The GI Diet and Diabetes
The best way for a diabetic person to control their blood sugar is through their diet.
The Journal of the American Medical Association has no shortage of studies proving that following a diet that is designed to keep blood sugar from going through the roof after eating is how diabetics can keep their disease under control. Type 2 diabetics who were on a low-glycemic-index diet for six months had greater blood sugar control and fewer risk factors for heart disease than those who used a different eating plan.
The GI Diet
The GI Diet hit the streets several years ago and proved to be an excellent way for people to lose weight. Even though it became popular as a means to be svelte, it has a key nutritional message that is consistent with healthy eating guidelines and is especially effective for people with diabetes. Eat fewer saturated fats and eat more fruit and vegetables.
The diet was originally formulated to address dietary recommendation for diabetics encouraging them to eat more complex carbohydrates (starch) because it takes longer for the body to process and digest than simple sugars. The research that went into the diet discovered that the effect of carbohydrates on blood-glucose levels was not determined by sugar or starch.
The Glycemic Index ranks the effects of food on the blood-glucose level over a two-hour period after eating. The rating is done using numbers from 1-100 - the higher the number, the worse the foods are for blood-glucose levels. The glycemic index measures how much a 50-gram portion of a carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels compared to pure glucose, which has a glycemic index score of 100.
How Glucose Affects You
Joanna McMillan-Price, co-author of The Low GI Diet book, explains that eating foods that are high in glycemic value gives a very high bell curve response with a dramatic drop. "You get a bell-shaped curve when you eat food containing carbohydrates; the blood-glucose rises and as your body produces insulin it pushes the glucose out of the blood and into tissues, and then you see the blood-glucose level falling." Low GI foods promote a slower and steadier rise in the blood-glucose level.
When high glucose meals are eaten, a glucose spike occurs afterward. The spike allows for a lot of insulin to be in the blood which, in turn, damages blood vessels and arteries. Eating low GI foods avoids the spikes and the dramatic drop in blood-glucose so the stream of energy is steadier. The risk of heart disease and other diseases affected by glucose fluctuation is lessened.
Weight Control and Diabetes
One of the big issues for diabetics is weight control. Because blood-sugar can be very out of control in diabetics, they often have to deal with weight gain. When the diet is full of high GI foods, weight control is extremely difficult. Glucose spikes initiate hunger when the glucose level plummets about 90 minutes after eating high glucose index foods. Eating low GI foods means that energy is spread out and sustained over a much longer period of time so a person feels fuller longer, eliminating the need to forage for food every two hours.
Insulin is a hormone that stockpiles nutrients for the body to use. A high GI diet means there is a glut of insulin in the body for an extended period of time which encourages the storage of fat. The body is unable to burn all the fat for energy that is stored - the result is weight gain.
For the diabetic, monitoring the GI index of the foods ingested is of utmost importance when it comes to controlling blood sugar and losing weight. It is a known fact that the combination of weight gain and out of control blood sugar is a time bomb waiting to explode for diabetic with heart disease being of great concern.
Read the Labels
These days it is easy to find out what the glycemic count is on many foods because it is printed on the package nutrition information panel. If the food meets the criteria for healthy eating for the diabetic, it's a good food choice.
Diabetes is a controllable disease. Learn more about diabetes and the various aspects of living with the disease in this section.