Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load: The Better Predictor of Diet for Diabetics

Choosing your diet as a diabetic patient can be tricky and must be done with precaution, how do these parameters help us in selecting the right food?
Different fruits and vegetables have different glycemic index as well as glycemic load that serve as a criteria for selecting our diet.(Unsplash)
Different fruits and vegetables have different glycemic index as well as glycemic load that serve as a criteria for selecting our diet.(Unsplash)

Diabetes is defined as a condition of hyperglycemia which means increased blood sugar levels. Diabetes Type 2 is a more common type which is Noted when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin or there is ineffective response of cells of our body to the produced insulin. This creates a problem in being able to handle the (glucose) sugar that is taken in our diets.[1]

Since it is a chronic condition, many diabetics are told to control their sugar intake in their diet to keep their health in check. This sugar can be found mainly in our carbs (carbohydrates). A lot of the diet we consume has carbohydrates in it and by keeping a check on it diabetic patients can keep an eye on their sugar (glucose) intake.

Most often the parameters used for this are the Glycemic index and Glycemic load of specific foods.

Dr. Priyanka Sehrawat, MD Medicine, DM Neurology, AIIMS Delhi shared her knowledge regarding the difference between Glycemic index and Glycemic load through her Instagram for diabetic patients, clarifying the foods that contain high and low glycemic index. She spoke about what each parameter indicates and what foods can be eaten keeping these parameters in mind.

Dr. Priyanka first mentioned that glycemic index is an indicator of how fast a specific food item can cause a sugar spike in our body, a high glycemic index is generally not preferred. She explained that a low glycemic index is found in fiber-rich food like salad, cucumber, and almonds. On the other hand, those with a high glycemic index include processed food items and sweet food items. She added that these are the foods preferred if we desire to eat diet a of low glycemic index.  

However, Dr. Priyanka further clarified that glycemic index is a parameter that does not necessarily tell us the complete story, this is because watermelon, is also considered to have a high Glycemic Index but diabetic patients are allowed to eat it.

Dr. Priyanka shared that this could be explained by the glycemic load which tells us how much sugar spike will happen as well.

This indicates that glycemic load is more important than the glycemic index for both prediabetic and diabetic patients. Dr. Priyanka also added fruits like watermelon, banana, and apple have a glycemic load of 11-19 moderate and can be eaten thrice a week by diabetics. Whereas, rice, sugarcane, and potatoes have high GI and should be avoided.

Glycemic load is divided as

  • Low GL: 1-10

  • Medium GL: 11-19

  • High GL : >20

Choosing a proper diet plays a crucial role in the health of diabetic patients as well as a pre-diabetic person. (Unsplash)
Choosing a proper diet plays a crucial role in the health of diabetic patients as well as a pre-diabetic person. (Unsplash)

Some common fruits and vegetables that have low to medium glycemic load [2,3]

Summary

Glycemic load can be an important parameter that can be used to cautiously select our diet and cater it according to our health benefits. This benefits the diabetic patients and the prediabetic patients by helping them have a better understanding of their condition and to have better health overall.

References:

1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/7104-diabetes  (cited on 03/07/2024)

2.  https://glycemic-index.net/glycemic-index-of-vegetables/ (cited on 03/07/2024)

3.  https://glycemic-index.net/glycemic-index-of-fruits/ (cited on 03/07/2024)

Different fruits and vegetables have different glycemic index as well as glycemic load that serve as a criteria for selecting our diet.(Unsplash)
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