Bread units and glycemic index of products should be under close attention of patients with diabetes mellitus. Proper nutrition helps to reduce the risk of diabetes complications and reduce the dosage of drugs. At the same time, it is important to know which carbohydrates to give preference to, and which should be excluded. Especially for diabetics, there is a conventional unit of measurement of carbohydrates, which is called the bread unit.
It is also necessary to take into account the time it will take to break down different carbohydrates. Some of them will dramatically increase blood sugar levels, and others-gradually. The rate of carbohydrate breakdown is determined by the glycemic index. In this article, you will find useful product tables, as well as comments on how to use them correctly
What is a bread unit (HE)
Bread unit (carbohydrate unit) – a measure that is used to estimate the amount of carbohydrates in food. 1 bread unit is equal to 25 g of bread. This is half a piece of rye bread 1 cm thick, about the same as in the picture:
1 bread unit contains 10 g of digestible carbohydrates, which corresponds to 10 g of pure sugar. In some sources, you can find another equivalent. 1 bread unit = 12 g of carbohydrates. This amount includes 2 g of non-digestible carbohydrates, which do not affect the sugar level. Therefore, in order to avoid confusion, we will use the formula:
1 XE = 10 g of carbohydrates
In bread units, you can measure any product that contains carbohydrates. There are already ready-made tables with calculations of the number of bread units in certain products. We offer two of them.
Table 1 shows the number of bread units in some food products based on 100 g of product.
For example, in 100 g of grapes 1.25 XE, and in 100 g of whole flour bread-3.33 XE. In order to make it convenient to take into account not only bread units, but also the glycemic index, products with a high, medium and low glycemic index are marked in color. This parameter will be discussed in more detail later.
At first, all these calculations may seem very inconvenient and complicated, but after a while it will become a habit and you will not have to use tables.
Bread unit calculation and dose of insulin
The bread unit is necessary to calculate the dose of insulin for people with type I diabetes. For the assimilation of 1 XE, 1-2 units of insulin are needed. But there are individual characteristics of the body that are associated with many factors – the degree of damage to the cells of the pancreas, the amount of its own insulin, how well it works, the degree of sensitivity of the body’s cells to insulin, the quality of the drug, and so on. Therefore, the selection of an adequate dose of insulin is an art that should be possessed by both the attending physician and the patient himself.
By the way, understanding the number of bread units in a particular product is very useful for people with type II diabetes. The fact is that 1 XE increases blood sugar levels by 1.5-2 mmol/l (and in some diabetics even more). Therefore, by calculating how much XE is eaten, you can predict an approximate increase in blood sugar levels.
Also, with the help of these tables, you can make a diet for the day. The only thing to remember is that a type II diabetic should not eat foods with a high carbohydrate content, only a low-carb diet! Because insulin-dependent people have a quick weapon against sugar-insulin injections, and type II diabetics do not have such a weapon. The pills they take have a mild, delayed effect and do not always act directly on sugar levels.
Of course, life isn’t just limited to home-cooked food. A person with diabetes may well have dinner at a party, for example. Fortunately, there are special calculators that you can easily find on the Internet. They will help you calculate the bread units in the food you are going to take. For a more accurate calculation, it is better to refrain from multi-component dishes.
What is the glycemic index (GI)
The glycemic index is a symbol for the rate of breakdown of any product that contains carbohydrates compared to the rate of breakdown of glucose.
The rate of glucose breakdown is taken as a standard:
Glucose GI = 100%
The higher the glycemic index of the product, the faster it is broken down and increases blood sugar levels. Accordingly, foods with high GI should be excluded from the diet of a person with type II diabetes and restricted to people with type I diabetes.
Let’s see what happens to insulin when you eat sugary foods. For example, you ate a couple of sweet candies. In sweet, the glycemic index is close to 100, so blood sugar rises almost instantly. Healthy people immediately begin to produce large amounts of insulin. And it, as we know, has the ability to store glucose in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles, and fat in adipose tissue. In addition, insulin stimulates the feeling of hunger, that is why “eating” a candy you will not be able to satisfy hunger for a long time. A couple of such “snacks” a day will reduce your diet to nothing. Therefore, products with a high glycemic index are contraindicated for people who are overweight.
Thus, eating foods that contain a small amount of carbohydrates and with a low glycemic index will be much easier for you to keep your sugar in the norm. For the correct calculation, you need a kitchen scale, a calculator and tables.
Eat right and take care of your health!