Sugar, Carbs and Health

Sugar, Carbs and Health

Posted on Jan.13, 2014, under Eye Health, Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info, Low Vision Tips

Have you heard that what is good for the health of your body is good for your eyes? Indeed that seems to be true when it comes to eating foods rich in carbohydrates and foods loaded with sugar. It all has to do with our blood sugar levels. This is how the body works when we consume carbohydrates:


1. The digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates into sugar

2. The sugar enters the bloodstream

3. When the blood sugar rises, the pancreas secretes insulin which helps cells to absorb and store the sugar

4. Cells absorb the sugar

5. Blood sugar levels fall

6. Pancreas produces glucagon a hormone that tells the liver to release the stored sugar


Balancing the insulin and glucagon levels ensures that cells throughout the body have a steady supply of blood sugar.

It is important to understand the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels and the development of chronic diseases. According to the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source, “ Eating many high-glycemic-index foods – which cause powerful spikes in blood sugar – can lead to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and overweight. There is also preliminary work linking high-glycemic diets to age-related macular degeneration, ovulatory infertility, and colorectal cancer.


Perhaps you are wondering what are high glycemic index foods and how do I avoid them?  The glycemic index is a way of  assigning a value to carbohydrates using a scale from 0 to 100.  Carbohydrate foods are given a ranking  based on how quickly they are digested and how much and how fast they raise blood sugar levels.   High glycemic index foods are rapidly digested and cause a significant  rise and then fall  in blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index are digested more slowly, causing a more gradual rise in blood sugar.


Carbohydrate foods generally fall into one of three categories:


Low Glycemic Foods

Low-glycemic foods have a rating of 55 or less, and include foods like  corn tortilla,s quinoa, slow cooked  oatmeal, brown rice, grapefruit, peaches and pears.


Medium Glycemic Foods

Medium-level foods have a glycemic index of 56-69.  Pumpernickel bread, couscous, ripe bananas, grapes

and sweet potatoes are in this category.


High Glycemic Foods

These foods are rated 70-100  and include  foods like cheese pizza, baked potatoes,  waffles, bagels,  white and whole wheat bread, corn flakes and instant oatmeal.


Dietary information was obtained from 4099 participants aged 55–80 years old in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).  The analyses of the participants’ carbohydrate consumption and their correlating glycemic index  “suggest that the quality, but not the quantity, of dietary carbohydrate influences the risk of AMD in both the early and late stages of the disease.”


Find out more about how to  improve the quality of your carbohydrate intake here:  Low Glycemic Carbs


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN