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What You Need to Know About Glycemic Index

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

The Glycemic Index (GI) of a meal is an indicator of how fast your blood sugar will rise with a given diet containing carbohydrates. The glycemic index is given as a number related to the blood sugar's impact while consuming glucose.




When you ingest a carbohydrate in your meal, the body transforms carbohydrates into a form of sugar known as glucose. Glucose reaches the body and increases blood glucose levels.

Foods that are rapidly digested have the largest GIs. In comparison to low GI foods, take a while to absorb and gradually pump insulin into the bloodstream. Low GIs are under 55, while high GIs is 70 or more.

The GI of a meal relies primarily on the type of carbohydrate that it contains — the more fiber it yields, the slower it digests. Lower GI foods typically produce more fibers, more protein, and often more fat.

In comparison to low-glycemic foods, high-glycemic foods lead to a faster and higher rate of blood sugar. For a few reasons, these spikes are considered unhealthy.

· Increase your average levels of blood glucose.

· Put higher demands on your body for insulin.

· They lead to severe blood glucose drops after the surge, which can lead to nausea, food cravings, and fatigue.



Some Myths About GI Foods:


"Eating lower GI foods will undoubtedly help many people — especially because many of the low glycemic index foods appear to be higher in protein and/or fiber as well as in nutrients. Eggs are one food of low glucose and 6 grams of high-quality proteins like choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin," says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, founder of Amy Gorin Nutrition.

Here is another important hype: it's a common misunderstanding that all sugar-based foods have a high GI.

For example, bananas, which many people find to be a high-sugar fruit, have a low GI of 51. Not shockingly, GI's top level has been found in processed carbs — such as white breads, cookies, pretzels, candy, and soda.

It is also important to note that GI does not automatically decide the optimal quality of a meal. Such as, white potatoes and watermelon are exceptionally high-GI foods, but in a healthy diet, we know that they have a nutritious benefit.

The trick to follow a low GI diet is to use primarily low-GI foods but to intentionally fill the holes with nutrient-rich whole foods to create a healthy diet. The best way to do this? Speak to a doctor or dietitian.

Purpose of the GI Diet:


The goal of a glycemic index (GI) diet is to consume carbohydrate-containing foods that are less likely to lead to significant blood sugar rises. The diet can be a way of lowering weight and avoiding chronic obesity-related conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

How do you follow the GI diet?

You can choose to follow the GI diet:

• to lose weight or to keep your weight stable

• Help to prepare and eat healthy meals

• Need help to maintain blood sugar levels within the framework of a diabetes treatment plan


Choose Low Glycemic Foods


The use of the glycemic index is easy: instead of selecting food in the high GI category (see below), select foods in the low GI category and go conveniently in between.

• Low Glycemic Index (IG of 55 or less): Largely refined foods, most fruits, and vegetables, rice, noodles, reduced-fat milk, and nuts.

• Moderate GLI (GI 56 to 69): white potatoes, corn, couscous, white rice, breakfast cereals such as wheat cream and mini-wheats.

• High glycemic index (GI 70 to 100): white bread, rice cakes, much of the crackers, bagels, cookies, doughnuts, croissants, breakfast cereals, etc.





The Benefits of Eating Low-GI Foods


Originally, the low GI diet was developed to help diabetic patients manage their blood sugar. Research has also shown that it can help control blood glucose spikes after a meal.

Type 2 Diabetes Management: Type 2 diabetes is a condition caused by the lack of insulin. Your body gets energy by converting the food you consume into glucose, but your cells require insulin to use glucose.

When you have type 2 diabetes, the pancreas either doesn't contain enough insulin or the body doesn't respond correctly to the insulin. Glucose builds up in your body, producing elevated sugar levels, instead of being used to sustain your cells and organs.

Many doctors believe that a high glycemic diet can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. You put a lot of burden on your pancreas by demanding it to work constantly to reduce excessive glucose levels in your body. The increased workload can inevitably "kill" or damage the pancreas, contributing to diseases such as diabetes.

If you have diabetes now, there are also signs that you can control the disease, or even improve it, on a low-glycemic diet. Because low glycemic foods are digested more slowly, they do not escalate your blood sugar so that your pancreas can comfortably cope with the necessary amount of insulin.

Low-glycemic foods also help regulate blood sugar at a more stable level, which is important for diabetes sufferers. Most physicians suggest a low GI diet will even make the body more insulin-sensitive and can cure the disease – or at least boost it.

Weight Loss: Evidence also shows that sticking to low-GI diets will motivate you to lose pounds. In participants following an LGID, a six-month controlled trial showed further decreases in BMI.

Low Risk of Cardio-Vascular Diseases: It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2013 survey found that low-GI diets significantly reduce total LDL cholesterol, particularly when participants increase fiber intake. High LDL or 'bad' cholesterol is a symptom of cardiovascular disease.

The Bottom Line

Just like every other diet, a low GI diet isn't a cure for anything. This is a commitment to choose such foods that will help avoid diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The amount of food eaten is still essential — that does not mean its all safe simply because a meal has a low GI.

For a low-GI diet, dedication is needed, but it is certainly possible with preparation and advice. Cooking techniques and the addition of certain meals will change a food's GI. Adding a little healthy fat, such as olive oil or avocado, can reduce GI.

If you feel that the diet might be perfect for you, ask your doctor to get going and find a licensed dietitian.


References:

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/76/1/5/4689459

https://www.joslin.org/patient-care/diabetes-education/diabetes-learning-center

https://newsroom.heart.org/search?ct=releases

http://www.glycemicindex.com/foodSearch.php

http://www.the-gi-diet.org/lowgifoods/

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