Foods High on the Glycemic Index
One thing that Atkins, South Beach, and this blog can agree on is that foods high on the glycemic index can cause your body major problems. Even some supposedly healthy ones like legumes and whole wheat can cause sharp spikes in your blood sugar levels and prompt increased levels insulin to be released into your bloodstream.
While the glycemic index is not the best tool to use when deciding what you should eat, it can provide a basis for understanding the effect that these foods can have on your body.
Foods High on the Glycemic Index
According to the Glycemic Index published by Mendosa, a glycemix index of 70 is high. This includes your classic high carbohydrate foods like pretzels, chocolate cake, bagels, and more.
However, it also includes some surprises. Classic whole wheat bread can qualify as being high on the glycemic index. Some health gurus will insist whole wheat bread is better for you because it’s a complex carb and the glucose is not released into the blood stream as quickly. Unfortunately though, this isn’t the case.
Less glucose is released into the blood at a time, but it’s still more than your body needs. This can be quite confusing, but there are lots of supposedly healthy foods that can actually cause health problems, particularly if you’re sensitive to carbohydrates.
These foods are quickly turned into simple glucose molecules when you eat them. They are then released into the bloodstream, and your blood sugar levels heighten. The precise amount that it goes up depends on how much glucose is put into the bloodstream. Your body responds then by releasing insulin into the bloodstream to bring everything back into balance.
Most of the time, when you consume foods high on the glycemic index, your body can’t use all of the glucose. Your body then shunts the extra glucose into the muscles and liver. Once all of these areas are satisfied, the remaining glucose is transformed into fat for later use.
Effects of Foods High on the Glycemic Index
Your body needs some carbohydrates to survive. However, you can get everything you need from low carbohydrate sources like vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables and green leafy vegetables provide some carbohydrates, but these do not cause nearly the spikes in blood sugar levels as orange juice and whole wheat bread.
Now, if you’re thinking that maybe this isn’t a big deal, let’s take a look at what the consequences can be.
Foods high on the glycemic index often mask hunger pangs and can actually cause you to want to eat more. This is a combination of the high sugar levels and the refined carbohydrates, but it is present even n supposedly healthy foods.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, these foods can actually result in out of control cravings that cause you to crave more sugar. Not only that but they age you without giving you anything more than a sweet taste.
Most experts also agree that foods high on the glycemic index result in increased risks for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and more. The effect can quickly become cumulative, meaning that while you may have only enjoyed one doughnut the whole day, the fact that you also had spaghetti with garlic bread and a side of chocolate cake the day before makes that one doughnut much worse.
The glucose typically goes through the body quickly, and when your body has replenished its stores, everything else gets made into fat. This fat often settles around the organs and the stomach, creating the ever dreaded muffin top and saddle bags. Additionally, these foods can lead to inflammation throughout the body. Arthritis and degenerative diseases like it are also commonly associated with diets high on the GI.
Making the Change
Eliminating these foods is one of the best ways to see results. It can be difficult to do at first. But the best solution is to start working in substitutions. Spaghetti can be substituted for spaghetti pasta while you can switch to lettuce wraps instead of bread. You should give yourself two or three weeks to make the adjustment, though it will take a couple months to make your changes long term.
The point is that you are saving yourself from a myriad of diseases by avoiding these foods. While you may miss the energy boosts and the sweet flavors, in the long run you will be more grateful for being able to live an active life instead of a sedentary one.
David Mendosa, “Revised International Table of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values,” Mendosa, http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm (2008).
Joseph Mercola, “Is Your Food Ageing You?” Mercola, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/13/is-your-food-making-you-old-by-ori-hofmekler.aspx (2011).
Web MD, “Glycemic Index and Diabetes,” Web MD, http://diabetes.webmd.com/glycemic-index-good-versus-bad-carbs (2012).