The glycemic index is one of the newer tools used to measure the "healthiness" of a food item. The lower the Glycemic Index score of the food item, the healthier it is supposed to be. However, this is an oversimplification of what a low glycemic food actually is. There are many prevalent myths about the Glycemic Index and Low Glycemic foods that are encouraged by the latest 'fad' of low glycemic foods being the 'in' thing to eat. Here are five of the most common ones:
Myth #1 - The Glycemic Index Measure How Good The Food Is For Your Health:
The glycemic index is not a measure of healthiness in any way, shape or form. What it actually measures is the rate at which the food releases sugar into the system and how quickly it is digested. The faster the food is digested or absorbed, the faster it releases sugar leading to a spike in sugar level in the blood. The foods which cause a spike quickly, are given a higher GI (Glycemic Index) score, and vice versa. As such, high Glycemic foods lead to a sudden feeling of being "full" and hunger returns soon afterwards. On the other hand, low GI foods take longer to digest, giving a much longer feeling of being full. Additionally, for diabetics, it is "safer" to eat low GI foods as the sugar level does not spike rapidly and the body can absorb the food slowly. this has no bearing on any of other parts of the food. For example, a food that is generally good for your health, may be a high GI food, such as protein shakes. On the other hand, something with very high fat content might have a low GI rating giving the illusion that it is healthier when it isn't.
Conclusion : GI rating is just one of the things to keep in mind while organizing your diet. Low glycemic foods are not naturally healthier.
Myth #2 - Glycemic Index is an accurate measurement of the sugar content in a food:
This one comes from the wrong understanding of the Glycemic index itself. Some people assume that foods high in sugar case a high blood sugar level spike, and therefore have a high GI rating. The truth is, that a food with lower sugar content might actually lead to a higher spike. This is all based on the speed with which the food is absorbed and the sugar is released. Think of this as the difference between sprinting and jogging. You might sprint 300 meters, or jog 300 meters. The distance covered is the same, but the speed is very different.
Conclusion : Two foods with significantly different sugar content may have the same GI score. At the same time, two foods with different GI scores may have the same sugar content. Low glycemic foods simply release the sugar slower, not more or less of it.
Myth #3 - Diabetics Should Buy Low Glycemic Foods Without Knowing Anything More :
The truth is that the Glycemic Index scores of various foods are drastically effected by the way the foods are cooked. For example, raw carrots have a much lower glycemic index rating than cooked carrots do. As such, it is actually MORE important to know how to prepare and cook foods properly rather than simply buying low GI foods (unless they are ready to eat). As such, all diabetics and peopel looking to adopt a low GI diet should equip themselves with the proper knowledge on how to cook foods the right way.
These are just some common misconception that misrepresent what Low Glycemic foods are and how they are applicable for someone's diet. Clearly, the Glycemix Index can be a great tool for a healthier diet, but only if it is properly understood and placed in its context.
About the Author:
The author is an expert on nutritional diets and
low glycemic foods in particular. More information about
low glycemic foods and how to prepare them in a way that provides the maximum benefit to both diabetics, and non-diabetics can be found at the author's website.