Glycaemic Index; whole grains, fruit, vegetables and nuts.

All the available evidence supports a positive role for low Glycaemic index (GI) foods in the prevention and treatment of diabetes. Low GI foods are those that require much more digestion, and a much longer transit time in the intestine prior to absorption. They are the opposite to the refined sugars found in soft drinks, cakes, sweets and biscuits that find their way straight into your bloodstream without delay. Low GI foods are found in abundance in the Mediterranean diet.

In statistical studies predicting diabetes incidence rates those who do best are those who consume low GI foods, those who do worst consume high GI foods.

In studies on fruit and nut consumption diabetic subjects, results showed the more you have in the diet the better the diabetes control. Nuts can also convert the GI of some foods to being lower GI. Body weight decreases with nut consumption, long-term sugar control improves and the bad cholesterol profile decreases. A walnut diet has been shown to improve the arterial wall and lower blood pressure. Pistachios do the same thing. Almonds were shown to lower blood glucose spikes after eating.

The benefits of low GI diets on diabetes management can be reviewed by looking up the published work of Professor David J A Jenkins of the University of Toronto. Being a pioneer and champion of the idea of glycaemic index foods in the 1980’s and in subsequent years, he has demonstrated their benefit to people with diabetes and heart disease in many elegant research protocols.

The low GI nature of whole grain cereals and legumes so prevalent in the Mediterranean diet now assume a new relevance with the publication of PREDIMED. The demonstration that olive oil encourages other foods to be absorbed more slowly and therefore lower the GI balance of the diet is another point worthy of reflection. When these foods are eaten the chemistry of the blood changes, it becomes less inflammatory and less likely to clog up the arteries. Specifically whole grain cereals and legumes include bulgar wheat, barley, whole grain rice, pasta, lentils and chick peas. Obviously there are other examples in other parts of the world.