After some searching I came across a recent PhD thesis from the University Of Sydney titled Clinical Application of the Food Insulin Index to Diabetes Mellitus (Kirstine Bell, September 2014).
Kirstine Bell’s thesis demonstrated that the food insulin index data had the following practical applications:
- calculating insulin dose using the food insulin index data provided better blood sugar control for type 1 diabetics compared to normal carbohydrate counting, and
- type 2 diabetics improved their blood sugar control by choosing foods that caused a lower insulin secretion, independent of calories or carbohydrates.
Appendix 3 of the thesis also contained an extensive food insulin index database of foods that had now been tested.
I have plotted the relationship between carbohydrates and the food insulin index in the chart below.
As you can see from this chart the relationship between carbohydrates and insulin is not straightforward. Of particular interest is the fact that there are a number of high protein and low fat foods sitting quite high up on the vertical axis while there are a number of high fibre foods with a lower insulin response that you might expect.
However once we account for the effect of protein, fibre and fructose we can achieve a much better prediction of our body’s response to insulin as shown in the revised chart below.
This understanding of how to calculate our insulin response to food is a useful parameter, along with nutrient density and energy density, which enables us to prioritise our food choices to suit different goals.
The table below contains links to separate blog posts and printable .pdfs detailing optimal foods for a range of dietary approaches (sorted from most to least nutrient dense) that may be of interest depending on your situation and goals. You can print them out to stick to your fridge or take on your next shopping expedition for some inspiration.
If you’re not sure which approach is right for you and whether you are insulin resistant, this survey may help identify the optimal dietary approach for you.