- It was 2004 and the ‘No Carb Craze’ still had momentum (more in the US than in Canada), when I was invited to a conference about Glycemic Index (GI) with experts from around the world. We were discussing topics such as the recognized scientific method to determine the GI of foods and how the Canadian Diabetes Association educates their patients on GI. The conference was held in Toronto, the perfect venue, where twenty-three years earlier in 1981 at University of Toronto, Dr. David Jenkins and his colleagues developed a standardized system of ranking foods based on their effect on blood glucose levels known as the GI.
- What is GI?
- The GI is ranked from 0 to 100 and the unit of measure is percentage. To make a fair comparison, all foods are compared to a reference food such as pure glucose (the original standard) or white bread (more commonly used and preferred reference), which have a GI rating of 100.
- The number indicates whether a food raises your blood glucose rapidly (GI rating of 70 or more), moderately (GI rating of 56-60) or slowly (GI rating of 55 or less). Generally, foods that are digested quickly and cause your blood sugar to rise rapidly have high GI values.
- Where is the GI used?
- This GI food ranking approach, originated in Canada, is popular in Australia and is gaining ground in Europe and the United States.
- A number of studies support the notion, low GI ranked foods as part of a healthy meal plan have an impact on health and wellbeing including sustained energy, better brain/memory performance and less of an inflammatory response.
- There is a vast body of evidence (from Canada and Australia) for people with Type 2 diabetes and Heart Disease that consuming low GI rated diets decrease the effect on blood sugar, increase the good cholesterol (HDL), and lower triglycerides (TG).
- Impact on Consumers
- As consumer trends move towards a more balanced and less of a fad (say ‘no’ to no carb craze) approach to nutrition and diet, we are still set against a backdrop of towering obesity rates in Canada, the US, Europe & beyond.
- Choosing products with low GI ratings are one important factor in an overall food cocktail to combat this growing problem.
- Consumers are reminded to check portion sizes and increase physical activity, we need to choose healthy food options with low GIs.
Stay active, eat a balance diet and sleep well!
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