by Tarilee Cornish, CNP
Rather than count grams of carbohydrates, we can limit the down side of carbohydrates by preferring particular types of carbohydrates according to how they influence our blood sugar.
For years, we divided carbohydrate types into simple and complex, with the thought that complex carbohydrates were healthier. Though this division sorts out the least nutritious foods from the most nutritious foods, it is simplistic and it fails to give us an understanding of how those carbohydrates will function in our body.
With the cheap availability of carbohydrate foods and years of promotional efforts to get people to eat lower fat, our society has been growing heavier from an over-indulgence in sweets and starches. The weight loss trend for the last decade or more has been to count carbohydrates and often to try to eliminate them. The body needs some carbohydrates, so this is an unhealthy approach. What we can do instead, is minimize the impact that carbohydrates have on our blood glucose levels.
It is now understood that foods that rapidly increase our blood sugar cause a corresponding surge in insulin, the body’s mechanism for lowering blood sugar. Insulin surges result in fat storage and compromise health in other ways as well. The “glycemic index” rates foods according to the speed at which they’re converted into sugars. The higher the glycemic index (GI) of a food, the faster it is converted into sugar.
One of the ways that eating low on the glycemic index can help our health is by preventing or lessening intense cravings for sugar and starch. This is perhaps due to a higher satiation effect from low glycemic foods.
Reducing high glycemic foods that spike blood sugar levels can also benefit those who suffer from candida overgrowth by minimizing the nourishment to yeast and fungus.
Other health risks that are reduced include: high blood triglyceride issues, candida overgrowth, obesity, immune suppression, high cholesterol. hypoglycemia, learning disabilities, food allergies, atherosclerosis, cancer, and fatigue. Recent studies suggest that insulin may be a cancer promoter while also stressing arterial health so lowering high glcyemic foods could also potentially lower our risk of cancer and heart disease.
There are many contradictory glycemic ratings for common foods, and I recommend you review some of the available lists and use them as a general guide. There are multiple online glycemic index (GI Index) resources.