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The Glycaemic index explained

Lots of confusion surrounds the G.I which is simply a ranking of carbohydrate foods based on their overall effect on blood sugar levels.

As we know it is important to keep our blood sugar (glucose) levels steady throughout the day and choosing meals and snacks based on lower G.I foods can help us do this.

Foods are based on a scale of 1 – 100 according to the extent at which they raise blood sugar levels after eating.  Foods with a high G.I are those which are rapidly absorbed and result in exaggerated swings in blood sugar.  Low G.I foods produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, are slowly digested and keep you feeling full longer.

The reference foods are glucose or white bread which have a score of 100 (a reason why that white bread jam sandwich is a no no)!

Low ranges are 0-55
Medium            56-59
High                  70+

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The trouble is you can’t rely on the G.I alone to tell you if a food is healthy or not.  For example an ice – cream or mars bar will have a lower G.I rating than a baked potato because they release their sugar more slowly BUT this is because fat or protein slows down the release of sugar from food, so unhealthy high fat foods often score low on G.I.  So if you are thinking of using the G.I you need to think of the whole meal  that you are eating, not just one food.  A high G.I baked potato becomes healthier with the addition of some protein, healthy fat or fibre such as chicken breast and steamed vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil.
Another quick way to work out possible effects on your blood sugar is to think how refined a food is.
 If it contains lots of sugar, salt, preservatives or additives it will upset your blood sugar levels and cause symptoms such as headaches, weight gain, tiredness and mood swings.
Real  food is not meant to keep for a long time, is usually either full of protein, fibre/bulk to satisfy our hunger and keep us feeling full for longer. Think about eating a large plate of vegetables with say a chicken breast.  Once you have eaten it you will feel full and wouldn’t want to be constantly eating more and more of it.
Now consider say, pizzas, crisps, “low fat but high sugar” snacks and meals, you can keep overeating these types of food without ever really feeling satisfied because of the effect on your blood sugar that they create.
The more simple the make up of food the better so sticking to lean protein, vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds and wholegrain such as oats, quinoa and rye will keep you on the right track to achieving steady blood sugar levels, weight management and good health.