What Is it…
The glycemic index (GI) is a system which ranks food on a scale of 1 to 100 based on their effect on blood sugar levels.
For years meal plans have focused on how to improve blood sugar based on the total amount of carbohydrates (including starches & sugars) provided in the meals.
The GI goes a step further to look at the impact of foods on the blood sugar itself.
Instead of calculating the total amount of carbs in the food before it is consumed, the GI measures the impact of each food on blood sugar as very low, low, medium or high.
The Glycemic Index was created by David Jenkins, a researcher at the University of Toronto in 1981 as a means of managing type 1diabetes.
Today, it has become an ideal way to balance blood sugar for anyone looking to create and maintain optimal health & fitness.
The Importance of the Glycemic Index…
Understanding & using the glycemic index to maintain a low-GI has been associated with a decreased risk of:
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Prostate Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Neural Tube Defects
- Gall Stones
- Cardiovascular Disease
How is GI Measured…
The GI is measured as either: low, medium or high with the coordinating numbers as follows:
Low GI: 0-55
Medium GI: 56-69
High GI: 70 or greater
Food servings are typically measured in 50 gram portion sizes of ‘available carbohydrates’ (carbohydrates which are readily digested, absorbed & metabolised).
Available carbohydrates have a larger impact on the blood sugar levels than general carbs which aren’t as quickly digested.
In determining the GI, each 50 grams of available carbs consumed have been measured over a period of 2 hours to determine the ‘area under the curve’ (AUC) which helps determine the full impact of each food on your blood sugar.
Next, the results are measured against the results of either white bread or pure sugar to compare the 2 examples. At this point it is possible to rank white bread or pure sugar at a value of 100 & then in comparison, the other food is ranked on a scale of 100 or less.
These two foods are used as the baseline because they have a dramatic impact over blood sugar levels.
Why is the GI Different Than Simple Carb Counting?…
Basically, not all carbs or sugars are created equally.
Even though a pasta noodle & a slice of bread may have the exact same amount of starch, the structure of the bread allows more starch to be exposed to saliva enzymes in your mouth & digestive tract.
Therefore, your body will be impacted differently by each of these foods – even though they have the same amount of carbohydrates.
A slower release of energy into the bloodstream is ideal, this is less stressful on your body & doesn’t challenge your pancreas so intensely as quick release foods.
Things That Determine a Food’s Glycemic Index…
Many factors can affect the GI of a food such as:
- Cooking Method
- Processing Method
- Type of Starch
- Fibre Content
- Sugar Content
- Fat Content
Examples of GI levels…
Some foods that have a very low GI level include:
- Green Beans
- Olive oil
Foods that have a low GI level include:
- Green Peas
- Winter Squash
Medium GI foods include:
- Sweet Potatoes
High GI foods include:
Why Should You Use It Regularly To Reach & Remain at Optimal Health & Fitness…
The Glycemic Index is important for anyone looking to reach & maintain optimal health & fitness because when the body is given a constant barrage of foods with all different GI levels, the blood sugar undergoes a virtual roller coaster, riding high & dipping low & affecting many other systems & hormones in the body.
A healthy blood sugar range is between 90 – 130 mg/dl before meals & less than 180 mg/dl 1-2 hours after a meal.
A regular high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), over 180 mg could cause any of the following symptoms: blurred vision, drowsiness, dry skin, extreme thirst &/or cause wounds to be slow to heal.
At the same time, not regulating your diet by watching GI levels can also lead you to experience levels that are too low (hypoglycemia).
Levels below 70 mg can result in: shaking, fast heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, anxiety, hunger, headaches, irritability, weakness &/or vision problems.
All in all, it’s obvious that regulating your blood sugar is a big way to keep yourself functioning at optimal health & fitness.
The smartest way to regulate your blood sugar is by applying the Glycemic Index to your meal selections.
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