The glycemic index is a chart of values that tells you how fast a particular food is digested, turned into sugar and raises the blood sugar levels. The GI is a numerical value that indicates how quickly and how far a particular food will raise the blood glucose levels.
Why is the Glycemic Index Important?
Foods with high glycemic index values are quickly turned into sugar and find their way into the blood stream. This raises blood sugar levels quickly and causes a large insulin response.
When sugars are quickly moved into the bloodstream and raise the blood sugar quickly this is hard for the body to handle. If it happens regularly, your body becomes slower to react and develops diabetes.
As your blood sugar rises you experience a lot of physical and mental symptoms that may be mild. Over time, high blood sugar causes damage to your organs and systems. This damage, caused by chronic diabetes, is irreversible and sometimes deadly.
Some foods raise the blood sugar levels more than others. Knowing the effect your foods have on your blood sugar can help you make healthy choices and prevent disease. The glycemic index is a helpful tool that will help you select the right foods to keep your blood sugar levels stable and healthy.
Eating foods with a low glycemic index prevents these problems by raising the blood sugar levels slowly and only moderately. The body has time to use the sugar and keep the levels at a healthy level, preventing insulin resistance, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes.
A low glycemic diet is also associated with improved cholesterol levels and a decrease in certain cancer risks. The diet will also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
If you are already a diabetic, you may find that a glycemic diet helps you, but you should follow this program under the guidance of your doctor.
How to Choose Healthy Foods Using the Glycemic Index
When choosing foods based on their glycemic index, it is important to note that high GI foods can be enjoyed in moderation as long as you do not have any existing blood sugar problems.
You want to choose the majority of your meal from low GI sources such as vegetables and fruits served alongside your lean meat.
Grains, legumes, sugar, flour and highly refined products have a higher GI and should be enjoyed in moderation. Eat a small portion along with a variety of low GI foods to help reduce their effects on your blood sugar.
A food with a GI value over 60 is usually considered to be a high GI food and should be eaten in moderation. If you have problems regulating your blood sugars, you should choose foods with a GI value below 40.
In a healthy meal, at least half of the foods will have a GI below 50. The main dishes should have a GI of less than 70 at the most. If you have one food with a high GI, try to balance it by serving only a small amount and having a lot of other foods with low GI values less than 40.
It can take a little while to get used to the glycemic index and learn to estimate the GI of a food. But with practice, you will find it getting easier and your meals will be healthier.
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