Type 2 diabetes is marked by rising blood sugar levels. This rise is attributed to poor insulin production. Insulin is a hormone that’s responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Without this regulating mechanism, blood sugar levels can soar.
The GI is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates. It shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own.
Carbs are broken down quickly by your body and therefore cause a rapid increase in blood glucose (sugar), so the higher the carb content, the more pronounced the effect on blood sugar levels.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), most fruits have a low GI rating, meaning the impact on blood sugar is negligible.
“Most fruits have a low glycemic index (GI) because of their fructose and fibre content,” explains the ADA.
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However, “melons and pineapple have medium GI values as do some dried fruits such as dates, raisins and sweetened cranberries”, warns the health body.
The upgraded GI status means eating these fruits may have a more significant impact on blood sugar levels.
“Overall, fruit is encouraged when using the glycemic index to guide food choices—so enjoy,” notes the ADA.
What foods count as high GI?
Carbohydrate foods that are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high GI rating.
High GI foods include sugar and sugary foods, sugary soft drinks and white bread.
If you have diabetes, it’s useful to understand the glycaemic index, because eating foods with low GI ratings can help control blood glucose.
However, other factors must also be taken into account.
Research has shown that the amount of carbohydrate you eat, rather than its GI rating, has the biggest influence on blood glucose levels after meals.
“It’s also important to eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in fat, sugar and salt, and high in fruit and vegetables,” notes the NHS.
“If you’ve been advised to make changes to your diet, or you need advice, a diabetes dietitian can help you work out a diet plan. Speak to your GP about being referred to a dietitian.”
Type 2 diabetes – symptoms to spot
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision.