Surely you wonder if it is necessary to know about this subject, and really yes. Why? Because it not only benefits people who suffer from diabetes , there are many foods that can alter your glycemic index , among many other factors. Although it may seem simple, it is complex information, but below we will give you all the details in a practical and simple way.
What is the glycemic index?
This index is nothing more than a parameter that is responsible for measuring the speed and the amounts in which food moves into the blood in the form of glucose. When comparing it, the result is taken by ingesting the same amount of pure glucose, which is determined with a value of 100 . This means that, if a food has a glycemic index of 30, it means that the glycemia would present an increase of 70% less, compared to how the entire amount of glucose would.
Glycemic index: When is it a high or low value?
There are many food tables that allow you to visualize the value of foods according to their glycemic index; but the best truthful information that you can consider to know all these details, is through the famous Harvard tables .
In this sense, there you can determine which are the foods with a low, medium and high index ; which are determined according to the following figures:
- High glycemic index: Between 70 and 100
- Average glycemic index: Between 40-55 and 70
- Low glycemic index: Below 40-55
But this is not all, in addition to the glycemic index it is also important to go a little further to know the glycemic load. This load is obtained through the multiplication of the glycemic index of the carbohydrates present in a portion of food.
To make it clearer, we will give you a simple example. Suppose you have a food that has a high glycemic index, such as a cooked sweet potato, which has 82. When its glycemic load is checked and its amount of carbohydrates is considered , it is possible to see how the glycemic load in a serving 150 grams actually becomes 21 grams.
The same happens with some fruits, because even if they are fruits with a high glycemic index, the amount of carbohydrates available per potion is relatively small, which produces a relatively ridiculous glycemic load. To take another example, in the case of watermelon, its GI is high at 72 , but the glycemic load is 4 for a serving of 120 grams.
Is it necessary to choose foods according to the glycemic index?
This will depend on what each person wants to achieve with their food and nutrition; however, it should not be the primary motivation for choosing such food products . Why? Because the glycemic index does not expose with certainty if you are dealing with a healthy food or not, which is really or should be the essential criterion for choosing your day-to-day food.
We mention this because there can certainly be a food with a low glycemic index, but it may not be as healthy as it is believed. Such is the case of a soft drink with a sweetener; or on the contrary, be a completely healthy food but with a high index , as happens with some fruits.
Does combining foods affect the glycemic index?
Generally, food consumption is done in a combined way, that is, several products at the same time, so analyzing the glycemic index separately would not make much sense. To make it a bit clearer, you can have a high-glycemic refined cereal, and combining it with vegetables and olive oil will throw up a low-glycemic index dish , as the fat and fiber will do a good buffer.
This means that, you should not only be aware of the size of the food portion that you are preparing to eat, or the amount of carbohydrates per serving, you must also monitor the ingredients that will accompany such a diet in the face of the possible impact or modification on blood glucose.
Do not forget that a healthy diet should always be loaded with fiber, including fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes or cereals , this will make the diet low in terms of glycemic load.
But in order not to confuse you and have a mental calculator focused on adding or subtracting the possible amounts of the glycemic index, the most honest and advisable thing is to choose good foods , whatever their load or glycemic index. Of course, as we have already said, it is more than important that you be able to know all the details on the subject in order to prioritize or rule out some unhealthy options.
However, in the case of people who suffer from diabetes or insulin resistance, they can benefit much more from choosing foods according to the glycemic index, since these directly affect their health condition. For this, it is necessary that if you have any of these pathologies, you visit a medical specialist.
How to reduce the glycemic load?
In case of being a diabetic patient, the choice of food should focus on a low or medium glycemic index, as it can help stabilize blood glucose . Here are some important helps to organize your meals in the correct way and without affecting your health:
- Make the accompaniment of the meals contain vegetables and greens.
- Prioritize the consumption of whole grains.
- Avoid adding unnecessary sugars in food, such as syrups.
- Avoid sweets and ice cream, and especially soft drinks and any type of sugary drink
- Choose fruits before juice.
- It is more advisable to take whole dairy products rather than skimmed ones. It is important that they are as natural as possible and do not contain added sugar.
- Avoid late meals, try snacking to combat anxiety.
- Choose foods with a good content of healthy fats such as nuts and even avocado or grilled salmon.
- Do physical activity or sports.
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load: Are They the Same?
Although they appear to be the same, they are certainly related; but not. In the case of glycemic load, you focus on the grams of carbohydrates in each serving ; that is, the amount of carbohydrates. Whereas, when talking about the glycemic index, only the speed in which these foods take to reach the blood is taken into account.
Is it important to know the glycemic index?
Honestly, it is essential and very useful information, but it is not decisive for your nutritional performance. Knowing these values will help you to perceive the glycemic response of foods, as well as avoid possible hyperglycemia . Of course, all these glycemic index values are only indicative, that is; a kind of guide to good nutrition.
Are High Glycemic Index Foods Bad?
As is commonly known, sugary cereals, cookies, pancakes, or any other dessert made with refined flours, refined sugars and others, have a high glycemic content; which means that these carbohydrates are rapidly transformed into glucose , causing high spikes in blood sugar.
And that is where the great danger hides, since increases in sugar in fat are very delicate , especially in people with diabetes or insulin resistance.
Is a diet with low glycemic index products mandatory?
Not necessarily, why? Because as we have already analyzed before, the glycemic index does not exactly determine that a food is unhealthy , since it may be a food with a low index, but it is not very favorable for the body. However, if it is prudent that you always consider healthy food choices, such as fruits, vegetables and greens.
The higher the glycemic index, the more calories?
This is completely false, since the glycemic index only analyzes the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed in the blood , as we have already explained. This means that it does not provide information on the amount of nutrients or calories that each food has.
In that sense, a food can be very caloric and have a low glycemic index. This usually happens when it comes to foods with a high carbohydrate content or with a large contribution of protein and fat.
What does a high or low glycemic index depend on?
There are really many factors that are involved in this aspect, but the composition, the processing and the speed of digestion can be taken into account . In a more clear way, it will not be the same to consume raw corn or processed into flour, just as the varieties of corn will not be the same.
Is it possible to modify the glycemic index of foods?
Without a doubt, it is possible to vary the levels of the glycemic index at the time of cooking, where it is possible to change the rate of absorption . For example, a pasta that is cooked al dente will absorb much slower than other highly cooked pasta.
In the case of foods that are very liquid or chopped, they tend to be absorbed more quickly. This means that the glycemic index will be much lower before a piece of fruit than a juice.
How do high glucose levels affect?
When foods with a high glycemic index are consumed, the carbohydrates they contain will be absorbed much faster by the body . Which means that, there will be a high peak of glucose in the blood; and obviously suddenly.
It should be noted that such a rise in sugar must be corrected correctly by insulin , which is that hormone produced by the pancreas , capable of regulating glucose levels in the blood. Otherwise, good health can be greatly impaired, not only over time, but also in the short term.
By avoiding these glucose peaks that are generated by those foods with a high glycemic index, not only will you have better energy throughout the day, you will also help the body to prevent diseases such as diabetes . Of course, as some specialists have reported, knowing the glycemic index is of great importance for such prevention, but it is not enough, so you should not be overly confident.
Why check glucose levels?
Generally, the blood glucose level should be kept within fairly narrow limits during the day, such as 72-145. However, it is normal for it to rise after each meal or to be a little lower in the morning , before breakfast.
So, in case of having a glucose level within normal parameters, health complications such as diabetes are significantly reduced . Now, in the case of having such high levels, other types of diseases such as the following may occur:
- Retinopathy : Injury to the retina in the eyes.
- Neuropathy : Injury to the nerves of the extremities and organs.
- Cardiovascular diseases : Hypertension, myocardial infarction or lack of blood supply to the extremities.
- Nephropathy : Injury to the kidney that can lead to kidney failure.
- Cerebrovascular diseases : cerebral thrombosis.
How are blood glucose levels maintained?
You must know that the sugars that you normally eat through various foods are progressively transformed into glucose by metabolism. Then, once converted, it travels through the blood until it reaches the cells of different types of tissue, providing the energy they need to function. A clearer example is the muscle tissue, which requires this energy to make the effort that each movement requires.
Later, when such foods are properly digested , glucose levels can vary, between 70 and 145 milligrams per deciliter of blood . To know and be calm before your changes in levels, it is advisable to measure blood glucose in the morning hours, but before breakfast, where you should throw a number between 70 and 100, completely fasting. In case of being measured after the meal, it should be done after two hours, where it will surely be positioned at 140 milligrams.
When do blood glucose changes occur?
This happens when the metabolism towards insulin does not work or function correctly, since the cells of the tissues stop assimilating glucose, resulting in a strong accumulation in the blood. How do you know? A kind of alarm may be that at the time of evaluating fasting glucose levels , the numbers are between 100 and 125 milligrams, and after eating it is between 140 and 199. This is where you should put yourself in action.
When this happens and such figures are presented, it means that the person is facing a prediabetic state, where type 2 diabetes has not yet penetrated the body, which is a kind of prelude to the crudest disease. In this case, it is prudent to make some specific changes in your behavior habits , such as maintaining a good diet, regular exercises or playing sports and losing a little weight if necessary. All of this will be enough to control the outlook and delay the onset of diabetes, or even prevent its development.
Remember that when it comes to diabetes, it means that blood glucose levels are above 126 milligrams fasting, and 200 after each meal. If this is the case and you do not have adequate treatment from the hand of a specialist, what is called a diabetic may present; and this involves various problems for health in general.
How is blood glucose measured?
In the case of healthy people who do not suffer from any pathology, the measurement of blood glucose levels can be determined in any blood or urine test, obligatorily on an empty stomach, since as we analyze, the factors may vary. This test is generally performed with greater care in those people who have a picture of obesity , are older than 50 years, have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypercholesterolemia.
In the case of patients diagnosed with diabetes , it should only be used with a fasting blood test. To do this, they must use a glucometer, which is a device in which a test strip impregnated with a drop of blood is inserted that is obtained by a small prick on a finger. In just a few seconds, you will be able to know the complete results.
There are also other tests, such as oral glucose tolerance, or glycosylated hemoglobin, which is performed for slightly more specific cases and evaluations, such as: uncontrolled diabetic patients or pregnant women who have a high risk of gestational diabetes.
In this sense, do not forget that the glycemic index is not everything in life, but it is very useful for your health, so you should not ignore all the information you get from each of the foods you want to eat, just Remember to make a good choice and everything will be controlled in principle for you.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.