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What’s worse for you: White bread or sugar?
What you don’t know about the Glycemic
Index (GI) may be harming your health.
Understanding the GI is not just vital for controlling diabetes.
Here is what everyone should be doing to protect their health.
Better think twice before eating that sandwich made with white bread. Just one slice of white bread can cause a more dramatic spike in blood sugar than a quarter cup of sugar. Why should you care? Uncontrolled blood sugar affects your energy level, hunger, appetite, and your ability to burn or store fat, and your ability to lose weight. Elevated blood sugar can also increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Clearly everyone, not just those coping with diabetes, should be paying attention to the Glycemic Index (GI) of the foods they eat.
“Having good blood sugar control should concern all of us. Many of the comfort foods you plan to eat over the upcoming holidays may taste great but cause discomfort down the road. Continually eating foods high in the GI, such as white breads, buns, bagels and cakes, can cause fatigue and weight gain in addition to increasing your risk of diabetes,” explains well-known pharmacist Sherry Torkos, author of The Glycemic Index Made Simple: The proven way to lose weight, boost energy and cut your risk of disease (Wiley, 2007). “Did you know that 65 percent of diabetics die of heart attack or stroke? That’s because elevated blood sugar damages blood vessels in the heart and brain.”
Diabetes rates are soaring
Currently in the United States, more than 60 percent of adults are overweight, with 30 percent classified as obese. “The link between obesity and diabetes is quite strong,” says Torkos. “More than 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.” In addition to heart disease and stroke, diabetics are at increased risk of eye and kidney disease, circulatory problems and erectile dysfunction.
But diabetes does not develop overnight; a sedentary lifestyle combined with a diet of high glycemic foods can start you on the path to diabetes. This is where the glycemic index can help. By generating awareness of how certain foods affect blood sugar and promoting proper blood sugar control, the GI is an excellent tool for disease prevention.
Why a low GI diet is an important tool
The glycemic index (GI) is a not a low-carb diet or a diet at all; it is a scientifically-proven tool that can help people make better food choices.
Introduced by a Canadian researcher in the 1980s, the glycemic index (GI) is a system of ranking all forms of carbohydrates on a scale of zero to one hundred on how they affect blood sugar levels and consequently insulin levels. Foods that are broken down into sugar more slowly during digestion and do not cause sudden blood sugar and insulin spikes are ranked low on the glycemic index and provide sustained energy for the body. Examples include green leafy vegetables, most beans, apples, pears and berries, oat bran and pumpernickel bread, plain yogurt, and dark chocolate. Foods that are rapidly broken down into sugar, causing sudden blood sugar and insulin spikes are ranked high on the glycemic index and only provide bursts of energy followed by periods of fatigue. Examples include baked potatoes, jasmine rice, white bread and bagels, and most pastries and donuts.
A diet containing a steady stream of high glycemic foods can wreak havoc on blood sugar, insulin levels and subsequently the process of fat storage and appetite. The greater the fluctuations on blood sugar and insulin levels, the more negative the impact will be on health. In the long run, blood sugar fluctuations and problems with insulin can lead to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, and weight problems.
Sherry Torkos’ recommendations:
In her latest book, Torkos offers a number of simple ways to incorporate a low GI diet into your lifestyle. Among her tips are:
- Eat small, frequent meals. This will improve metabolism and blood sugar balance, which will improve your energy and mood. Aim for three meals and two snacks daily.
- Reach for fruits and vegetables first. Fresh, natural, unprocessed fruits and vegetables should form the basis of your diet. Most are low GI, especially dark green vegetables, apples, pears, cherries and berries.
- Boost fiber intake. Fiber slows down the digestion rate of carbohydrates promoting more steady blood sugar control. If you aren’t getting enough fiber in your diet (strive for 25 to 35 grams daily) the consider a supplement.
- Add cinnamon to your diet. Cinnamon’s active ingredient mimics insulin, activates its receptor and works synergistically with insulin in cells.
- Carb Control. Phase 2 Carb Controller is an extract of the white bean that has been shown to delay the digestion and absorption of starch and reduce the glycemic index of starchy foods. It may also assist in weight control when used in conjunction with a sensible diet and exercise.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise increases your body’s ability to burn glucose efficiently. Exercise also promotes a lean body.
Media Note: For additional information, or to schedule an interview with Sherry Torkos, contact Media Relations, Inc. at 612-798-7214.
Biography – Sherry Torkos
Sherry Torkos is a pharmacist, author and certified fitness instructor. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1992, and practices in the Niagara region of Ontario.
As a leading health expert, she has delivered hundreds of lectures to medical professionals and the public. She is frequently interviewed on radio and TV talk shows throughout North America and abroad. She has authored eleven books, including The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medcine, The Glycemic Index Made Simple, Winning at Weight Loss, and Breaking the Age Barrie).
For more information, visit www. sherrytorkos.com.
Topics of Discussion:
- In your latest book, you recommend the glycemic index. Can you tell us what that is?
- Who can benefit from following the glycemic index?
- How would you know if you have poor blood sugar control? Are there obvious symptoms or tests that can be done?
- How does blood sugar affect body weight?
- What research has been done to support the benefits of a low GI diet?
- Give us examples of low GI versus high GI foods.
- What supplements do you recommend for blood sugar and weight management?
- What advice do you have for dining out and holidays?
- Childhood obesity is on the rise. Is the glycemic index safe for children?
- What inspired you to write this book?