Diseases and Remedies » Diabetes

The Glycemic Index and The Glycemic Load

To control Type 2 diabetes, diabetics often eat foods with a low glycemic index and also keep their glycemic load under 100 per day, to keep their blood sugar levels within normal limits. According to several studies, the same technique is likely to be helpful for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes as well.

In September, 2011 the British Journal of Nutrition reported that researchers at the School of Public Health of Soochow University, China, looked at 13 studies dealing with the:

  • glycemic load (GL),
  • glycemic index (GI),
  • the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The results of all 13 studies were put together and analysed as if they were all parts of one large study.

– Participants eating diets with the highest glycemic indexes had a 16 per cent higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than were those with the lowest glycemic indexes.
– Volunteers with the highest glycemic loads had a 20 per cent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than had those with the lowest glycemic loads.

It was therefore concluded that lowering the intake of foods with high glycemic indexes could help to prevent Type 2 diabetes.

The glycemic index is a measure of how much a given food raises blood sugar levels. Dr. David Jenkins and others at the University of Toronto created the index in 1980-81 while studying what foods are best for people with diabetes. The index is found by measuring blood sugar levels before and after people eat 50 mg of the food. Carbohydrates that are:

rapidly broken down and absorbed cause blood sugar levels to go up rapidly, while those that are
broken down and absorbed more slowly, make for a more even blood sugar level throughout the day.

In general, foods with low amounts of sugar and carbohydrates and high levels of fiber make for a lower GI than those with refined sugar.

The glycemic load is a measure having to do with the GI in 100 grams of a given food. Multiplying the GI by the available carbohydrate in 100 grams of food and multiplying by 100 gives us the GL. Glycemic loads can also be calculated for other amounts of food by multiplying the standard GL for 100 grams of food by the amount of the portion size in grams divided by 100.

Foods with the lowest glycemic load are the ones we’ve always known are good for us. A 120 gram apple, for instance, has a GL of only 6, while apple cake made with sugar has a GL of 13 in only 60 grams. Eighty grams of peas has a GL of only 3. Dried dates have a GL of a whopping 42 in 60 grams, so choose cantaloupe with a GL of only 3 instead.