The Glycemic Index- What is It?
Diabetes is on the rise in the United States. Many people are at risk and may not even know it. The Western Diet, which contains mostly processed foods, almost all with high levels of sugar puts many at risk. Diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin to regulate the glucose level in the blood. We all heard about the GI index, but what is it really? The GI or Glycemic index is a basically a way of analyzing food and it’s impact on our bodies. The Glycemic index looks at the way certain types of food release sugar in the blood and how our body handles it. It measures the breakdown of carbohydrates. Certain types of foods are broken down faster or slower and this is an indicator of its effect on our blood sugar. The scale for measuring the GI ranges from 0-100. Carbs with low GI value (55 or less) are digested, absorbed and metabolized slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood glucose. Carbohydrates with a GI higher than 70 cause marked fluctuations in the blood glucose levels. These abnormal fluctuations have been correlated to Type 2 diabetes. The foods are ranked on a scale from 0 to 100 as per the extent to which they raise blood sugar (glucose) levels after eating. Low GI foods are also rich in fiber, which takes the longest to digest, make you feel fuller for a longer time and help control appetite. This could further help in weight management.
The benefit for following a low GI diet is to maintain a steady blood sugar level. This will help reduce the risk of developing cell damage and other harmful effects such as fading eyesight, memory lapse, food cravings and the inability to lose weight.
“One of the major drawbacks of glycemic index is that the glycemic response to a particular food varies between individuals as well from day to day and even throughout different points in the day.” (Mandal, 2014) It is up to individuals to get to know their bodies and how it response to certain types of foods. Lower GI foods release sugar more slowly and cause a more gradual increase in blood sugar. This means that blood sugar levels stay more stable for longer at a more moderate level.
There are many options for eating a low GI diet.
The Glycemic Load is the measure of the type of carbohydrate, the quality and the quantity of the carbohydrate.
Glycemic Load = GI x Carbohydrate (g) content per portion ÷ 100.
For example, a single apple has a GI of 38 and contains 13 grams of carbohydrates.
GL= 38 x 13/100 = 5
A potato has a GI of 85 and contains 14 grams of carbohydrate
GL=85 x14/100 = 12
We can therefore predict that the potato will have twice the glycemic effect of an apple.
Low-Glycemic Vegetable Soup
1-teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Two 14-ounce cans vegetable broth (low-sodium)
2 carrots, sliced
5 ounces cauliflower or broccoli
One diced tomatoes,
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 yellow squash, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, and sauté until soft, about 1 minute.
Add the broth, water, carrots, cauliflower or broccoli, diced tomatoes, thyme, sage, and basil. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the squash and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Emberly (2011, Nov 8) Glycemic Index. Retrieved from
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load. Retrieved from http://dietdatabase.com/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load/
Mandal, A (2014, July 20) Glycemic Limitations. Retrieved from http://www.news-medical.net/health/Glycemic-Index-Limitations.aspx
What about Glycemic Load? - Glycemic Index Foundation. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.gisymbol.com/what-about-glycemic-load/
Written By N.Merna Timaul