What Is A Low Glycemic Index Diet & How Does It Help Fight Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition in which blood sugar levels start to rise, as body cells are unable to use insulin efficiently to convert glucose or sugar into energy. Depending on how high blood sugar levels rise, this is classified as diabetes or pre-diabetes (a prelude to diabetes, in which case it is still reversible).

In recent years, I have been dealing with an increasing number of patients suffering from type-2 diabetes, as prevalence rates have been rising rapidly; in addition, conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS can also cause pre-diabetes. Informing yourself about the risks and steps to protect against diabetes is therefore important and I hope that my insights will help you take better care of your health. Before we get to the nitty gritties, let’s understand what insulin resistance is and how the glycemic load of foods affects you.

How Does The Glycemic Index Work?

“Pure glucose with a GI of 100 serves as a benchmark for all other foods, which are assigned glycemic values according to how they compare to pure glucose”

The glycemic index (GI) is system of measurement that indicates the effect of a particular food on blood sugar (or glucose) levels. Under this system, foods are assigned a glycemic index number that can be compared to pure glucose, which serves as the benchmark for all other foods. Pure glucose is therefore assigned with a GI of 100, indicating that it’s very rapidly broken down into glucose once ingested, after which it can be utilized by cells for energy. Glucose is also saved in the muscles as glycogen for later use, or stored inside fat cells when there’s a surplus.

All foods containing glucose, fructose or sucrose (various forms of carbohydrates or sugars) can be classified as high GI, moderate GI, or low GI.

– Low GI: <=55

– Medium GI: 56-69

– High GI: >70

Why A Low GI Diet Helps With Insulin Resistance

“Low GI foods are digested, absorbed & metabolised slowly, which helps avoid any sudden spike in blood glucose”

Insulin, which is a hormone produced in the pancreas, is vital for metabolism of glucose in the body for energy or storage as glycogen or fat. When insulin resistance sets in, the pancreas react by increasing insulin production, but glucose levels in the blood continue to rise, causing pre-diabetes or diabetes. With impaired glucose metabolism, body fat also begins to build-up, increasing the risk of various other lifestyle diseases like obesity and heart disease.

This is why individuals suffering from insulin resistance are advised to follow a low GI diet. Low GI foods are digested, absorbed and metabolised slowly, which helps avoid any sudden spike in blood glucose. On the other hand, high GI foods are broken down and absorbed rapidly, resulting in a spike in blood glucose levels and storage of sugar in adipose tissue as fat.

Low GI foods can include whole grain cereals, legumes, chicken, fish, green leafy veggies, dairy, eggs, and nuts. Although fruits have a high level of natural sugars like fructose, they can be extremely healthy, which is why it would be a good idea to include low GI fruits like pomegranates, apples, pears, guavas, and kala jamuns.

My Advice

While following a low GI diet is highly recommended for anyone suffering from, or at risk of, diabetes, it is even more vital that you avoid consuming high GI foods like corn, rice, potatoes, carrots, tubers, dry fruits, fruit juices, colas, and other refined foods like biscuits, pastries and ice cream. Strict adherence to a low GI diet can make a huge difference to outcomes and I have seen many patients recover from pre-diabetes completely, going on to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Recommended Reads:

Why Low Glycemic Index Foods Should Be Included In Your Diet In 2017

Why The Glycemic Index Is A Better Approach To Diabetes Diets
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August 31, 2018

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