The Glycemic Index (GI) is at present time a relative unknown but
is gaining rapid acclaim and acceptance among informed healthcare
practitioners. The rate at which carbohydrates enter the
bloodstream is known as the Glycemic Index (Gl). The faster the
rate (the larger the glycemic index number) the more rapidly the
consumed carbohydrate is converted into blood glucose. The faster
the rate of rise of blood glucose the greater the demand for
While insulin brings the blood-sugar (glucose) level down, at the
same time insulin (see chart I) tells the body to store fat and
keep it stored, thus making weight loss difficult if not
impossible as long as insulin is circulating in the bloodstream.
Conversely. the lower the glycemic index number, the slower the
absorption rate and the less the need for insulin, making weight
loss easier and the need for insulin less.
There are presently two Glycemic Index (GI) tables, one uses
glucose as the standard, giving it a GI of 100. The other standard
is gaining as the more popular table and the one I have included;
uses white bread as the standard and gives it a GI of 100. To
convert from the bread standard to the older glucose standard,
just multiply the bread GI by. 7 and you will have the glucose GI.
For example fructose on the bread Gl table is 32 on the glucose GI
table fructose is 23.
Factors which affect GI include: The structure and amount of the
simple sugars in the food, the food's digestibility, fiber
content, the fat content, the protein content, and how the food
was prepared. Raw carbohydrates tend to have lower glycemic
indexes because cooking them tends to break down starches and
fibers within the food and make them more digestible, thus raising
the food's glycemic index. Cooking the food longer tends to raise
the glycemic index more. The same principle applies to the
processing of carbohydrates (i.e. milling, processing, juicing)
that break down the fibrous integrity of the food, thus raising
the glycemic index.
How does the structure and the amount of the simple sugar
contained in the food affect the GI? All "complex" carbohydrates
such as starches, fibers, pastas, etc. must be broken down into
simple sugars in order to be absorbed. Only three "simple'. sugars
comprise all edible carbohydrates, glucose is the most common
followed by fructose and galactose.
Glucose is found in grains, pastas, bread, cereals, starches and
vegetables. Fructose is found primarily in fruits. Galactose is
found in dairy products. While all of these sugars are rapidly
absorbed by the liver, only glucose can be released directly into
the bloodstream. This explains why glucose rich carbohydrates like
breads and pasta virtually jump from the liver to be delivered
back into the bloodstream very rapidly making them quick energy
foods and raising insulin requirements. Galactose and fructose
must first be converted to glucose in the liver and then enter the
bloodstream much slower. For fructose it is a very slow process.
Previous to 1981 no one bothered to question absorption rates into
the bloodstream. When this question was finally studied the
implications should have turned the nutritional community upside
down. Unfortunately, the food industry has a different agenda and
promotes the low-fat, low-calorie foods which are more profitable
The research was showing
that "simple" carbohydrates like Fructose were entering the
bloodstream at much slower rates than "complex"
carbohydrates like pasta. It \vas found that puf1cd-rice
cakes (the centerpiece of many a healthy weight reduction
program) have a much
higher GI than ice cream, which was supposed to be a weight
watcher's worst enemy. Say it ain't so!
This is why it is vitally
important to consider Glycemic Index (Gl) when looking for
better alternatives to controlling blood sugar or for losing
weight. The intention or the glycemic index is not to
categorize carbohydrates as "good" or "bad", but to enable
you to make better carbohydrate choices.