Terms a Diabetic Person Should Know

Organic Lifestyle

Prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing for the past 3 decades especially in low- and middle-income countries.  In 2012 diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths globally. Diabetes and its complications can be prevented or reduced by following a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use (1).


Here are some terms a diabetic person should become familiar with:


Glycaemic Index

Glycaemic Index (GI) is a measure of a food’s ability to raise the level of blood glucose (2). Carbohydrate is the main source of energy in our diets. But the way our body reacts to carbohydrates is different based on the type of carbohydrate.

The Glycaemic Index is a relative ranking of foods containing carbohydrates according to how they influence blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value of 55 or less are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels (3).

  • Low Glycaemic Index 55 or less
  • Intermediate Glycaemic Index 55 to 70
  • High Glycaemic Index 70 or high

Glycaemic Load

Glycaemic load is a measure that takes into account the amount of carbohydrate in a portion of food together with how quickly it raises blood glucose levels (4).


How is glycaemic load calculated?

Glycaemic load = Glycaemic index x carbohydrate / 100

To calculate glycaemic load of a food the glycaemic index and the carbohydrate content of that particular food should be known.

  • Low Glycaemic load 0 to 10
  • Medium Glycaemic load 11 to 19
  • High Glycaemic load 20 and over

Glycaemic load information is very important for people to decide what are the amounts of different foods they can consume and which foods will help them to manage their blood glucose levels.

Foods with lower glycaemic responses are more suitable for people who are actively managing their blood glucose levels. That is people with prediabetes and diabetes. The lower glycaemic response could mean less medication necessary to keep blood glucose levels in check.


Fasting glucose test

Fasting glucose test checks the fasting blood glucose levels. Fasting denotes that one should not eat or drink anything except water for at least 8 hours before the test. Getting this test done as soon as you can after a night sleep would be the most convenient time.

If the fasting blood glucose is more than or equalto 126 mg/dl diabetes is diagnosed.

Random plasma glucose test

When blood glucose levels are tested at any time of the day that is called random glucose test.

If the blood glucose is more than or equal to 200 mg/dl then diabetes is diagnosed.

Post prandial glucose test

This test is also done to check for diabetes. It is to check how the body reacts to carbohydrate after eating a meal. As digestion takes place and as sugar levels rise in the blood pancreas is supposed to release insulin to move the glucose in the blood to other tissues. If a person is not diabetic, after 2 hours of having a meal the blood glucose levels should come back to normal level. If this does not happen that means the person has diabetes (5).

These are some terms and tests a person with diabetes should know about and understand them. It helps to deal with diabetes in an informed and healthy manner.


  1. World Health Organization (2018). Diabetes https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/diabetes
  1. Wildman, R. (2009).The Nutritionist. Carbohydrates Are Our Basic Fuel SourceRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group. Second Edition. New York and London.
  2. Glycaemic Index Foundation. About Glycemic index. https://www.gisymbol.com/about-glycemic-index/
  1. co.in. the global diabetes community. Glycemic load. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diet/glycemic-load.html
  1. University of Rochester. Medical Center. Health Encyclopaedia, Two-Hour Postprandial Glucose https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=glucose_two_hour_postprandial

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