Monday, May 25, 2009

Glycemic Index - Simplified

by Bun 0 comments

After much thought, I've decided to simplify my explanation further, the original post is right below.

Glycemic Index is a measurement index, just like how metres are used for lengths. However in this case, the Glycemic index is used to compare how fast the sugars in food are absorbed into out body. You see, many of the food we eat contains carbohydrate, a source of energy that is eventually broken down into sugars. These sugars are not the same as table sugar, they're in much simpler chemical forms.

Different kind of foods have different carbohydrates as well as different nutritional contents, these accounts for the difference in the glycemic index of different food.(try saying that quickly!)

The higher the glycemic index of a food = the faster the blood sugar level rises
- This is what we want to avoid! High blood sugar is what diabetics are suffering from, it's the mechanism that tears down our body.

Low glycemic index food are food that gradually releases carbohydrate into our blood stream, it dosen't release less, it just releases slowly. Therefore it has much less impact to the blood sugar level. This is what we want to acheive.

Much lengthier but detailed explaination
Carbohydates are a source of energy for our bodies, and they come mainly from plant products such as grains, fruits or roots. Most vegetables do contain carbohydrate, but only some of it can be broken down by our body, therefore not a great source of carbohydrate.

When ingested, these carbohydrates will eventually be broken down to simpler forms that our body can use. Processing these carbohydrates into simpler forms and transporting it into our blood stream takes time. Eventually these carbohydrates are taken up by our blood stream which causes an increase in our Blood glucose level. A curve would be plotted to determine the changes that different carbohydrate causes.

Based on this curve, the Carbohydrates are given a ranking and this is known as the Glycemic Index. Low glycemic index foods are those that cause a gradual increase in blood glucose level while high glycemic index foods are those that causes sharp increase.

High GI foods are those with value 70 and above
Medium GI foods are those between 56~69
Low GI foods are those below 55

Lower glycemic index foods are generally better because they do not cause a sharp increase in blood glucose level. Which in turn will also cause an uproar of insulin into the blood stream.

Increased insulin levels are known to cause
- Weight gain due to promotion of lipid storage
- Increased sodium retention in the body, which causes hypertension
- Increased Inflammatory compounds in the blood stream(This causes irritation)
- Reduction in the Good Cholesterol in blood(HDL), this cholesterol is essential for keeping down cholesterol levels.

There are plenty of issues to discuss regarding the glycemic index, this post is meant to explain the glycemic index system. Future posts will cover other topics such as what affects the glycemic index and how it is helpful to diabetics.

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Teck Bun
Former Obese. Diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in 2003. Weighing 100kg in my glory days, 30kg less now.
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