GO LOW, GO SLOW

Everything About Glycemic Index Explained

If you are watching your sugar, especially postprandial (raised blood sugar levels post meals), the parameter you need to be conscious about is Glycemic Index (GI). In the entire health equation of food, calories, sleep and exercise, GI - the system of scoring foods on how quickly they get digested, is an important one. It ranks the number of carbohydrates in food from 0 to 100, indicating how quickly a food causes a person’s blood sugar to rise. People who are conscious of what they eat, whether it is for health or weight concerns, follow this scale to select their foods. Foods with a low GI are considered to be healthier than those with high GI.


A rise in blood glucose levels is natural after meals. The faster it rises, the faster it crashes, and that can affect the quality of life negatively. What needs to be avoided is an acute rise. Here is why it is said so.


MANIFESTATIONS OF GLYCEMIC INDEX IN OUR BODY:


  • The crashes followed by surges caused by high GI foods induce the body to release hunger hormones. One feels hungrier sooner and experiences a lower metabolism eventually.

  • Why should one monitor post meal numbers? A growing body of evidence suggests that repeated glucose spikes each day, day after day can lead to an increased HBA1C reading. This increases the risk of diabetes related complications.

  • Other than diabetes related complications, sugar variability, i.e. glucose spikes have been linked to diminished brain functions, decreased energy in terms of physical abilities, skin flare ups and mood disorders like irritability.

  • Alternatively, for those with predisposed susceptibility to high sugar, a conscious effort towards a low GI diet will reduce the chances of developing complications. Also, Low GI foods make their way through the digestive tract slowly, in turn using up more energy and burning more calories. This process keeps you full longer.

WHAT ARE THE REFERENCE VALUES OF GI?

  • 55 or less are considered Low GI foods

  • 56–69 are Medium GI foods

  • 70 or above are high GI foods

But foods alone don't have an absolute Glucose Index.

  • Did you know cooking food increases its GI? Italians eat Al Dente Pasta for a reason. It has a lower GI compared to soft cooked pasta.

  • GI can be lowered by cooking foods with good fats and accompanying it with protein for slow absorption of carbohydrates. Fiber lowers the total GI of a meal and therefore the same fruits are lower on GI than their juices.

Examples of foods with low GI:

  • Vegetables

  • Nuts

  • Grains

  • Beans and legumes

  • Lentils

  • Oat bran

  • Most fruits except Mango, Chickoo, Custard Apple and Banana

Some foods with a higher GI are:

  • Highly processed foods like snacks, biscuits, cereals

  • Sugary beverages

  • Maida