Your diet has a direct and powerful impact on how you deal with your diabetes. The main concern with this disease is keeping your blood glucose levels, also commonly called blood sugar levels, within a specified range. People who do not suffer from diabetes have their levels controlled naturally by the manufacture of insulin in the pancreas. As the disease progresses the pancreas produces less and less insulin and other methods of controlling blood glucose levels become more important.

The types of food you eat have a direct relationship to the levels of glucose in your blood. Some foods spike these levels quickly and others tend to raise the levels more slowly or not at all. For example, since meat has no carbohydrates it does not cause a rise in blood glucose levels. If you are trying to control diabetes it stands to reason that you would want to know how fast a particular food increases the blood glucose. The Glycemic Index, or GI, is a measure of how a food raises the levels of sugar in the blood stream. This number is a relative number based on how the body reacts to a food versus how it reacts to a known reference food such as white bread. This index can be used for diabetes food choices to help you keep your body balanced out. Foods with a high GI will cause a spike in blood glucose while low GI foods keep it on an even keel. Combining a high value food with a low value food will tend to balance these spikes out. This is important because extreme highs and lows are very detrimental to your body and can lead things like diabetes neuropathy or nerve damage.

There are several factors that can affect the glycemic index of a food. Fat and fiber that is present along with the carbohydrates will tend to lower the number. How much the food has been processed will also have an effect as will the cooking method. In general, the more food is processed or cooked the higher the GI. This is because the cooking and processing makes it easier to digest and thus the carbs can get into the blood stream faster. Ripeness of food also has an effect with riper food tending to have a higher value.

Although this index indicates how fast a food raises blood glucose levels it does not address the total amount of carbohydrates so this also must be determined. It also does not take into account the total calories of the food. Thus these values should also be addressed for weight management.

Keeping your blood glucose levels with a small range is very important as a way to combat the negative symptoms of diabetes. Paying attention to what you eat and how much you eat can have a direct relationship to such things as how much diabetic nerve pain you may experience and how your body will function. The reality is the more information you have and the better you apply it the easier it is to live with the effects of diabetes.