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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Diabetes Positive Approach Newsletter #1407 on Glycemic Index

Welcome to Diabetes Positive Approach Newsletter #1407 issue on Glycemic Index. They say looking for glycemic symbol GI is the easiest way to find healthy food. And the diabetics are big on eating healthy, right? So let us put in our best honest and consistent effort in learning about this all important topic. For it is true, if we take care of the diabetes, the healthier we will be.

In This Issue: All About Glycemic Index"

What is Glycemic Index?

The Glycemic Index or (GI) is a scale from 0 to 100 that ranks foods rich in carbohydrate based on how much they raise the blood sugar level compared to a standard food like white bread or glucose. Why do they compare foods with white bread or glucose? They have a GI rating of 100, that is why. They raise the blood sugar faster and higher than other foods.

This is where we come in. We’ve got to know more about glycemic index because it helps us choose healthy foods. It is one way we can manage our blood sugar level. The Glycemic Index rates foods that are mostly made of carbohydrate like yogurt, grain products, milk, fruit, legumes and other vegetables that are starchy.

Most other vegetables are not ranked and so are poultry, nuts, fish, cheese and seeds. GI only rates foods and beverages that contain carbs. The Glycemic Index gives scores to foods according to how they affect the blood sugar level. Here are some examples of foods and their GI scores.

Low GI Foods with scores of 55 and less - Oat bran, oatmeal steel-cut or rolled, converted rice, pasta, barley, pumpernickel or 100% stone-ground whole wheat bread, raw carrots and apple, peanuts, peas, grapefruit, skim milk, kidney beans and lentils, sweet potato, yam, lima/butter beans, most fruits and non-starchy vegetables.

Medium GI Foods with scores of 56 - 69 - Quick oats, rye, whole wheat and pita bread, couscous, brown, basmati or wild rice, raw pineapple, bananas, sweet corn, certain types of ice cream, and raisins.

High GI Foods with scores of 70 - up - Melons, russet potato, pumpkin, corn flakes, bran flakes, instant oatmeal, puffed rice, pretzels, popcorn, rice cakes, saltine crackers, bagel, white plain bread, macaroni and cheese from mix, short grain rice, rice pasta, instant white rice, boiled red potatoes with skin, white baked potato without skin and watermelon.

What Factors Change or Affect the GI of a Food?

Processing generally gives foods a higher ranking in the GI scale. For examples: A baked potato has a lower GI than mashed potatoes. A whole fruit has a lower GI than juice and a whole wheat bread has a higher GI than the stone ground whole wheat one.

Cooking can also change the food’s GI. The longer the food is cooked, the higher the GI gets as in the soft-cooked pasta getting a higher GI rank than the al dente pasta.

Type of food can also affect the GI rating. Short-grain rice has a higher GI than brown rice but brown rice has a higher GI than the converted long-grain white rice.

The ripeness and storage time also affect the GI rating of any given food. The riper the banana is, so is the GI rank.

Fat and fiber also have a tendency to lower the glycemic Index rating of a food. Ah, fat has been demonized for the longest time and now we are supposed to eat healthy fat. In our home, we avoided butter and opted for margarine which is now deemed undesirable so back to butter we go!

What Benefit Do I Get from Eating Foods with a Low Glycemic Index?

People with diabetes may find that eating foods that have lower Glycemic Index rating, helpful. Those who are at risk of developing diabetes may avoid it by eating lower GI foods. Research has had findings that eating mostly high GI foods increases the risk of getting diabetes so to prevent this from happening, choose more low GI foods.

It is wise to eat foods that have lower GI scores for those without and with diabetes. Here is why:

Foods with lower GI ratings raise the blood sugar slowly which is good for improving the blood glucose level after a meal. It is clear then that doing so can help control the blood sugar level.

They may also improve and control the cholesterol level thus helping prevent heart disease.

Lower GI foods are often high in fiber which can help one feel full which therefore helps control the appetite and lose or maintain weight.

For our non-diabetic friends, lower GI foods may lessen the risk to develop diabetes.

If you need help in choosing low GI foods call a Registered dietitian at 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email to

People who decide to follow the glycemic index diet do so because they want to change their eating habits or go on low-carb diet. In addition to wanting to change their blood sugar imbalances, they also want to go on a diet that they can stick to for a long time but please check with your doctor just in case you have health conditions that may not be good for any change.

Glycemic Index and Diabetes, What's the Connection?

A GI food that is ranked high makes the blood sugar level go up higher than the GI food that is rated medium or low. Therefore if you choose food that is rated high in the Glycemic Index, pair it with one that is rated medium or low. That will certainly help balance the meal. The GI is some kind of a weight loss system based on the blood sugar level.

In fact, the Glycemic Index was developed to help with the blood sugar control. That was the original plan anyway. It categorizes the foods that contain carbohydrates based on their potential to raise the blood sugar level. Who knows what they will come up next? Remember the food pyramid? They say it was a mistake, can you believe it?

And remember when we were told to give up fats? Now they are recapitulating and telling us to eat healthy fats. You can’t really blame anybody for this for things are always evolving. It is up to us to be on our toes. And that is what I am here for. I will be your personal detective checking out on changes that could impact our health.

Supporters of the low GI diet say that high blood sugar levels are connected to all kinds of health problems: obesity, heart disease and diabetes. They say that following the low GI diet can lead to weight loss and prevention of diseases. The evidence though has been mixed and it is said that eating healthy and exercising regularly will achieve the same result.

But let's review some blood sugar basics. The main source of energy for the cells is sugar. This comes from the carbs in the food that we eat. The carbohydrate is broken down and converted into sugar which enters the blood stream to provide energy. The extra is stored in the liver and muscles in a form called glycogen.

Insulin moves the sugar from the blood to the cells when the blood sugar level is high. And when it is low, the glycogen kicks in, releasing the sugar stored in the liver. This keeps the body with enough fuel for energy and makes sure the blood sugar is naturally balanced.

The trouble is that some food interrupts this natural balance producing high spikes in the blood sugar level making the body unable to respond accordingly leading to insulin resistance. This insulin resistance is linked to some health problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level and heart disease.

Glycemic Index Diet and Weight Loss

The proponents of the glycemic index diet say that one will lose weight because the low GI foods will make one feel full longer and balance the blood sugar. And this is without having to count the carbs and calories but the researches have shown mixed findings. It has been found that there is little difference between eating low and high GI foods.

Yet other studies found one may more likely lose weight on the GI diet versus the traditional one because it is easier to stick to the former. Why? Because it is not a restrictive diet. There is some evidence to show that a diet of higher protein and low GI foods may lead to sustained weight loss. This can lower the risk of serious diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

It is also suggested that the weight loss is due to choosing more protein and fiber that makes one eat less and lower the portion size. We have to remember that sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. One thing for sure, weight loss from any diet improves the blood glucose control.

The trouble is the GI gives low rating to some foods that are less healthy when the fact of the matter is they have more calories, saturated fat or sugar like ice cream and potato chips. These two items have lower glycemic index rating than baked potato and we know which is considered healthier. So what we can take away from this is to be careful with the food we choose.

Meal Planning Ideas

The Glycemic Index is not a diet of low carbohydrate. Why? Because we do not have to count the carbohydrates. Neither us it a low fat diet. We do not have to count our calorie consumption nor measure our portion sizes, thank heavens for small mercies. But I have a question if it is neither this nor that, what is it then? Well, the Glycemic Index is used as a guide for meal planning.

Here are some ideas using the Glycemic Index as a guide to yet you started:

Make each meal by choosing foods in the low and medium GI. Lentils and barley have low scores.

Eat fruits and vegetables and drink milk. All three have high carbohydrate content but they have low rating,

Add protein and some healthy fats to balance the meal.

Meat alternatives like lentils and chickpeas have low GI scores yet they have high fiber and are low in fat.

Unless overcooked, pastas are generally low or medium GI.

Here’s a challenge for you:: Two hours after eating a low food GI, measure your blood sugar level. Then do the same after eating a high GI food and compare the two readings.

High GI food is not advisable. They are often digested quickly not only causing a spike on the blood sugar level but also the high is followed quickly by the low creating a roller coaster scenario.

If you have a problem, consult with a dietitian who can help incorporate GI foods in your meal plan and adapt recipes.

The low GI food consumption are absorbed more slowly and stays longer in the digestive tract. No wonder they are sometimes called slow carbs which help control the appetite, weight and balances the blood sugar level. That is what I call a triple threat against insulin resistance.

Choose cereals based on barley oats and bran or breads with whole grains.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables but fewer potatoes. Also avoid oversized portion of noodles, pasta and rice.

Breakfast Meals with Low GI Foods

Boiled egg , ½ cup (125 mL) cherries and a slice of multigrain toast

Oat bran cereal with low-fat milk and berries

Stone-ground wheat toast, sliced apple and low-fat cream cheese

Homemade granola made with large-flake rolled oats and yogurt

Smoothie made with yogurt, low-fat milk, and berries

Low-fat bran muffin and 1/2 cup (125 mL) strawberries

A slice of reduced-fat cheese and whole grain pumpernickel bread with an orange

Lunch Meals with Low GI Foods

Pumpernickel roll, lentil soup and an orange

Multigrain roll and leafy green salad with grilled chicken

Yogurt and strawberries and Minestrone soup

Whole grain bread and green salad with mixed beans and low-fat dressing

Vegetable barley soup and grilled ham, cheese and tomato sandwich on sourdough bread

Raw vegetables and dip, tuna or salmon salad sandwich on stone-ground whole wheat bread

Tossed salad and whole wheat pita with hummus

Dinner Meal Recipes with Low GI Foods

Baked Tofu with Braised Baby Bok Choy - Our daughter loves this vegetarian meal. The tofu provides a good portion of the day’s protein needs.

Chicken Burgers with Tomato Relish - Grill this outdoor or indoor brushed with coconut oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Pork Cutlets with Mushrooms - You can easily add more whole grain with your meal if you use whole wheat bread crumbs on these pork cutlets. Steam new potatoes to serve with this.

Grilled Trattoria Chicken - Serve this with spinach salads or with arugula or Swiss chard and you will meet the daily requirement to eat more greens.

Roasted Red Pepper and Zucchini Soup - Low- GI beans with high fiber can make this main - course soup.

Turkey Burritos - This is nicely spiced with the added flavour of a small amount of cheese on top. Serve with spinach salad.

Salmon with Lentil Pilaf - The lentils will add fiber to your diet and it’s very convenient to use since you don’t need to soak them.

If you want me to send you any of the recipes above, just say so in the contact form below.

The Bottom Line

The Glycemic Index is just a tool that can help manage the blood sugar level. As such, it should not take the place of a good management plan that should include monitoring the blood sugar level often and regular exercise. Check with your diabetes care team on how you can incorporate the GI in your diabetes care plan. More importantly, if what you are doing now is working, let sleeping dogs lie.

The Glycemic Index tells the type of carbohydrate but not the amount eaten. Portion sizes are still important though for losing or maintaining weight and for blood sugar control. Besides the GI of a food is not the same when eaten alone or in combination with other foods. That said, combine the high GI food with low ones to balance out the outcome on the blood sugar level.

What bothers me a bit is that some healthy foods have higher GI score than the less nutritious ones. In this regard, oatmeal comes to mind. It has higher GI score than chocolate for example. So it is wise to remember the principle of good nutrition regarding variety and moderate consumption of less nutritious food.

There has not been any report on the risk to follow the glycemic diet but I guess if you select plenty of low GI foods that contain a lot of calories, saturated fat and sugar then you may be in for a rude awakening - health problems that we are trying to avoid. Therefore take care to consider that the glycemic index ranks foods in isolation and the truth of the matter is how the body handles carbs depends on a lot of factors.

To count or not to count carbohydrate, that is the question. There is no such thing as a diet plan that fits all, Stick to something that is tailored to your needs and just use the GI to fine tune what is working for you now especially research has shown that the first tool to manage the blood sugar level is some kind of counting carbohydrate.

Here’s a video on Glycemic Index

2. Must-Reads from Around the Web

What is the Glycemic Index?

Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index Diet

The Glycemic Index Load for 100 Foods

The Glycemic Index Concept

3. “Alerts I Can’t Resist To Send You

Talking About the Glycemic Index

Does Diet Really Affect Acne?

How the Glycemic Index Can Protect Your Eyesight

The Glycemic Index is Bunk

Glycemic Index Diets Risks and Precautions

4. A Success Quotation of the Month“

“To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” William Londen

5. Dessert Recipe”

Spiced Carrot Raisin Bread

6. Some Humour - Let's laugh together at the joke below even if it's not funny. Did you know laughter can BOOST IMMUNITY? Researchers conducted a study of 18 adolescents. They did it in collaboration with UCLA. Do you know what they found? The study revealed that people who watched humorous programming had a greater tolerance to pain. The only trouble is that my jokes are kind of lame so if you have funny ones or even if they are not funny, I will feature them in the next issues with your name on it! How is that for a bribe?

The Teacher Got It.

Teacher: Verb is an action word. Give me an example.

Johnny: Went, Ma’am..

Teacher: That‘s right. Now use it in a sentence.

Johnny: Mary Go went to town.

Teacher: Wrong, don’t put go and went together.

Johnny: But Ma’am, Go is Mary’s family name.

7. Do you have a question or comment for the team?

Drop us a line at Put on the subject line “Diabetes Positive Approach” so no one can mistake it as spam. Write your questions or comment there.

You may see your question answered in an upcoming issue of Diabetes Positive Approach like the one below.

7. If I eat foods with a low Glycemic Index can I eat as much as I want?"

Answer: No, the Glycemic Index is only a part of the management plan on healthy eating. Eating healthy means choosing an assortment of foods from all food groups. It also means eating at regular times. Limiting salt, sugar and sweets is part of healthy eating. So is reducing the amount you eat by having the correct portion sizes. And don’t forget the fiber.

Remember also to check the blood sugar level before the meal and two hours after eating, This is the way to determine how the food affects the body so you can make any necessary adjustment. If you use the Glycemic Index, choose those which have low to medium scores, but check whether those foods contain, sugar and saturated fats.

8. Got something to say? Please write down your questions and comments in Facebook.

Just go to the Just copy and paste that on your browser. Facebook will want you to join me first before you can send me a message.


Now that we know more about glycemic index, we feel good knowing the next step will be easier but not for the crowd we left behind for they do not belong to our exclusive group. No matter what happens now, know that you are not alone for many of us have gone through failures and frustrations. The only thing we ask of you is to set a good example for others. Then no one will have to set the rules for us.

Your Turn

How about you? Do you know more about glycemic index? Please share them with us in the comment box below or at the email address below the authors‘ names. If my host will agree, I will publish it here with your name as the contributor.

Warm Regards,

Roger and Evelyn Guzman

Here’s a guy who does not believe in Glycemic Index. Instead, he believes in a solution called 4 Cycle Fat Loss Solution. He said Until You Discover Exactly HOW To Eat High Carb Foods The RIGHT Way, You’ll NEVER Burn Off “Stubborn” Belly Fat.

Today’s diet industry relentlessly markets dangerous low-carb plans that can cause chronic "Metabolic Damage" and SLOW DOWN Your Metabolism. The High Carb foods you THINK you need to avoid actually burn WAY MORE fat than all the low carb health foods you eat everyday.

But do you really think lean and healthy people, like the Japanese, obsess over choosing low glycemic foods, counting calories and carb grams? Absolutely not. Here is the link again. 4 Cycle Fat Loss Solutiona>.


The GI Diet Made Easy

The Glycemic Index

Glycemic Index Diet

Glycemic Index and Diabetes

Getting to Know the Glycemic Index