We are all aware that Glucose is a primary source of energy for the body. it requires no further digestion and is available in your blood. Carbohydrates (carbs) is one such food group that breaks down into glucose during digestion.
The type of carbs that you consume will determine the amount of glucose present in your blood. The Glycemic Index (GI) is one such indicator which scales from 0 to 100, telling you the glucose level in your blood. The lower the GI, the better the food is for your body during the energy conversion process. Foods rich in protein and fats usually don’t have a GI value. While they do cause an eventual increase in blood sugar level, the process is slow unlike carbs/sugars which can cause an immediate spike.
Generally, when eating high GI foods together with proteins and fats, it slows down the body’s ability to convert the sugar as quickly. Slower sugar conversion results in a lower blood sugar spike. What this means is, if you ingest a fast-absorbing protein like casein which is found in milk, even though you will increase overall sugar levels, you decrease the effect of insulin and delay excessive absorption of the sugars in your blood. This in essence lowers the GI load on your body.
GI Standard Values (GI Low- less than 55, GI High- above 70)
Most fruits, vegetables and whole wheat foods that we consume are on the lower side, with values in the 30s and 40s. On the other higher side of the scale, potatoes rank way up in the 80s, and white bread falls in the 70s.
White Pasta vs White Bread – Both made from Refined flour
Non-whole grain bread and pasta noodles both contain similar amounts of starch. Their starches are similarly composed of long chains of the simple sugar, glucose. The structure of bread allows more of the starch to be exposed to enzymes in our saliva and in our digestive tract. This greater exposure to enzymes allows more of the starch to be broken down into sugars giving white bread a higher GI value than white pasta. Effectively, both are still high on the GI value scale so moderate consumption will be recommended.
The problem with ingesting foods with a high GI load over a prolonged time can cause your body to become insensitive to a hormone called insulin. In the early stages (pre-diabetic) this can be reversible by making dietary and lifestyle changes. If no changes are made, and the person continues to eat high quantities of GI rich foods, it can lead to type II diabetes.
Know the GI but also the nutrient profile of your foods
While a very high intake of GI rich foods should be avoided, you must remember that GI load does not measure nutritional intake. The body needs more than sugar for health and some foods while high in GI values, may have benefits that outweigh the disadvantages. Like brown rice, bananas and oats are all foods high in GI values, but they are also high in important minerals, vitamins and proteins essential for a healthy body. Balancing the benefits of reducing GI load while also making sure you get your full nutritional requirements is much more important. Portion size also plays an important role when it comes to such foods.
Much research have shown the benefits of low GI diet in weight loss, lowering the risk of diabetes and eliminating the sudden sugar rush and crashes. However, some studies have also shown no difference in hunger, satiety, or energy level after eating high- or low-GI foods. With research, the results of studies can’t necessarily be replicated and generalized for everyone but yes, for people who eat only high GI foods knowing its bad effects is a must.
Eating sensibly is the key!
Everybody is unique with different metabolisms. Having said that, people’s metabolism also have different effects on blood glucose levels. And most often, we eat foods in combinations of all different nutritional values. All we have to understand is that even if research trials have shown the benefits of low GI diets, in reality, it is best to only incorporate the knowledge rather than eliminating all high GI foods. That would be impractical and impossible.
Here are some GI values of the most commonly eaten foods.
Enjoy eating healthy and making healthy choices because what makes you feel better on the inside will show on the outside.
|High-carbohydrate foods||Breakfast cereals||Fruit and fruit products||Vegetables|
|White wheat bread||75||Cornflakes||81||Apple, raw||36||Potato, boiled||78|
|Whole wheat/whole meal bread||74||Wheat flake biscuits||69||Orange, raw||43||Potato, instant mash||87|
|Specialty grain bread||53||Porridge, rolled oats||55||Banana, raw||51||Potato, french fries||63|
|Unleavened wheat bread||70||Instant oat porridge||79||Pineapple, raw||59||Carrots, boiled||39|
|Wheat roti||62||Rice porridge/congee||78||Mango, raw||51||Sweet potato, boiled||63|
|Chapatti||52||Millet porridge||67||Watermelon, raw||76||Pumpkin, boiled||64|
|Corn tortilla||46||Muesli||57||Dates, raw||42||Plantain/green banana||55|
|White rice, boiled||73||Peaches, canned||43||Taro, boiled||53|
|Brown rice, boiled||68||Strawberry jam/jelly||49||Vegetable soup||48|
|Sweet corn||52||Orange juice||50|
|Spaghetti, whole meal||48|
|Dairy products and alternatives||Legumes||Snack products||Sugars|
|Milk, full fat||39||Chickpeas||28||Chocolate||40||Fructose||15|
|Milk, skim||37||Kidney beans||24||Popcorn||65||Sucrose||65|
|Ice cream||51||Lentils||32||Potato crisps||56||Glucose||103|
|Yogurt, fruit||41||Soya beans||16||Soft drink/soda||59||Honey||61|
|Soy milk||34||Rice crackers/crisps||87|