The Glycemic Index and Why Is It Important
About the Glycemic Index:
- The Glycemic Index (GI) relates to the way your body's sugar levels respond to certain foods.
- Foods are given a rating from 0 to 100 (and higher in some cases). The higher the rating the faster sugar levels rise in the blood.
- High Glycemic Index foods, such as simple carbohydrates in processed foods, will increase the body's sugar levels rapidly, whereas low glycemic index foods will increase the body's sugar levels slowly.
The Glycemic Index is a numerical index that the conversion of carbohydrates to glucose within the human body. Glycemic Index uses a scale of 0 to 100, sometimes even higher values than 100 are given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. A good example would be any corn sugar. Pure glucose serves as a reference point, and is given a Glycemic Index rating of 100.
How Does the Glycemic Index Work?
The Glycemic Index is complex and cannot be generalized to all people. Different people will have different reactions to food.
The body's response to food will relate to several factors, such as:
- Your age
- How active you are
- What your insulin levels are
- The time of day ( most of us experience a low at mid to late afternoon)
- The amount of fiber and fat in the food
- How processed the food is
- What was eaten with the food (i.e. fat consumed with a food that rates high on the Glycemic Index can slow the absorption of sugar in some people).
In addition to this, other factors will determine the way your body's blood sugar responds after eating.
These factors are:
- The ratio of carbohydrates to fat and protein in the food source,
- How the food was cooked (i.e Baked, boiled or fried...)
- Your personal rate of metabolism.
Foods that have a low Glycemic Index will have little effect on the body's sugar levels, hence creating fewer 'lows' or energy dips during the day.
On the other side of the coin, foods that have a high Glycemic Index will have an instant affect on blood sugar levels. An eating lifestyle based on foods with a low Glycemic Index can help with weight loss and help control diabetes. Take a look at the Glycemic Index Chart to learn more about the glycemic index of the food you are eating.
Why it it Important to Eat a Diet that is Low Glycemic?
The truth is that the human body performs best when your blood sugar is kept on a even keel. If your blood sugar drops too low, you experience that feeling of 'a low' and will usually begin to feel hungry. Think about how you feel at about four o'clock in the afternoon...a drop in energy level and the feeling that you need 'something'. That 'something' that you need is a blood sugar boost.
If your blood sugar gets too high, your brain tells your pancreas to secrete more insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin brings your blood sugar back down, but in the process, converts the excess sugar to stored fat for an 'emergency situation', such as finding yourself in a situation of no food for several days. Another downside to having your blood sugar get too high, too fast, is that your body may release too much insulin, driving your blood sugar down to low, giving you that feeling of lethargy & hunger all over again.... When you eat foods that cause a fast rise in blood sugar, you will feel immediately 'elevated'; you will be in a good mood, your energy will increase, but only for a short time. Then comes the blood sugar drop; followed by 'sugar blues', lethargy, increased fat storage and of course HUNGER.
Eating a high glycemic diet is a fast track journey to obesity and possibly diabetes plus the long list of health issues that come along with obesity. Eating a low glycemic diet, on the other hand will keep you feeling good, healthy and keep your weight & your waist line in check.