A Low Glycemic Index Diet for Blood Sugar Control
Does this sound familiar? You’re on edge and irritable when you haven’t eaten. You’re tired and wiped out when you’re full. Before you know it, you’re hungry again. You must eat something—now! A cookie, a bagel, anything.
Research shows that almost all women and 70 percent of men are plagued by food cravings. And, one major cause of food cravings is unbalanced blood sugar, especially low blood sugar.
Low blood sugar tells your brain it needs a pick-me-up. So you grab a candy bar, chips, a soda or other snack. Anything for that “quick fix”. But any benefit is short lived, and soon you’re back to the cravings once again.
Some experts believe that when you make use of the glycemic index (GI) to prepare healthy meals, it helps to keep your blood glucose levels under control, so you avoid those swings. Research is starting to back this up. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that insulin resistance was reduced when a low-glycemic diet was combined with exercise.
The glycemic index measures and ranks foods on how they affect our blood glucose levels in the two or three hours after eating. A food with a low glycemic index value—55 or less— takes longer to digest and absorb. As a result, the foods’ nutrients are released gradually, helping to keep blood sugar levels more stable.
Not all foods that you might think would have high values do have them, while other foods you might expect would have low values actually have high values. Here are a few tips to help you identify foods that are best for you so you can eat more healthfully:
- Foods that are white tend to have a higher glycemic index. This includes processed foods made with white flour and white sugar—but even white potatoes have a high GI.
- Concentrate on eating foods that are high in fiber. In general, high-fiber foods take longer to digest and therefore produce a slower rise in blood glucose levels.
- Foods high in protein, while not necessarily high in fiber, typically score lower on the glycemic index scale.
- A person’s glycemic response to a food also depends on the other foods eaten along with it. You would rarely eat a high GI food by itself. Combine high GI foods with low GI foods to help moderate the effect on blood sugar levels and reduce the overall GI of the meal.
A comprehensive listing of over 2,400 foods and their GI values can be found here: http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm