There has been much written about the Glycemic Index (GI), what it is and how it affects us. I will summarize it for you.
What is the Glycemic Index and why is it important?
Our country is on a rapid rise with regard to Diabetes. We are seeing levels grow at an incredible pace. Some studies suggest we will see over 50% of our population effected with this disease by 2030. A disease that 80 years ago did not even exist is now mainstream. In most cases it has to do with our diet and lack of exercise. Simply stated when we eat foods that contain any form of sugar the pancreas secretes insulin to pull that “sugar” out of the blood stream. Over time our bodies(cells) due to the poor diet choices over time become resistant to the insulin released by the pancreas. Glycemic index gives us information about the foods we eat and how quickly they turn to sugar in the body. The glycemic index ranks foods on how they affect our blood glucose levels. The glycemic index ranges from 0 to 100. A high glycemic index food would have a score ranging from 71 to 100. Some examples of foods in this category would include simple carbohydrates such as honey, glucose syrup, Maltodextrin, fruit juices, regular sodas, Gatorade, artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Equal; vegetables such as carrots, parsnip, baked potatoes and instant potatoes; starches such as white bread and white rice.
The medium glycemic index foods have a score ranging from 56 to 70. These foods should be eaten in moderation and balanced with protein, fiber and good fats. Some of these foods include fruits such as oranges, grapes, bananas and raisins; starches such as brown rice, whole wheat, Ezekiel bread, whole grain or whole grain rye, whole wheat, brown rice spaghetti; vegetables such as sweet potatoes, green peas, corn and beets.
The lower glycemic index foods range from 21 to 55. Your diet should consist mostly of low and ultra low glycemic index foods. These foods include fruits such as apples, peaches, cherries, plums, grapefruit and pears; legumes like lentils, kidney beans, and lima beans.
The ultra low glycemic index foods score from 0 to 29 on the glycemic index scale. You should, again, pattern your diet to include mostly foods from the low or ultra low list of glycemic index foods. Some examples of ultra low glycemic foods include nuts such as almonds, peanuts, cashews, pecans and roasted soybeans; berries including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries; fruits such as tomatoes.
Protein sources such as turkey, chicken, fish and tofu have no glycemic index. Meat alternatives also have little or no glycemic index. Again, meats should be hormone free and organic whenever possible. Most vegetables have little or no glycemic index so they are very good choices to include in your diet and should be eaten more than fruit. Your diet should contain 70% to 80% vegetables compared to 10% to 20% fruit.
A few things to remember about glycemic index foods. When choosing foods it is important to note what nutrients your getting; what vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, proteins, carbs, fiber and essential fatty acids. Don’t just eat empty calories. When regulating the blood sugar levels through the glycemic index it’s best to eat more vegetables and some lean portent to keep the blood sugar levels low and the glycemic index low.
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