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Insights on Glycemic Index for Blood Glucose & Healthy Weight

Glycemic Index (GI) is used to determine the influence of carbohydrate-rich foods on blood glucose levels. The Glycemic Research Institute mentions how GI reflect amounts of carbohydrates in edible agents and the metabolic response once digestion takes place. High glycemic foods increase blood glucose, results in greater release of insulin, and stores as fat if not burned. High glycemic foods produce an energy spike followed by energy depletion resulting from a surge of insulin in the blood. More insulin is released as the body attempts to stabilize elevated blood glucose and bring equilibrium. Low glycemic foods provide gradual increases in blood glucose resulting in longer periods of continued energy. This in turn promotes healthy weight, balances blood glucose, and maintains sustainable energy.

The Glycemic Research Institute documents four areas analyzed when determining GI. These areas include increase in blood glucose levels, amount of insulin secreted, stimulation of Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) and fat-storage mechanisms, and pancreatic effects. Foods can be ranked as low, medium, or high in accordance with their GI. Examples of foods containing low GI (55 or less) include oatmeal, sweet potato, corn, legumes, and non-starchy vegetables. Foods with medium GI (56-69) include whole wheat, rye, brown rice, and couscous. White breads, refined grains, potatoes, pretzels, and saltines are examples of high glycemic foods (70 or more). The American Diabetic Association (ADA) comments on the importance of portion control even when consuming low GI foods, “The GI value represents the type of carbohydrate in a food but says nothing about the amount of carbohydrate typically eaten. Portion sizes are still relevant for managing blood glucose and for losing or maintaining weight.” Meal plans that monitor GI and encourage portion control are important for healthy weight and normal blood glucose levels. It’s best to seek guidance from your healthcare practitioner when developing a nutrition plan.

GI properties vary when various foods are consumed. High glycemic foods may be combined with low glycemic foods to balance blood glucose levels. It’s key to mention low GI foods aren’t necessarily healthier than high GI foods. There are foods with high GI that contain nutritional properties when eaten in recommended portions. The ADA comments, “Many nutritious foods have a higher GI than foods with little nutritional value. For example, oatmeal has a higher GI than chocolate. Use of the GI needs to be balanced with basic nutrition principles of variety for healthful foods and moderation of foods with few nutrients.” GI provides a guide for clients seeking to maintain balanced blood glucose levels and healthy weight. Visit the ADA for more insights on GI.

* All information shared in this article should be discussed with your healthcare practitioner prior to incorporating any suggestions. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide advice or direct client decisions.

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Yeneilyn is a Registered Nurse in the state of Florida since 2006. Her nursing practice began in the field of Cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Hospital and expanded to care for clients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She was provided the opportunity as LPN Instructor, which changed the course of her nursing career. She states, “Teaching nursing students expanded my view on positive influences nurses contribute beyond beside care. Nurses are central leaders in health education, client advocacy, and disease prevention.” Currently, Yeneilyn writes health articles and prepares Continuing Education (C.E.) courses for healthcare professionals. She continues her studies in the field of Nursing Education and evidenced-based nursing practice. In her free time she enjoys sharing time with family and friends.

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