Monday, February 28, 2011

Glycemic load

When we eat a meal, we usually eat a combination of different foods. Some will be high GI, some intermediate, and some low GI. Some will be NO GI. Because animal proteins contain such a small percentage of carbohydrate, they are considered to have very little or no effect on blood-glucose levels, therefore they have NO GI value. But animal proteins (meat, cheese, etc) have high levels of saturated fats, which, in the interests of weight management and health, we want to limit. The GI value of a food is moderated by what else it contains, other than carbohydrates.

Adding a little animal protein or oil to a meal slows down digestion and so gives a feeling of satiety for longer. Always remembering, of course, to add even mono- or polyunsaturated oils in limited quantities, and avoid saturated fats when possible.

A salad with a vinegar or lemon dressing helps keep blood-glucose levels controlled. It has to do with acidity, so sour dough breads will do the same. A salad (low GI) added to a high GI meal will lower the overall GI load of the meal.

Soluble fibre, such as is found in rolled oats, lentils, beans and apples, is excellent for blood-glucose control. Insoluble fibre, however, is not digested at all, so has no impact.

The size of the particles in food products affects the GI. If the food item is made from a finely milled flour, then the GI will be high (white bread = 70), but if the flour used is whole grain, or stone-ground then the resulting product will, in most circumstances, be low(er) GI. The finer the particle, the easier (and faster) it is to digest.

By all means, buy products marked with a low GI rating - just be aware that there are other factors that come into play.


Roberto said...

My daily battle, Sphinx! Low Vs. High GI. I am fortunate in that I am not insulin dependent - and I hope to keep it that way.

I was astounded when I first went to live in Thailand, at the amount of Diabetics there. The only reason I could think of was the rice - every meal consisted of rice - and they tended to eat five to six times per day! Maybe it was OK for the waistline, but no good for the blood sugar!
Thanks for this article, and the other one last week.

Sphinx said...

Bob, the easiest way to balance blood sugar levels is to make sure each snack and meal includes a little protein and a little fat - and eat frequently. You're better off with 5-6 mini meals per day rather than getting starving hungry.

I am always so happy to see you here. Thanks for your continueing support and friendship.