In the old days, most meal plans took into account the amount of carbohydrates that we consume. Nowadays, nutritionists use the glycemic index (GI) as their source of good food when creating a diet plan for their patients. GI, on the other hand, does not only count the total amount of carbohydrates but also measures its actual impact on blood sugar. Foods are given a GI value of very low, low, medium, or high.
Importance of The Index
The last 15 years saw a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, depression, stroke, chronic kidney disease, gall stones, and others due to low GI-diets. The glycemic index is an excellent source of whole, natural foods that are either low or very low in their GI value. It is recommended that you focus on foods with low or very low GI values.
Measuring Glycemic Index
Generally, food that is consumed in whatever serving size will provide 50 grams of available carbohydrates. They are carbs that are easily digested, absorbed, and metabolized in the body. Available carbohydrates have a much greater impact on blood sugar level than carbs in general because they include substances that are not readily digested, absorbed, and metabolized. In the case of insoluble fibers, they do have an immediate impact on sugar level because they are not easily digested. To estimate available carbohydrates, researchers take the total amount of carbs and subtract the total amount of fiber. The difference is the remaining available carbohydrates.
Glycemic Index And Carbohydrates
As far as GI is concerned, the effect of food on blood sugar changes once it is cooked. Some foods like legumes have solid cell structures that are fairly resistant to disruption giving it the ability to prevent the breakdown of the starches within their cells. This gives them a lower-than-expected GI value. The same is true with whole grains which have lower GI values because of their sturdy cell structure.
Getting Informed About GI
Pioneering work about glycemic index is credited to Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, PhD, Personal Chair in Human Nutrition in the Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial, Biosciences at the University of Sydney. For more information about the index, you can also check out the glycemic index website of the school which provides detailed information about her work as well as a searchable database of GI values. You can also check out the website put up by medical writer David Mendoza. It also provides a comprehensive list of foods and their GI values.