The food you eat pretty much affects everything about your body. You need food, after all, to survive. But more than just simply letting you live, the food you eat can also affect whether you get well or worse when you are sick. Most people want to take care of their condition the natural way, so going by route of using food to get better interests a lot of people, like diabetics.
The food you eat has a direct effect on your blood sugar levels, which diabetics have a hard time controlling, so it follows then that getting involved in a diet that takes into account how to normalize blood sugar levels will be effective in managing diabetes. In the course of learning about what you can get out of a diabetic diet, you will have to understand what the glycemic index is, or the measure of how carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels.
When you eat carbohydrates, they quickly get broken down during digestion, releasing glucose into your system. If a certain food type has a high glycemic index, then it releases glucose quickly into the bloodstream. If it has a low glycemic index, then it releases glucose slowly into the bloodstream. The idea behind the glycemic index was proliferated by Dr. David Jenkins and his colleagues at the Toronto University in 1980 and 1981. According to their studies, a lower glycemic index is suggestive of slower digestion and absorption rates which may also indicate that the components and enzymes needed for processing carbohydrates are released more slowly.
A food items glycemic index is defined to be the area that falls under the two-hour blood sugar response curve following the consumption of a fixed carbohydrate portion, which is typically 50g. The area under the response curve or AUC of a certain food item is divided using the AUC of a standard food item and then multiplied by 100. To get the average, data produced by 10 subjects will have to be collected. Both the test and standard food items must have equal amounts of available carbohydrates. Whatever average is recorded will reflect as a relative ranking for the food item.
The currently validated methods utilize sugar as a reference food because it has a glycemic index of 100 as defined. White bread is also commonly used as a reference item but glycemic values for sugar will have to be adjusted, so that whenever white bread is given 100 glycemic points, sugar will have 140. For people who consume white bread as a regular source of carbohydrates, the good news is that simply replacing white bread with another food item can immediately lower or affect the blood sugar response as intended.
Generally, food items considered to have high glycemic values are white bread, most white rice items, corn flakes, glucose, maltose, and extruded breakfast cereals, while those with moderate glycemic values are whole wheat products, sweet potatoes, basmati rice, baked potatoes, and sucrose. Food items with low glycemic values include whole grains, nuts, legumes and pulses, and most fruits and vegetables.
The diabetic diet is most applicable for managing diabetes, but it has also been tapped into by various modern diets like the NutriSystem Nourish Diet, Transitions by Market America, and the South Beach Diet. However, while most of the food items on the list of those with low glycemic values are fruits and vegetables and other healthy things, a lot of people have also pointed out that there are a number of unhealthy food items that are also low on glycemic values, like ice cream, chocolate cake, and pure fructose.
Does this mean that it’s ok to eat these food items if they have low glycemic values even at the risk of contributing to other health issues? Ironic to note as well that while rice and potatoes are commonly eaten in certain countries, they have low diabetes rates in those areas even though rice and potatoes top the list of food items with high glycemic values. Using the glycemic index should be used as a general guide, but some common sense must be exercised when deciding what to eat as well.
When you shop for food, you’ll see that certain items have been listed under the GI Symbol Program, an independent certification program that helps consumers in identifying food and beverages with low glycemic values. The symbol program though only applies on food items that have been tested according to the standards set and have met the certification criteria set by the GI Foundation for labeling a food item as a healthy choice. Generally, a healthy choice is deemed to be one that is low in calories, salt, and fat.
A certain limitation that has been considered to affect the diabetic diet and the idea of working around glycemic values is that if a person eats half of his caloric requirements from carbohydrates, the glycemic values will enable him to eat the same amount of calories and yet have lower and more stable insulin and glucose levels. Before engaging in a diabetic diet though, it is always best to consult with your doctor first with regards to creating meal plans.