What is the glycemic index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate foods based on their immediate effect on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion have the highest glycemic indexes. The blood glucose response is fast and high. Carbohydrates that break down slowly release glucose gradually into the blood stream and have low glycemic indexes.

When you eat a slice of bread, the flour from the bread breaks down into sugar. The same thing happens when you eat a piece of fruit, drink a glass of milk, or eat a chocolate bar. Each of these foods contains a different kind of sugar. Fructose is a sugar in fruit, lactose is found in milk and sucrose is found in a candy bar. All of these sugars are broken down during digestion and provide you with energy.The speed at which a food is able to increase a person’s blood glucose levels is the glycemic response. The glycemic response is influences by many factors. Some factors may be the amount of food you eat, how the food is processed or the way the food is prepared. For example, pasta cooked “al dente” (firm) is absorbed more slowly than pasta that is overcooked. This can be very difficult or relatively simple. Put simply, eating more low glycemic foods instead of high glycemic foods will have positive changes in your life.

What are the consequences of low GI foods?

* A smaller rise in blood glucose levels after meals
* Help in weight loss
* Improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin
* Helping re-fuel carbohydrate stores after exercise
* Improved control of diabetes
* Keeping one fuller for longer after eating
* Prolonging physical endurance

The Basics of a low GI Diet

* Minimize use of cereals for breakfast. Instead, have eggs, tofu or protein smoothies for breakfast
* Use “grainy” breads make with whole seeds
* Reduce or eliminate potatoes, especially fried potatoes such as French fries
* Emphasize fresh vegetables and fruit in your diet
* Eat at least 5 salads each week, using a vinegarette, olive oil or non-dairy dressing
* Eliminate use of simple sugars such as refined breads, table sugar, corn syrup, pastries and white rice. There are no health benefits to consuming simple carbohydrates except in very specific and extreme medical conditions.
* Limit fruit juice in your diet.

Practitioners at Nature Cures Clinic have extensive education in nutritional counseling. If you would like a healthy diet plan created specifically to meet your health goals and lifestyle needs, call the clinic at 503-287-4970 to schedule an appointment.

One thought on “What is the glycemic index?”

  1. I am very interested in a sugar-free living. I currently have a sweet-tooth, and am finding it difficult to find meal plans, what to eat for snacks, etc. While diabetes is not something that runs in my family, I am still concerned and would like to be smart and take a proactive approach to my health. Any tips or advice?

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