Health potential of a low glycaemic index dietBMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h2267 (Published 07 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2267
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The glycaemic index (GI) was developed in 1981 to rank foods according to their glycaemic effect, and later, in 1997, another term, glycaemic load (GL), was introduced to quantify overall glycaemic effect of a food. From a scientific view point, these understandings and developments have substantial merits in achieving glycaemic control in diabetic people in controlled environments. However, the applicability of such methodologies by the common man suffering from diabetes becomes rather difficult to understand and practise in real life, where complete control of diet is rarely possible (1). As a result, people with diabetes who are unable to achieve glycaemic control and those with aberrant postprandial hyperglycaemia are left confused at a crossroad with such suggestions. The guidelines recommending increasing consumption of vegetables and whole grains can therefore become an easy method to follow and practise in real life.
The simple realignment of eating habits for example “eating vegetables before main meal”, irrespective of the type of carbohydrate being consumed, has proved a promising strategy in controlling postprandial glycaemic excursions and reducing glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) in type 2 diabetes patients and healthy people as well (2). Similarly, vegetables juices have been reported to significantly improve insulin response and glycaemic excursions (3) by virtue of multifaceted antidiabetic activities (4). Therefore, consumption of vegetables and their juice may become a simple and practical approach for controlling glycaemic excursions and limiting the harmful effects induced by hyperglycaemia.
Unfortunately however, the cost of hyperglycaemic obesogenic food and beverages are becoming cheaper and their availability easier while the world over the prices of vegetables are rising unexpectedly (5) beyond the reach of the common man. The reasons are complicated. However, the objectives can be achieved by doing more and more research on the health benefits of green foods, educating public about the health benefits of green food and beverages along with health risks associated with increasing consumption of cheap but processed calorie rich and energy dense foods and beverages. Public awareness and movements have the power that can change the scenario.
1. Colagiuri S. Health benefits of a low glycaemic index diet. BMJ 2015; 350:h2267.
2. Imai S and Kajiyama S. What to eat first and how to eat to reduce amplitude of glycemic excursions. J Life Sci Res 2014; 12:3-7.
3. Wootten-Beard PC, Brandt K, Fell D, et al. Effects of a beetroot juice with high neobetanin content on the early-phase insulin response in healthy volunteers. J Nutritional Sci 2014;3:e9.
4. Tiwari AK. Revisiting vegetables to combat modern epidemic of imbalanced glucose homeostasis. Pharmacogn Mag 2014; 10(suppl):S207-S213.
5. Kmietowicz Z. Tax processed food to subsidise healthier options and tackle obesity, says think tank. BMJ 2015; 350:h2569.
Competing interests: No competing interests
Glycemic index is a way of assessing the glycemic potential of a carbohydrate acting probably as biomarker to select or avoid a carbohydrate detrimental to diabetic patients. When we consider the total therapeutic approach based on western or say diabetologists, the diet chart with dos and don’ts does not give a positive approach to healthy living. Instead of suggesting do not take refined carbohydrates, do not eat sweets and fruits with high glycemic index, a dietary approach based on Indian tradition and ancient Indian wisdom will take care of the preventive as well as protective aspects of diabetes care. Here the diabetic team could take the help of Naturopathy to suggest a diet to diabetic patients including children. Rather a dietitian trained in Indian herbs and nature cure will help strengthen the team of diabetic professionals.
Exercise, which has become mandatory to maintain body weight, can take help from yoga for it teaches how to rejuvenate your system with an appropriate choice of asanas without the help of western equipment or a modern gym with power exercises. This will address poor patients’ needs without giving them much economic burden. Indian dietary constituents can take care of body water, minerals and dietary requirements. The beneficial effects of yoga in general and pranayama in particular could be advocated in activating particularly endocrine secretions as well as fulfilling the need to do exercise to keep weight under control and develop a healthy body. This information and guidelines help to create an Indian method of adopting a life style and nutrition guidelines which will be easy to follow.
Competing interests: No competing interests