Food plays an important role in the prevention of diabetes. The nutrient constituents of food determine something called as the glycemic index of the food. The concept was first postulated by David J Jenkins in 1981 and is a helpful tool in telling us how different foods affect the blood sugar levels of our body.
The role and importance of the glycemic index is of paramount importance considering our laid-back attitudes towards food and nutrition and easy accessibility to ‘fast food’. A disturbing study has indicated that up to 86% of Indians have developed type 2 diabetes because of poor dietary choices. This sort of diabetes occurs due to a failure of the body to control the blood sugar levels.
Foods That Prevent Diabetes
What Exactly is Glycemic Index?
Any food depending on the amount of sugar it contains has the ability to raise our blood sugar levels. This index is measured in a ratio, which determines the extent to which the blood sugar levels will be raised. For instance, a banana has a high glycemic index due to its high sugar content vis-a-vis an orange, which is low on the glycemic index scale. Similarly white rice has a high glycemic index as compared to brown rice and the same goes for white and brown bread.
The Effects of the Glycemic Index
Glycemic index of foods are a good indicator to keep your blood sugar levels in control. This becomes a useful meal planning tool for nutritionists the world over when it comes to chalking out diet plans for diabetics. Food substitutes that have a lower glycemic index can now be used in favour of high glycemix index foods especially for diabetics and people who want to shed a few pounds.
The lower the glycemic index of foods, the lesser is the rate of absorption of sugar in the blood, which means that your metabolism is constantly receiving a kick-start and sugar is slowly being released into the blood. With slower absorption of blood sugar, the sudden erratic spikes in blood sugar go down and diabetes can be controlled. The person also feels more energetic and full for a long time.
Foods to Keep your Blood Sugar Level in Check
Here are some tips on the kinds of foods that you should be consuming if you have diabetes and want to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Eat a diet that is high on fibre, low in dietary fat and has a low glycemic index.
Eat small meals every 2-3 hours. The meals can include chillas, whole-wheat sandwiches, and fruits like apples, oranges and pears, complex carbs like jowar, bajra and ragi. Switch to low fat dairy.
Get at least 30-40 minutes of exercise daily. An ideal work out plan for diabetics is cardio vascular exercises coupled with strength training and yoga.
The Popular Low Glycemic Index Foods
Whole grain cereals like jowar bajra, ragi, millet, rajgira, brown rice and brown bread. Cereals like Oats, muesli, wheat flakes are great for diabetics. Fruits like apples, guavas, citrus fruits and watermelon should be consumed. Green leafy vegetables and bitter gourd are excellent for diabetics. Go slow on excessively starchy foods like potatoes.
Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts and flaxseeds will give the diabetic his/her source of dietary fat. Follow a diet based on the above food groups only after consultation with your doctor or physician.