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The Glycemic Index System for Ranking Carbohydrates

Researchers have spent years trying to measure what dietary factors make blood glucose levels high and the glycemic index is one system for facilitating this. The glycemic index (or GI) is basically a ranking system for carbohydrate rich foods that assigns a value to food items. This value reflects a measurement of how fast a particular food will raise glucose levels. Such values have been assigned to more than 750 carbohydrate rich foods in the index.

The glycemic index was developed in 1981. Before the glycemic index was created, scientists assumed that our bodies digested simple sugars very quickly, producing rapid increases in blood glucose levels. We now know that things are not so "simple". Simple sugars do not necessarily raise blood glucose levels any faster than complex carbohydrates do, though dietary sugar and highly refined carbohydrates will be absorbed faster and may cause spikes in blood glucose levels.

Itís important to note that people who regularly consume foods high on the glycemic index are more likely to have higher amounts of body fat. Body fat is judged by the BMI (Body Mass Index.) High BMIís are associated with heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Complex carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, cereal, and baked goods typically have higher index ratings and have the potential for spiking blood glucose levels.

The key to keeping your blood glucose levels under control is to manage your total carbohydrate intake and to eat sparingly of the foods with a high GI rating. If you choose, you can easily verify whether or not the foods you consume raise your blood glucose with a portable blood glucose monitor.

What are some foods that are low on the glycemic index? Whole grains, nonstarchy vegetables, fruit (Not all fruit, though: bananas have a higher sugar content than many berries, so you may want to read up on the carb count and GI number for individual fruits), nuts, and legumes.

Having some familiarity with the glycemic index ratings of foods can be effective for those who are attempting to lose weight. Short-term studies show that consuming foods with a high GI number can be an effective approach to long-term weight loss and decreasing the prevalence of obesity, which is a risk factor for the development of diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure. Itís also important to note that people who mainly consume foods low on the glycemic index tend to have lower body fat levels.

Being knowledgeable about the foods that are high on the glycemic index is an efficient approach for everyone, whether they are trying to maintain their current weight levels, lose weight, or achieve optimal health. But itís especially important for diabetes sufferers since it may allow them to make better dietary choices and lessen the occurrence of spikes in their blood glucose levels. Poor control of diabetes can lead to peripheral neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, hardening of the arteries, and kidney failure, as well as increase the risk of heart disease.

Currently, the CDC, or Centers for Disease Control, has classified the rise in Type II Diabetes in the general population as an epidemic.




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