What does Glycemic Index measure?

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson

Ever wondered what does Glycemic Index measure? The glycemic index (GI) is the value given to carbohydrate-containing foods according to how quickly the body will break them down and release glucose into the blood. A high GI food (GI value greater than 70) will break down quickly, causing a spike in BGLs and energy levels that drop off quickly, often leaving you feeling low on energy and also hungry.

Low GI foods (GI value less than 55) are preferable as the body takes longer to break these foods down and therefore releases glucose into your blood over a longer period of time. This helps manage your BGLs by avoiding spikes and provides you with sustained energy and feelings of being full across a longer period of time.

 

How GI is estimated?

For many years it was assumed that complex carbohydrates would be broken down much more slowly than simple sugars, and so the blood glucose would rise more slowly after eating starches than after eating table sugar or fruit juice or jam. It was also assumed that carbohydrates that contained a lot of fiber (like brown rice or whole-wheat bread) would be absorbed more slowly than white rice and white bread. A series of research studies on this topic in the 1970s and 1980s showed that these assumptions may not always be true.

The researchers fed people 50 grams of different kinds of carbohydrate and measured how quickly their blood glucose went up, how high it got, and how quickly it came back down again. They found that eating 50 grams of table sugar and 50 grams of white bread gave an almost identical profile. In both cases, the blood glucose went up very quickly, had a high peak, and came down again quickly after the food had all been absorbed. They called that response a high glycemic index and gave it a value of 100.

Then they compared the response that people had to other foods and to white bread. If something was absorbed even faster and had a higher peak than white bread or table sugar, then it would have a glycemic index of over 100. But if something was absorbed more slowly and with a lower peak, it would have a glycemic index of under 100. To their surprise, they found that whole wheat bread and brown rice were absorbed just about as fast as white bread (with glycemic indices of 96–99); but white rice had a lower glycemic index (83), and white spaghetti was even lower (66). The popular breakfast cereal cornflakes had an even higher glycemic index measure than white bread (119), whereas ice cream had a very low glycemic index (49)!

GI foods list

This does not mean that you should eat ice cream for breakfast rather than cornflakes, however. It does show us that how quickly we absorb our food is more complicated than we used to think. Because it is sometimes surprising what effect certain foods will have on your blood glucose, it is a good idea to check your blood glucose before you eat a new type of food, and then test again one or two hours afterward to see how high your blood glucose goes and how long it stays up. This is particularly important for foods that you like to eat fairly often.

When it comes to recipes and prepared meals, the method and duration of cooking, as well as the storing and temperature of the food, can impact the GI value by altering the carbohydrate composition. So always be sure to follow the instructions, as overcooking some foods, such as pasta or potatoes, can increase the GI value, while cooking pasta al dente or cooling potatoes prior to eating can reduce the GI value.

The GI value of a food or meal is influenced by several other factors. For example, the higher the fiber, protein or fat content and/or acidity of a food or meal the slower the digestion rate and/or emptying of the stomach, causing a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream and therefore a lower GI rating. It can, therefore, be quite tricky to determine the GI of a food or meal that has not been properly tested or analyzed.

When in the supermarket, look out for packaged foods that carry the low GI symbol as an easy way of finding nutritious low GI foods. These foods have been tested and proven to be low GI, plus they meet the strict nutrient criteria set by the Glycemic Index Foundation.

Of course not all high GI carbohydrates are necessarily unhealthy to eat, just as not all low GI carbohydrates are healthy to eat on a regular basis. It is always important to consider the overall nutritional value of the food – that is, is it low in fat, especially saturated fat; is it high in fiber and whole grains; is it low in sodium; and does it contain essential vitamins and minerals?

GI food set

Conclusion

Aim to include at least one healthy low GI food at each meal or snack. By combining a low GI food with a high GI food you will achieve an overall medium glycaemic effect. And remember to choose portions that meet your individual needs, as too much of any carbohydrate, regardless of its Glycemic Index measure, as it can cause blood glucose levels (BGLs) to rise too high.

Can diabetes be Cured?​ Ask the Experts

Can diabetes be cured

In general, we do not consider that diabetes can be cured once it has been diagnosed.

People with type 2 diabetes can reverse the detectable abnormalities of diabetes by lifestyle adjustment without the use of medications. However, the tendency to manifest high blood sugar again is always present if the patient is under significant metabolic stress, such as that caused by medications, severe illness, injury, regaining lost weight, cessation of exercise, aging, etc. Therefore we consider that diabetes can be under excellent control or in remission, but we do not usually use the word cured. Even people with type 1 diabetes who have undergone successful pancreas or islet transplantation and no longer require insulin therapy cannot be considered cured. There is a significant possibility that their diabetes will one day come back for a variety of reasons, including rejection of the transplant or a renewed attack on the transplanted islet tissue by the patient’s immune system. 

Perhaps the closest we have been able to come in the search for a true cure for diabetes is the effect of bariatric surgery (“weight loss surgery”), which either involves procedures to restrict the entry of food into the stomach or procedures to bypass the stomach and upper intestine, thus reducing food absorption. Procedures of the bypass type have shown prolonged remission of diabetes in up to 80% of cases for as long as 10 years.  Remission for 10 years or more is approaching a definition of a true cure, and in the future this and other medications or procedures that provide a long-term reversal of obesity may come to be generally accepted as “curing” type 2 diabetes.

Reference:  Research by American Diabetes Association

How can I lower my blood sugar to prevent diabetes?

Reducing blood sugar naturally

Many strategies can be applied to quickly reduce your blood sugar naturally, without the need for insulin or medication.

In fact, if you are a person who is starting to develop diabetes (we refer to prediabetes), the first thing you should know is that prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are nutritional diseases, which originate primarily from bad eating habits.

You can help normalize sugar levels through vitamins and minerals.

Minerals

Minerals are essential for the alignment of body structures such as bones and tissues. They are also involved in the fundamental physiological processes such as the correct functioning of the metabolism and the production of energy.

Foods rich in Minerals

Chromium

There is a great variety of minerals that are advantageous when treating diabetes. The most significant mineral is chromium and this is because this mineral helps the body to release excess glucose. Chromium also favors increased insulin production.


It has been scientifically proven that without chromium it is not possible to produce insulin naturally. You can find this mineral in nuts, cereals, oysters, whole cheese, cereals, brewer’s yeast, and mushrooms.

Insulin normalizes the level of sugar in the blood, perfects the movement of the body to send glucose in the blood to the cells. Chromium aggregates optimize glucose tolerance and reduce triglycerides.

Vanadium

This mineral is associated with glucose regulation. You can find this mineral in milk, lobster, vegetables, butter, and cheese.

Manganese

This mineral allows the assimilation of fats and proteins and the manufacture of energy. It is found in all green cereals, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and tea.

Magnesium

It is a very important mineral for hypoglycemics because it helps in the correct absorption of sugar, starches, and fats and also supports the stability of blood sugar values. Magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, cocoa milk, vegetables, seafood, brown rice.

Zinc

It is another of the essential minerals for regulating insulin production. Zinc aggregates are helpful for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes. It is found in meats, eggs, sunflower seeds, milk, whole grains, spinach.

On the other hand, you should keep in mind that zinc is lost when food is processed as well as stress causes zinc levels to plummet precipitously.

Vitamins

Vitamins are an essential part of the human body. They can help in improving digestion and therefore increases the body’s ability to tolerate low glucose levels. Here are the vitamins that can normalize blood sugar levels.

 

Vitamin Rich Foods Strawberry

Vitamin C

People with diabetes have low levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C achieves blood glucose levels and reduces sorbitol in patients with diabetes. Sorbitol is a sugar that can build up and cause problems in the eyes, nerves, and kidneys of people with diabetes. Vitamin C optimizes glucose tolerance in people with type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is mandatory for the normal functioning of nerve cells. Oral vitamin B12 helps level blood sugar production.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is essential to maintain regulated insulin levels in the blood. Vitamin D supplements increase insulin production in people with diabetes. It is important to know that it should be taken in precise doses as high amounts of vitamin D may be harmful.