Eating With the Glycemic Index in one hand and your fork in the other… not all carbs are created equal
The index was initially designed for people with Hypoglycemia and Diabetes. This simple-to-understand index is a measuring system to show how fast a carbohydrate triggers a rise in blood sugar – the higher the number, the faster and higher the blood sugar response is. The higher the blood sugar rises, the faster and more insulin is triggered as a response!
Foods with a high Glycemic Index number enter the bloodstream rapidly after you eat them, while low glycemic foods promote a slower release of glucose into the blood stream and a slower resultant call that this creates for insulin to be released from the pancreas to rebalance – very much like a teeter-totter. This means that if you’re trying to do the right thing to maintain a balance between your insulin and blood sugar, and trying to reduce the wild swings and spikes, and trying to loose weight, then the carbs in your diet should be from low glycemic foods, or complex carbs.
Eating with the index in mind has sometimes confused people and has often left the impression that there is confused science behind the numbers, but this is not so. Carbs are easy to assay in the lab. There just happens to be two published glycemic indexes in circulation and often the authors do not explain which they are quoting from! One uses white bread as a base of 100 and one uses glucose as a base of 100. It’s the later that makes sense and that we use in this article (see chart below). Because sugar is sugar but not all white bread is created equal.
Diabetics, hypogylcemics, cancer patients and those wishing to lose weight should try to avoid foods with a Glycemic Index above 50 (as a rule of thumb).
Oils, fats and proteins are rated 0 (or close to 0) on the glycemic scale. Therefore, when good oils and fats are added judiciously to a high-carb meal, they help lower the overal meal index number and thus lower the blood sugar responses (glucagon and insulin) and reduce the blood sugar spiking – as each bite consumed has an overal lower index number.
Processed foods are harder to access or figure out, as to their glycemic count as what goes into the processing can be tricky and under-reported. Whole wheat macaroni, by itself, and in a ‘pure’ form has a reading of 45. Packaged, processed, manufactured macaroni & cheese (even with cheese and fats having a low glycemic number), usually results in a reading of +/- 65. You may wonder, after all, cheeses and cream are under 10 each on the index, why this doesn’t bring the number down when added to our favorite soul-food mac & cheese…. The reason is that the processes used in the macaroni and cheese fabrication, include the addition of sugar, hidden starches, stabilizers and fake flavors and fillers, that we never think about and are hidden in the fancy contents with deceptive package descriptions. It pays to read the labels and know what some of the long words really mean (there are 10 different long names for sugar alone, most of which end in “ose”). To wiggle past our shopping scrutiny, processors/producers often name a multitude of them by various titles – spreading out detection. As we may only recognize one or two, we think we aren’t being “sugared”. Just take a look at bologna and other processed meats – a lot of high glycemic fillers!
Root vegetables, which are known to be high in “good sugars” (especially good for the intestinal tract), also have magnificent fibres, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, but the index reminds us to maintain moderation. Roots range from parsnips at 90 to yams and carrots at 50. French fries come in at 75 (the oils) and so does pumpkin.
Sweet corn, kidney beans and canned lentils stand at about 55 on the index. Un-canned garbanzo beans, split peas and beans “weigh in” at about 33. There is a big difference between canned and un-canned – up to 50% sometimes. This is due to the added “goodies” such as stabilizers and preservatives.
All fruits are quite high in sugar. Oranges have an index of 44 and orange juice of 52. So why is that? Juice, to be legally sold in stores, must be pasteurized and as vitamins and enzymes cannot withstand heat from the legally required processing, you are left with sugar and minerals – minus the enzymes required for the digestion of this juice and a bit of added sugar (fructose or dextrose) snuck in, to make one brand seem nicer than the next… But, they are all doing it….
Watermelon at 72 competes with grapes at 46.
Plain yogurt at 14 competes with gatorade at 95!
Dates (instant sugar shot for the bloodstream) are a whopping 100, same as sugar on the index (but healthier), making popcorn at 55 look good from this perspective. If you add a bit of softly melted organic butter, then that slows down this number for the popcorn even further!
Some foods or drinks that we thought were over-loaded with sugar do not really cause the sugar spikes that were imagined or that dieticians warned us about. Strong views founded on years of ‘assumptive’ nutrition can be a little shaken from time to time! Here science definitely proves to be our ally.
Normal cells in our bodies require carbs for many functions and are an integral healthy part of our massive amounts of chemical processes, especially for our brains! Complex carbohydrates, the good ones that are released gradually, are therefore the best ‘go to’ carbohydrates. A slow release (rather than large spurts of blood sugar) allows the blood sugar to rise gradually, than some insulin is called for and released (again gradually) and pushes the blood sugar back down – over and over, keeping all normal cells happy and functioning. An imbalance creates a strain in the pancreas (for pumping out vast amounts of insulin on demand from spiking blood sugar), adrenals (cortisol for when the sugar drops too far), many cells and our livers. Eventually spiking could cause these above mentioned organs to become exhausted and create more functional problems at the cellular level. Also, C-reative protein, in the blood, occurs more frequently with spiking blood sugar and resulting insulin surges and that leads to systemic inflammation and weight gain and further reactions. Receptor cells throughout the body become a bit numb and insensitive and more issues ensue.
Carbs are central to creating the feel good hormone serotonin, too (that’s why some people on the Aitkins diet are so grumpy). Carbs are needed for many essential reactions in the body, right down to the ATP energy-making cycle in the cell (that’s why people on the Atkins diet can sometimes feel like they have the flu).
Another reason to keep the balance smooth is that all cells need some sugar to function properly but cancer cells are absolutely dependent upon sugar to live, so we want to keep those sugar levels calm and even – slow release for the healthy cells. Spikes in blood sugar are just what a cancer cell needs for survival – a big fat whack! And co-incidental to a blast of sugar in the bloodstream there is a pulling back of the functioning of the white cells, too, so that the garbage removal and immunity work is hampered for several hours at a time (especially good to remember as we need to be strong to withstand the upcoming, anticipated flu season).
This Glycemis Index needs to be tucked into the hand of everyone diagnosed with a serious disease and their support people and care-givers, too. This index comes in handy when trying to choose fods at a fast food outlet. This info makes one think twice about the cans of artificial food-replacement drinks, loaded with artificial vitamins and sugars (by many names), that are handed out in clinics while chemo is administered in order to “maintain weight”.
Any food which has a glycemic index above fifty belongs in the “sin once in a rare while” department. Our bodies were not designed to eat refined carbohydrates. Refined, high glycemic carbs give the good carbs a bad name!
Raised insulin levels trigger an increase in cholesterol production in the liver! So if you get your cholestrol checked and it comes back high, then first off – have it re-checked and secondly, eat carefuly according to the Index. Cholestrol can make the walls of blood vessels contract, less space, so blood pressure goes up.The insulin irregularities cause blood to contain more C-Reactive proteins whose presence is not healthy for the arterial walls of your circulation (especially when one is on other strong meds – pteroharpens) and can lead to heart challenges! What an interesting vicious circle – so just eat judiciously according to the Index – keep Balanced – no Spikes!
…to your health!
more info at https://pacific-holistic.com/blood-sugar-imbalance
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Merrie Bakker B.Sc, M.Arch, CN
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Merrie Bakker – Live Blood Analyst / microscopist – Health Educator – Author – Teacher – Speaker – Editor – Hands-on-Healer – Reflexologist – Dowser – Reiki Master – Nutritional Coach – a life-long student of holistic medicine and preventative health who believes with a passion that cellular disorganization can be prevented or reversed by ortho-molecular medicine, emotional healing work, environmental detoxification (many areas of concern) and nutritional and lifestyle re-balancing (many possibilities). Combined with vigilance, monitoring and team work, clients are encouraged to detox, rebuild, re-nourish, resolve and re-educate.