Celiac.com 02/13/2021 - I was interviewed for a national diabetes magazine the other day. They wanted to know how a diet such as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet would be for diabetes sufferers, especially since, in Australia, 10% of diabetics are also diagnosed with celiac disease. For diabetics the all important question is how carbohydrates affect their blood sugar level, and that the recommended foods have a low Glycemic Index. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measurement of the type of carbohydrates in a particular food, and how fast 50 grams of this carbohydrate raises blood glucose levels (and consequent insulin secretion and effects produced by the pancreas) as it is digested. It is also important to consider the Glycemic Load of foods. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the Glycemic Load was devised to make the Glycemic Index useful in the real world.
The problem with the Glycemic Index is that the tests use 50 grams of carbohydrate from the food being tested. On a practical level, that means they test a plateful of spaghetti, but a truckload of cucumbers! It doesn't take into account how food is eaten in the real world, making benign foods seem damaging.
Take carrots. Carrots have a high Glycemic Index for a vegetable—around 50. But do you know how many carrots you'd have to eat to get fifty grams of carbohydrate? More than fifty! The carbohydrate content of eating two whole carrots with a meal is too small to cause a significant rise in blood sugar levels. Oatmeal, on the other hand, has about the same GI as carrots, but a one cup serving of cooked oatmeal has 25 grams of carbohydrate, for a Glycemic Load of 12.5 in contrast to say 5 baby carrots which has 4 grams of carbohydrate and a Glycemic Load of 2—very low.
So how do the foods allowed on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet rate, in regard to the GI and GL? Is this a good thing for diabetics and everyone else wanting to be healthier?
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is based on ‘Simple Carbohydrate Foods' or rather monosaccharides which are the single molecule carbohydrates which need no enzyme to be digested. Carbohydrate foods naturally divide themselves into two groups: 1. starches and refined sugars, and 2. everything else. It's the concentration of carbohydrates in the starches and refined sugars that makes them a problem to those with bowel disease and/or diabetes. The specific carbohydrates allowed on the diet and used in the Healing Foods cookbook are the ones that are in most low GI foods. These foods are simple fresh foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, some low starch pulses, nuts, meats, cheeses and yogurt. Even the baked goods which are sweetened with honey are acceptable as the almond meal used instead of the wheat flour contain monounsaturated fats which slows the absorption rate of glucose from the honey into the bloodstream.
Considering all these factors, diabetics, digestive disease sufferers, and generally everyone who wants to live a more energetic and healthy life should be able to benefit from the recipes in Healing Foods: Cooking for Celiacs, Colitis, Crohn's and IBS.