The Glycemic Index

The differing effects of different carbohydrate foods in raising the blood glucose concentration postpran-dially have long been recognized. The glycemic index classification was proposed to indicate the rates at which different starchy foods were digested. It was hoped that selection of foods with lower glycemic indices would contribute to prolonging the absorption of nutrients and thus improve the glycemic profile and reduce levels of fasting blood lipids.

However, a number of acute (up to 1 day) mixed meal studies during the mid- and late 1980s suggested that a glycemic index classification of foods had no clinical utility. Nevertheless, a number of subsequent reports have documented improved glycemic control in both type 1 and 2 diabetes as judged by serum fructosamine and glycosylated hemoglobin levels in studies lasting from 2 weeks to 2 months. Furthermore, some studies also noted reductions in serum lipids. Many high-fiber foods that lower LDL cholesterol levels also have low glycemic indices (barley, beans, etc.). Extensive glycemic index tables have been published that will help in food selection for therapeutic and study purposes.

Many of the traditional starchy foods from different cultures have a low glycemic index (Table 4). Finally, results of cohort studies suggest that consumption of foods with a low glycemic index, especially in the context of a high-fiber

Table 4 Glycemic foods of staples from different cultures

Food

Average

Culture

Diabetes 2

Diabetes 2

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...

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