What Foods Should Diabetics Avoid?

Foods that should be avoided are those that cause extreme spikes in glucose levels. So which foods, exactly, fall into this category?

The best way to identify these foods is the glycemic index. This index, developed by Dr. David J. Jenkins and his colleagues in 1981, was designed to indicate which foods are best for diabetics. It ranks all foods based on the effect that its carbs have on glucose levels. The lower the glycemic index, the more likley it is to be slowly digested and absorbed. Therefore, foods that have a low glycemic index are, generally speaking, better for the diabetic diet.

Glycemic index values

The scale uses glucose as a reference point. Glucose has a glycemic index value of 100.

  • High GI (55 or less)
  • Medium GI (56-69)
  • Low GI (70+)

High GI foods

Examples of High GI foods include white bread, white rice, corn flakes and many other processed breakfast cereals, and sugars.

Medium GI foods

Examples of Medium GI fods include whole wheat breads, basmati rice, and sweet potatoes.

Low GI foods

Examples of Low GI foods include most fruits and vegetables, legumes, pulses, whole grains, nuts and fructose.

As you can see, the answer to, "What foods should diabetics avoid?" is often, "Processed foods." This is because processed foods have been partially broken down before you eat them; this speeds up the digestion of foods to unnaturally high levels, resulting in glucose spikes. All diabetics know the importance and catastrophic results that can be obtained from the high glucose levels.

The quicker the food breaks down and releases into the blood, the higher it ranks on the glycemic index. This means that diabetics want to stay as close to foods with a low number as possible. Foods that rank higher can still be consumed, but they must be monitored very carefully since they dictate such a quick reaction.

By avoiding processed foods and high-carb foods, diabetics can maintain a balanced diet that is low in fat and high in fiber and and nutrients.

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