What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that develops when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin and; or when the body cannot utilize effectively the insulin produced. Insulin is the hormone that keeps blood sugar in check.
Raised blood sugar causes serious damage to the body. Diabetes is a chronic disease that causes millions of deaths worldwide annually. It has been listed as among the leading causes of fatal diseases and conditions like kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes, neuropathy and permanent blindness.
With such unforgiving consequences brought about by diabetes, persons living with it ought to take caution in their day to day lifestyles so as to reduce its burden. They are advised to maintain a healthy weight, be physically fit and eat healthy diets.
Diabetes and sugar; How do they relate
When one doesn’t have diabetes, their daily sugar intake should not exceed 10 percent of total calories consumed in a day. However, when one is diabetic, a doctor’s help is required to figure out how much sugar intake is safe. All carbohydrates and sugar are broken down and converted to glucose which is then passed on into the bloodstream. Because diabetics have a tendency to have high blood sugar levels, it is important for them to really watch out their carbohydrate and sugar intake, if not eliminating it all together.
Bananas and sugar levels
Bananas are healthy fruit that contains plenty of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6. They are high in natural sugars as when they ripen; the starch in them is converted into sugar. Sugar is the easiest type of carbohydrate to digest. Bananas have a low glycemic index (GI) rated at 47 and a moderate glycemic load (GL) of 11. The GI and GL levels are indicators of the effect a food will have on blood sugar. Very high GI and GL levels in foods consumed will spike up blood sugar levels. Foods with low or moderate GI and GL are recommended when one has or is at risk of having diabetes. The moderate GI and GL in bananas mean that they definitely cause a rise in blood sugar. A large banana can contain between 27 to 35 grams of carbohydrates.
Can diabetics eat bananas?
Being diabetic doesn’t mean one has to eliminate all sugar intakes. They are expected to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their daily diets and bananas are a great choice. They contain a lot of nutrients that are beneficial to the body. The starch in them helps improve diabetic metabolism functioning. Potassium ensures a healthy heart. Vitamin B6 controls metabolism and is a great stress reliever. All these benefits are very handy in the management of diabetes.
Caution however need to be exercised when consuming bananas pertaining to portions and other foods taken along side with them so as to be accountable of daily carbohydrate intake.
Ripe versus unripe bananas
Bananas are mainly made up of carbohydrates. Unripe bananas contain resistant starch which acts like fiber in the gut to aid digestion. When a banana begins to ripen, the starch in them is gradually converted into sugar. One benefit of unripe bananas high levels of resistant starch. They are beneficial to people suffering from type 2 diabetes. Other benefits include better body absorption of nutrients especially calcium as well as improved colon health. On the downside, antioxidant levels in bananas increase with ripening so unripe bananas may contain little to none at all.
Ripe bananas are easier to digest because all starch has been converted to simple sugars. This higher sugar content makes them a red alert for type 2 diabetics who should exercise caution with portions. Both ripe and unripe bananas are beneficial to people with diabetes and should be incorporated into daily healthy diet regimes.
How do bananas benefit people living with diabetics?
They contain resistant starch
Starches are a chain of glucose found grains and most foods. Most starch is digested and converted into glucose in the body. Resistant starch however passes through the digestive tract unchanged. Unripe bananas contain resistant starch which functions like soluble fiber. This starch is beneficial as lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. Additionally, resistance starch feeds the friendly bacteria in the intestines and boosts the production of short chain fatty acids like butyrate. This coupled with multiple other benefits like improved digestion and reduced appetite goes a long way to help diabetics live a bearable life.
Bananas contain a great deal of fiber
Fiber is a carbohydrate that our bodies can’t quite digest. All bananas do contain fiber and the amount varies with size. A medium size banana may contain up to 3 grams of fiber. Fiber comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber does dissolve in water and has multiple benefits like slowing down digestion and lowering levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. Insoluble fiber on the other hand helps move food smoothly in the digestive tract. Both soluble and insoluble fiber; found in bananas are beneficial as they regulate the body’s sugar usage. High fiber diets are more filling and have been linked to lowered body weight.
They are a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C and potassium
Vitamin B6 is very important in the body as it regulates mood and brings about calmness. This is because this vitamin creates neurotransmitters that control emotions like dopamine and serotonin. Vitamin B6 is beneficial to people with diabetes as it aids in the prevention of anxiety.
Additionally, studies have shown that vitamin B6 prevents eye diseases and vision loss that tends to affect older adults and persons living with diabetes. Diabetics will also require vitamin B6 because the disease tends to create this vitamins deficiency in the body.
Potassium in bananas is very helpful as it lowers blood pressure. This is because it reduces the negative effects of sodium intake on blood pressure that occurs especially in diabetics. Studies have shown that higher potassium intake can lower the risk of kidney stones as well as reduce the negative effects of high sodium intake on blood pressure.
Bananas have plenty of vitamin C. this vitamin aids in the production of body collagen. It improves body immunity and ensures fast wound healing which is a major concern for diabetics.
Bananas are one of the most consumed fruits worldwide. They have numerous benefits like improved digestion and heart health. They should be incorporated regularly as part of a healthy meal regime by all people, whether diabetic or not. What is important is to be mindful of portions as it is with all other foods taken for people with or at risk of being diabetic.