The importance of the GI (glycemic index)

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I am guessing some of you are still a little confused and who could blame you? There are so many different pieces of information out there on how to eat, some of them reliable, some of them not but how do you tell the difference? Well the solution is to trust us! We will find the most reliable information as that is our job and besides that we like doing it too!

So what is the deal with GI? GI stands for Glycemic  Index and indicates how much of an effect a carbohydrate type food has on your blood sugar level and there for your insulin. The faster your blood sugar level rises the higher the GI of the food. The index is based on comparing foods to pure glucose which is classified as 100. High GI is any food 70 and above, Moderate GI is any food from 56-69 and Low GI are any foods 55 and below. In this series of blog entries (there will be three) we will 1. Define what the GI is and why it is important, 2. Give you a list of common foods and their GI values and 3. Provide an example 1 day diet that aims for a healthy low GI approach.

The GI of carbs is important because research strongly suggests that high GI foods put a lot of pressure on our insulin response and a diet made of high GI foods increases your risk of heart disease significantly. If we continually consume high GI foods and therefore continually ask our pancreas to secrete insulin to deal with the blood sugar we are potentially fatiguing the body’s response to sugar which can lead to serious problems. Here’s why. A high level of glucose in the blood means:

  • Excess glucose moves into cells lining the arteries, causing inflammation, thickening and stiffening – the making of ‘hardened arteries’
  • Highly reactive, charged particles called ‘free radicals’ are formed which destroy the machinery inside the cell, eventually causing the cell death
  • Glucose adheres to cholesterol in the blood which promotes the formation of fatty plaque and prevents the body from breaking down excess cholesterol
  • Higher levels of insulin raise blood pressure and blood fats, while suppressing ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol levels

Look out next week for a comprehensive list of the GI of common foods, what to avoid and what to seek out.

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