For Diabetics Only: Which Is It, High Glycemic Food Index or Low Glycemic Food Index


The Glycemic index is indicative of the food’s effect on the body’s blood sugar. Some food can easily increase blood sugar content while others won’t even nudge it despite having similar carbohydrate contents. If blood sugar increases pointedly two hours after eating the food, that food is classified as having high glycemic index. Alternatively, if there is no dramatic increase in blood sugar two hours after ingesting the food, it is classified as having a low glycemic index.

Dr. Frank Sacks, the research head from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston said: “The big question is, does that translate to any health issues?”

The research team mentioned in the Journal of American Medical Association, or JAMA, about nutritional guidelines favoring food with a low glycemic index. They’ve also discussed a move to include the glycemic food indexes on the labels of food packaging.

The team continued that it’s not clear what health advantages low glycemic foods can contribute to the body. In this connection, there are high glycemic foods which are definitely beneficial to the health of the heart.

To prove their point, a research study was done which included 163 recruits. The adults were fed for five weeks four kinds of diet foods which were beneficial for the heart. The recruits were only able to finish a couple of diets which lasted from April 2008 to December 2010.

The four diets included a high glycemic index with high carbohydrate foods, high carbohydrate foods with a low glycemic index, high glycemic index with low carbohydrate foods, and food low in carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.

It may seem like the effect of the diets may not be much considering both fruits and grains are considered health foods, although one has a higher glycemic index compared to the other.

“A higher glycemic diet would have more bananas and instant oatmeal,” said Sacks. “A lower glycemic index would have more dried apricots and steel cut oats.”

Everyone was given their complete diet foods including their snacks and calories consisting of drinks.

The research didn’t come up with conclusive results on the whole between the benefits that low glycemic diets have over high glycemic diets.

The findings didn’t reveal any difference in the performance of insulin to transform glucose into useful energy. The lipid content of the blood remained the same, the systolic pressure, which is the pressure exerted on the walls of the artery, didn’t change.

It seems that human bodies are able to adjust to the foods on both sides of glycemic index, even if their weight is already considered over the limit and are experiencing insulin resistance condition Sacks explained.

“I guess it just works normally in most people,” he said.  He explained that glycemic index studies should be more in-depth, especially for individuals who are suffering from type 2 diabetes also described as adult-onset diabetes. He didn’t rule out the benefits that diabetics may get, but there’s a need for a more comprehensive study.

The editorial that Dr. Robert Eckel wrote about the study is very clear. The role of the glycemic index of food is not crucial when the food is beneficial to the heart.

Eckel, a former president of the American Heart Association and a professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora said, “If you’re eating a heart-healthy diet, glycemic index is not important to consider. I think the emphasis need to be on the overall diet pattern,” he continued.

Sacks is convinced in the effectiveness of Mediterranean diets or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. This consists of vegetables, fruits, dairy products which are cholesterol free, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts and vegetable oils. He said that individuals who are searching for a completely healthy diet should take advantage of this.

Source: Journal of American Medical Association, December 16.


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