National Diabetes Month (November) is here, and SoFHA physicians want to stress the importance of controlling blood glucose (sugar) levels for maintaining health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 86 million Americans (more than 1 in 3) are prediabetic and more likely to develop type 2 diabetes – a medical condition in which sugar, or glucose, levels build up in the bloodstream. Keeping blood glucose within a normal range is important because having high levels for long periods can eventually damage vessels, increasing one’s risk of having heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, and vision and nerve issues (in people with diabetes).
What to do? One preventative approach is to carefully regulate the amount of carbohydrates you eat. Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. They are present in most foods and necessary to give you energy. However, eating too many of the wrong ones can lead to prediabetes – and eventually type 2 diabetes. Notably, both the amount and types of carbohydrates you consumes affect blood sugar levels, according to the American Diabetes Association.
To help track carbohydrate intake, researchers created the glycemic index (GI), a measuring system that assigns every carbohydrate-based food a specific number, lumping each one into a category of either a low, medium or high. Shown below are the ranking number values per their corresponding categories:
- Low = GI value 55 or less
- Medium = GI value of 56 – 69 inclusive
- High = GI 70 or more.
How the Glycemic Index (GI) Works
Carbohydrates that have been assigned a low GI number are better for you, because they’re digested more slowly and result in a lower or slower spike in insulin when consumed. Examples of carbohydrate-containing foods with a low GI include dried beans and legumes (like kidney beans and lentils), all non-starchy vegetables, some starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, most fruit, and many whole grain breads and cereals (like barley, whole wheat bread, rye bread, and all-bran cereal).
To find out more about how eating carbohydrate-based foods affect blood glucose levels, review the article “Glycemic Index and Diabetes” published on the American Diabetes Association website.
Consider asking your SoFHA physician to give you a blood test to determine if you have prediabetes. Scientific studies show that taking steps to change one’s diet and exercise patterns can often halt or at least slow down the progression of prediabetes – so it doesn’t take a turn for the worse.