The Science of GI

The glycemic index, or GI, was invented in Canada in 1981. It was always intended to be used along with carbohydrate exchanges (which are amounts of food that contain approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate) to help improve blood glucose management. As well as provide much needed insight into the way carbohydrates in food affect blood glucose levels, the GI also helped put an end to the myth that sugars and sugary foods are worse for blood glucose levels than starches and starchy foods.

Since then there have been numerous research papers published not only in the area of diabetes management but also investigating other possible benefits including cardiovascular disease, weight management and even eye health. We have compiled some of the more recent and high level papers for some of the main benefits of GI/GL diets and also some areas where the science is emerging.

An International Scientific Consensus Summit that was attended by some of the top scientists in the field of Glycemic IndexGlycemic Load and Glycemic Response published a paper on some of the key benefits. The consensus that arose from this summit stated that “There is convincing evidence from a large body of research that low glycemic index/glycemic load (GI/GL) diets reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, help control blood glucose in people with diabetes, and may also help with weight management.”

Glycemic index, glycemic load and glycemic response: An International Scientific Consensus Summit from the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC).

Given the high prevalence of diabetes and pre-diabetes worldwide and the consistency of the scientific evidence reviewed, the expert panel confirmed an urgent need to communicate information on GI and GL to the general public and health professionals, through channels such as national dietary guidelines, food composition tables and food labels. Augustin et al, Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 May 16. pii: S0939-4753(15)00127-1