In recent years, low-glycemic index diets have become more popular. It not only helps control blood sugar, but also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. What exactly is the glycemic index? Are there other health effects? What are low GI foods?
What is the glycemic index?
The Glycemic Index (GI), is used to measure the impact on blood sugar after eating foods containing carbohydrates (sugar). Carbohydrates will be converted into glucose and released into the blood during the digestion process. As a result, blood sugar rise, but the degree of increase varies according to factors such as the type of carbohydrates and dietary fiber. To put it simply, high GI foods are easier to digest, so the rise in blood sugar will be faster and higher. On the contrary, the conversion speed of low GI foods is slower, and the rise in blood sugar will naturally be slower and lower.
What is the glycemic index used for?
Glycemic index is especially important for dietary management of diabetics or for those with high blood sugar. By controlling food intake, choosing food types with appropriate GI values and cooking methods, blood sugar level can be controlled which reduces the burden of the pancreas so as to improve the symptoms of diabetes.
According to the guidelines of the NHS, the GI value of food can be divided into three levels: low, medium and high. The higher the glycemic index, the greater its impact on blood sugar rise.
- Low GI value: ≤55
- Medium GI value
- High GI value: ≥70
Benefits of a low GI diet
- Reduce insulin secretion, double the risk of diabetes complications
- Stabilize blood sugar and lower triglycerides, reduce the risk
- People are more likely to feel full, which helps control weight and achieve weight loss.
How to effectively use the glycemic index to control diabetes?
Eating a low GI diet can slow down the conversion of glucose, reduce the rise in blood sugar, control blood sugar more effectively, and reduce the risk of diabetic complications. The American Diabetes Association also proposed in 2008 “The benefits of a low GI diet for diabetes”.
Who is suitable for a low GI diet?
They are very suitable for a low GI diet, but they should pay attention to quantity control and count the content of carbohydrates. It is recommended to have a balanced diet, regular quantitative meals, and a maximum of three meals a day. Following the golden rule of eating sequence. Vegetables –> Protein and fat —> Carbohydrates
- People with polycystic
People with polycystic ovary disease are 5 times more likely to develop diabetes than women in general. Therefore, it is recommended to start a low GI diet at a young age to control blood sugar, which can also reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and premature birth.
- For people who need endurance training
Long-distance runners or mountain climbers, eating low GI foods before exercise can effectively improve fat burning efficiency.
How to preliminarily estimate the glycemic index of food?
- Sugar Servings
The higher the sugar content in a food, the higher the GI value. If compared with granulated sugar and fructose, which are both sugars, since granulated sugar has two molecules of glucose, its GI value is about three times that of fructose.
- Amount of fiber, fat and protein
It takes time to decompose fiber, fat, and protein, so it is inversely proportional to the GI value. The higher the content of the above three substances in the food, the lower the GI value, and there will be no significant effect on the rise in blood sugar in a short time after eating.
- Cooking time, processing and ripening degree
The longer the cooking time, the higher the GI value. Rice cooked for 5 minutes will have a higher GI than rice cooked for only 1 minute. In addition, the smaller the grain, or the riper the food, the higher the GI value. For example, the GI value of wheat flour is higher than that of whole grain wheat, and the GI value of yellow banana is higher than that of green banana.
- The glycemic index of various foods
The following is a list of the glycemic index of some common foods, classified by high, medium, and low glycemic index, and food types:
Precautions for low GI diets
- Avoid overeating
Low GI values do not mean low cholesterol and calories, some high-fat foods also have low GI values. If you eat too much because of low GI value, you may increase the burden on your body.
- Avoid long cooking time
The shorter the cooking time of the cooking method, the lower the GI value. In addition, using methods such as steaming, and boiling can also help reduce the GI value. Deep frying and thickening of sauce with cornflour should be avoided.
- Balanced nutrition
We should not only take low GI value as the only dietary index, but also take in other nutrients and vitamins at the same time to avoid dietary imbalance.
Glycemic Index Frequently Asked Questions
- Can a Low GI Diet Help You Lose Weight?
Low GI foods can slow down the rise in blood sugar levels, prolong the feeling of fullness in disguise, and help control appetite. However, not all low GI foods are healthy, and high-fat options should be avoided, otherwise weight loss will be difficult to achieve.
- How is the glycemic index calculated?
The glycemic index refers to the percentage value of the blood sugar response level of 50 grams of carbohydrates and 50 grams of glucose in the body for 2 hours. The calculation method is as follows:
Related Post : Can Diabetics Eat Fruit? What is GI Index of Fruit?
NHS Ref: What is Glycemic Index