There’s no one-size-fits-all diet for managing diabetes. But one option is using the Glycemic Index (GI) to help make your food choices.

Research shows that low-GI foods can significantly improve your blood glucose control if you have diabetes. Studies also suggest that low-GI diets can help with weight loss.

The Glycemic Index is a measure of how much your blood glucose level rises when you eat a food containing carbohydrates. A higher GI means that a food raises your blood glucose more.

GI levels are based around a reference carbohydrate—either white bread or glucose—which is given a GI of 100. A low-GI food has a GI less than 55. A high-GI food has a GI greater than 70.

Because they don’t contain carbohydrates, meats and fats don’t have a GI.

What Affects a Food’s Glycemic Index?

Many different factors can influence a food’s GI:

  • Foods that are cooked longer tend to have higher GIs. For example, fully cooked pasta has a higher GI than pasta al dente.
  • Fruits and vegetables have higher GIs when they are at the peak of ripeness.
  • The more processed a food is, the higher its GI tends to be.

Eating more than one food at a time also influences how your body responds. For example, a glass of orange juice may spike your blood glucose. But if you drink orange juice, along with eating eggs and lean ham, your blood glucose response could be much lower.

How to Use the Glycemic Index

In general, it’s best to choose foods with a low or medium GI, because they don’t raise blood glucose as much. If you’re eating a high-GI food, pair it with a low-GI food to even out the blood glucose response. Make sure to watch portion sizes no matter what you’re eating. Even low-GI foods can be high in calories.

You don’t have to avoid foods just because they have a high GI. Fruit, for example, has a high GI, but is packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Before you start a new exercise or nutritional program, let’s talk; and together we can create a plan that fits with your lifestyle and health needs.

For more information on specific programs to address your Diabetes, contact Dan Prater, ND on 219.613.1161 or via email.

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