Chronic Ailments Diabetes

Glycemic Index and Diabetes: What You Need to Know

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Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body has trouble processing blood sugar efficiently. To keep control over the blood sugar, people who have diabetes should eat foods that have a low glycemic index. Yes, the glycemic index and diabetes have a deep connection. But what is ‘Glycemic Index’ and why is it important?

‘Glycemic Index’ is a value that food items are assigned by how quickly or slow they increase the blood glucose. When something has a high glycemic index, it means that the food releases energy or glucose in the blood quickly and when some item has a low glycemic index, it means that glucose is released in the blood slowly and at a steady pace. In short, knowledge of the connection between the glycemic index and diabetes is imperative.

A low ‘Glycemic Index’ ensures that food is metabolized and assimilated better in the body. A ‘Glycemic Index’  value of 45 or less is considered ‘Low,’ 45-59 is considered ‘Moderate’ and a value above 60 is considered ‘High.’

Refined and processed foods have a high glycemic index because they are bereft of any fiber and cannot resist the digestive enzymes at all. In fruits, the sugar is Fructose which takes longer to break down in the body. This is why fruits have a lower glycemic index’ and are a healthy option. Pasta has a glycemic index of 40-50, but it can be further reduced by keeping it more al dente. The longer you cook your pasta, higher is its GI. Adding fat and acid to food also lowers its glycemic index. This is why adding a bit of ghee, lemon or a pickle to your meal is healthy. Proteins, when eaten with carbs, help reduce glucose levels as the combination promotes insulin secretion.

Importance

  • Glycemic Index provides a framework for people who have diabetes to base their diet on. Since they already have trouble balancing their blood glucose, sudden spikes and fall in glucose levels do not augur well for them. Not only high glycemic index meals leave you starved after the initial burst of energy but are detrimental to the body as it keeps trying to control the oscillating blood sugar levels.
  • Anyone who is looking to improve their health, have steady energy levels or manage their diabetes must follow a low glycemic index diet. It controls cholesterol levels and increases insulin sensitivity.
  • A low GI diet ensures that people with diabetes do not get obese or overweight. This, in turn, protects them from cardiac issues and even certain cancers. It helps you maintain your weight by helping you manage your hunger, burn more fat, and maintain a reasonable metabolic rate.
  • The brain will thank you if you follow a low GI diet. Since the mind works on a steady supply of glucose and a low GI diet does precisely the same, i.e., provide a consistent amount of energy, the brain works more efficiently on it. For enhanced cognitive performance, glycemic index can be an excellent indicator to choose the correct food to eat.
  • Having foods with low GI can reduce a diabetic’s chance of getting breast cancer and even helps with maintaining good eye health.

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