23 March 2011

Carb Counting or Computing Glycemic Load?

I am beginning to see more written about this. I am not yet sure how I feel about it, but the discussion has started so we need to read more to understand it. The buzz lately is using glycemic load instead of counting carbohydrates for determining the amount of insulin to inject before meals.

A new study at the University of Sydney in Australia hints at the number of carbs alone may not be the best method for determining how much insulin to inject. They are considering the glycemic load of food may be a more accurate method that takes into account how quickly it makes the blood sugar in our system rise. Foods with soluble fiber, such as apples and rolled oats, typically have a low glycemic index, one of the contributors to glycemic load.

Most of the study revolved around Type 1 diabetes and no mention has been made of Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is being looked at for dietary change and oral medications, but those of us Type 2's on insulin seemed to be cast aside for now.

In the study using the glycemic load was more effective that carb count in predicting the blood sugar and insulin rise after a meal. A diabetes expert at the University of Washington in Seattle, not involved in the study commented that it was not certain the finding would hold up in people who are not completely healthy.

The glycemic load is calculated by multiplying the number of carbohydrates in grams per serving by the food's glycemic index divided by 100. Before a lot of this can become practical, more foods will need to have the glycemic index determined. There is some lists now, but a long way from complete to say nothing about determining the index based on how the food is cooked.

I see more studies being required and a lot of work needing to be done before this can become a practical reality, but Type 1's and Type 2's on insulin should continue to follow this to see if it will become reality in the future. Also needing discussion will be the complexity of computations required to determine the required dosage of insulin needed by type of insulin.

I also expect that there may be other factors that could affect calculations. Will the glycemic index and glycemic load be required on food labels. Finally, will all the medical professionals learn about the new calculations? For some reason this last question really bothers me as many hospitals and some professionals just don't keep up to date and can't count carbs now.

Read one of the articles on the study here.

No comments:

Post a Comment