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Understanding Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is a numerical index and measuring system that ranks food containing carbohydrates based upon their glycemic response (or the impact they have on blood sugar levels). The scale for glycemic index is 0 to 100, with pure glucose having a value of 100. The higher the glycemic index value, the faster your blood sugar will increase.

Foods that have a high glycemic index are more rapidly digested and absorbed and result in fluctuations in blood sugar levels, whereas foods with low GI are slower to be absorbed and produce gradual rises in your blood sugar and insulin levels.

Glycemic Index and Your Health

Generally, your body works best when your blood sugar levels are relatively constant. If your blood sugar drops too low you may experience increased hunger or become lethargic. If it becomes too high your pancreas will begin to release more insulin to bring your blood sugar down to a more stable level. This is problematic because the faster your blood sugar rises, the more likely it is that your body will produce and release an excessive amount of insulin to attempt to push your levels back down.

Glycemic index is meant as a way to minimize blood sugar related health issues by identifying and limiting (or avoiding) those that will have the greatest effect on your blood sugar levels. Low GI diets have been shown to promote weight loss and decrease your risk of developing chronic health conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Metabolic syndrome

Foods and Glycemic Index

Some examples of foods based on their GI are:

  • Low GI (55 or less): Whole wheat bread, oatmeal, muesli, barley, sweet potato, corn, lima beans, legumes, lentils, carrots and most sweet fruits.
  • Medium GI (56-69): Rye bread, pita bread, couscous, brown rice, raisins, prunes, cranberry juice and banana.
  • High GI (70 and up): White bread, bagels, white rice, pretzels, potato, melons and pineapple.

Low GI foods may be beneficial to some people as they tend to keep you feeling full and delay hunger while keeping your blood sugar levels stable.

Glycemic Index Diet

Glycemic index diets differ from low-carb diets because they steer you towards carbohydrates that will keep your blood sugar balanced and your energy levels up versus counting and cutting carbs. This will ensure that your diet is well balanced and that you are getting the nutrients your body needs; keeping your health and overall wellness in the forefront. A glycemic index diet could be an appropriate choice if you:

  • Need to change blood sugar imbalances that are related to your current diet and negatively affecting your health
  • Want to change your eating habits
  • Want a diet that you are able to abide by long-term

Dr. Waller will help to determine if a low GI diet will be beneficial for you and your health needs.

Suggested Reading

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It doesn’t matter what the latest celebrity weight loss gurus say, the science behind losing weight is making sure calorie intake is less than calorie output. Consuming nutrients provides the body with energy for the metabolic process, which is measured in calories. Fats supply nine calories per gram, while proteins and carbohydrates contain a little less than half of that. While some diets stress proteins and fats and others recommend lots of carbs, dieting relies on making wise reductions in the total number of calories you eat. [Read more]