Some of the popular media and self-help books have been promoting the "glycemic index" as a tool for helping to manage blood glucose levels. Glycemic index, or GI, is a measurement of the effect that a food has on blood glucose - specifically the ability of a food to raise blood sugar levels within two to three hours after eating. It applies mainly to carbohydrates. Health columns in numerous publications have listed foods with "high" or "low" GI as a guide for helping to balance carbohydrate intake.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA), however, in its recently released nutritional guidelines, concludes that the GI is not an appropriate guide for people with diabetes.
ADA's experts scrutinized existing research studies on the effects of high GI diets versus low GI diets in type 2 diabetes. They found that a high GI diet had no adverse effect on measures of blood glucose or cholesterol. They also found that a low GI diet provided no convincing evidence of long-term benefit. These findings led to the ADA's conclusion that the total amount of carbohydrates eaten rather than the type determines the blood sugar response.
lifeclinic.com’s Clinical Advisory Board recommends that the best approach is to measure your own blood glucose at intervals after eating certain foods and meals to see for yourself what effect particular foods have on your own blood glucose.
In your meal planning and eating habits, it is OK to include a variety of carbohydrates - even sugar - so long as they are part of a balanced and varied meal. For example, if you eat sugar or honey or a regular soda on its own, your blood glucose will rise extremely fast and get very high. However, if you sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar on a bowl of cereal and milk, eaten along with toast, butter and eggs as part of a mixed meal, then the addition of the table sugar has no adverse effect on the overall blood glucose excursion. The important thing is to count all carbohydrates in your daily allotment.
Lifestyle - Diet
- ADA. Evidence-based nutritional principles and recommendations for the treatment and prevention of diabetes and related complications. Diabetes Care, January 2002;25:202.
- Palu M, United States Potato Board. New dietary guidelines from the ADA address glycemic index. March 22, 2002.