The rule of eating carbs is the size of your fist. Our body needs carbohydrates which are the first energy source the body goes to they are much faster to break down into energy than their protein and fat counterparts. The Glycemic Index (GI) is an overall positioning of sugar in foods as per how they influence blood glucose levels. The insulin levels can be managed by carbohydrates with low GI value (55 or less) which are more slowly digested, absorbed, and metabolized for a slower rise in blood glucose.

The key to the low-GI diet is focused on slow-acting carbohydrate foods, which helps to keep your blood glucose level steady. Researchers continue to gather evidence regarding the GI’s far-reaching health benefits since the positive effects of a low-GI eating plan were discovered in the 1980s. Most nutritionists and health professionals agree today that a low-GI diet plan not only helps to keep you slim but also lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. The diet has also proved to improve memory, concentration, and mood. 

Ten Tips to Lower the GI of Your Diet

There is no specific order. You should attack the changes that you think you’ll find easiest first. Make the changes gradually – it can take 6 weeks for a new behavior to become a habit. Check more about what foods you must-have in the kitchen- Day & Night Healthy Food (Part 1:No meat edition)

  1. Aim to eat 7 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Preferable of 3 or more different types of meal. Make sure you fill half your dinner plate with vegetables.
  2. Cut back on potatoes. Have one or two boiled new potatoes, or make a cannellini bean and potato mash, replacing half the potato with cannellini beans. Try other lower GI starchy vegetables for a change, like a piece of sweet potato.
  3. Choose a really grainy bread, such as stoneground wholemeal, real sourdough bread, or a soy and linseed bread. (Look for the GI symbol on the bread when you buy.)
  4. Start the day with smart carbs, like natural muesli or traditional (not instant) porridge oats, or one of the lower GI processed breakfast cereals that will trickle fuel into your engine.
  5. Look for the lower-GI rice (basmati, Doongara Clever rice or Moolgirl) , and choose low-GI whole grains such as pearl barley, buckwheat, burghul (bulgur), or quinoa.
  6. Learn to love legumes and eat them often. Add red kidney beans to chili, chickpeas to a stir-fry, a 4-bean salad to a barbecue, and beans or lentils to a casserole or soup.
  7. Include at least one low-GI carb food at every meal and choose low-GI snacks.
  8. Incorporate a lean protein source with every meal, such as lean meat, skinless chicken, eggs, fish and seafood, or legumes and tofu if you are vegetarian.
  9. Use the GI-lowering effect or acidic foods like vinegar, citrus fruit, and sourdough. Add vinaigrette dressing to salads and sprinkle lemon juice on vegetables like asparagus. Acids slow down the digestion of carbs and lower the overall GI of the meal.
  10. Limit (preferably avoid) high-GI refined flour products, whether from the supermarket or home-baked, such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, crumpets, crackers, and biscuits.

What Happens When You Eat More Carbohydrates?

Heart Health

When eating meals that cause blood glucose levels to spike, it tends to lower ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and raise triglycerides, harmful fats that increase your risk of heart disease. High blood glucose also produces unstable forms of oxygen molecules, called Free Radicals, that damage artery and make cholesterol more likely to stick on artery walls and making the aging process faster. The raised levels of insulin produced to adapt with surges of blood glucose set moving change the raise of your blood pressure. This makes your blood more likely to form clots and increase inflammation, which doctors know is closely related to heart attack risks.

Cancer Risk

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According to the latest research, high blood glucose levels may increase your chances of getting cancer It seems that the high insulin levels promote an environment in which it is easier for certain tumors to grow. Research is still going on, and it is too early to be absolutely certain about the connection between blood glucose and cancer. Yet there is a reason for concern for the following types of cancer: colon and rectal, breast, endometrial (womb lining), prostate, and pancreatic cancer. 

Diabetic Liver

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It has been known for a long time that a diet high with fast-acting, high-GI foods will significantly increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes. In Type 2 diabetes, your liver can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose levels under control. Before you reach that stage, your body may develop insulin resistance and/or metabolic syndrome (syndrome X) – a pre-diabetic state in which your body progressively struggles to control blood glucose. 

Mood and Memory

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The brain is very sensitive to the levels of glucose in the blood. Both high and low levels can cause problems with your mood and memory. Low levels may cause symptoms of depression, poor memory and low concentration, while High levels of blood glucose also impair the brain, shrinking the part that stores memories and increasing the risk of dementia. The answer is to keep your blood glucose levels steady by eating a low-GI diet. To follow this diet is simple: there is no need of counting calories; no food is forbidden, and because of the way you are eating, you are unlikely to feel hungry. 

Many people are unaware that they have these conditions, yet studies show that they are increasingly common in all around the world. More than 10% of adults have insulin resistance. Fortunately, you don’t develop diabetes overnight and the journey towards diabetes can be redirected at any point. Eating more slow-acting foods is one of the best ways of preventing or reversing this condition. The earlier you start, the better. 

Focus on eating a low-GI meal. Although eating a medium-GI meal now and then will do your diet no harm. This is not meant to be a strict dietary regime that is endured for a few weeks and dropped, but a healthy eating plan for life. So choose the meals that entice you. 

As a general rule of thumb, the less processed a food is, the lower it’s GI value. The more work the body has to do in digesting it, that means the slower the sugar is released – and that is good news for keeping blood glucose levels steady. After a few weeks of eating the GI way, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner as you may feel more energetic. And if the nutritionists are correct, adopting the low-GI eating plan may be the best thing you’ve ever done for your health.

Dr Waqar Abbas

Author

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