What is the Glycemic Index?

JacquieNutrition, Wellness

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         What is the Glycemic Index? Although most people have heard this term before, few people know what the Glycemic Index (GI) is. The Glycemic Index is a scale of 0 to 100 that ranks how the carbohydrates in the foods you eat will affect your blood sugar levels. The Glycemic Load (GL) is a similar scale, but it also considers portion size in its ranking. A Glycemic Index of 55 or below is considered low, a Glycemic Index between 56 and 69 is medium, and a Glycemic Index of 70 or above is high. The higher the GI, the quicker the food is absorbed into the blood stream. This means your blood sugar may spike then drop quickly after eating a high GI food. This may cause a drop in energy level, too. However, foods that are low on the GI scale are digested slower and don’t cause a spike in blood sugar. Low GI foods also keep you feeling fuller for longer.

             The GI is based on standardized testing in at least 10 people, and it represents an average glycemic response to foods. The exact blood sugar response to food varies drastically from person to person, and can even change within the same person from day to day. The Glycemic Index effects everyone because the average GI of your diet predicts your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Current research suggests that following a low GI diet can help prevent and manage diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Following a low GI diet can help reduce inflammation in the body. A spike in blood sugar after eating stimulates an inflammatory response in cells, so if you can reduce drastic blood sugar fluctuations, then you can reduce inflammation and tissue damage. This can also help with acne, mental performance, mood, pregnancy outcomes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and reduce the risk of some cancers.

            Although it is important to consider the GI when making food choices, it is not the only factor you should consider. You should also look at fiber and whole grain content, as well as how highly processed the food is. Foods with a high GI aren’t necessarily bad for you, and foods with a low GI aren’t necessarily good for you. Not all foods are ranked on the Glycemic Index. Meats, cheeses, eggs, and oils contain few carbohydrates, and therefore they don’t have a GI. Following a balanced, healthy eating plan is very important.

Information provided by EnvironmetalNutrition.com