Can A Glycemic Index Help Diabetics Control Their Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, you probably already know that eating certain carbohydrates can raise your blood sugar levels dramatically and quickly.

That’s because carbohydrates such as refined sugars and breads are easier for your body to convert into glucose, (the sugar your body uses for energy) than more slowly digested carbohydrates like those in vegetables and whole grains.

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If you are diabetic and consume too much of the wrong type of carbohydrates you may have a difficult time controlling your blood sugar. To help diabetics make better choices a guide known as the glycemic index (GI) has been developed. This index assigns numbers to carbohydrate-containing foods based on how much and how quickly they can increase your blood sugar. The glycemic index provides diabetics with a way to distinguish slower-acting “good carbs” from the faster “bad carbs.” Many utilize this tool to refine their carbohydrate intake and to help them maintain steady blood sugar levels.

According to the glycemic index, carbohydrates with a low GI value are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized, resulting in a lower and slower rise in blood glucose. GI values are divided into three categories:

  • 55 or less = Low (good)
  • 56- 69 = Medium
  • 70 or higher = High (bad)

Research has indicated that for most diabetics, the best tool for managing blood glucose is carbohydrate counting. Some clinical studies also suggest that a low GI diet can help people with diabetes control blood glucose levels, but there are warnings.

While the glycemic index can be a helpful tool to assist diabetics, most healthcare professionals agree that it shouldn’t be the only guide used to determine what to eat. One of the reasons for this is that the glycemic index only takes the carbohydrate value into account and doesn’t consider other nutritional values. The glycemic index also does not take into consideration the portion size of the carbohydrates being eaten, how they are being prepared, and what other foods are being consumed at the same time.

The glycemic index is also used by individuals who are trying to lose weight as well as those trying to adopt a healthier diet. Regardless of the reason however, doctors maintain that even though it can be helpful, the glycemic index should not be used in isolation as other nutritional factors, such as calories, fat, fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients should be considered.

If you have diabetes and are considering adopting the glycemic index into your diet, it is important to speak to your doctor first. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a diabetes specialist at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center, please call 718-670-5486.


All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.