When we eat any plant food, there are carbohydrates in them. Carbohydrates break down into glucose sugar in the blood stream. The difference between spinach leaves and a candy bar is that the candy bar has more refined sugar and much less fiber, making the sugar load higher, creating a surge of energy as we digest and absorb the nutrients. Then we quickly reduce the high amount of sugar in the blood stream, lowering energy quite rapidly. The high fiber in the spinach leaves creates the glucose to move slower in digestion and absorption, creating a more even energy flow throughout the body through time. What are the facts about the glycemic load of foods? Since different carbohydrate-containing foods affect blood sugar differently, the effects can be quantified by measures known as the glycemic index and glycemic load. What do these numbers really mean — and just how useful are they?
The glycemic index (GI) assigns a numeric score to a food based on how drastically it makes your blood sugar rise. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose (sugar) given a value of 100. The lower a food's glycemic index, the slower blood sugar rises after eating that food. In general, the more processed a food is, the higher its GI, and the more fiber or fat in a food, the lower it's GI.
What it doesn't tell you is how high your blood sugar could go when you actually eat the food. To understand a food's complete effect on blood sugar, you need to know both how quickly it makes glucose enter the bloodstream and how much glucose per serving it can deliver. A separate measure called the glycemic load does both — which gives you a more accurate picture of a food's real-life impact on your blood sugar. Watermelon, for example, has a high glycemic index (80). But a serving of watermelon has so little carbohydrate that its glycemic load is only 5. Does this sound confusing? It does to me, and I am not burdened with Diabetes 2. Some nutrition experts feel that focusing on the glycemic index and load adds an unneeded layer of complexity to choosing what to eat.
The American Diabetes Association focuses on the total amount of carbohydrate in a food, rather than its glycemic index and load, being a stronger predictor of what will happen to blood sugar. Staying healthy by eating less processed foods overall, and looking at the nutrition profiles of packaged foods are really important for our self knowledge and power to control our lives. Moving the body daily, drinking lots of water, having a connection to others, and finding quiet time for meditation, mindfulness, prayer, and silence are key to reaching and overall wellness.
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