Diabetes Self-Management Articles

These articles cover a wide range of subjects, from the most basic aspects of diabetes care to the nitty-gritty specifics.

Links not loading properly?

Some of our pages use Portable Document Format (PDF) files, which require Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download Acrobat Reader for free, visit www.adobe.com.

Sign up for our weekly e-mail newsletter and receive a FREE GIFT! Enter your e-mail below.

Learn more

Learn more about diabetes

Links to help you learn more about diabetes.

Ask a diabetes expert
Other diabetes resources
Browse article topics

 

Glycemic Index Update

by Julie Lichty Balay, MS, RD

To make matters more complicated, external factors can also alter how much a given food raises blood glucose, such as stress, time of day, prior food intake, and blood glucose level at the time of the meal; level of physical fitness; and having diabetes. (People with diabetes tend to have higher blood glucose levels in response to foods compared with people who don’t have diabetes.) All of this potential for variability has led some people to doubt the usefulness of the glycemic index in meal planning. On the other hand, studies have shown that the combination of the carbohydrate content of a meal and the source of carbohydrate in the meal accounts for 90% of a person’s blood glucose response to the meal. Paying attention to amount and type of carbohydrate, therefore, is clearly important.

Glycemic load

What about portion size? The glycemic index of a food remains the same no matter how much is eaten. But eating a large amount of a carbohydrate-containing food will raise your blood glucose level more than eating a small amount of that food. That’s where glycemic load comes in.

Glycemic load is calculated by multiplying a food’s glycemic index by the number of grams of carbohydrate in a serving of food and dividing the result by 100. Here’s how the equation looks:

Glycemic load = (glycemic index × grams of carbohydrate) ÷ 100.

To assess the glycemic load of a small, 4-ounce apple, therefore, the calculation would be: (40 × 15 grams of carbohydrate) ÷ 100 = 6.

Similarly, for a 10-ounce slice of watermelon, the calculation would be: (76 × 15 grams of carbohydrate) ÷ 100 = 11.

A glycemic load of 10 or lower is considered low, 11–19 intermediate, and over 20 is considered high. Since both amount of carbohydrate and glycemic index are used to determine glycemic load, there are two ways to lower the glycemic load of a snack or meal: Eat a smaller portion, or choose a food with a lower glycemic index.

Glycemic index and diabetes management

With all of the variables that can affect the glycemic index of a meal, the question remains whether glycemic index values are useful in helping people with diabetes maintain blood glucose control. Two recently published reports address this question.

In 2003, one of the best-known researchers of the glycemic index and author of several books on the topic, Jennie Brand-Miller, Ph.D., reviewed 14 experiments that studied the effects of following a low-GI diet on people with diabetes. (People with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes were represented in the studies.) Her results showed a 0.43 percentage-point average decrease in glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level, which is a measure of blood glucose control over the preceding 2–3 months. Less than a percentage point of improvement of HbA1c may sound paltry, but in fact, other research has shown that as little as a 1 percentage-point decrease in HbA1c is associated with a reduced risk of death, heart attack, and so-called microvascular complications such as diabetic neuropathy. What’s more, the improvement seen with the use of a low-glycemic-index diet is comparable to that seen with some prescription medicines that target high blood glucose after meals.

In 2004, James W. Anderson, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky Graduate Center for Nutritional Sciences, and his colleagues reviewed nine randomized control trials (considered the strongest experimental research) on low-glycemic-index diets. They found that the consensus among the nine trials is that low-glycemic-index diets are associated with lower blood glucose levels, lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, lower triglycerides, and higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. As a result, they recommended that information about the glycemic index be included in diabetes education and in the Exchange Lists for Meal Planning.

Page    1    2    3    4    Show All    

Also in this article:
High, Low, and Intermediate
Tips for Meal Planning
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Select Foods

 

 

More articles on Nutrition & Meal Planning

 

 


Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

 

 

Whey Protein to Prevent After-Meal Blood Sugar Spikes?
Controlling after-meal blood sugar levels is a continuing battle for many people with diabetes.... Blog

New Diabetes Nutrition Recommendations: What's In Them for You?
If you like to keep up with the latest and greatest in diabetes, you might like to know that... Blog

New "Old" Grains: Freekeh
Last week I wrote about some food trends to keep an eye on for the year ahead. In it, I mentioned... Blog

What are some risk factors for cardiovascular disease? Get tip


Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring — Part 1: The Gear
Blood glucose self-monitoring is one of the keys to diabetes control. Here are the tools you need to carry out this task.

Perfectionism: An Impossible Goal in Diabetes Management
Striving for good self-care is important, but perfectionism can make diabetes care — and life — more difficult.

Recipes for Spring
Enjoy recipes for Baked salmon on beet greens, Tofu and snow pea slaw, Radish and cucumber salad, Spinach pinwheels, Beet salad with citrus dressing, and Stuffed berries.

Complete table of contents
Get a FREE ISSUE
Subscription questions