The glycemic index was designed to evaluate foods on how quickly they are broken down into glucose within the body. It measures foods made from carbohydrates. Those foods which have a high glycemic index are broken down much more quickly than foods with a low glycemic index. The purpose in studying the glycemic index was to help those with diabetes choose a better diet made from carbohydrates.
With a lower glycemic index, this indicates a slower rate of digestion as wells as the absorption of the carbohydrate. This may lead to decreased insulin levels compared to a high glycemic index, therefore, lower long-term glucose levels as well as cholesterol levels may be achieved.
The measurement of the glycemic index is done by comparing foods which have equal amounts of carbohydrates. To test one food, it is compared to the standard. One standard is white bread. A set amount is also used such as 50 grams of the carbohydrate. The two are then compared.
Examples of low glycemic index foods are most fruits and vegetables, egg, fish, brown rice, nuts, and cheese. The medium-range glycemic index diet includes sweet potatoes, basmati rice, and whole wheat bread. Those foods with a high-glycemic index are corn flakes, baked potatoes, and watermelon. White bread is a high glycemic index food.
Studies have reported that lower glycemic index foods can significantly provide long-term advantages to decreasing the development of diabetes and heart disease such as coronary heart disease. A high glycemic spike occurs after a meal with a high glycemic index. The sequelae to this is a high insulin level and an oxidative stress to the vasculature which causes injury to the blood vessels. Hence, diabetes and coronary artery disease can arise. A university study in Australia noted that these diseases as well as cancer could develop over time with a high glycemic index diet.
One other study done showed a correlation between obesity and a high glycemic index diet. This study used male rats which were divided into two groups where one ate a low glycemic index diet. The other had a high glycemic index diet, and both were studied for 20 weeks. The group which had the high glycemic index had results showing an increased body fat content as well as a decreased lean mass content. Their bloodwork showed significantly increased triglyceride levels and insulin levels postprandial.
Therefore, this may be an important guideline to use in the evaluation of a healthy diet. It provides a use for those currently diagnosed with diabetes to maintain a proper glucose level. It also serves good purpose in the prevention of diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
The benefit in eating a low glycemic index diet is that the carbohydrates in the foods eaten break down much more slowly within the body. Thus, with the decreased levels of glucose or sugar, less insulin is needed at one time. This decreased insulin level over long periods of time help decrease the development of the debilitating disease of diabetes.
Have you been mixed up about how to calculate glycemic index? You aren't the only one, most dieters have difficulty with it. Our guide to glycemic index will help teach you anything you need to know and start you on your way to dieting success.