients list. If more than three types of sugar are mentioned within the top ingredients then it is wisest to avoid that cereal.
So, is Corn Flakes Actually Good for Diabetes?
From the above discussion we can come to the following conclusion:
1. We got to know that processed foods consist of higher sugar content than that of unprocessed food. Corn flakes are a type of processed food as a result it has higher sugar content than other breakfast meals.
2. Corn flakes have a GI rating of more than 80. As a result, it falls under high glycemic content category. As you got to know from the above discussion the higher the GI content the faster the food is digested. Quick digestion of food contributes in spiking the blood sugar level of a diabetic person.
3. Corn flakes have low protein content which causes increase in appetite within a few hours of intake of food resulting in increase of weight. This increase of weight is detrimental to the health of an individual having diabetes.
At the end, we can understand that though corn flakes don’t have deleterious effect on our heath it may provoke various health related problems in a diabetic patient.
I hope this guideline helps to clarify all your queries and assists you to choose what’s best for your health. Related Reading:
- Is Popcorn Ok for Diabetes
- Is There Any Sugar Free Milk For People With Diabetes?
- Why Drinking Coke Lowers Blood Sugar And Can Even Reverse Diabetes