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Glycemic Index and Diabetes

Low Glycemic Index Foods Are Healthier Choices

Low glycemic index foods generally have less of an impact on blood sugar levels. People who eat a lot of low glycemic index foods tend to have lower total body fat levels.

Low glycemic index foods include these:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole and minimally processed grains
  • Legumes

Glycemic Index and Your Diet

You can find lists of low (good), medium, and high (bad) glycemic index foods on the Internet or in books. A dietitian can also point you to lists of these foods. Choose foods from the low and medium end of the glycemic index as often as you can. Avoid foods high on the glycemic index.

But what can you do if you need to eat and a glycemic index food list is not available? Keep this general principle in mind: Unprocessed foods tend to have lower glycemic indices than refined foods.

Many packaged food products list the glycemic index, although it is not required. For reference, use this glycemic index chart to interpret the numbers:

  • Low (good) glycemic index levels: 55 or less
  • Medium glycemic index levels: 56–69
  • High (bad) glycemic index levels: 70 or higher

Factors That Alter the Glycemic Index

Knowing whether a particular food has a low or high glycemic index is a great start. However, several factors can change a particular food’s glycemic index:

  • The other foods eaten at the same time
  • Other components of a food, such as the amount of protein or fat
  • How the food was prepared
  • Your own body’s reaction to the food

You may want to work with a dietitian to learn more about combining and preparing foods to achieve the lowest glycemic index levels in your diet plan. It is recommended that about 40% of total caloric intake be from carbohydrates.

Want to Give the Glycemic Index a Try?

Many people have found the glycemic index to be a useful tool for controlling blood sugar or for losing weight. If you want to try the glycemic index as well, talk to your doctor. He or she may refer you to a dietitian, who can give you specific steps to follow as well as tips to make using the glycemic index easier.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on May 16, 2012

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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