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Recognizing the Glycemic Index and Its Effect on Blood Sugar Levels

The glycemic index (GI) is a value to determine the increase in blood sugar levels from carbohydrates in certain foods. Does a lower GI level make your diet healthier? Check out the full explanation below.

Recognizing the Glycemic Index and Its Effect on Blood Sugar Levels

What is the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index is a value for measuring how much carbohydrate in a particular food raises blood sugar levels. The glycemic index size itself is divided into 3: low, medium, or high; on a scale of 0 to 100.

GI gives an idea of ​​how quickly the body turns carbohydrates in food into glucose. Two foods with the same number of carbohydrates can have different glycemic index numbers.

Please note, the GI value is only found in foods that contain carbohydrates. Therefore, non-carb foods are not included in the list. Examples of foods that are not included include beef, chicken, fish and eggs.

Glycemic Index Value

Typically, GI values ​​are based on how much a type of food raises blood glucose levels rather than how much pure glucose raises blood glucose.

GI values ​​are generally divided into three groups, including:

  • Low: 1 to 55.
  • Medium: 56 to 69.
  • Height: 70 or higher.

Foods with a low GI value are a better choice because they are slowly digested and absorbed, resulting in a slower and less frequent increase in blood sugar levels.

Meanwhile, foods with a high GI value, you must limit your consumption because they cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

Therefore, comparing multiple GI values ​​can help guide healthier food choices.

Also Read: 7 types of tea that are good for diabetics, help lower blood sugar?

Factors Affecting the Glycemic Index of Foods

There are a number of factors that can affect the GI value of a food, including:

  • Types of sugar in food. There is a misconception that all sugar has a high GI. The GI of sugar ranges from as low as 23 for fructose to 105 for maltose. Therefore, the GI of a food depends partly on the content of the type of sugar.
  • Starch structure. Starch is a carbohydrate consisting of two molecules, namely amylose and amylopectin. Amylose is difficult to digest, while amylopectin is easily digested. Foods that contain higher amylose will have a lower GI.
  • How to process carbohydrates. Processing methods such as grinding will disrupt the amylose and amylopectin molecules, thus increasing the GI. The more food goes through the processing, eating these foods has a higher GI.
  • Nutritional composition. Adding protein or fat to your diet can slow digestion and reduce the glycemic response to food.
  • How to cook food. How to prepare and cook food can also affect GI. The longer a food goes through the cooking process, the faster the sugar is digested and absorbed by the body, thereby increasing GI.
  • Food done. Unripe fruit has complex carbohydrates that break down into sugar when the fruit becomes ripe. The more ripe the fruit, the higher the GI.

Foods That Have a Low Glycemic Index

There are many healthy and nutritious food choices that are suitable for those of you who are on a low GI diet.

The following are foods that are low on the glycemic index:

  • Bread, preferably whole wheat.
  • Breakfast cereal.
  • Fruits such as apples, strawberries, apricots, plums, pears, kiwi, tomatoes, among others.
  • Vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and others.
  • Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn and pumpkin.
  • Legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans, and others.
  • Pasta and noodles such as pasta, buckwheat noodles and vermicelli noodles.
  • Rice like basmati.
  • Grains like quinoa.
  • Dairy substitutes such as cheese, yogurt, coconut milk, soy milk, and almond milk.

Foods That Have a High Glycemic Index

If you are on a low GI diet, you should avoid the following foods:

  • Bread, including white bread or bagels.
  • Breakfast cereals such as instant oatmeal and corn flakes.
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes.
  • Pasta and noodles, including corn paste and instant noodles.
  • White rice.
  • Ausu rice and oat milk.
  • Watermelon
  • Savory snacks, including rice crackers, rice cakes, corn chips.
  • Cakes, including donuts, cupcakes, cookiesand waffles.

Also Read: 10 Fruits with a Low Glycemic Index, Suitable for Diabetics

Low Glycemic Index Diet Link with Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. People with diabetes are unable to process sugar effectively, making it difficult to control healthy blood sugar levels.

However, controlling blood sugar with a good low GI diet can help prevent and delay complications, including heart disease, stroke, and damage to the nerves and kidneys.

Adopting a low GI diet can also increase the chances of pregnancy in women who have gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.

A low glycemic index diet has also been shown to reduce the risk of macrosomia by up to 73%, a condition in which newborns weigh more than 3.5 kilograms. It is associated with various short and long term complications for both mother and baby.

Other Benefits of the Low Glycemic Index Diet

Depending on the goal, the benefits of a low GI diet vary. Here are the various benefits you can get.

  • Control blood sugar better. Several studies have found that following a low GI diet can lower blood sugar levels and improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Lose weight. Several studies have also shown that a low GI diet helps you lose weight in the short term. However, more research is needed to determine how this affects long-term weight loss.
  • Control appetite. A low GI diet can also control appetite. Foods with a high GI cause a rapid rise in blood glucose, a rapid insulin response, and a quick return of hunger. Low GI foods can in turn delay feelings of hunger which will ultimately control weight.
  • Reduces cholesterol levels. Following a low GI diet helps lower total and cholesterol levels low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, both are risk factors for heart disease.
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  2. Anonymous. 2018. What is the glycemic index (GI)?. (Diaskes on 27 August 2020)
  3. Kubala, Jillian. 2020. Glycemic Index: What It Is and How to Use It. (Diaskes on 27 August 2020)
  4. Kubala, Jillian. 2020. A Beginner’s Guide to the Low Glycemic Diet. (Diaskes on 27 August 2020)
  5. Villalines, Zawn. 2019. Glycemic index: Everything you need to know. (Diaskes on 27 August 2020)

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