What is insulin? What is the Glycemic Index?

When it comes to our hormones and our diets, we sometimes feel overwhelmed since there is so much information. Allow me to provide some explanation regarding the hormone insulin and to define the Glycemic Index Diet.

Insulin is an important hormone created by the pancreas. Insulin lets the body use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the foods the body consumes for energy or for storage. Insulin also helps prevent the blood sugar from increasing too much or decreasing too little. It functions as a key, unlocking cells for sugar to enter. Sugar is needed for energy but it cannot directly travel to most cells. After food is digested and the blood sugar level increases, cells in the pancreas release insulin into your bloodstream. (What is insulin? Amy Hess-Fischl MS, RD, LDN, BC-ADM, CDE)

Those who have Type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin since the beta cells in the pancreas are harmed or completely destroyed. People with Type 2 diabetes do not always respond well to insulin but can sometimes improve their condition with diet, exercise and oral medications.

Once again, diet is absolutely crucial! When the blood sugar is closely monitored, there is a decrease in the risk of getting diabetes complications such as heart disease, eye and kidney disease. Please remember the type of diet highly recommended by experts is the anti-inflammation diet and consuming low glycemic index foods. Now, let’s review the Glycemic Index diet.

Using the glycemic index assists individuals with diabetes to better control their blood sugar levels. The glycemic index diet focuses on carbohydrates. Most of us are aware that certain foods such as white rice, white flour, cookies and brown potatoes rapidly increase our blood sugar level. But let’s get more specific.

Below is a list of foods on the GI Diet that scored on a scale of 0 to 100, based on how much they increase the blood sugar (Glycemic Index Diet, published by WebMD, Watson, S.):

  • High GI foods (70 or higher) white rice, white bread, pretzels, white bagels, white baked potatoes, crackers, sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Medium GI foods (56-69): bananas, grapes, spaghetti, ice cream, raisins, corn-on-the-cob
  • Low GI foods (55 and under): oatmeal, peanuts, peas, carrots, kidney beans, hummus, skim milk, most fruits except watermelon and the ones listed above

The GI of a food depends upon the rapidity of digestion and absorption of its dietary carbohydrates, which is largely determined by both its physical and chemical properties. Typically, foods with a low degree of starch gelatinization, such as pasta, and those containing a high level of viscous soluble fiber, such as whole-grain barley, oats, and rye, have slower rates of digestion and lower GI values, (The glycemic index: methodology and clinical implications. Wolever TM, Jenkins DJ, Jenkins AL, Josse RG and Mechanisms of the effects of grains on insulin and glucose responses. Hallfrisch J, Facn, Behall KM).

As I have consistently written in other blogs, the key to living a healthy life is by conducting actions that make SENSE. This approach will reduce chronic inflammation and hopefully provide a healthy signal for important genes to turn on or off. Live the SENSE model of life and help keep the doctor away!

  • Sleep helps the body to combat diseases. Insomnia often aggravates stress and negative emotions.
  • Exercise and weight management can reduce our risk for heart disease and diabetes. From cardiovascular to yoga, exercise is paramount.
  • Nutrition is a significant environmental factor. It is recommended to consume foods such as green vegetables like peas and broccoli. Load your diet with nuts, fruits and vegetables!
  • Stress-reduction Take some time to relax and unwind. High levels of stress are never beneficial.
  • Positive Emotions Positive thinking and changing our perception provides healing. This is also self-preserving!


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualifies health provider before making any health, medical or other decisions based upon the data contained herein. Information provided is for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professionals.

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