Getting to Know the Glycemic Index

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The Glycemic Index has been around for a while and in the last few years, has become a buzz word in the nutrition world. The GI (Glycemic Index) is a measure of the effects of all carbohydrates on blood sugar levels and recorded on a scale from high to low. Understanding that carbohydrates break down either quickly (releasing glucose promptly into the bloodstream), resulting in a high GI ranking versus carbohydrates that break down more slowly (releasing glucose at a more gradual rate) resulting in a low GI ranking. If you Google “glycemic index”, you can get a good visual and some charts to see how the foods you eat rank.

Obviously, eating low on the GI is the best healthy tactic for those wanting to avoid the insulin rush (and consequent weight gain, plus health related problems associated with too much insulin). Some of the foods in the low GI include: most fruits and veggies, some whole grains, meat, fish, chicken, etc. The lower you eat on the GI, the easier it will be on your body. Keeping your GI ranking to low foods (with a ranking of 55 or less), will help you keep your blood sugar under control. However, some people (the author included) need to take it a step further and count actual carbs–a banana for example, has too much sugar for me (and others of my carb sensitive ilk) even though it has a “low” GI ranking.

Regardless of your own personal carb sensitivity, it should go without saying that high GI foods need to be limited. Did you know that baked potatoes, corn bread, most breakfast cereals and watermelon all rank way up there on the GI? The other more obvious culprits such as white bread, white rice, pasta, sugar and most baked goods are all on the list as well.

There is also scientific evidence that suggests that those who follow a low-GI diet were at considerably lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. The Glycemic Index is a good start for those interested in how their food affects their bodies, so take a peek at a chart and see what you think!

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