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Body Mass Index PDF Print E-mail

The body mass index is a measure used to broadly assess whether a person is at a healthy weight or not. It is not very accurate, because it treats all weight - muscle, fat, bone, etc. - the same. However, by taking into account both height and weight, it does provide a ratio number that can be useful for discussing health risks and desirable targets.

High and Low GI Effects of the Body PDF Print E-mail

In an effort to keep blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible, the body will sensitize the pancreas to produce a surge of insulin to take care of the huge increase in blood glucose levels.  This extra insulin then rapidly lowers blood glucose levels, creating a “witches hat” type of graph. Blood glucose levels surge up the one side of the “witches hat” and then come screaming down the other side.   If this surge in glucose is repeated several times a day, the pancreas will eventually over-produce insulin and the consequent drop in blood glucose levels could then result in reactive hypoglycaemia, and / or type 2 diabetes.


High GI Graph


Low GI foods, on the other hand, are digested and absorbed slowly, but steadily, and thus only produce small increases in blood glucose levels.  Please see Graph 2 below.

Low GI Graph

This also means that the body only needs a small, steady stream of insulin to control the small increase in blood glucose levels. From the graphs, it is clear that the carbohydrate supplied by the bread would only give fuel to the body cells for about 45 minutes, whereas the baked beans would give a smaller, but steady trickle of fuel for  2½  - 3 hours.

Thus a meal containing baked beans would give much better blood glucose control and keep one feeling full for much longer than a meal based on bread. In addition, the body would need much less insulin to deal with the carbohydrate from the baked beans, than for the large amount of carbohydrate that is dumped into the blood stream by the bread.

Consequences of Eating High GI Meals PDF Print E-mail

When high GI foods make the body produce high levels of insulin in the blood stream, the body also releases substances that push fat circulating in the blood,  into storage in fat cells. This means that body fat is increased and body weight is gained. In addition...

Glycemic Index Categories PDF Print E-mail

High GI foods have GI values above 70:  regular breads, bread rolls, rice cakes, corn thins, cream crackers, matzos, melba toast, cakes, rusks, muffins, cake flour, whole wheat flour, mealiemeal porridge, “krummelpap”, polenta, most cereals, oats-so-easy, sports and energy drinks, melons, litchis.

Intermediate GI foods have GI values between 56 and 69: pita bread, ciabatta, croissant, rye vita, wholewheat crackers, couscous, fizzy drinks, most fruit juices, paw paw, banana.

Low GI foods have GI values below 55: seed loaves, pure rye breads, Provita, toritilla, cooked or tinned dry beans used as part of a meal, soya flour, durum wheat pasta, most rice, “stampkoring”, barley, Bokomo and No Name Brand oats, all bran cereals, high fibre bran cereals, wholewheat Pronutro (original and apple bake), popcorn, yoghurt (plain and fruit flavoured), all vegetables, citrus fruit, mangoes, berries, apples, pears, grapes, kiwi, etc.

For a comprehensive listing of the GI of most foods eaten in South Africa see the SOUTH AFRICAN GLYCEMIC INDEX AND LOAD GUIDE (GIFSA 2007), available from most bookstores, some dietitians and pharmacies and from this website.

Finetuning Carbs... PDF Print E-mail

With more and more evidence accumulating on the benefits of better blood glucose control using slower release carbohydrate containing foods, every person, and particular those that are overweight, should make it their business to understand the concept of the glycemic index.

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