Low Glycemic Diet

Low glycemic diets recommend foods that help to balance your blood sugar levels to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

low-glycemic.jpgThe total number of people with blood sugar imbalances in Australia is growing, and further increases are expected over the next decade.

Blood sugar imbalances result when your body loses its ability to control the level of glucose in the blood. Glucose is the form of sugar mostly used to provide energy for the body, and the only form used by the brain. When levels are too low, the brain and the body are unable to function properly. If the levels are too high various organs, such as the eyes and kidneys can be damaged.

Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas to help regulate your blood sugar levels. Insulin helps transport glucose into the body's cells for use as energy. When blood glucose (sugar) levels rise, insulin is released to store that excess sugar as glycogen. Unfortunately, your body can only store a little glycogen at any one time. Once you have filled up your glycogen stores, any leftover sugar will be stored as fat. Insulin also blocks the breakdown of existing body fat. So, it becomes virtually impossible to lose fat if you have raised insulin levels.

Your body's ability to balance the amount of sugar in your system is an important part of keeping your body healthy. Imbalances in sugar can lead to loss in energy, changes in metabolism, weight gain and even diabetes. This is why it is important to understand the signs that your blood sugar levels are not staying level.

Signs You May Have Blood Sugar Problems Include:

  • increased need for sleep
  • increased thirst
  • frequent urination
  • heavy sweating throughout the day without increased physical activity
  • cravings for sweet foods such as chocolate, cakes and biscuits
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • weight gain
  • using tea, coffee and other stimulants to get you through the day

Low Glycemic Diets

Low glycemic diets come in many shapes and sizes. Nevertheless all low glycemic diets are based on the same principle of balancing blood sugar. The foods which are restricted on low glycemic diets are those which cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise fast and high. This rise is measured using either a scale called the glycemic index (GI) or glycaemic load (GL). Foods with a high GI or GL tend raise your blood sugar levels more quickly, while low GI or GL foods will raise them more slowly and over a longer period of time.

Examples of high glycemic load foods include sugars, starchy foods, bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. In general, the GI of a carbohydrate food becomes higher the more highly processed it becomes. So for instance, mashed potatoes have a higher GI than boiled potatoes, and white bread made with highly refined white flour has a higher GI than whole grain bread.

Basic tips to following a low glycaemic diet are:

  • reduce concentrated sugars and starches
  • swap highly refined flour products such as white bread, low-fibre breakfast cereals and quick-cooking starches for grain products produced using traditional methods (e.g. whole-wheat pasta, stone-ground flour, old-fashioned oatmeal)
  • choose whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa instead of potatoes and white rice

Along with a low glycemic diet there are many natural supplements that can help manage your blood sugar levels including: cinnamon, caiapo, chromium, magnesium and zinc. If you would like to improve your blood sugar control and long term health, talk to your naturopath today.