The Importance of Glycemic Control

Dietary blood sugar control
When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates, the carbohydrates are digested in the stomach and intestines and are absorbed into the bloodstream, generally in the form of glucose. The glucose in the blood stimulates the pancreas to excrete a hormone – insulin – into the blood. Insulin helps the body’s cells to absorb the glucose and to use it for energy; insulin levels rise and fall with the levels of blood glucose.

When the carbohydrates we eat cause the blood sugar to quickly rise to high levels, excess insulin can cause too much sugar to be absorbed by the cells. This results in a condition of low blood sugar. The subsequent stress on the body stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete hormones into the blood.Metabolism rises, glucose is manufactured from stores in the liver, and the entire body may be activated in what is called “fight-or-flight response.”

The glycemic index is a classification of carbohydrates based on their potential for raising
blood glucose levels. Those foods that result in rapid rise in blood sugar and therefore, in insulin, have a high glycemic index. Carbohydrates that are broken down slowly and cause only a moderate increase in blood sugar have a low glycemic index. Some carbohydrates fall in between.

A study from the New york Obesity Research Center shows that after eating a breakfast of oatmeal, a food with a low glycemic index, subjects were not as hungry at lunch time as those who had a breakfast of sugared cornflakes. The sugared cornflakes breakfast, equal in calorie content to the oatmeal, left subjects as hungry as a control group that had only water for breakfast.

These groups tended to eat more at lunch compared to those who ate an oatmeal breakfast. Oatmeal , of course, also provides benefits due to its high fiber content.

The primary goal – for not only diabetics, but for everyone – is to maintain a relatively stable blood glucose level, and thereby to prevent the “rebound” effect of insulin spikes.Chronically high or very low levels of blood glucose can be dangerous to anyone. High glycemic foods have also been shown to increase appetite and to indirectly effect cholesterol levels. In addition, a high level of insulin signals the cells of the body to absorb the extra blood sugar and to store some of it as carbohydrate in your liver and muscle cells
(in the form of glycogen) and the rest in your fat cells ( on  buttocks, hips, abdomen etc.)

Becoming familiar with the glycemic index of the foods you eat can help you plan your diet.
Tables of the glycemic index are available for most common foods, including in the LEAN section of the USANA internet site. As always, informing yourself is key to providing your body with optimal nutrition.

The statements of this publication have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.