Can a Low GI Diet Prevent Diabetes?

Low GI Diet for Diabetics

A low GI diet for Diabetics suggests that foods with a low GI rating are helpful for keeping blood glucose levels steady. By eating foods that have a low glycemic index, you can lose excess weight and reduce the risk of developing diabetes and other diseases.  A low GI diet, encourages eating plenty of carbohydrates and unrefined foods which won’t spike blood glucose levels because they take longer to digest. High GI foods such as white rice and potatoes raise blood glucose levels quickly, while low GI foods such as oatmeal, quinoa, nuts and cottage cheese generally lead to satiety and weight loss.

How does the Glycemic Index work?

On the glycemic chart, foods and beverages are ranked according to their impact on blood sugar levels. The glycemic index chart only rates foods with carbohydrates mainly because they have the greatest impact on blood sugar. Most refined and processed foods such as white bread are generally given a high glycemic rating. Such foods are digested rapidly and increase both blood sugar levels and insulin very quickly. On the other hand, low glycemic foods and drinks contain more fiber and nutrients, are harder to digest, and they don’t cause blood sugar spikes.

Glycemic Index Range for Diabetics

  • High glycemic index (70 and above): donuts, baked potatoes, watermelon, instant white rice, pretzel, French fries and plain white bread.Low GI Diet for Diabetics,
  • Medium (Between 59 and 69): Mangoes, corn chips, raisins, bananas, raw pineapple and papaya.
  • Low GI (59 and bellow): Apple, skim milk, kidney beans, peanuts, lentils and strawberries.

The main aim of a low GI diet for diabetics is to consume complex carbohydrates with healthy fats and lean protein to keep digestion steady and slow in order to improve the feeling of fullness. It encourages avoiding processes foods that are broken down into glucose very fast, which triggers a hormonal response that signals hunger. This is a vicious cycle for most dieters who are trying to limit calorie intake.

Sample List of Low GI Foods for Diabetics

  • Fruits and vegetables

Although fruits and vegetables are very rich in carbohydrates, most of them are considered low GI. Low GI fruits and vegetables include blueberries, peaches, plums, fig, mandarin oranges, pear, cherries, raspberries, broccoli, asparagus, Swiss chard, mushrooms, spinach,  eggplant, green beans, yellow squash, chick peas, cabbage, fresh lima beans, artichokes, lettuce, turnip greens, carrots, tomatoes, yams and zucchini.

Since fruits and vegetables such as pineapple, watermelon, parsnips and pumpkins are high on the GI, they should be consumed in moderation.

  • Legumes

Legumes are very rich in fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins and are low GI foods. These foods include black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, navy beans, lentils, chick peas, peanuts, soy beans, split peas and white beans among others.

  • Whole grains

Low GI foods for Diabetics Since whole grain foods are rich in soluble fiber, they help regulate the rate at which glucose is released into the blood. Whole grains are also rich in minerals, vitamins and protein. Examples include oat bran, buckwheat kasha, pearled barley, quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, bulgur, rye bread, whole-grain bread, pumpernickel bread, and whole-wheat pasta. People with diabetes should avoid refined grains such as baguettes, white rolls and white bread.

  • Dairy products

Examples of low GI dairy products include low-fat yogurt, almond milk, soy milk, cheddar cheese, Gouda, mozzarella cheese, ricotta, low-fat ice cream, and cottage cheese.

  • Omega-3 foods

Some examples include wild salmon, flax, avocado, oysters, almonds, sunflower seeds, olive oil, walnuts, pecans, and tuna.

Factors affecting glycemic index

The glycemic index depends on cooking methods, variety of food products, processing and ripeness of fruits. Riper fruits generally have high GI. On the other hand processed juices generally have a higher GI compared to fresh fruit juices because processed juices contain sugar additives. When it comes to variety, short grain brown rice has a lower GI compared to short grain white rice.

So – Can a low GI Diet Prevent Diabetes?

People with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes can select low GI foods using the glycemic index chart. Although there is no quick solution for reversing or managing diabetes, regular exercise and a healthy diabetic diet go a long way towards this goal. When diabetics lose 5 to 10% of their weight, they also reduce their blood glucose levels significantly.

Read more about: The Aktins Diet. 

Here’s to a Healthier Life!

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