If you are interested in weight loss, suffering from diabetes, or heart-related problems, or are a victim of PCOS, then the glycemic index is a term you must know. This article explains the Glycemic index, its types, purpose, importance, and factors affecting it along with other related details.
What is Glycemic Index?
The Glycemic index is a term used to describe the effects of carbohydrates on blood glucose or sugar levels.It is an effective way to check and measure your carbohydrate intake.
In medical terms, GI is defined as :
Area under the two hours blood glucose response curve (AUC) following the ingestion of a fixed portion of carbohydrates (usually 50mg).
GI is calculated by dividing the AUC of test food over the AUC of Standard and then multiplied by 100.
The Standard is usually 50mg of Carbohydrate or White bread, equivalent to 50mg. The average value of the glycemic index is calculated by taking the data taken from 10 human subjects.
Why is GI important?
The Glycemic index has important because it is an indicator of our blood glucose levels. It suggests that we must eat food with low GI values. Thus it helps in diabetes control and management. It has also benefits in weight loss and other diseases.
High Glycemic carbohydrates
Carbohydrates that dissolve rapidly in blood upon digestion and release glucose molecules quickly are carbohydrates with a High Glycemic index. They are considered harmful and may lead to several health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Low Glycemic carbohydrates
Carbohydrates that dissolve gradually in blood upon digestion and release glucose molecules at a lower rate are carbohydrates with a low Glycemic index. Carbohydrates with lower GI values are healthy and recommended.
Classification of Food-based GI
Based on the glycemic index, food is arbitrarily categorized into three groups.
Simple classification is given table below;
Low GI Food
55 or less
Medium GI Food
56 – 69
High GI Food
70 and above
Low GI Foods
- Fruits except for water melons and bananas
- Vegetables except for potatoes
- Brown ice
Medium GI foods
- Basmati Rice
- Table sugar
- Whole wheat products
- Sweet potatoes
- White rice products
High GI foods
- Water Melon
- White Bread
- Potato chips(baked potatoes)
- White rice
Factors affecting Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index of food depends on multiple factors. Some of them are;
- Type of starch
- The presence of soluble dietary fiber
- Fat and protein content
- Alcoholic beverages
- Ripeness of food
- Cooking method
Benefits of a Low GI diet
The benefits of a Low GI diet are infinite. Research has shown that people on a low GI diet are at a lower risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. Lower GI food tends to lower the demand for insulin and thus improves the long-term blood glucose levels and blood lipids.
Harms of High GI Food
Eating high GI value food and repeated glycemic spikes after meals may lead to diabetes and heart-related diseases.
In this way, it causes increased blood glucose levels and enhanced oxidative stress to the vasculature. Food with a high glycemic index may worsen polycystic syndrome in women.
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