The Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index, or G.I.- is a medical term used to measure the speed at which carbohydrates break down in the digestive system to form glucose.

Glucose is the body's source of energy - it is the fuel that feeds your brain, muscles, and other organs.

You get glucose into your bloodstream by eating carbohydrates or other foods that can be converted into glucose.

Some carbohydrates are digested more slowly releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream- have a lower Glycemic Index.

Research indicates that individuals who followed a low GI diet over many years were at a significantly lower risk for developing both type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease than others.

Your goal is to include foods into your diet with a lower GI.

In contrast- Other foods that are quickly digested and release glucose rapidly have a high G.I.

Consider the following research findings:

* Research provides compelling evidence that high-GI carbohydrates are associated with increased risk of obesity.

* High blood glucose levels or repeated glycemic "spikes" following a meal may promote diabetes and heart disease by increasing oxidative stress to the vasculature and also by the direct increase in insulin levels.

* Studies suggest that having a breakfast of white bread and high sugar cereals- over time- may make a person susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

Here's the bottom line: A high GI diet contributes to the development of the metabolic syndrome- and the metabolic syndrome leads you down the road to Alzheimer's and related dementias.

The Glycemic Index Scale

Glucose is set at 100, and all foods are indexed against that number.

The classification of GI ranges and examples are as such:

Low GI- 55 or less- most fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fructose, and products low in carbohydrates.

Medium GI- 56–69 - whole wheat products, basmati rice, sweet potato, and sucrose.

High GI- 70 and above- baked potatoes, watermelon, white bread, most white rices, corn flakes, extruded breakfast cereals, glucose, and maltose.

In spite of the common belief that table sugar contributes to the development of diabetes, it has medium (55-69) GI that produces lower blood glucose levels than the equal amount of calories obtained from starch and some other carbohydrates.

Leading international diabetes associations (e.g., Canadian Diabetes Association CDA) recommends that table sugar can actually be part of the diabetic diet.

According to the Low-G.I. Diet, when you eat high-G.I. foods, such as corn flakes, your body rapidly converts them into glucose, which dissolves in your bloodstream, spiking your blood sugar level and giving you that familiar sugar rush or high.

In contrast-when you eat a low-G.I. food- such as oatmeal, it will break down more slowly and deliver the glucose into the bloodstream at a slower but steady rate.

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