Well, we keep reading about how the glycemic index of rice is high, wheat is low, potato is high and cucumber is low etc etc etc. But what is this glycemic index all about?

Read ahead to know more about the glycemic index and its application in deciding the right kind of food to take, especially for a diabetic.

Let us first understand what glycemic index is all about. 

Whatever food we consume has carbohydrates in varying amounts. Some carbs are easily digestible, releasing sugar in the blood instantly. The example for this is sugar/glucose. While some carbs take some time to digest, releasing sugar slowly in the blood. A good example for such carbs include whole grain cereals and pulses. To measure this speed of release of sugar in the blood, a term called glycemic index was developed.

The Glycemic Index (GI) was created in 1981 as a tool for people with diabetes to select foods. The glycemic index (GI) is a value used to measure how much specific foods increase blood sugar levels. Foods are classified as low, medium, or high glycemic foods and ranked on a scale of 0–100. 

The lower the GI of a specific food, the less it may affect your blood sugar levels

Based on glucose as reference with a GI of 100, foods have been classified into low (GI ≤ 55), medium (GI 56–69), and high (GI ≥ 70) categories.

Other factors that affect the GI of a food include the ripeness of a particular produce, cooking method (frying/boiling/steaming), type of sugar (glucose/fructose) it contains, and amount of processing it has undergone (whole grain/flour).

Many studies have been carried out to find out the effect of low GI food on the blood sugar levels and its effect on other health parameters like lipid profile, weight loss and so on. Low-GI diets were effective at reducing glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), fasting glucose, BMI, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad cholesterol) 

Research also showed reduction in body weight and lowered central obesity in obese people who consumed low GI diets 

Some of the foods with low GI are good sources of soluble fibre and hence excellent prebiotic that can help to prevent constipation and maintain gut health. Including food with low GI in each meal will go a long way in delaying any metabolic diseases if you have a genetic predisposition and also help to manage the blood sugar if you are prediabetic/diabetic.

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