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Glycaemic index

I am a first-time mum at 26 weeks of pregnancy. Recently, my obstetrician told me that I have gestational diabetes and asked me to eat a diet low in glycaemic index (GI). What is glycaemic index?

A. Carbohydrate is one of the main nutrients in our food. When eaten, it is broken down into glucose which is the main source of energy for the cells in our body. The glycaemic index is a system of assigning a number to carbohydrate-containing foods according to how much each type of food increases the levels of the blood sugar. It rates the effect of a specific amount of a food on blood sugar compared with the same amount of pure glucose.

For example, a food with a glycaemic index of 28 boosts blood sugar only 28% as much as pure glucose. One with a GI of 95 acts like pure glucose. Foods with carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream tend to have a high glycaemic index (GI); foods with carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, tend to have a low GI.

Patients with gestational diabetes should eat a diet with low GI. This is because there will be a slower rate of digestion and absorption of the carbohydrate. Blood glucose levels and insulin levels will not spike rapidly. With a better control of the sugar levels , there will be a reduction in obstetric complications such as premature birth, stillbirth and delivery of a large baby.

Foods low in GI include: Green vegetables, beans, lentils and fruits such as apples, pears, berries, bananas, and papayas Grains in the least-processed state such as brown rice, whole barley and whole wheat

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