Diabetes – Can the Glycemic Index Help?

By now, you know that type 2 diabetes is an epidemic in North America. Every year the number of people with this disease increases dramatically – and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Is there a way protect ourselves against this trend? Yes, with the vigorous application of the 10 Essentials for Health and Wellness.

Essential #4 encourages us to eat nutritiously. This requires a little education about the difference between a nutritious food and an “empty calorie.”  Considerable information about the way particular foods impact diabetes is found in the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
A chart based on the impact of carbohydrates on a person’s blood sugar was developed by a group of researchers several years ago. It was created to help people with diabetes select foods that would have the least impact on their disease. The Glycemic Index (GI) measures the impact of foods on blood sugar when compared against pure sugar: glucose. The higher the GI number, the greater the impact on blood sugar and the worse a food is supposed to be for a person with diabetes. The GI is also used as a tool for weight loss and cardiovascular health.

To find a truer nutritional value for food the Glycemic Load was deveoped to refine information from the Glycemic Index. For instance, the Glycemic Index may rate the carbohydrate value in a food as very high. This would seem to make the food unacceptable for people who want to restrict sugar. However, the Glycemic Load gives us a more global value of your food beyond sugar content.

Glycemic Load takes into account the fiber, fat and water content of a food. Let’s look at the example of parsnips:

Parsnips are creamy-colored root vegetables in the carrot family. They taste greate and have a therapeutic value as well. Parsnips have a GI rating of 97, compared with pure glucose at 100. This would seem to make parsnips “bad” – unacceptable as a healthy carbohydrate source. However, parsnips contain so much fiber and water (and protein and fats) that they have only a tiny impact on the total load of carbohydrates (the Glycemic Load). Because of their protein and fat, they help keep your appetite satisfied longer. So, you may even eat less at your next meal. Therefore, parsnips are really very healthful despite their high GI number.

Potatoes have become taboo in most low-carb diets. Yet, potatoes have attributes similar to parsnips. They are good for you, unless you deep-fry them and load them with bacon, sour cream, gravy, cheese and other high-calorie, high-fat condiments.

Compound carbohydrates – the true “bad” carbs
Though many fruits and vegetables are high on the Glycemic Index they are “good” complex carbs because they are low in Glycemic Load. Refined starches, such as pastries, pastas, pudding and pancakes, as well as gravies and similar sauces are a different story.

These foods:

  • Contain low amounts of water and fiber
  • Contain high amounts of “bad” carbohydrates and bad fats
  • Quickly turn to sugar in your bloodstream
  • Trigger insulin and inflammation
  • Increase your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes

These are truly sources of “bad” carbohydrates. They are examples of “compound” carbohydrates: foods which have been processed beyond recognition from their original whole food sources. They are never good in any amount.

Diabetes epidemic
In conclusion, the way to place yourself in the lowest risk category for type 2 diabetes is to eat whole foods which minimally impact your blood sugar. But that’s not all; did you know that stress alone may cause diabetes? Breathing deeply breaks the cycle of stress. And, since type 2 diabetes and obesity are related, getting enough sleep is essential. Add in the lessons from all 10 Essentials and you have a bulwark of protection against the epidemic of type 2 diabetes.

Take Charge of Your Health

  • Get 7-1/2 to 9 hours of sleep every night
  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Get active doing the things you love
    • Volunteer
    • Mentor younger one
    • Never stop learning
  • Tip
    Agave nectar is similar to honey, but with a lower Glycemic Index. For example, honey is between 55 and 85, depending on how many solids remain in the honey. Agave nectar is as low as 27. This means that Agave nectar absorbs slowly into the bloodstream, which allows your body to allocate it to the appropriate areas. Since it’s four times sweeter than sugar you can use a lot less when using it as a sweetener.

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