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Glycemic Index 101

Chemical Structure of Glucose

Don’t let the science jargon intimidate you- the concept is easy to understand for the purposes of choosing the right foods to eat.

What is it?

Glycemic Index is a carbohydrate ranking system based on a scale of 0-100.  Foods are assigned GI numbers that quantify the degree to which these carbs influence the body’s blood glucose levels.  When the GI number is large it means that your body metabolizes the sugar rapidly and as a result, the glucose content in the bloodstream jumps.  A GI score of 100 equates pure glucose.

High Glycemic-Index Foods (> 70)

Habitual consumption of high glycemic-index foods such as white flour based and highly processed products, is more stressful on the pancreas because it over-stimulates insulin secretion.  Increased production can lead to precipitous drops in blood glucose levels within a few hours after metabolizing. You want to avoid this because of the associated deleterious health effects. A high glycemic-index diet has been linked weight gain and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In colloquial terms, sugar highs and lows are stressful to your body physically and emotionally.  A recent research study conducted by Loyola University correlated glycemic variability with anxiety, negative mood and a “lower quality of life.”

Low Glycemic-Index Foods (<55)

Lower glycemic-index foods are metabolized more gradually. A low GI diet makes for more sustained blood glucose levels and lessens insulin demands on the pancreas. Eating this way helps you maintain a healthy weight. You feel fuller for a longer duration and won’t experience the hunger urges resultant of sugar lows that you do after eating more rapidly digested high-glycemic index foods.

Using Common Sense

Low glycemic index does not always mean healthier. For instance, pound cake has a lower glycemic index than some legumes, but obliviously lacks any nutritional value.  However, simple changes to your diet like preparing your pasta al dente or eating your bananas before they ripen too much can significantly cut the glycemic index count according to  Rachel Johnson, professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont.

Smart Low Glycemic-Index Food Choices

Agave Nectar

Grapefruit

Eggplant

Barley

Celery

Apples

Zucchini

Spinach

Cauliflower

Whole grain

Greek Yogurt

Please visit this link to start searching the glycemic index of your favorite foods.

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2 Responses to Glycemic Index 101

  1. Lonneke February 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Antoniette these are the interesting science articles we love to read about! Give us more! Xlonneke

  2. Aaron J. June 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Would like an article from you on autism. I trust your views and that you’re still in school is good when there is new research to learn. Seems official that my nephew is autistic, I had never been in the presence of one with it ever, and thought skeptically that maybe it was even over-diagnosed like many things are nowadays, but sadly this has made me a believer. If it’s true that it’s happening more like they say, this is quite terrifying, because Nathan seems like he will be unable to function, it’s like Curtis Martin, the ex Seahawk running back’s kids on saw on ESPN, they don’t talk, and just like scream occasionally, really distressing and requires constant care. The cause seems mysterious, I’ve heard of maybe the ‘chemical soup’ that is ambient now in our surroundings, TIME had an article of a controversial theory that it had to do with the genetic make-up of the parents, any new breakthroughs or intensive research going on at Columbia for this Antoniette? hoping for a miracle for all afflicted, I hate being a debbie-downer on a positive website like this, but it is what it is

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