The Glycemic Index (GI) Measures How Carbs Affect Blood Sugar
The new carbohydrate-classification system known as the Glycemic Index rates the carbohydrate quality in foods according to its immediate effect on blood glucose level. Thus carbs that break down quickly into glucose during digestion, causing a rapid rise in glucose levels, have a High GI value. Those carbs that break down more slowly, are given an Intermediate or Low GI value.
Designed For Diabetes Treatment
Invented in 1981 by David Jenkins and Thomas Wolever of the University of Toronto, as a tool for the treatment of diabetics who need to maintain stable blood sugar,the Glycemic Index (GI) has now replaced the older method of classifying carbohydrates according to their “simple” or “complex” chemical structure.
GI Shows Us Which Foods Are Best or Worst For Blood Sugar Levels
- In order to “use” food, our body first converts it into glucose. This glucose then enters our bloodstream and can be used as needed.
- We have a safety mechanism to ensure our glucose level remains relatively balanced. It works like this. If levels fall too low, the brain makes us feel hungry, so we eat food that is turned into glucose. If levels rise too high, the brain tells the pancreas to release insulin into the blood to “mop up” excess glucose.
- So far so good. However, the human body was designed in prehistoric times – long before the existence of modern super-refined carb-foods. Some of these refined carbs are converted into glucose very fast – too fast for comfort. As a result, our blood-glucose shoots up (called a “sugar-spike”). This fools the body into releasing too much insulin.
- The huge amount of insulin mops up too much glucose and our level falls so low that the brain makes us feel hungry again!
- Thus, not only do we overeat, but also we can experience excessively high levels of insulin which can, over time, cause significant health problems such as insulin resistance.
The glycemic index helps us to understand which foods are best and worst for controlling our blood glucose levels.