April 25, 2008 / 12:15 PM / in 11 years

'Low glycemic' diet helpful in diabetic youth

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In children and adolescents with type 1, or insulin-dependent, diabetes, consumption of a low glycemic index diet may improve blood sugar control, according to results of a National Institutes of Health-sponsored study.

Glycemic index, or GI, refers to how rapidly a food causes blood sugar to rise. High-GI foods, like white bread and potatoes, tend to spur a quick surge in blood sugar, while low-GI foods, such as lentils, soybeans, yogurt and many high-fiber grains, create a more gradual increase in blood sugar.

Dr. Tonja R. Nansel of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and colleagues tested the effects of high GI and low GI meals on blood sugar levels using continuous blood sugar monitoring in 20 type 1 diabetics who were between the ages of 7 and 16 years.

The findings, reported in the journal Diabetes Care, suggest that a low GI diet can improve blood sugar control “to a clinically meaningful degree above that obtained by careful carbohydrate counting and contemporary insulin regimens,” Nansel noted in comments to Reuters Health.

“When consuming the low GI diet, blood glucose (sugar) levels were in the target range 66 percent of the time compared to 47 percent of the time when consuming the high GI diet,” she explained. “This difference was statistically significant.”

When consuming the low GI diet, study subjects also demonstrated significantly lower daytime average blood sugar levels compared to the high GI diet and fewer blood sugar excursions.

“It is plausible” based on the results of this study, Nansel said, “that a low glycemic index diet may reduce the dose of insulin required while improving blood sugar control.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care April, 2008.

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