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What You Should Know About Low Glycemic Index (gi)

What You Should Know About Low Glycemic Index (gi)

The Glycemic Index or GI compares the carbohydrate foods based on the glucose level reactions in the blood. Foods with high GI are rapidly absorbed by our body and make our blood glucose levels rise quickly. On the other hand, foods with low GI take longer to break down and provide more stable blood glucose levels. You are probably familiar with sugar highs followed by crashes. These ups and downs in energy, mood and hunger levels are known as the seesaw effect. It takes longer to digest low GI foods, so these foods release their energy into the bloodstream gradually, which helps create and maintain the feeling of fullness. If you’re not hungry, you’ll be less tempted to snack.

High GI foods can result in wild fluctuation in your levels of blood sugar, which can then cause an overproduction of insulin from the pancreas. Often, this results in illnesses such as hypoglycemia, Syndrome X and type II diabetes. Research also suggests that diets with lower GI foods can help increase the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, which can then help decrease the risk of heart disease.

Many low GI diets don’t limit food intake to only low GI foods. They normally recommend that you include more foods with a low GI in your diet. You can add a low GI food to a meal, and it will lower the GI for the entire meal. If you are a very active person, you should include both high and low GI foods in your diet to benefit from optimal energy for exercise. 

High GI foods include many carbs (e.g., pasta, bread, rice, cereal and baked goods). Low GI foods include many fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. It’s not all black and white, though. There are many shades of gray. Bananas and potatoes for example have mid-range GIs. The degree of food processing and how long you cook it also affects its GI level. This is why traditional rolled oats have a lower GI than instant oatmeal as the additional processing in instant oatmeal allows the starch to be more readily exposed to digestive enzymes, which speeds up digestion.

You can lose weight and improve your health and well-being by increasing the amount of low GI foods you ingest but it’s only one of the factors that must be taken into consideration. For example, chocolate is energy-dense with few nutrients and although it is a low GI food, it’s not going to help you lose weight. Nonetheless, GI can be fairly useful for choosing foods that are low in saturated fat and high in nutrients.

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