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5 Ways to Reduce the Glycemic Load
ByNitish Katal on
Apr 22, 2018
2247 views

Recently, because of the increase in the number of diabetics, heart deceases etc., the focus on low glycemic index (GI) food items has increased. The GI of the foods impact the blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity of a person and directly affects their physique goals, either weight loss or weight gain. However, GI doesn't offer the most accurate measures to calculate the impact of the food on the body. A better way to choose a good carb source is its Glycemic Load.

Glycemic Index:

Glycemic index (GI) of a food (primarily Carbohydrates) indicates how a certain food item effects the blood glucose levels.The classification of food items on the basis of their GI’s can be done as:

  • High: GI > 70
  • Medium: GI = 55-69
  • Low: GI < 55

Glycemic Load:

Glycemic load (GL) provides the measure to estimate the effect of the carbohydrates on the blood sugar levels keeping in view the GI of that carbohydrate source and the amounts consumed.

So, instead of focusing on the GI of a food item, one must more practically consider the glycemic load of the food items. So, lets focus on ways how can be actually decrease the glycemic load of the food and how can we manipulate with the GI’s of the food items.

  1. Food Processing

Most of the complex carbohydrates contains high levels of starch (amylose and amylopectin) and can be associated with lipids, proteins, fibres, micronutrients etc. The ratio of amylose and amylopectin mainly determine nutritional impact on the human, for example, potatoes have lower amylose content of 17-22% while pulses have high of 33-66%. The GI of french fries is 95 which is way much greater than sugar (GI - 70).

The way we cook our foods also influence the impact of foods on blood sugar levels, e.g. in the case of potatoes: raw, cooked and cooked then cooled potatoes, all have different impact on the blood glucose levels. When we cook potatoes, amylose is released and gets mixed with water molecules and forms a gel like structure. The process is called as gelatinization. If we allow the cooked potatoes to cool down, the solidification (retrogradation) of the gel makes them more resistant to digestion. Thus choosing the foods with high amylose content is much better option for reducing the GL of a food.

Particle sizes also influences the impact of the carbs. The carbs which consists of finer particles have high impact on the blood glucose levels as these fine structures are easy to hydrolyzate. e.g. rice flour has high GI as compared to whole rice, similarly, whole wheat flour has GI of 40 while fine wheat flour has that of 70.

 

  1. Adding Fibre

Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream from our gut, lowering the glycemic index of carbs. One can add fibre before or during the meals. Some best options are psyllium husk, chia seeds, flax seeds etc. Foods high in soluble fibre such as oats, barley, and legumes (dried beans and lentils) have low glycemic index values.

 

  1. Cinnamon

Adding 1.5 teaspoons (7.5 gm) of cinnamon with a meal can reduce its glycemic load by about 30% [3]. The regular inclusion of cinnamon in diets has proved to be most useful for persons’ with type-2 diabetes and elevated cholesterol levels and some studies show that cinnamon can improve oxidation of glucose by fat cells by 20 times.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Including 20 ml of unpasteurized ACV reduces the glycemic load of the carbohydrates by 31%. Having ACV at bedtime improves the waking glucose levels in type-2 diabetics by 4-6% [4]. The acetic acid in the ACV has anti-glycemic properties. Other benefits of ACV are: it reduces the triglycerides and increases the HDL levels, reduces blood pressure and also aids in weight loss. ACV also has good levels of Magnesium also. [5]

  1. Adding Protein to Sugary Drinks

In 2006, Dr. Wolever’s study on the absorption of glucose by adding protein and fats concludes that by adding protein and fats significantly minimises the absorption of glucose. They also found that for gram-for-gram increase in protein levels, reduces the glucose response by three times and the relation is linear. So, greater the amount of protein in the shake, the more will be the reduction in the glucose reduction. But these results are limited for shakes with Glucose/Sugar only, not for the whole foods.

 

Conclusions:

  1. Processing of the carbohydrates alter their properties and can effect their digestibility.
  2. By considering the GI and GL of the food items, one can plan their meals in a more optimises way.
  3. The structure of starch in the
  4. Adding more protein to shakes significantly reduces the absorption of the glucose.
  5. Addition of ACV, Cinnamon and Fibre reduces the glycemic load of the food.

Appendix:

A GL of 20 or more is high; a GL of 11-19 is medium; and a GL of 10 or less is low.

Food

Glycemic index (glucose = 100)

Serving size (grams)

Glycemic load/serving

Coca Cola

63

250 mL

16

Gatorade

89

250 mL

13

Cornflakes®

81

30

20

Oatmeal

55

250

13

Quinoa

53

150

13

White rice, boiled,

72

150

29

Brown rice, steamed

50

150

16

Vanilla wafers

77

25

14

Milk, full-fat

31

250 mL

4

Milk, skim

31

250 mL

4

Apple, average

36

120

5

Banana, raw, average

48

120

11

Chickpeas

10

150

3

Macaroni, average

50

180

24

Macaroni and Cheese

64

180

33

Honey

61

25

12

 

Table for more food items are available at : http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods

 

For further reading:

  1. “The factors that modify the glycemic indexes.” http://www.montignac.com/en/the-factors-that-modify-glycemic-indexes/
  2. http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/nutrition-exercise/nutrition/glycemic-index-update/
  3. http://static.diabetesselfmanagement.com/pdfs/DSM2548_1839.pdf
  4. Hlebowicz, Joanna, Gassan Darwiche, Ola Björgell, and Lars-Olof Almér. "Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects." The American journal of clinical nutrition 85, no. 6 (2007): 1552-1556 http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/6/1552.full
  5. Östman, Elin, Yvonne Granfeldt, Lisbeth Persson, and Inger Björck. "Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects." European journal of clinical nutrition 59, no. 9 (2005): 983-988. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16015276

References:

  1. Kristen Michaelis. “GLYCEMIC INDEX VS. GLYCEMIC LOAD” www.foodrenegade.com/glycemic-index-vs-glycemic-load/
  2. Mike Roussell. “The Glycemic Index Revisited.” https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/glycemic-index-revisited
  3. Anthony Wilson, “Reducing Post Meal Glucose Levels With Complementary Foods.” http://healthhubs.net/diabetes/reducing-post-meal-glucose-levels-with-complementary-foods/
  4. Östman, Elin, Yvonne Granfeldt, Lisbeth Persson, and Inger Björck. "Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects." European journal of clinical nutrition 59, no. 9 (2005): 983-988. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16015276
  5. White, Andrea M., and Carol S. Johnston. "Vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes." Diabetes Care 30, no. 11 (2007): 2814-2815. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/11/2814

Image Sources:

Cooking: http://bit.ly/2iIjoPA

Fibre: http://bit.ly/2k3WxmG

Cinnamon: http://bit.ly/2jwpZRq

Apple Cider Vinegar: http://bit.ly/1KBhxp9

Protein: http://bit.ly/2iIaW2J

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