How The Glycemic Index Can Be Used In Dieting

By Betty Brown

Diabetes is the commonest and most serious metabolic condition the world over. It is a condition whose cause is the total absence, reduced production or reduced effect of insulin hormone. The adoption of healthy lifestyles is one of the measures that can be undertaken to reduce progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes. Complications of diabetes are also halted or delayed. The glycemic index becomes important when one is considering the type of foods to be eaten.

The index is expressed in absolute numbers. Foods that have high values are likely to increase the amount of blood sugar than those with a lower value. It is generally advised that an individual who has risk factors for diabetes or one who has already been diagnosed with the condition should opt for foods with lower values.

Food is said to have a low index if its allocated value is 55 or lower. Foods in this category are regarded as being healthy for diabetic patients. Those that have values of 56 to 69 fall in the medium category and those that have a value of 70 or more are considered as having a high value. These typically cause spikes in sugar levels as soon as they have been eaten. They should, therefore, be avoided as much as possible.

The glycemic value of food is determined by a number of factors. One of them is the method that is used in preparation. If acids, fats and fiber are added to food as it is being prepared its index will be reduced to some extent. Cooking starches for too long has been shown to increase their value. Ripeness is an important factor in fruits with those that are most ripe contributing to the greatest increase in glucose.

The index should not be the only thing to consider when choosing what to eat. The nutritional value of the food should also be thought of as the decision is being made. Although some foods have relatively high values, their inclusion in the diet is important due to a higher value of minerals and vitamins. The portion size of food consumed matters as well. Larger portions increase the sugar levels more than smaller portions.

Foods that are associated with a lower index include nuts, legumes, grains and vegetables. Starch foods have higher values and only what is needed by the body should make it to the plate. Examples include potatoes, rice and white bread. Strive to also cut down on sugary foods such as candy, cakes and cookies as these tend to cause erratic changes in the blood sugar levels.

Natural foods and those that have not been altered much generally have lower values than those that have been processed. Always ensure that you read and understand the labels on food items to know the index of any foodstuff you are buying from the store. If you are not sure about any of them, you will be well advised to consult with a nutritionist.

The strife for a healthier diet should not be a reason to starve oneself. The changes that take place in the levels of blood sugar can move in either direction. If the amount of calories taken is too small then there is a likelihood of suffering from the effects of hypoglycemia. Very low sugar levels have been shown to cause a reduced level of consciousness and coma.

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