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Diabetes and the Glycaemic Index

ALL carbohydrates become sugar. It is really a matter of how fast, or slow, the process of conversion is.
The body performs at its best when blood sugar level is kept relatively constant. If blood sugar drops too low, you become lethargic and/or experience increased hunger. This is condition is called hypoglycaemia and a condition that many diabetics suffer from.
If blood sugar is too high, this leads to tissue damage, and eventually death. This is a crisis situation. Thus, your brain signals your pancreas to secrete more insulin. Insulin brings your blood sugar back down, primarily by converting the excess sugar to stored fat.
The greater the rate of increase in your blood sugar, the more chance that the body will release an excess amount of insulin, and drive your blood sugar back down.
Therefore, when you eat foods that cause a large and rapid glycaemic response, you may feel an initial elevation in energy and mood as your blood sugar rises, but this is followed by a cycle of increased fat storage, lethargy, and more hunger.
Although increased fat storage may sound bad enough, a diabetic (with diabetes mellitus, types 1 and 2) has an even worse problem. His or her body’s inability to secrete or process insulin causes the blood sugar to rise too high, leading to a host of problems.
This is why diets propounded by Dr Robert Atkins, which are very low carbohydrate, have been so popular. By cutting out carbohydrates, you dramatically drop the levels of circulating blood sugar.
However, many find a low, or worse still, no carbohydrate diet difficult to stomach. They may be delighted to know that there is a way to rank carbohydrates by way of the increasingly internationally accepted gylcaemic index.
The theory behind the glycaemic index is simply to minimise insulin-related problems by identifying and avoiding foods that have the greatest effect on blood sugar.
It is a numerical index that ranks carbohydrates based on their rate of glycaemic response (i.e. their conversion to glucose within the human body).
The glycaemic index uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. Pure glucose serves as a reference point, and is given a glycaemic index (GI) of 100.
Glycaemic index values are determined experimentally by feeding human test subjects a fixed portion of the food (after an overnight fast), and subsequently extracting and measuring samples of their blood at specific intervals of time.
The earliest known work on the glycaemic index was done by Dr David Jenkins and his associates at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada. More recently, an effort to expand the glycaemic index has been made by Jennie Brand-Miller and her associates at the Human Nutrition Unit of the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia.

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