Ask the Diabetes Educator Archive

7/21/03

Q:

How do you calculate the glycemic index of food? It is quite easy to make a calculated guess at the calorie count of food , but there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the glycemic index.

A:

The Glycemic Index is somewhat controversial when used to devise "acceptable" carbohydrate in a meal plan. In the lab, carbohydrate digestion can be mimicked. Glucose has been used as a reference food at 100 for quickest absorption down a list where high fiber veggies, for instance, would be rated with lower numbers. Theoretically, the lower numbered foods should incorporate better into a meal plan for diabetes. Many variables exist, including cooking time, degree of ripeness, individual metabolism to name a few. Other research looks at how quickly the food feeds into fat storage. Certainly pure sugar and juice are going to affect anyone more quickly than a cup of lentils, but other foods like fruit and certain breads may show up differently. The best plan is still to eat whole foods, avoid refined as much as possible, stay well hydrated, and monitor your blood sugars. This will establish a baseline for you from which to refine with more specific guidelines if needed.

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