Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Diabetes and Glycemic Index

Ok, let start this post by saying that I am NOT a Doctor, dietician nor have I had medical training in this particular area. But what I can say is that as someone with Type 2 diabetes I live this every day, and after having ignored this issue for a few years I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that I am a Diabetic and that I’ve got to take better care of myself. So with that out of the way, let’s get started…
There are two types of diabetics, Type 1 and Type 2. I’m a Type 2 diabetic which means that my body produces insulin but not enough and what little it makes can be rejected by my body. There are many medical terms that can describe this better but let’s keep it simple. With some exercise, a change of eating habits and medication (Usually pills) I can keep my diabetes in check without having to rely on insulin. However I have seen Type 2 diabetics using small amounts of insulin to get the diabetes under control, then under Doctors supervision go back to pill.

 Type 1 diabetics have it a little more difficult, they have to monitor their blood glucose every few hours but specially after eating. Then if it’s too high, they have to use insulin. It’s a time consuming, painful process that has to be repeated several times a day, and it’s for LIFE! It used to be that Type 1 was called Insulin dependent, Type 2 Non-Insulin dependent but that is not the case anymore and that’s because more and more people are having to take insulin instead of a large amount of pills throughout the day. I take 7 myself, but of those 1 is a multivitamin and 1 other is an Omega 3 pill. The other 5 are actually for controlling my diabetes, and those are Glucophage, Januvia, Diamicron, Lyrica and Lipitor.

So now that you know a little more about diabetes, let me tell how to tell if you or anyone else you know has it. There are several symptoms for diabetes but here are the most common ones, constant thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, blurry vision, highly irritable for no apparent reason, constant hunger and in extreme cases a burning sensation in hands or feet. The only way to know for sure of course if you go to the Doctor and get tested, which is highly suggested if you suspect you or anyone has it because the sooner you treat it the better. In some cases if you have pre-diabetes you might ward it off for good or at least just put it off for a while.

 I am not going to get into all the medications or insulin dosages because like I said before, I’m not medically trained in these matters and I wouldn’t want anyone taking my comments as medical advice. But I am going to talk about a change of eating habits, a diet if you will. Now one thing about the how I am using the word diet, it’s not really about a plan such as an Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet or whatever other diet is out there. What I am going to talk about is more about a change of eating habits “diet” in which you slightly adjust what you eat, not necessarily eliminating what you eat but how you eat it. Now I admit that in order for me to be successful in this I had to eliminate some things for good, and that’s because of something I learned about in late November 2011 which I should have been told about when I was first diagnosed but wasn’t told about it and that’s Glycemic Index.

The G.I. (Glycemic Index) is an index which, in simple terms, tells us how slow or how fast our body breaks down food we eat into carbohydrates and absorbs them which in turn affects our blood sugar levels. Naturally food with a low G.I. is absorbed slower, and food with a high G.I. is absorbed faster. This index was the concept of Dr. David J. Jenkins and colleagues from the University of Toronto, Canada in the early 80’s. Now normally diabetics check their blood sugar before meals and roughly 2 hours after meals, and that’s because normally the body needs about 2 hours to break down food into carbohydrates and start absorbing it. And while that is true for most foods it can widely vary from less time to much more time, and that’s where the Glycemic Index comes in.

The G.I. is broken down into 3 groups, Low G.I., Medium G.I and High G.I. Here is a table to demonstrate those 3 groups…

Glycemic Index ranges

Now by using the G.I. I’ve managed to improve my blood sugar drastically, and I did that by eliminating most High G.I. foods such as sodas, watermelons, white bread, Corn Flakes and Raisin Bran cereals, French fries among other things. I’ve also eliminated several Medium G.I. foods, so that along with my medication and implementing some walking into my daily routine has greatly benefited me. I’ve talked to several Doctors and they have all said the same thing, it’s not about how much sugar something has it’s about how fast your body absorbs it. But I tend to stay away from foods that have a high G.I. nonetheless, and it’s up to the individual to find out what works for him or her.

Being a Diabetic can lead to other health complications such as amputations due to poor blood circulation to the extremities, diabetic retinopathy (which can lead to blindness), heart attacks, kidney failure, and strokes and in some cases sexual dysfunction. It has also been associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s and Dementia, but more studies need to be done to prove those two. So because of that I highly suggest getting checked by a Doctor, preferably an Endocrinologist who happen to specialize in diabetes. Ask your Doctor to conduct a nerve conduction test if you’ve been experiencing burning sensation on your hands or feet, this test will determine if you have nerve damage and how bad it is. It is very important to ask a lot of questions, don’t be afraid to hear possible bad news. As the saying goes “The only stupid question is the one not asked”, don’t come to regret later an issue that could have been resolved by asking a simple question.

I also recommend getting a complete physical, emphasizing your cardiovascular system. Check to see if you have calcium build up in your arteries, or if you have fatty build up on your organs. Don’t put this off; don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can’t get this. This is a deadly disease, it’s becoming an epidemic and only you can do something about it. No one can force you to change your eating habits, it must come from you. Don’t think of it as a nuisance or a bother, with enough time and precaution you can actually prevent it. Act now and don’t become a statistic!! Oh and mark 14 November on your calendars as World Diabetes Day.

International symbol for Diabetes 

                                   Click on the link ----->                   American Diabetes Association

                                      Click on the link ----->                   Glycemic Index calculator


  1. Very interesting.

    1. Thank you, I hope this was in some way informative. Please feel free to pass this link along to anyone you feel may need to or want to read this. My intent was to break down all the medical terminology into terms anyone could understand, if I help even one person then I've done a good job!

    2. How do I register?

  2. Sir Edgar

    Thanks a lot m8 for this imformative blog. I am too a diabetic for a long time and taking the following:
    3 x 850mg Glucophage, 2 x 5mg Daonil and 1 x 81mg baby aspirin - This is what the doctor precribed for me. I do go for walk in the evening for an hour or so, light walk.

    Anyway, Diabetic = die-bi-bits.

    Tks again for this great work.


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