The Glycemic Index Revisited

More and more focus lately is on diets as a way to combat heart disease, diabetes and cancer. In response to this, researchers are looking not only at calories and fats, but also the differences in carbohydrates.

Researchers noticed that blood sugars are affected by the way carbohydrates were digested. Slower digestion meant slower and more even release of blood sugars into the bloodstream. Faster digestion meant quicker release and spikes in blood sugars. These spikes trigger the release of more insulin.

Although proteins and fats may influence the rate at which carbohydrates break down into glucose (blood sugar), they do not break down into glucose. Only carbohydrates have a glycemic index.

Tests were developed to measure the Glycemic Index, which is just a measure of the rate at which carbohydrates break down into glucose. Jennie Brand-Miller, one of the world’s leading researchers in the Glycemic Index describes the testing process:

How is the GI measured?
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the power of foods (or specifically the carbohydrate in a food) to raise blood sugar (glucose) levels after being eaten. The GI values of foods must be measured using valid scientific methods. It cannot be guessed by looking at the composition of the food. Currently, only a few nutrition research groups around the world provide a legitimate testing service. Professor Jennie Brand-Miller at the Human Nutrition Unit, Sydney University has been at the forefront of glycemic index research for over a decade, and her research group has determined the GI values of more than 400 foods. (1)

The current standard GI ratings are:

High GI: 70 and above
Medium GI: 56 to 69
Low GI: 55 and under

The Glycemic Index Symbol Program (2)

The GI of foods has important implications for the food industry. Some foods on the Australian market already show their GI rating on the nutrition information panel. Terms such as complex carbohydrates and sugars, which commonly appear on food labels, are now recognised as having little nutritional or physiological significance. The WHO/FAO recommend that these terms be removed and replaced with the total carbohydrate content of the food and its GI value. However, the GI rating of a food must be tested physiologically and only a few centres around the world currently provide a legitimate testing service. The Human Nutrition Unit at the University of Sydney has been at the forefront of glycemic index research for over two decades and has tested hundreds of foods as an integral part of its program. Jennie Brand Miller is the senior author of International Tables of Glycemic Index published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1995 and 2002 .(2)

FormulaZone recognizes this current research and has adjusted its glycemic ratings in accordance with these standards. We continue to research and update our nutritional information as it becomes available.

Each ingredient that goes into making a recipe on FormulaZone lists a GI. Proteins and fats are listed as low GI, because they do not contribute to the GI of a recipe. (They are not medium or high). When you combine the protein (30) and the fat (30) with the carb (40) you are lowering the glycemic load of the meal. If you were to eat JUST a carbohydrate at a given meal, you may be eating High Glycemic, Medium Glycemic or Low Glycemic, depending on the carbohydrate’s GI that you are eating. By combining protein, fat and LOW GLYCEMIC carbohydrates in a meal, you are ensuring that you are eating a healthy LOW glycemic meal.

Taking that 40-30-30 balance a step further, combining GOOD fats, LEAN proteins and LOW glycemic carbohydrates ensures that you are eating the best combination of foods to contribute to your healthy lifestyle.

(1) http://www.glycemic index.com
(2) http://www.glycemicindex.com; http://www.gisymbol.com.au/

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