Managing your blood glucose with diet
Australians are consuming more added sugars than ever before, according to a 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics report.
The World Health Organisation recommends our sugar consumption should only make up five per cent of our total daily calorie intake, which equates to about 25g or six teaspoons per day.
On average, Australians consume more than 60g of sugars each day – a staggering 14 teaspoons of white sugar.
A high intake of sugars can increase the risk for blood glucose imbalances such as insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity.
Diabetes Australia recommends a high fibre, low GI carbohydrate diet to keep your blood glucose on an even keel.[i]
All about speed
Low or high GI may sound scientific and complicated but it’s really all about speed.
Glycaemic Index (GI) is a measure of how quickly or slowly a carbohydrate food is digested and increases blood glucose levels.
Carbohydrates that digest quickly have a high GI, while those that digest slowly have a lower GI. When carbohydrate is digested slowly, blood glucose levels remain more steady. Think of it as a drip feed rather than a garden hose.
High GI choices include bread products including white bread, bagels, Turkish, foccacia, crumpets and English muffins.
- Choose a wide variety of non-starchy vegetables and low-GI fruits (5-7 serves daily). Some of the best choices are apples, carrots, chick peas, grapes, kidney beans, oranges red lentils, sweet corn and strawberries.
- Replace refined carbohydrates with wholegrain products
- Use healthy fats – nuts, seeds, grains, fish, and liquid oils (coconut, olive, sesame, flax)
- Don't forget protein- as protein helps the body maintain and repair itself. Protein doesn’t impact blood sugar levels and helps you feel fuller for longer so it’s a great way to manage your blood glucose. Aim to make up at least a third of your meal from protein.
Tips to lower the GI
- Acidity will lower the GI of a meal. Add vinegar or lemon juice to meals as a dressing.
- Fibre, particularly soluble fibre can lower GI. Add psyllium husks to breakfast cereal; add salad vegetables to a sandwich; add lentils to soup; choose high-fibre wholegrain bread and cereal.
- Cooking then cooling rice or potato (e.g. sushi rice or potato salad) can lower the GI.
- Combine protein with low GI carbs.
- Eat fruits and starchy vegetables with high protein or high fibre foods.
- Garlic- has potential to help manage blood sugar. Studies show garlic intake can lower fasting blood glucose, which is your blood sugar level when you haven’t eaten.[ii]
- Sprinkle Cinnamon on your dishes- the consumption of cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in levels of fasting plasma glucose, according to a US research meta-analysis.[iii]
Speak to your health professional about the right diet, lifestyle, testing and potential supplements that might be right for you.
References available on request