Researchers continue to gather evidence regarding the GI’s far-reaching health benefits since the positive effects of a low-GI eating plan were discovered in the 1980’s. Most nutritionists and health professionals agree today that a low-GI diet plan not only helps to keep you slim, but also lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. The diet has also proved to improve memory, concentration and mood.
GI means Glycemic Index. It is a measure of how long it takes to break your food down into glucose. The key to the low-GI diet is focused on slow-acting carbohydrate foods, which helps to keep your blood glucose level steady. How this happens I explained in an earlier article about the Glycemic Index.
Heart Health When eating meals that cause blood glucose levels to spike, it tend to lower ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and raise triglycerides, harmful fats that increase your risk of heart disease. High blood glucose also produces unstable forms of oxygen molecules, called free radicals, that damage arteries and make cholesterol more likely to stick on artery walls. The raised levels of insulin, produced to cope with surges of blood glucose, set in motion changes that raise your blood pressure. This makes your blood more likely to form clots and increase inflammation, which doctors know is closely related to heart attack risks.
Cancer risk According to the latest research, high blood glucose levels may increase your changes of getting cancer It seems that the high insulin levels promote an environment in which it is easier for certain tumors to grow. Research is still going on, and it is too early to be absolutely certain about the connection between blood glucose and cancer. Yet there is a reason for concern for the following types of cancer: colon and rectal, breast, endometrial (womb lining), prostate and pancreatic cancer.
The Road to Diabetes It has been known since a long time that a diet high with fast-acting, high-GI foods will significantly increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes. In Type 2 diabetes, your body can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose levels under control. Before you reach that stage, your body may develop insulin resistance and/or metabolic syndrome (syndrome X) – a pre-diabetic state in which your body progressively struggles to control blood glucose.
Many people are unaware that they have these conditions, yet studies show that they are increasingly common in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK. More than 10% of adults have insulin resistance. Fortunately, you don’t develop diabetes overnight and the journey towards diabetes can be redirected at any point. Eating more slow-acting foods is one of the best ways of preventing or reversing this condition. The earlier you start, the better.
Mood and Memory The brain is very sensitive to the levels of glucose in the blood. Both high and low levels can cause problems with your mood and memory. Low levels may cause symptoms of depression, poor memory and low concentration, while high levels of blood glucose also impair the brain, shrinking the part that stores memories and increasing the risk of dementia. The answer is to keep your blood glucose levels steady by eating a low-GI diet. To follow this diet is simple: there is no need of counting calories; no food is forbidden, and because the way you are eating, you are unlikely to feel hungry.
Focus on eating a low-GI meal. Although eating a medium-GI meal now and then will do your diet no harm. This is not meant to be a strict dietary regime that is endured for a few weeks and dropped, but a healthy eating plan for life. So choose the meals that entice you.
Here follow Ten Tips to Lower the GI of Your Diet The following are practical tips to help you make the change to low-GI eating. There is no specific order. Basically, you should attack the changes that you think you’ll find easiest first. Make the changes gradually – it can take 6 weeks for a new behavior to become a habit.Aim to eat 7 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Preferable of 3 or more different colors. Make sure you fill half your dinner plate with vegetables. 2. Cut back on potatoes. Have one or two boiled new potatoes, or make a cannellini bean and potato mash, replacing half the potato with cannellini beans. Try other lower GI starchy vegetables for a change, like a piece of sweet potato. 3. Choose a really grainy bread, such as stoneground wholemeal, real sourdough bread, or a soy and linseed bread. (Look for the GI symbol on the breads when you buy. 4. Start the day with smart carbs, like natural muesli or traditional (not instant) porridge oats, or one of the lower GI processed breakfast cereals that will trickle fuel into your engine. 5. Look for the lower-GI rices (basmali, Doongara Clever rice or Moolgirl) , and choose low-GI whole grains such as pearl barley, buckwheat, burghul (bulgul) ,or quinoa. 6. Learn to love legumes and eat them often. Add red kidney beans to a chili, chickpeas to a stir-fry, a 4-bean salad to a barbecue, and beans or lentils to a casserole or soup. 7. Include at least one low-GI carb food at every meal and choose low-GI snacks. 8. Incorporate a lean protein source with every meal, such ass lean meat, skinless chicken, eggs, fish and seafood, or legumes and tofu if you are vegetarian. 9. Use the GI-lowering effect or acidic foods like vinegar, citrus fruit and sourdough. Add vinaigrette dressing to salads and sprinkle lemon juice on vegetables like asparagus. Acids slows down the digestion of carbs and lower the overall GI of the meal. 10. Limit (preferably avoid) high-GI refined flour products, whether from the supermarket or home-baked, such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, crumpets, crackers and biscuits.
As a general rule of thumb, the less processed a food is, the lower it’s GI value. The more work the body has to do in digesting it, that means the slower the sugar is released – and that is good news for keeping blood glucose levels steady. After a few weeks of eating the GI way you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner as you may feel more energetic. And if the nutritionists are correct, adopting the low-GI eating plan may be the best thing you’ve ever done for your health.