Diabetes is a metabolic disorder whereby the body cannot control the glucose level in blood. The hormone responsible for maintaining glucose in the blood to a healthy level is insulin. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and a person is said to be diabetic if the pancreas stops producing insulin (known as type 1 diabetes), the body becomes insulin resistant (the body needs more insulin than the body can produce - type 2 diabetes) or the person becomes diabetic as a result of pregnancy (Gestational diabetes, generally only lasts during pregnancy). This article will discuss whether glycemic index foods can help people with diabetes by defining what glycemic foods are and how they can help a diabetic maintain their blood sugar level.
The glycemic index (GI) is a way of ranking, primarily, carbohydrates food types according to the affect that food has on our blood glucose levels. Carbohydrate foods that break down rapidly in the body release glucose into the blood stream quickly and are said to have a high glycemic index score. Carbohydrates that take longer to break down release glucose slowly, over a longer period and are said to have a low GI score.
A GI score is attained by measuring the blood glucose response in a person two hours after eating a standard portion of a particular carbohydrate food. This is given a relative score when compared to the test case GI score of 100. The test case is determined by the blood glucose response after 2 hours if a person was to ingest glucose.
It is generally agreed that any food stuff that has a GI score of 55 or less has a low Glycemic index.
Any foodstuff that has a GI around 56 - 69 has is medium.
And anything 70 and above has a high GI score.
Oats are known to have a low score whereas potatoes have a high GI score.
Thus eating a low GI diet will keep the large fluctuations in blood glucose to a minimum that will reduce the need for an appropriate insulin response by the body. This can be said to be good for people that don't want to develop diabetes because the body is less likely to develop insulin resistance when insulin levels are constant.
For people with diabetes, it will be easier to control long term glucose levels if a GI diet is followed. This will allow a person to be more in control and not at the mercy of a high glucose level which can cause long term and sudden complications. Recent research suggests that using a diet controlled by the insulin index may be better for diabetes as this is measured by the insulin response to foodstuffs and includes all food types and not just carbohydrates.
However GI diets are still hard to implement. One of the major criticisms of the GI diet is that food stuffs are easy to measure in laboratory conditions but are not as straightforward in real life. For example food that has vinegar added to it will have a reduced score. Fruit and vegetables will change their GI score depending on how well cooked or how ripe they are. Thus it is hard to be definitive about if your GI diet is low or otherwise.
It is always advisable to see a dietitian or a doctor if you are about to start a new dietary regime. They can advise you on how to plan your diet and give you more relevant advice for your personal circumstances.
Find out more about the diabetic food pyramid and other ways to create and monitor an healthy diet ideal for diabetics by visiting http://www.diabeticdietsplan.com . The site has features on diabetic food and cooking and common ailments that can affect diabetics, like diabetic retinopathy and diabetic neuropathy. Adrian Whittle writes on many diabetic related issues.