The impact of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels has been recognized by doctors and the medical community for at least the past 25 years. After a high-glycemic load meal, blood glucose levels increase more steeply, and the demand for insulin will rise greatly. In other words, a high carbohydrate meal puts stress on pancreatic function and increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Fundamentally, there is an inherent relationship between the glycemic index and diabetes.
Women at great risk of correlation between glycemic index and diabetes
According to the Nurses Health Study (NHS), women have a greater correlation between GI and diabetes. Women with the highest glycemic load diets were 37% more likely to develop type 2 Diabetes Mellitus over the next six years than women with low GI load diets. (Source: Oregon State University, Micronutrient Information Center).
In addition to being at risk for Type 2 Diabetes, increased blood glucose and insulin concentrations, diets with high glycemic loads are known to cause elevated triglyceride concentrations and decreased HDL cholesterol levels. As a result of the Nurses Health Study and other major studies over the years, the first line of diabetes control, together with medication, has been to adjust and lower glycemic loads. These efforts combat the relationship between a high GI and diabetes.
Understanding the fundamentals between glycemic index and diabetes
The glycemic index, or GI, is a food ranking system that gives a lower number to foods that result in lower and more gradual blood glucose increases, and a higher number to foods that raise blood glucose levels more drastically and more quickly. In between these numbers, is the medium GI. Foods such as most high fiber vegetables and oats have a low glycemic index, while white bread, certain fruits and potatoes have a high GI. Keep in mind that high glycemic index and diabetes have a detrimental relationship on your health.
In the treatment of diabetes, one must pay attention to both glycemic index and glycemic load. Due to the relationship between the GI and diabetes, there are foods that increase the probability of the onset of diabetes.
While a particular food has a ranking within the glycemic index, the total glycemic load will depend on the serving size, together with the amount of carbohydrate in that serving. For example, dried lentils that are boiled have a glycemic index of 29, about mid-way into the low GI, which goes up to a value of 55. If you consume just one cup of lentils, the carbohydrate per serving will be 18 grams. The total glycemic load per serving, however, is actually 5. In other words, the actual effect of eating a small portion of boiled lentils produces a lower glycemic load than one would think. Therefore, glycemic index and diabetes considerations should include both the quality of the food (glycemic index) and quantity of the carbohydrate contained in the food. (Source: Oregon State University / Micronutrient Information Center).
The health benefits between low glycemic index and diabetes
The physiological effects of high glycemic index foods have been shown to rapidly increase blood glucose levels. When an individual consistently eats high GI foods, it results in rapid increases in blood sugar, prompting high insulin levels. Over the next few hours after a high glycemic load meal, insulin levels are high, resulting in a sharp drop in glucose levels. This rapid rise and fall of blood sugar is what puts the strain on the pancreas and can ultimately lead to diabetes. Consuming a low GI diet results in more gradual and tepid rises in blood sugar, and therefore puts less demand on the pancreas to release a large amount of insulin. Subsequently, in terms of the glycemic index and diabetes, eating a low GI diet reduces your risk of diabetes.
Low glycemic index diets have been shown to improve overall blood sugar control in people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. In an article released by Oregon State University, an analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials found that low glycemic index diets improved both short-term and long-term blood glucose levels. For those with Type 1 diabetes, where serious hypoglycemia can occur if insulin levels are too high, there were significantly fewer instances of hypoglycemia for those that consumed a low GI diet.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that individuals with diabetes reduce their calorie intake, maintain a healthy weight, and count the carbohydrates they consume. A low GI diet, taking into account food portions that add up to total glycemic load, is a way to attain effective control of blood sugar, along with weight loss. Subsequently, a low glycemic index diet and diabetes have a healthy relationship.
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