Is glycemic index (GI) the only way to control blood sugar level of diabetics? Do you know what is glycemic index?

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series for more information.

According to Ministry of Health Malaysia, many studies show that controlling carbohydrate intake, low calorie diet and weigh loss (individual who is overweight or obese, with BMI which is equal to or greater than 25 kg/m2) are more effective to control blood sugar level than referring to GI score alone. However, low GI diet is still very important to be part of the strategies of meal planning, it is because there are also many studies show that low GI diet decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as may be useful in controlling blood sugar level (Zafar et al., 2019).  

For your information, even healthy people may develop type 2 diabetes if they keep consuming high GI foods. Livesey et al. (2019) have shown that high GI foods substantially elevate the risk of type 2 diabetes. Once type 2 diabetes attacks us, we have to give up on many delicious foods, and the risks of developing chronic kidney disease, eye diseases, nerve problems, etc. which are caused by high blood sugar level in our body, will be increased. But, for those who think themselves are healthy, don't be too relieved at this moment, it is because during prediabetes stage or early stage of type 2 diabetes, normally you will not have any symptoms when your blood sugar level is high, unless you check it by using glucometer. Therefore, always stick to a healthy diet (including low GI diet) is the smartest way to stay away from diabetes. 

Apart from the tips to choose foods wisely according to GI provided in Part 1, here are some tips for lower GI foods options when it comes to the same type of food: 

 Choose/IncludeDo Not Choose/Do Not Include
Same Type of Food/Eating HabitsBoiled potatoesMashed potatoes
Diet contains more beans and lentilsDiet excluding beans and lentils
Fresh fruits and vegetablesCanned or juices (fruits and vegetables)
Whole grain breads, cereals and pastaNormal breads, refined cereals and pasta
BasmatiWhite rice
Smaller portions of foods with high glycemic indexBig portion of foods with high glycemic index
At least one food with low glycemic index in every meal and snackOnly foods with high glycemic index

Note: If you are experiencing diseases (acute/chronic), please consult your doctor/dietitian/nutritionist before following the tips above.

In conclusion, even though glycemic index cannot act as the primary strategy in meal planning, it is important for all of us, including those with diabetes. Besides GI score, actually serving size consumed matters as well, so in next episode we will discuss about glycemic load (GL). To

References:
  • Ministry of Health, Malaysia. http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/glycaemic-index-and-glycaemic-load/
  • Glycemic Index Foundation. https://www.gisymbol.com/gi-diabetes/
  • Zafar et al., 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz149
  • Livesey et al., 2019. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061280