Using The Glycemic Index

Researchers at the University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia, are calling for a reassessment of the value of the glycemic index in the treatment of diabetes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 1994). They cite 11 medium to long-term studies that have specifically used the glycemic index (GI) approach to determine clinical gains in diabetes or lipid management. All but one study produced positive findings.

On average, low-glycemic index diets reduced glycosylated hemoglobin by 9%, fructosamine by 8%, urinary C-peptide by 20%, and day-long blood glucose by 16%. Cholesterol was reduced by an average of 6% and triglycerides by 9%. Although these are only modest improvements, the changes to the diet were equally minor.

Unlike high-fiber diets, low-GI diets are user friendly. As part of studies on the glycemic index of foods, the researchers determined the glycemic and insulin responses to 44 foods containing simple sugars. The mean GI compared favorably with that of bread (GI = 73, glucose = 100), and there was often no difference in GI between the sweetened and unsweetened products.

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