Low Glycemic Foods – A Smart Choice For Good Health

October 23rd, 2016   •   no comments   
Low Glycemic Foods – A Smart Choice For Good Health

Low glycemic foods are a smart choice for good health. Even more so when you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue. Low-glycemic foods cause a steadier rise of blood sugar and the fiber in these foods will help you feel more satisfied between meals. 

 

Blood Sugar

 

Blood sugar, or glucose, is a key source of energy and provides nutrients to your body’s organs, muscles and nervous system. During the digestion of food, your body breaks down digestible carbohydrates to sugar before absorbing and using them for energy. Carbohydrates can be either “simple” or “complex”. Simple carbohydrates are composed of simple-to-digest sugars with little real value for your body and are often considered as “bad”. Complex carbohydrates are considered “good”. They consist of longer series of sugars which takes the body more time to break down.

 

Describing carbohydrates in simple or complex is one way to classify them. Another way to classify carbohydrates is by using “glycemic index”. The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 based on how rapidly and to what extent the carbohydrates raise your blood sugar levels after eating. Foods that have a high glycemic index are quickly digested and cause serious fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. Foods that have a low glycemic index are digested more gradually, bringing a more gradual rise in your blood sugar levels.

 

Remember that blood sugar levels have an impact on your energy, concentration, performance, mood, ability to lose weight and much more??? Keeping balanced blood sugar levels is highly important for a healthy working HPA axis and to restore adrenal health.

 

Glycemic Index – The lower the number, the less of an impact the food has on your blood sugar:
55 or less = Low (good)
56- 69 = Medium
70 or higher = High (bad)

 

Blood Sugar & Adrenal Fatigue

 

A rapid rise in blood sugar levels by consuming large meals, simple carbohydrates or glycemically imbalanced meals can excessively elevate blood sugar levels. This causes the body to panic and overcompensate by releasing to much insulin. The insulin causes blood sugar levels to drop too low  pushing the body (adrenal glands) to produce more cortisol to help restore blood sugar levels. When this pattern continues over time (years), it increases the risk of developing Adrenal Fatigue and other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancer. Maintaining a diet that helps keep your blood sugar levels stable is crucial to treating Adrenal Fatigue and preventing other health conditions. If you keep your blood sugar levels stable you will have more even energy levels, you will feel more satiated between meals and your cravings for unhealthy foods are reduced.
 

Eating foods with a lower glycemic index may be beneficial for your health. It can help you live heart healthy, may lower the risk for developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It also may contribute to weight loss/maintenance  by preventing spikes in your blood sugar and thus cut cravings and urges.

 

There is a time and place however for foods with a high glycemic index, as they can help re-fuel and maximize carbohydrate stores after exercise.

 

The Glycemic Load

 

Glycemic Load

 

The glycemic load (GL) is a relatively new measurement to assess the impact of carbohydrate consumption on blood sugar levels. But it gives a more accurate picture than glycemic index alone. The GI does not show how high your blood sugar will go when you actually eat a particular food. That is obviously also determined by the AMOUNT of carbohydrate in a food. And to understand a food’s effect on blood sugar you need to know both. This is where “glycemic load” comes in.

 

The glycemic load is calculated by multiplying the grams of a carbohydrate in a serving of food by the glycemic index and then dividing it by 100.

 

  • a glycemic load of 10 or less is considered low;
  • 11-19 is considered medium;
  • 20 or above is considered high

 

Example

Watermelon has a high glycemic index (80). But there are not a lof ot carbohydrates in a serving of watermelon (6 grams). So the glycemic load is therefore only 5.

 

Factors Influencing Glycemic Response

 

The glycemic index is not cut-and-dry. First of all, the GI of a food can slightly vary from person to person. But there are other factors that influence your glycemic response. For instance your glycemic response to a food also depends on the other foods you eat with it. Consuming a food along with protein or fat slows the rate of stomach emptying and therefore foods are digested at a slower rate. Foods with acid content in them have a similar effect.

 

Fat and protein content
  • Peanut M&M’s (GI=33)
  • Jelly beans (GI=78)
  • Potato chips (GI=54)
  • Baked potato (GI=85)

Acid content

  • Sourdough wheat bread (GI = 54)
  • Wonder white bread (GI=73)

 

As you can see in the above examples in the case of m&m’s, potato chips and sourdough bread, the presence of protein, fat and acid content all reduce the food’s GI.

 

Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load Index For More Than 100 Foods (1).

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
BAKERY PRODUCTS AND BREADS
Banana cake, made with sugar 47 60 14
Banana cake, made without sugar 55 60 12
Sponge cake, plain 46 63 17
Vanilla cake made from packet mix with vanilla frosting (Betty Crocker) 42 111 24
Apple, made with sugar 44 60 13
Apple, made without sugar 48 60 9
Waffles, Aunt Jemima® (Quaker Oats) 76 35 10
Bagel, white, frozen 72 70 25
Baguette, white, plain 95 30 15
Coarse barley bread, 75-80% kernels, average 34 30 7
Hamburger bun 61 30 9
Kaiser roll 73 30 12
Pumpernickel bread 56 30 7
50% cracked wheat kernel bread 58 30 12
White wheat flour bread 71 30 10
Wonder® bread, average 73 30 10
Whole wheat bread, average 71 30 9
100% Whole Grain® bread (Natural Ovens) 51 30 7
Pita bread, white 68 30 10
Corn tortilla 52 50 12
Wheat tortilla 30 50 8

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
BEVERAGES
Coca Cola®, average 63 250 mL 16
Fanta®, orange soft drink 68 250 mL 23
Lucozade®, original (sparkling glucose drink) 95 ±10 250 mL 40
Apple juice, unsweetened, average 44 250 mL 30
Cranberry juice cocktail (Ocean Spray®) 68 250 mL 24
Gatorade 78 250 mL 12
Orange juice, unsweetened 50 250 mL 12
Tomato juice, canned 38 250 mL 4

 

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
BREAKFAST CEREALS AND RELATED PRODUCTS
All-Bran®, average 55 30 12
Coco Pops®, average 77 30 20
Cornflakes®, average 93 30 23
Cream of Wheat® (Nabisco) 66 250 17
Cream of Wheat®, Instant (Nabisco) 74 250 22
Grapenuts, average 75 30 16
Muesli, average 66 30 16
Oatmeal, average 55 250 13
Instant oatmeal, average 83 250 30
Puffed wheat, average 80 30 17
Raisin Bran® (Kellogg’s) 61 30 12
Special K® (Kellogg’s) 69 30 14

 

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
GRAINS
Pearled barley, average 28 150 12
Sweet corn on the cob, average 60 150 20
Couscous, average 65 150 9
Quinoa 53 150 13
White rice, average 89 150 43
Quick cooking white basmati 67 150 28
Brown rice, average 50 150 16
Converted, white rice (Uncle Ben’s®) 38 150 14
Whole wheat kernels, average 30 50 11
Bulgur, average 48 150 12

 

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
COOKIES AND CRACKERS
Graham crackers 74 25 14
Vanilla wafers 77 25 14
Shortbread 64 25 10
Rice cakes, average 82 25 17
Rye crisps, average 64 25 11
Soda crackers 74 25 12

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
DAIRY PRODUCTS AND ALTERNATIVES
Ice cream, regular 57 50 6
Ice cream, premium 38 50 3
Milk, full fat 41 250mL 5
Milk, skim 32 250 mL 4
Reduced-fat yogurt with fruit, average 33 200 11

 

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
FRUITS
Apple, average 39 120 6
Banana, ripe 62 120 16
Dates, dried 42 60 18
Grapefruit 25 120 3
Grapes, average 59 120 11
Orange, average 40 120 4
Peach, average 42 120 5
Peach, canned in light syrup 40 120 5
Pear, average 38 120 4
Pear, canned in pear juice 43 120 5
Prunes, pitted 29 60 10
Raisins 64 60 28
Watermelon 72 120 4

 

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
BEANS AND NUTS
Baked beans, average 40 150 6
Blackeye peas, average 33 150 10
Black beans 30 150 7
Chickpeas, average 10 150 3
Chickpeas, canned in brine 38 150 9
Navy beans, average 31 150 9
Kidney beans, average 29 150 7
Lentils, average 29 150 5
Soy beans, average 15 150 1
Cashews, salted 27 50 3
Peanuts, average 7 50 0

 

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
PASTA and NOODLES
Fettucini, average 32 180 15
Macaroni, average 47 180 23
Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft) 64 180 32
Spaghetti, white, boiled, average 46 180 22
Spaghetti, white, boiled 20 min, average 58 180 26
Spaghetti, wholemeal, boiled, average 42 180 17

 

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
SNACK FOODS
Corn chips, plain, salted, average 42 50 11
Fruit Roll-Ups® 99 30 24
M & M’s®, peanut 33 30 6
Microwave popcorn, plain, average 55 20 6
Potato chips, average 51 50 12
Pretzels, oven-baked 83 30 16
Snickers Bar® 51 60 18

 

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
VEGETABLES
Green peas, average 51 80 4
Carrots, average 35 80 2
Parsnips 52 80 4
Baked russet potato, average 111 150 33
Boiled white potato, average 82 150 21
Instant mashed potato, average 87 150 17
Sweet potato, average 70 150 22
Yam, average 54 150 20

 

To summarize

 

  • Low GI foods are great choice when battling Adrenal Fatigue as they provide natural, slowly released energy.
  • In general, the less processed a carbohydrate, the more likely it is have a low glycemic index.
  • Foods that are made with white flour and white sugar, including processed foods, tend to have a high glycemic index.
  • There are several factors that influence your glycemic reponse to foods. For instance whether you eat a food in isolaton or as part of a meal.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes low glycemic index foods and as a guide for controlling portions you can use the glycemic load.
  • See our diet page for more information about healthy eating.

 

If you want to learn more about the glycemic index, you can have a look at the glycemic index website from the University of Sydney. It provides extensive information and has a searchable database for GI values.

 

References & Further Reading

  1. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm

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