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Glycemic Index

 In the past we have addressed carbohydrates and their effect on insulin production in the body.   

It is very important to understand and remember that diets high in processed sugars have been clearly shown to produce insulin resistance, which is primarily developed as a result of the fast absorption of simple sugars.  If you start your day with a high-glycemic load, you are going to have cravings all day long.  Complex carbs found in fruits and veggies don’t have the same quick, deleterious effect on insulin levels.  Low-glycemic carbs are absorbed slowly and raise the blood sugar levels slowly and steadily, and insulin levels rise only high enough to push glucose into the cells where it is burned as energy. Studies have shown that regular lower GI choices cause you to snack on lower calorie choices, give you energy, keep you feeling full and cause your metabolic rate to not slow down too much!

The glycemic index of a food refers to the rate at which foods cause glucose (sugar, which all carbs turn into) to rise in the blood.  The higher the glycemic index, the faster that food converts into blood sugar, so the more your body has to make insulin and the harder it is to bring your insulin level into balance. Many other factors come into play, including the amount of protein, fat and fiber eaten with the carbohydrates and the cooking and processing methods, so we have to always remember that the whole diet  counts, not just the individual foods. Yet as you become aware of the GI of the foods you eat, you can tweak some of what you eat to your advantage so you avoid the spike in blood sugar and therefore the rush of insulin that causes you to eat more calories still. Try to avoid mostly carbohydrate meals or starches without any fiber and select a balanced diet from a variety of foods, with a focus on nutrient-dense vegetables, fruit, low fat dairy, and lean proteins, we will naturally have a lower glycemic load.

The glycemic index number is determined in part by the speed with which we eat and digest. The faster the sugars/starches are processed and absorbed in the bloodstream, the fatter we get; anything that speeds the process of digesting carbs is not recommended and anything that slows it down is great!  Digestion breaks the food down; anything that keeps the food intact longer is beneficial to us. So, raw broccoli is better than cooked broccoli for example.  In processed foods, the marketing people already digest it somehow for us: white bread hits the bloodstream like white sugar from the sugar bowl!  On the other hand, old-fashion coarse bread puts the stomach to work.

Three basic truths:

1.The more the food is preprocessed, the more fattening it will be

2.Fiber delays the stomach’s effort to get at the sugars and starches in carbohydrates.

3. Fat and protein also delay the stomach’s effort to get at the sugars and starches in carbs, so adding a bit of protein and good fat to your carbs is beneficial—almond butter with the bread for example—because you will then make less insulin and reduce the cravings for more food later.

The bottom line is simple: If there isn’t any surge of blood sugar, the pancreas doesn’t produce as much insulin and we don’t get the exaggerated cravings for more carbs. Learn to eat foods that cause a gradual increase/ decrease in blood sugar and anticipate hypoglycemia, averting it with timely snacks.

Noteworthy:

~Fruits’ sugar, called fructose, have a lower glycemic index than table sugar.  Mixed with fiber, fructose is acceptable; without the fiber, it could hurt you, so keep the fruit whole and unpeeled if possible, and avoid juices.

~Maltose, the sugar in beer, has a higher glycemic index than white bread (bad!).  Insulin response to it leads to fat storage in the abdomen—“beer belly.”

~Metamucil with water is a neat solution 15 minutes before eating to lower glycemic load of a meal.

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Carbs and the Glycemic Index.

Well, we know that not all carbohydrate foods are created equal.  In fact, they behave quite differently in our bodies.

The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs – the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels – is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss.

Switching to eating mainly low GI carbs that slowly trickle glucose into your blood stream keeps your energy levels balanced and means you will feel fuller for longer between meals.

Low GI diets help people lose and control weight; it increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.  Low GI carbs improve diabetes control; they reduce the risk of heart disease and reduce blood cholesterol levels.  They help you manage the symptoms of PCOS, they prolong physical endurance and help re-fuel carbohydrates stores after exercise.

The glycemic load of a food is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate in grams provided by a food and dividing the total by 100. The concept of glycemic load was developed by scientists to simultaneously describe the quality (glycemic index) and quantity of carbohydrate in a meal or diet.

The basic technique for eating the low GI way is a simple “this for that” approach—swapping high GI carbs for low GI carbs.

Here are just some reminders: use breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran; use breads with whole grains, stone-ground flour, sour dough; reduce the amount of white potatoes you eat; enjoy all other types of fruit and vegetables; use Basmati rice; enjoy quinoa; eat plenty of salad vegetables with vinaigrette dressing!

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