High blood sugar can wreck your health. It increases your risk for diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive problems, among other health issues. Still, Americans consume an average of 17 teaspoons of sugar every day–far more than the recommended six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men.
One of the best ways to fight high blood sugar is to avoid eating sugary, processed foods, which are implicated in obesity and numerous other conditions and diseases. Instead, you should focus on eating foods that won’t quickly raise your blood sugar. The glycemic index can help you choose foods that promote stable blood sugar. In fact, eating foods with a low glycemic index has been shown to lower and stabilize blood sugar levels for the long-term in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index, also known as the GI, measures how much a portion of food containing carbohydrates raises blood glucose levels. The glycemic index ranges from 0 to 100. The lower the score, the slower a food is digested, absorbed, and metabolized by the body and the more stable your blood sugar. Low-GI foods don’t produce large spikes in blood sugar, while high-GI foods cause blood sugar to spike very quickly and then crash.
To determine a food’s GI value, 10 or more healthy adults are given the same portion of a food containing 50 grams of digestible carbohydrate. Researchers measure the effect of the food on participants’ two-hour blood glucose levels (glucose AUC). Another time, the same participants consume the same portion of a reference food (either glucose or white bread), and their glucose AUC is measured again. Each participant’s glucose AUC for the test food is divided by their glucose AUC for the reference food to determine their personal GI value for that food. The universal glycemic index value is the average GI value for the 10 or more people involved in the test.
Choosing Food Based on the Glycemic Index
Foods with a ranking of 55 or lower are considered low-GI foods. Those scoring 56 to 69 are considered medium-GI foods, and those that rank 70 or higher are considered high-GI foods. In general, whole foods, which are those that haven’t been processed, are lower on the glycemic index than processed, or packaged foods.
Low-GI foods include most fruits, non-starchy vegetables, sweet potatoes, beans, pasta, oatmeal, and stone-ground whole-wheat bread.
Medium-GI foods include whole-wheat bread, quick oats, brown rice, and couscous.
High-GI foods include white bread, cornflakes, short-grain white rice, potatoes, popcorn, and melons.
Since food labels don’t generally list a food’s GI value, it can be tricky picking out low-GI foods at the supermarket. But you can get an idea of how a food will affect your blood sugar by doing some simple math. On the food label, add the grams of Dietary Fiber and Sugars together, and subtract that number from the Total Carbohydrates. The higher that number, the higher the glycemic index, and the greater the effect on your blood glucose.
A Holistic Approach to Low Blood Sugar is Best
In addition to a low-glycemic diet, a well-rounded lifestyle can help you keep your blood sugar under control. Keep your stress levels down, get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, and see your doctor for a regular checkup.
Drink plenty of water each day, and take a daily supplement like Nerveology’s Advanced Glucose Balance, formulated specifically to help you maintain low blood sugar. This multi-pronged approach will ensure you’re doing all you can to keep your blood sugar within normal ranges and improve your overall health for the long-term.