The glycemic index indicates how rapidly the Blood glucose level increases after consumption of a specific food. This unit is intended to help with food classification and the Prevention and treatment of diseases associated with carbohydrate metabolism disorders.
What is the glycemic index?
The concept of the glycemic index (GI) was introduced by Jenkins and Wolever in the early 1980s, while the current version has been valid since 1998. Since then, the glycemic index has been defined as: the value of the area under the Blood glucose curve after 2 hours following the consumption of a specific product containing 50 grams of available sugars, which is to be related to the value of the area under the curve resulting from the consumption of 50 grams of pure glucose.
In this case, glucose is a specific standard with a GI of 100. It must be remembered that the GI is not a calorific value, which is a serious restriction and must be considered when preparing meals.
Why should diabetics eat products with a low GI?
Dieticians recommend that people with diabetes or insulin resistance should pay special attention to their meal contents and choose foods with a low glycemic index. Why is this so important? Products with a high GI are digested very quickly, which manifests itself in a high dose of insulin and a sharp rise in Blood glucose levels. After a short period of time, this situation Changes dynamically – glucose levels fall quickly, which causes another hunger attack, usually resulting in snacking. Repeated episodes of hyperinsulinemia over time may lead to the exhaustion of pancreatic insulin reserves, as well as intensify tissue resistance to this hormone.
Foods with a high GI are characterized by a high content of simple carbohydrates. A diet based on such products promotes weight gain and the development of obesity, which are among the main causes of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis.
What’s worth remembering?
It is very important for those who pay attention to the glycemic index value of individual carbohydrates to remember that heated products can change their GI value. For example, raw carrots have a GI value of 30, but once cooked they have a GI value of 85!
Many other factors influence blood sugar levels, such as:
- The preparation and breaking down of the product – an example is the above mentioned raw or cooked carrots; also, the nuts chewed whole are digested differently than ground nuts. Small groats, e.g. pearl barley, have a higher glycemic index than coarse ones, such as barley groats. Boiled pasta has a higher GI than pasta that was cooked al dente.
- Balancing meals – there are usually products with different compositions and different GI values in a meal (although there is a diet that only consumes products with low GIs – the Montignac diet).
- The pace of eating – the quicker we eat, the more rapid is the increase in Blood glucose levels.
- Fibre – also called a digestive tract vacuum cleaner. It significantly slows down carbohydrate metabolism.
- Proteins and fats – a diabetic must remember that these significantly slow down the carbohydrate digestion process. Consumption of carbohydrates with high GI accompanied by fats will cause the rate of absorption of sugars from a meal to be slower.