- A comprehensive review of 29 trials highlights the positive impacts of a low-glycemic index diet for individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, contributing to stable blood sugar levels and reduced risk of heart disease.
- Benefits of low-glycemic diets, proven by strong evidence, include lower blood sugar levels, reductions in LDL cholesterol, weight loss, and decrease in a protein associated with inflammation.
- Ideal carbohydrate choices for individuals with diabetes are whole plant-based foods — such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables — contributing to a low-glycemic index diet.
- Not all carbohydrates are created equal; choosing low-glycemic carbohydrates and replacing processed grains with whole grains rich in fibers like oats and barley can help manage diabetes.
- While diets may need to be personalized, a consistent advice is to increase intake of plant-based food and replace white bread, sugary drinks, and baked goods with vegetables, beans, legumes, and fruits for a healthier low-glycemic index diet.
A lower glycemic regimen in diet has been advocated for individuals with diabetes for some time, in order to maintain steady blood sugar levels. A new comprehensive review of 29 separate trials is reinforcing this advice.
Significant Outcomes, Regardless of Size
Dr. John Sievenpiper, the review’s co-author, underlined the prominence of the results, despite their limited scale. In his opinion, a sound dietary regiment offers patients with diabetes an additional means of reaching their medical treatment objectives.
Examining The Low-Glycemic Index Diet
The trials comprehensively analysed revealed the impacts of a low-glycemic index/load diet across a period of three or more weeks in 1,617 patients diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Most patients were of middle age, overweight, or obese. They were all on medication or insulin, having their diabetes moderately controlled.
The glycemic index is used to gauge how rapidly different foods impact blood sugar levels. Studies in the past have evidenced that low-glycemic index foods contribute to the stability of blood sugar levels and decrease the chance of cardiac disease in patients with diabetes.
The Diet and Its Impacts
In this research review, strong correlations were identified between low-glycemic diets and lower blood sugar levels, exhibiting a high degree of evidence. Benefits of such diets also included reductions in fasting blood sugar, LDL (considered ‘bad’) cholesterol, weight, and a protein associated with inflammation with a moderate degree of certainty.
However, no discernible effects were noted on insulin levels, HDL (regarded as ‘good’) cholesterol, waist circumference, or blood pressure.
According to Dr.Sievenpiper, proper diet forms the foundation of diabetes therapy. Incorporation of a low-glycemic diet combined with ongoing medication or insulin could clearly assist in the management of diabetes as per the evidence.
Embracing Plant-based Foods and Whole Grains
Laura Chiavaroli, a postdoctoral fellow who spearheaded the research review, suggests that ideal carbohydrate choices for individuals with diabetes would be whole plant-based foods, such whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
With the increasing interest in plant-based diets, it seems like the perfect time for individuals to become more cognizant of these kinds of food products.
One primary observation from the study is that not all carbohydrates are the same. Dr. Sievenpiper reiterated the benefits of choosing low-glycemic carbohydrates, advising the replacement of processed grains with whole grains rich in ‘sticky’ fibers like oats and barley. On a traditional level, a Mediterranean diet happens to bear a low glycemic index.
Switching to whole foods from refined, processed, high-energy foods will instinctively lead to a diet lower in both glycemic index and energy intake.
While individualized diets may be necessary reflecting one’s personal circumstances, the general consensus leans towards an increased intake of plant-based food. Substituting white bread, sugary drinks, and baked goods with vegetables, beans, legumes, and fruits has proven benefits in adding to a diet’s low-glycemic index, lower energy intake, and higher fiber content.
For more information on meal planning for individuals with diabetes, visit U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.