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How The Glycemic Index Can Be Used In Dieting

By Betty Brown

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results from disordered insulin production and utilization by the tissues. Whereas type 1 disease is mainly seen in teenage, type 2 is mainly seen in adulthood. Lifestyle modification which includes regular physical exercise and having a proper diet are among the interventions that can be undertaken. If you are planning on making some changes to your diet, the glycemic index is something that you need to understand.

The value of the index is expressed as an absolute number. Foods that have a high value have a higher potential to increase the level of blood glucose. Those that have a lower value, on the other hand, increase the levels of marginally. The general advice is that persons that are at risk of suffering from diabetes or have already been diagnosed with the condition should have foods that have a low value.

Food is said to have a low index if its allocated value is 55 or lower. Foods in this category are regarded as being healthy for diabetic patients. Those that have values of 56 to 69 fall in the medium category and those that have a value of 70 or more are considered as having a high value. These typically cause spikes in sugar levels as soon as they have been eaten. They should, therefore, be avoided as much as possible.

The glycemic value of food is determined by a number of factors. One of them is the method that is used in preparation. If acids, fats and fiber are added to food as it is being prepared its index will be reduced to some extent. Cooking starches for too long has been shown to increase their value. Ripeness is an important factor in fruits with those that are most ripe contributing to the greatest increase in glucose.

Note that the index is not the sole determinant of food choice. The nutritional value of particular foods also need to be looked at. Remember that while some foods may be deemed harmful due to a relatively high value, their nutritional value is equally high due to the presence of minerals and vitamins. Another factor that may affect the choice is the size of portions. Larger portions are more likely to increase blood sugar levels.

Various foods have been shown to have fairly low indices. They include legumes, grains, nuts and vegetables among others. Since carbohydrates are a direct precursor of glucose, they have a high glycemic diet. Examples include white rice, white bread and potatoes. The highest values will be seen with sugary and processed foods such as cakes, candy and cookies.

It has been shown that naturally occurring foods have lower values than those that are processed. Always look for the value of the index on food labels before you consume them. If you have doubts, get in touch with a qualified nutritionist. If you cannot find any, then look for an authoritative website on the internet where common foods have their values listed.

Even as you strive to have a proper diet be careful not to starve yourself. The changes in blood sugar levels among diabetic patients can swing in either direction and lead to potentially life threatening complications. Denying yourself much needed calories can lead to episodes of low blood sugar (or hypoglycemia). Severe hypoglycemia can cause loss of consciousness and even a coma if not addressed in time.

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