An easy way to ensure you are ticking the healthy eating box is to follow a low GI diet – whether you are looking to improve your general health, have sustained energy or help prevent or manage a specific health condition, a low GI diet can help you do just that.
Research has proven that a healthy low GI diet helps people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) manage their blood glucose levelsi, blood cholesterol levelsii and reduce insulin resistanceiii – which is important for reducing the risk of long term diabetes related complications. A recent Cochrane review found that low GI diets can help people with diabetes reduce their HbA1c by 0.5%. This will help decrease the risk of common diabetic complications by ~20%. It’s no wonder that all of the evidence based recommendations for the management of diabetes from the major diabetes organisations around the world (the American Diabetes Association; Canadian Diabetes Association and Diabetes UK for example) now advise people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to use the GI or GL as part of their nutritional management. More
The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics have recently recommended a focus on lower GI foods in their recently released guidelines, Initiative on gestational diabetes mellitus: A pragmatic guide for diagnosis, management, and care. The guidelines state “Low GI diets are associated with less frequent insulin use and lower birth weight than in control diets, suggesting that it is the most appropriate dietary intervention to be prescribed to patients with GDM.”
Achieve or Maintain a Healthy Weight
Overweight and obesity are major underlying causes of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. The Diogenes study from Europe found that a moderately high protein, low GI diet is the best diet for longer-term weight management.
The quality of your diet during pregnancy can affect your child’s future health, long after it has been bornv. A poor diet during pregnancy may predispose a child to developing obesity or diabetes when he or she is older; whereas a good diet can protect themvi.
Reducing the GI of your diet is one of the safest and most effective ways of ensuring your baby grows at a healthy rate. More.
A low GI diet can improve heart health by:
- Helping to reduce post-meal blood glucose levels, improving the elasticity of blood vessel walls and blood flowvii
- Improving blood cholesterol levelsviii An analysis of 28 randomised controlled trials provided high-level evidence that high-fibre, low GI diets can significantly reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels, independent of weight loss.
- Reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, a chronic disease affecting blood vessels, by reducing inflammationix
- Aiding abdominal fat reductionx (see healthy weight)
Did you know that your blood glucose levels play an important role in how energised you feel?
High GI foods provide a quick burst of energy where as low GI foods provide longer-lasting energy.
Low GI foods are broken down slowly, trickling glucose into your system over time, providing a stable energy level. On the other hand, high GI foods cause a sudden spike in your blood glucose, which leads to peaks and troughs in energyi.
When your blood glucose and insulin move up and down rapidly or stay high it disrupts your natural blood glucose balance. Over time, this can lead to your body having trouble responding to your blood glucose levels, which may contribute to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with many health problems including; Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke and heart diseasei. The good news is that eating low GI foods will also help you with concentration, energy and make you feel fuller for longer – helping to curb those cravings to overeatii.
Increase Mental Performance
Low GI foods provide a steady supply of fuel (glucose) to the brain, improving cognitive performance. Our brains run on glucose and have essentially no reserves, so it is important that a constant supply of glucose is provided throughout the day.
For children and teens, eating a low GI breakfast has been associated with better learning and school performance by improving concentrationxii.
Maximise Sports Performance
The body’s main source of fuel is carbohydrate, which in the simplest form is glucose. The carbohydrate you eat or drink that is not used immediately for energy is stored mostly in your muscles and liver as glycogen. When your body needs fuel, it quickly breaks down the glycogen into glucose for energy.
For decades athletes have been using GI science for their sports preparation and recovery. Low GI foods have proven to extend endurance when eaten 1 – 2 hours before prolonged strenuous exercisexiii. More.
Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Studies show that consuming a high GI diet for five years or longer may increase the risk of breast cancer by 8% compared with a low GI dietxiv.
Manage Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Women suffering PCOS often develop a resistance to the hormone insulin, which is needed to keep blood glucose levels stable. Following a healthy low GI diet improves insulin sensitivity, and is one of the best and proven ways to help manage PCOS symptoms, such as unwanted weight gainxv.
Growing evidence suggests that a healthy low GI diet can prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in Australia. High GI diets have been associated with an increased risk of early onset AMDxvi.
High insulin levels that result from eating high GI foods are associated with acne and a low GI diet can help improve acne by regulating insulin imbalance. Research shows that a low GI diet can reduce acne by more than 50% in only 12 weeksxvii.
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