The Highs and Lows of Carbohydrates Essay
How do foods affect blood sugar levels? The old myth that a sugary snack will cause a dramatic rise, and then a fall, in blood sugar levels has been overturned as researchers find out more about the physiological effects of foods on blood sugar levels. New ways to measure just how our blood sugar will react to various foods has provided insights into the prevention and control of conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease and has also revolutionised diet in sport and the foods eaten in the hours before physical exertion in sport.
The Glycaemic index (GI)
The glycaemic index (GI) is a way of assessing measuring the effects of food on blood sugar levels. After a carbohydrate food is …show more content…
The finding of the glycaemic index resulted in a few surprises. Originally it was believed that "complex" carbohydrate foods, such as bread, rice and potatoes, were digested slowly, causing a gradual increase in blood sugar levels. However, it is now known that many starchy foods are digested very rapidly and absorbed quickly. They are high G.I. foods. On the other hand, moderate amounts of many “sugary” foods (those high in sucrose), such as confectionery, do not generally produce dramatic increases in blood sugar as has always been thought. Foods containing sucrose actually show quite low-to-moderate blood sugar (glucose) responses - lower than foods like rice.
Implications for health
The finding of the glycaemic response may have implications for several conditions including diabetes, overweight and obesity, and heart disease as results from some studies suggest that foods with a low GI factor could help to control hunger, appetite and blood sugar levels.
One of the most important implications of the GI factor is in the area of diabetes. A higher intake of low rather than high G.I. foods results in slower digestion of starches and sugars and slower absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This in turn may help to