Diabetes: How Can the Glycemic Index Help?

About 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes, which prevents your body from regulating its blood sugar. At Girard Internal Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Nicole Kimzey, DO, and our team is here to help you manage your diabetes so you can live a long, healthy life.

Using the glycemic index when you choose foods may help you control your blood sugar and manage your condition. Read on to learn more!

What is the glycemic index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure or number that lets you know how quickly your body converts the carbohydrates in different foods into glucose, the sugar your body uses for energy. It’s important to understand that foods with the same carbohydrate load can have a different GI number due to different factors. 

Simple carbohydrates, like refined sugars, are typically easier for your body to convert into glucose than complex carbohydrates, like vegetables. The easier a food can be converted to glucose, the higher its number on the GI scale. 

The GI scale ranges from zero to 100, with pure glucose topping the scale at 100. Low GI foods range from zero to 55 and include foods such as quinoa, oatmeal, non-starchy vegetables, greens, many fruits, nuts, legumes, and beans. 

Moderate GI foods range from 56 to 69 and include foods like brown rice, couscous, white and sweet potatoes, whole grains. High GI foods have a rating of 70 or higher and include foods such as white bread, rice cakes, most bread products, and processed foods. 

How can the glycemic index help diabetes?

When you eat many foods with higher GI numbers, it can be difficult to control your blood sugar — even when using diabetes medications or insulin replacement. Eating foods lower on the glycemic index, on the other hand, can help regulate your blood sugar naturally.

Eating lower on the glycemic index can help you lose weight, which is an important step in managing diabetes. Not to mention, eating healthier carbohydrates helps prevent many chronic health conditions, heart disease, and cancer.

For patients who are pre-diabetic, replacing high GI carbohydrates with lower GI carbohydrates can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  

Where can I get help with managing diabetes?

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, Dr. Kimzey and our experienced providers can help. Trying to follow a low GI diet can be confusing as some healthy foods have a higher GI value than unhealthy foods. It’s important to discuss your diet with a knowledgeable provider, like Dr. Kimzey, to determine a healthy eating plan. 

Treatment and management depend on the type of diabetes you have. Regular monitoring of blood sugar along with insulin replacement, diet, and exercise are the usual approach for managing Type 1 diabetes.

For Type 2 diabetes management, losing weight and focusing on a healthy diet are important first steps. Increasing your physical activity is also essential. Dr. Kimzey evaluates your unique situation to provide a customized treatment plan, which includes these elements and may also include medication or insulin as required.   

If you would like help managing your diabetes, contact our Philadelphia office or request an appointment online now!

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