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Good Carbs or Bad Carbs? Get to Know the Glycemic Index

September 25, 2013

Low-glycemic foodGimmick diets infuriate me. Low carb, high carb, low fat, high fat, high protein, soup diets,  liquid diets, shake diets, points diets and on and on and on. It’s enough to make your head spin.

First of all, let me be clear about one thing. You die on a diet. Period. Most diets are unhealthy and downright dangerous. Weight loss is achieved not through gimmicks, but through lifestyle change and legitimate healing protocols that are prescribed and monitored by a professional, who has experience treating specific conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease or hormonal imbalance.

Second, these diets distract from a productive conversation about good carbs vs. bad carbs. All carbs are not created equal as evidenced by the Glycemic Index, a numeric scale (0-140) that indicates how quickly a particular food that contains carbohydrates can raise our blood sugar (glucose) levels.

Low-glycemic food will have a small impact on our blood sugar, while high-glycemic food will cause a fast increase in blood sugar. For example, a serving of kidney beans with a glycemic index of 42 will cause a very mild elevation of blood sugar. On the other hand, a bowl of instant mashed potatoes with a glycemic index of 118 will cause a sharp spike in blood sugar.

A considerable amount of research suggests that a diet loaded with high-glycemic foods increases our risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. One study published in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that overweight adolescents felt fuller for a longer period of time after eating more low-glycemic foods, suggesting that such foods may aid in weight loss.

At the very least, we know that the high consumption of high-glycemic foods contributes to weight gain.

For many years, we classified carbohydrates as either simple or complex. We were encouraged to eat healthy amounts of the complex carbohydrates and much smaller amounts of the simple carbohydrates. We now know that this approach is overly simplistic and somewhat misleading.

When scientists actually tested individual foods for their glycemic index score, some foods that had always been considered complex carbs, such as peeled, boiled potatoes, actually behaved more like high-glycemic foods, causing blood sugar levels to rapidly increase.

Instead of simply counting grams of carbohydrates, it pays to have a general idea about where your favorite foods with carbs fall on the Glycemic Index. Then you can eat more of the low-glycemic foods and reduce your high-glycemic food intake. Of course, it’s always best to have a full examination and consult with a clinical nutritionist to determine your ideal protocol that best fits your current age and conditions.

The Glycemic Index is one tool we can use to determine the health benefits of a particular food. It helps us measure the effects that carbohydrates have on our blood sugar levels instead of simply categorizing carbs as good or bad, and simple or complex. As we get ready for the home stretch in the year of the family, we’ll be much better equipped to take our health back if we become better educated about the real impact of certain foods on our health.

What are you favorite low-glycemic foods?

Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Prood­ian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.

Dr. Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.