Walking around the grocery store, do you think brown bread is better than white bread? One would assume it is healthier, but in the context of how it is metabolised and the risk of Type 2 Diabetes it is the same as white bread.

We are talking about the Glycaemic Index of food. Food intake can be manipulated to manage high blood glucose or diabetes with Low GI (Glycaemic Index) meals.

To be clear, we are discussing the most common, Diabetes 2, which often occurs later in life and is diet-related. It is unsurprising based on the large amounts of processed foods readily available to us in modern-day living.

What is Glycaemic Index?

Food is rated 1 to 100 by how the body burns carbohydrates, and the faster it burns the closer to 100 thus higher the GI. E.g. Glucose is 100, almonds are 0 because there are no carbohydrates in almonds.
Low GI on this scale refers to below 55, medium is 55 to 70, and high is above 70.
Processed foods like sugar and cakes are higher and fibrous foods such as vegetables and whole grains are lower. A good comparison is white bread at 71 (high GI), and celery at 15 (low GI).
Knowing this, you can see why it is the overall meal we need to look at to predict the rise in blood glucose levels. This is referred to as Glycaemic Load (GL). A white bread sandwich with strawberry jam has a very high GL, while a white bread sandwich with grated carrot, lettuce and tomato will have a lower GL in comparison because the vegetable content will reduce the overall number. This is why if I’m going to have cake on a special occasion, then I’m going to have it along with my low GI meal, so it reduces the overall Glycaemic Load more than having the cake alone.

Mediterranean Diet

Eating smart can make a huge difference, and the Mediterranean style diet is my go-to for improving blood glucose levels. Rich in whole grains, legumes, and olive oil; The more plant-based foods we include in each meal, the lower our overall GI intake. This helps with improving overall blood glucose levels.

Elita is a Nutritionist passionate about improving health outcomes with food.

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