The Glycemic Index-an indispensable tool for Diabetics-is the best tool for choosing the nourishing foods your body needs, without compromising your Diabetes management, or your taste buds.
Learning to use it can make managing your daily blood glucose levels more consistent and prevent dangerous blood sugar spikes.
The reason it’s recommended is that various foods which contain carbohydrates affect blood glucose differently. The Glycemic Index is the measure of the effect the foods have on your blood glucose.
It assigns a numeric score to a food based on the rise in blood sugar after eating a standard amount (50 grams) compared with the rise after eating 50 grams of pure glucose.
➡ Foods are ranked on a scale of zero to 100, with pure glucose given a value of 100.
➡ The lower a food’s glycemic index, the Slower and Lower blood sugar rises after eating that food.
A glycemic index of 55 or below is considered low; 70 or above is considered high.
- In general, the more cooked or processed a food is, the higher its Glycemic Index value (GI)
- The more fiber or fat in a food, the lower the GI.
But the glycemic index tells just part of the story because it only shows how fast a particular food raises your blood sugar.
- What it doesn’t tell you is how high your blood sugar could go when you actually eat the food, which is partly determined by how much carbohydrate is in a serving of a specific food.
To understand a food’s complete effect on blood sugar, you need to know two things:
➡ How much glucose (sugar) the food can deliver.
➡ How quickly it makes glucose enter the bloodstream
That’s the job of what is called the “glycemic load.”
This separate measure gives a more accurate picture of a food’s real-life impact on blood sugar.
A glycemic load of 10 or below is considered low(good). 20 or above is considered high (not good).
Watermelon, for example, has a high glycemic index (80) due to the amount of sugar/carbs in it. But a serving of watermelon has so little carbohydrate (6 grams) that its glycemic load is only 5.
This is important to you.
The bottom line? Following the principles of low-glycemic-index eating is beneficial, as it encourages a high-fiber diet that is moderate in carbohydrates.
Reaching and staying at a healthy weight is extremely important for your blood sugar and your overall health.
4 principles of low-glycemic eating
➡ Eat non-starchy vegetables, beans, and fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, and berries. (Even tropical fruits like bananas, mangoes, and papayas tend to have a lower glycemic index than typical desserts). Click here for a list of low glycemic foods and low glycemic fruits.
➡ Eat grains in the least-processed state possible: “unbroken” grains such as whole barley, millet, wheat berries, brown rice, and whole-kernel bread; or traditionally processed grains such as stone-ground whole-grain bread, steel-cut oats, and natural granola or muesli breakfast cereal.
➡ Cut back or cut out white potatoes and refined grain products such as white bread, bagels, pastries, and regular pasta.
➡ Let concentrated sweets — including high-calorie foods with a low glycemic index, such as ice cream — be an occasional treat instead of a staple. ➡ Don’t drink more than one-half cup of fruit juice a day.
➡ Completely eliminate sugar-sweetened drinks.