Monday, December 22, 2008

Low Glycemic Diets Trump Low Fiber Diets, etc.

I used to be all about the fiber. Just add fiber--for satiation, cholesterol control, and and slowing down digestion to reduce blood sugar spikes. While I'm still a big believer in fiber, I'm more interested in low-glycemic diets these days, and the research is bearing this out.

According to St. Michael's Hospital & University of Toronto research on 210 diabetic patients:

"Lowering the glycemic index of the diet improved glycemic control and risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD)."

According to lead researcher, Dr. David Jenkins of St. Michael's Hospital:

"Low-glycemic foods - beans, peas, lentils, pasta, rice boiled briefly and breads like pumpernickel and flaxseed - do a better job of managing glycemic control for Type-2 diabetes and risk factors for coronary heart disease than high-fiber diets, including whole grain breads, crackers and breakfast cereals."

For those of you who only vaguely understand the glycemic index or GI values, low glycemic foods are those that score below 50 on the glycemic index, with pure glucose scoring 100, and high glycemic foods scoring over 70.

Did you know that Cheerios, instant Cream of Wheat, and Shredded Wheat cereals are all over 70 in GI value? Did you know that Corn Flakes score 92 on the glycemic index?

Carrots and green peas are typically under the 50 point threshold, while pumpkin pushes up to 75 and parsnips are all the way up there at 97. Who knew about those less-than-flashy parsnips?!

Brown rice is around 55 points while glutinous sushi or "sticky" rice can score as high as 98 on the glycemic index. Yikes!

Anyway, my time at the Hippocrates Health Institute, with their focus on raw and highly-alkaline foods, also taught me a lot about a low glycemic diet.

For those of you following my flushing-rosacea blog posts (that bad Irish skin gene!), my flushing basically disappeared on a raw vegan diet that was highly alkaline and very low in glycemic index. Cabbage, onions, mushrooms, red peppers, and broccoli all score a measley 15 on the glycemic index.

At the Institute, we had fruit on occasion (as in once a week - I wasn't supposed to have any fruit but I did anyway, just limited my portion!). Cherries, which were served, are a reassuringly low 22 on the glycemic index, with apples and pears at 38, and bananas not bad at around 52. Note that ripe bananas are moderately alkaline while green bananas are moderately acidic (never did like those green bananas!).

So, more raw vegetables and fruits automatically give me more fiber, so now I concentrate on glycemic index values and alkalinity scores (check out this last link as it is rich with data about acid/alkaline foods)!

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