We all know that being aware of the Glycemic Index of food is important for the diabetic community. But how can knowing the glycemic index help you maintain your overall wellness, even if you don’t suffer from diabetes?
According to our research – quite a bit.
But lets start at the beginning. What is the glycemic index? Very simply put, the glycemic index measures how fast and how much a food raises blood glucose levels. Foods with higher index values raise blood sugar more rapidly than foods with lower glycemic index values do.
A rise in blood sugar followed by a steep drop in blood sugar can cause energy slumps, discomfort and mood changes. According to the Glycemic Index Foundation following a low glycemic index diet, is the best way to insure you are eating healthy, whether you are looking to improve your general health, have sustained energy or to help prevent/manage a specific health condition. Here is what they have to say:
Research has proven that a healthy low GI diet helps people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) manage their blood glucose levelsi, blood cholesterol levelsii and reduce insulin resistanceiii – which is important for reducing the risk of long term diabetes related complications. More.
Achieve or Maintain a Healthy Weight
Overweight and obesity are major underlying causes of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. A low GI diet assists you to reach and maintain your goal weight by helping you manage hunger, burn body fat and maintain your metabolic rateiv. More.
The quality of your diet during pregnancy can affect your child’s future health, long after it has been bornv. A poor diet during pregnancy may predispose a child to developing obesity or diabetes when he or she is older; whereas a good diet can protect themvi.
Reducing the GI of your diet is one of the safest and most effective ways of ensuring your baby grows at a healthy rate. More.
A low GI diet can improve heart health by:
· Helping to reduce post-meal blood glucose levels, improving the elasticity of blood vessel walls and blood flowvii
· Improving blood cholesterol levelsviii
· Reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, a chronic disease affecting blood vessels, by reducing inflammationix
· Aiding abdominal fat reductionx
Sustained Energy Levels
The sustaining power of a healthy low GI diet allows you to feel energised for longer, and have more stable energy levels, rather than peaks and troughs of energy throughout the dayxi. More.
Increase Mental Performance
Low GI foods provide a steady supply of fuel (glucose) to the brain, improving cognitive performance. Our brains run on glucose and have essentially no reserves, so it is important that a constant supply of glucose is provided throughout the day.
For children and teens, eating a low GI breakfast has been associated with better learning and school performance by improving concentrationxii.
Maximise Sports Performance
The body’s main source of fuel is carbohydrate, which in the simplest form is glucose. The carbohydrate you eat or drink that is not used immediately for energy is stored mostly in your muscles and liver as glycogen. When your body needs fuel, it quickly breaks down the glycogen into glucose for energy.
For decades athletes have been using GI science for their sports preparation and recovery. Low GI foods have proven to extend endurance when eaten 1 – 2 hours before prolonged strenuous exercise xiii.
Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Studies show that consuming a high GI diet for five years or longer may increase the risk of breast cancer by 8% compared with a low GI diet xiv.
Manage Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Women suffering PCOS often develop a resistance to the hormone insulin, which is needed to keep blood glucose levels stable. Following a healthy low GI diet improves insulin sensitivity, and is one of the best and proven ways to help manage PCOS symptoms, such as unwanted weight gain xv.
Growing evidence suggests that a healthy low GI diet can prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in Australia. High GI diets have been associated with an increased risk of early onset AMDxvi.
High insulin levels that result from eating high GI foods are associated with acne and a low GI diet can help improve acne by regulating insulin imbalance. Research shows that a low GI diet can reduce acne by more than 50% in only 12 weeksxvii.