Glycemic Index: Why is it important?

Glycemic index;

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Glycemic Index (GI) is a critical measure of how quickly carbohydrates in food raise blood sugar levels. It serves as a valuable tool in managing blood sugar levels, particularly for individuals with diabetes. The benefits of understanding this term, glycemic index, if used properly, will benefit several patients with diabetes in their blood sugar control.

What is Glycemic Index (GI)?

Glycemic index is nothing but a tool, that measures the food quality, in terms of how quickly a particular food raises our blood sugar levels within two hours of eating it. It is measured in numbers, from 0 to 100. What that means is, if a food has 90 glycemic index, then it will rapidly Increase your blood sugar levels, as it is easily digested.

On other hand, food with glycemic index of 40 will be absorbed and digested slowly, and will gradually increase your blood sugar levels as compared to the food having higher glycemic index value.

Based on this, foods are divided into three groups – Low GI foods , Medium GI foods and High GI foods. If a person consumes high GI food, then he will have a rapid blood sugar level spikes. This needs to be avoided in Diabetes.

How is it Useful?

The GI concept provides insight into how different foods affect blood sugar levels, aiding in the management of conditions such as diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. By choosing foods with a lower GI, individuals can better control their blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications associated with high blood sugar.

How Low Glycemic Index Foods are Good for Diabetics?

Low GI foods are particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes as they cause a slower and more gradual rise in blood sugar levels, preventing sudden spikes and crashes. In medical terms, Post prandial hyperglycemia, it is considered as a bad prognosis factor and poor treatment efficiency.

Low GI foods will not have post prandial hyperglycemia. They tend to release glucose slowly. This steady release of glucose helps to maintain stable energy levels and reduces the need for large amounts of insulin, leading to improved glycemic control over time.

What are Foods with Low Glycemic Index?

Low GI foods will benefit prediabetic (High risk of diabetes – Poor HbA1c control), and also patients who already have Diabetes. Let’s see them:

  1. Non-Starchy Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, kale, and cauliflower.
  2. Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans.
  3. Whole Grains: Quinoa, barley, bulgur, and oats.
  4. Fruits: Apples, berries, citrus fruits, and cherries.
  5. Dairy: Greek yogurt and milk.
  6. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.

Foods with High Glycemic Index

High GI foods tends to have a rapid rise in blood sugar levels after eating them. These sugar spikes or post prandial hyperglycemia is considered as harmful. These are few High GI foods:

  1. Processed Carbohydrates: White bread, white rice, and sugary cereals.
  2. Sugary Snacks: Candy, cookies, cakes, and pastries.
  3. Sweetened Beverages: Soda, fruit juices, and energy drinks.
  4. Potatoes: Baked potatoes and French fries.
  5. Certain Fruits: Watermelon and pineapple.

What Will Happen if You Eat High GI Foods?

Consuming high GI foods can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, followed by a sharp drop, causing fatigue, hunger, and cravings for more sugary foods. Over time, frequent consumption of high GI foods can contribute to insulin resistance, weight gain, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Benefits of Low GI Foods

There are several benefits of low GI foods:

  1. Improved Blood Sugar Control: Low GI foods help maintain stable blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
  2. Sustained Energy: Slow-release carbohydrates from low GI foods provide sustained energy levels throughout the day.
  3. Weight Management: Low GI foods promote satiety and can aid in weight loss or weight maintenance efforts.
  4. Heart Health: Choosing low GI foods may lower the risk of heart disease by improving lipid profiles and reducing inflammation.

In summary, understanding the glycemic index of foods is essential for promoting overall health and well-being, particularly for individuals managing diabetes or seeking to improve their dietary habits. By incorporating more low GI foods into their diet and minimizing high GI options, individuals can optimize their blood sugar control and reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with poor glycemic management.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Glycemic Index (GI) :

1. What is the glycemic index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a numerical scale that ranks carbohydrates based on their impact on blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, while foods with a low GI result in a slower, more gradual increase.

2. What foods are high in glycemic index?

Foods high in GI include white bread, white rice, sugary cereals, candies, pastries, and sweetened beverages.

3. What foods are low in glycemic index?

Low GI foods include non-starchy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits, dairy products, nuts, and seeds.

4. How is GI calculated?

The GI of a food is determined by measuring the blood glucose response to consuming a specific amount of the food containing 50 grams of available carbohydrates, then comparing it to the blood glucose response of consuming pure glucose.

5. What are the top 10 low glycemic foods?

Top 10 low GI foods include lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, barley, apples, berries, Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, and non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and spinach.

6. What are high GI vegetables?

High GI vegetables:

  1. Potatoes (especially mashed or baked)
  2. Pumpkin
  3. Corn
  4. Parsnips
  5. Beets
  6. Sweet potatoes
  7. Carrots (when cooked or mashed)
  8. Instant mashed potatoes
  9. Rutabagas
  10. Certain varieties of winter squash, such as butternut squash

7. What is a normal HbA1c level?

A normal HbA1c level, which reflects average blood sugar levels over the past 2-3 months, is typically below 5.7%. However, target levels may vary depending on individual health conditions and treatment goals.

8. What is the glycemic index of chapati?

The GI of chapati, a type of Indian flatbread made from whole wheat flour, can vary depending on factors such as cooking method and ingredients. Generally, chapati has a moderate GI, typically ranging from 52 to 62.

9. How to reduce blood sugar?

To reduce blood sugar levels, it’s essential to follow a balanced diet rich in low GI foods, engage in regular physical activity, manage stress levels, and adhere to any prescribed medications or insulin therapy as directed by a healthcare professional.

10. Is rice high in glycemic?

White rice, especially when processed, has a high GI. However, opting for brown rice or other whole grains can provide a lower GI alternative.

11. Are bananas high GI?

Bananas have a moderate to high glycemic index, depending on their ripeness. Riper bananas tend to have a higher GI due to increased sugar content.

12. Are eggs high in glycemic?

Eggs are not considered high in glycemic index as they contain negligible carbohydrates and do not significantly impact blood sugar levels when consumed on their own. However, the GI of a meal containing eggs may vary depending on other accompanying foods.

Read More:

  1. HbA1c
  2. Health benefits of Ashwagandha

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