Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Glycemic Index, Oh My!

I may be going about this all wrong. Not that I shouldn't have given up sugar. That was a good thing. But it has been brought to my attention lately that one of the key factors why sugar is so bad for our health is its "glycemic index". Here is the definition:

"The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health."

Here's more:

"Recent studies from Harvard School of Public Health indicate that the risks of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease are strongly related to the GI of the overall diet. In 1999, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recommended that people in industrialised countries base their diets on low-GI foods in order to prevent the most common diseases of affluence, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity." (http://www.glycemicindex.com/)

The irony is that if you research causes of diabetes on a diabetes website, they are always defending sugar for some reason, as not a cause for diabetes. Like this: "Myth #3: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes. No. Diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors." (http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-myths.jsp)

While I agree that one thing is probably not responsible for causing diabetes, including sugar, it seems inherently linked. But that is not my area of expertise.

I write about glycemic index because I think it is closely related to why I chose to go without sugar in the first place. I don't want to ingest foods that ..."with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels." This means I should be aware of other foods that have a high glycemic index. These include refined foods like white flour, various forms of sugar, and other grains that are not "whole" grains. Not that I would venture to go without all refined foods, but I am most curious about the glycemic index of foods, now. It seems inherently important to my overall goal which is to make wise food choices based on nutritional value.

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