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Benefits Of Low Glycemic Index (GI) Diet For Diabetics

Glycemic index of foods matters a lot when it comes to the management of diabetes. Foods are majorly classified as a low, moderate and high glycemic index or GI foods. Consumption of too many high GI foods can lead to diabetes or worsen the condition in people who already have diabetes.

So, what is the glycemic index? GI or glycemic index is a measurement of the carbohydrates in food and the way it affects the blood glucose levels. On the other hand, low glycemic index foods are those that do not tend to increase the glucose levels suddenly upon consumption but cause a slow and steady rise and control sugar levels in the body.

Also, low GI is not similar to low sugar as the prior says how much sugar levels will the food raise while the latter says the amount of sugar content in the food.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of a low glycemic index (GI) diet for diabetics, apart from minimising large fluctuations in blood sugar levels. [1]

15 Low Glycemic Index (GI) Foods For Diabetes Management

1. Prevents heart diseases

Heart disease is considered as the primary complication of diabetes. A study says that heart failure (25 per cent of chronic heart failure and 40 per cent of acute heart failure) is highly prevalent in diabetics. [2] Intake of low GI foods increases the amount of good HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, thus promoting heart health and preventing related complications.

2. Promotes Weight Loss

High GI foods mean high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. As the glucose levels increases in the body, to compensate that, the body increases the amount of insulin that transfers the glucose to fat stores. Prolonged increase in glucose levels can lead to weight gain and make the cells insulin resistant. By opting for a low GI diet, the damaging can be prevented. [3] Also, low Gi foods can increase satiety and promote weight loss.

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3. Prevents and manages Alzheimer's

Cerebral blood flow regulation is vital for the normal functioning of the brain. Alzheimer's is linked to diabetes as the latter can cause damage to small arteries and brain capillaries. A study has shown that 30 days of a low glycemic index diet can delay complications such as visual memory in people with neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, bringing smaller changes to the diet like replacing white rice (high GI) with whole grains (low GI) can prevent the risk of Alzheimer's. [4]

4. Lowers the risk of breast cancer

A diet high in glycemic load can increase the risk of breast cancer, says a study. High GI foods can trigger the release of a huge amount of insulin and facilitate the growth of breast cancer cells. However, the direct association between high GI foods and overall breast cancer risk in diabetics is not yet proved as other factors like menopause, less physical activities, smoking and history of hypertension can also contribute to the cause. [5]

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5. Benefits skin health

Many types of skin disorders such as acanthosis nigricans and necrobiosis lipoidica are linked to diabetes. Chronic inflammation due to high glucose levels is the main cause of these skin conditions. High GI foods can trigger and alter the structure of collagen and worsen skin conditions. Switching to low GI foods, one can keep their glucose levels in control and protect the skin. [6]

6. Boosts the immune system

Good immunity is linked to good gastrointestinal health. High sugar levels can interfere with the functioning of the digestive system and lower immunity. Low GI foods often have good levels of resistant starch that help improve the digestion and maintains gastrointestinal health, which in turn, can boost the immunity.

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7. Increases the endurance

The low glycemic index can play an important role in enhancing endurance performance during exercise and athletic performance. A study has shown that low glycemic diet, when consumed for three weeks by trained endurance runners, can significantly improve their athlete score and lower the body mass. Therefore, low glycemic index food can also help boosts the stamina and endurance in diabetics who exercise regularly. [7]

8. Increases mental sharpness

A study has shown that low glycemic index carbohydrate meal can cause better cognitive performance in adults with type 2 diabetes, compared to high GI carbohydrate meal. Low Gi foods may help improve working memory, auditory attention and other cognitive functions. [8]

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To Conclude

Low GI foods not only helps people with diabetes but are also beneficial for healthy adults to prevent the condition. Foods low in GI should be included in a regular diabetes diet followed by regular exercises to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Read more about: diabetes glycemic index gi insulin