What is the Glycemic Index and how do I use it?
In the Total Health Magazine article below I explore the role of starches and sugars (carbohydrates) in weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. Clearly, the greatest factor in overweight and obesity is the high consumption of refined sugar and refined flour products, which include breads and baked goods, candies, and sodas. Both refined cane sugar and more recently, high-fructose corn syrup, constitute an excess of non-nutrient calories, which rarely satisfy hunger or the body’s need for nutrition. As a result, we still need and crave food. However, if we are focused only on eating the quick, readily available foods typically around us, we’ll keep getting too many calories with too little real nutrient value and we’ll gain weight. Many of us tend to eat or overeat this way at stressful or transitional times, particularly in adolescence or in mid-life. When we add to our fat cells and the areas around our belly and hips, this is more “dangerous” weight gain and more difficult to lose. The key is to prevent added weight by replacing highly sweet and starchy foods with foods we enjoy that won’t cause weight gain.
Rather than just describing foods as simple and complex carbohydrates, they can also be rated on the Glycemic Index. Knowing about this can be helpful in choosing what foods to eat. Extremely sweet or very starchy foods are high on the Index; they break down quickly and cause the release of extra insulin, burdening our metabolism. Foods low on the Index are metabolized slower and provide a steadier stream of glucose and other nutrients. As a result, they’re less work and stress for the body.
Obesity is also part of this picture. Researchers report that the link between high glycemic load (highly sweet and starchy foods) and coronary heart disease risk was most often seen in subjects with “body weights above average.” They concluded that a diet high in refined carbohydrates increases the risk of obesity and coronary heart disease. My book The Detox Diet that has a whole chapter devoted to Sugar Detox.
check out the full article including a Glycemic Index chart here