The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index was developed to measure the effect of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels.  It ranks carbohydrates based on the different manner and times it takes for these carbohydrates to break down and be digested.  The index was developed by Dr. David J. Jenkins of the University of Toronto in 1981.

Those carbohydrates which break down and cause rapid digestion tend to leave the most glucose in the blood and cause the most damage for a person who is diabetic or has hyperglycemia. The glycemic index is helpful for those who are trying to limit their intake of carbohydrates.

Foods considered good glycemic foods are absorbed slowly into the system which allows the body to break down the refined sugars and starches so that the body can digest them properly.

It is imperative for anyone who needs to monitor their glucose level that they become familiar with the glycemic index so they can learn which foods should be avoided. The glycemic index ranges from one to one hundred.  Foods which fall below 55 on the glycemic index scale are considered low.  A food with a low rating on the glycemic index scale will cause the least harm to the system.  Foods considered low include fruits, vegetables (excluding white potatoes which are not considered low glycemic food) and whole grains. Foods between 56 and 69 on the glycemic index scale are considered in the medium range.  The medium range can include some candy bars, croissants and rice.  It may be surprising that some candy bars are in the medium range on the glycemic index scale while foods like white bread, baked potato and white rice rate are high on the scale.

Finally, foods rated 70 to 100 on the glycemic scale are considered high.  High glycemic foods take a long time to digest in the system of a diabetic. High glycemic foods should be avoided by those people suffering with diabetes. These foods may play havoc with the insulin or medication that a diabetic is taking. The sugar or glucose from high glycemic food can stay in the blood of the diabetic and may cause frequent urination, thirst, profuse sweating and hunger. Over time eating high glycemic foods can take a toll on the system of a diabetic. Foods which are rated high on the glycemic index scale include corn flakes, white rice like jasmine rice, white breads, and baked potatoes.  French fried white potatoes are a very popular food and these are very high on the glycemic index scale.  In addition to being high in carbohydrates they are also high in fat and provide little protein.

Learning about the different classifications and ratings of foods on the glycemic index is important.  For someone who is diabetic, or anyone else who is watching carbohydrate intake, using the glycemic index ratings will help them determine which carbohydrates are safer than others. Diet plays a very important role in proper control of diabetes.   Understanding which foods have the most impact on blood glucose levels can be crucial for anyone trying to control their blood sugar levels.