What You Need To Understand About The Glycemic Index

By Betty Brown

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results from disordered insulin production and utilization by the tissues. Whereas type 1 disease is mainly seen in teenage, type 2 is mainly seen in adulthood. Lifestyle modification which includes regular physical exercise and having a proper diet are among the interventions that can be undertaken. If you are planning on making some changes to your diet, the glycemic index is something that you need to understand.

The index is expressed numerically. The higher the number, the higher the potential of a given type of food to increase the levels of blood sugars. The general advice is that people who are at risk of diabetes or those already suffering from the condition should have less of foods that will increase their blood glucose levels and more of those with a lower index.

Foods that have been allocated a value of 55 or lower are generally considered healthy. Those with values ranging between 56 and 69 are put in the medium category meaning that the increase that results is modest. High values are those that are 70 and above. Foods in this category should be avoided as much as possible. It is possible for foods with the same carbohydrate content to have different values.

There are a number of factors that determine the final value of indices. Among them is the manner in which food is prepared. Addition of fats, fiber and acids lowers the value and a longer period of cooking (for starches) increases the value. Another determinant is the ripeness of fruits. The riper a fruit is, the higher is its index. Others include the level of physical activity and the rate of digestion.

Note that the index is not the sole determinant of food choice. The nutritional value of particular foods also need to be looked at. Remember that while some foods may be deemed harmful due to a relatively high value, their nutritional value is equally high due to the presence of minerals and vitamins. Another factor that may affect the choice is the size of portions. Larger portions are more likely to increase blood sugar levels.

Nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables are among the foods that have been shown to have the lowest values of the index. High values will be seen with most starch-based foods such as cakes, cookies and candy. Even higher values result after the intake of highly processed and sugary foods such as cookies, cakes and candy. This group increases the levels of glucose sharply after they have been consumed.

It has been shown that naturally occurring foods have lower values than those that are processed. Always look for the value of the index on food labels before you consume them. If you have doubts, get in touch with a qualified nutritionist. If you cannot find any, then look for an authoritative website on the internet where common foods have their values listed.

As you work towards achieving a healthier diet, be careful not to starve yourself. Diabetics not only have to worry about high blood sugar levels but the other extreme as well which is hypoglycemia. If the amount of calories is too low in the diet then the risk of slipping into hypoglycemia increases. This may lead to a reduction in the level of consciousness and even coma.

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