Intelligent eating with the glycemic index (GI)

The glycemic index is the measure of how fast or high the blood sugar level rises after consuming certain carbohydrates. For example, foods with a high glycemic index are white flour and sugar-containing products. Their consumption quickly triggers a high blood sugar level, because the body does not have to do much to break down the food into its constituent parts. Due to the heavily processed nature of these products, the carbohydrates dissolve almost immediately and are absorbed by the intestine without having to do much digestive work.

On the other hand, foods with a low glycemic index hardly affect blood levels, such as with legumes, whole grains, meat or fish. They all have a high satiety level and are therefore suitable for a body-conscious diet.

Healthy salad with a piece of wholegrain bread

Good and bad carbohydrates

Carbohydrates consist of sugar molecules and are the main energy source for our body. There are three types of sugar:

- Monosaccharides (glucose and fructose)

- Disaccharides (milk, malt, cane, beet and granulated sugar)

- Polysaccharides (whole grain cereals, whole grain products, vegetables, fruit, salads)

Foods with mono- or disaccharides provide quickly available carbohydrates in the intestine and therefore have a high glycemic index, while polysaccharides, also known as complex carbohydrates, must first be broken down by the digestive system so that they can be absorbed. They therefore have a low glycemic index. It is said that monosaccharides and disaccharides shoot sugar into the blood, while polysaccharides drip sugar into the blood.

What influences the glycemic index

How much a food can influence an increase in blood sugar depends on the following factors:

- The starch and fiber content of the food

- The processing of the food (e.g. raw, cooked)

- The combination with fat- and protein-rich foods

Every human reacts differently with an insulin secretion, which follows every rise in blood sugar. If carbohydrate-rich foods are consumed in combination, such as with butter and bread, the values can only be approximated because they only apply to the isolated food. Fat, for example, delays gastric emptying and thus also reduces insulin secretion. In addition, the variety, ripeness and country of origin of the food also play a role.

The role of insulin

The opponent of blood sugar is insulin. It serves as a kind of door opener for the body cells and allows sugar and protein building blocks to penetrate the cell membrane through a shaft that has now been opened. There they are brought into the mitochondria, the energy power plants of the cells, where they are burned to produce energy or used as building blocks for body structures. At the same time, the breakdown and utilization of fat slows down. Ideally, there should always be only as much sugar in the blood as the cells really need. The sugar that enters the cells serves as a source of energy and is burned during both physical and mental work.

Holding back on foods with a high glycemic index

High glycemic index foods that cause high blood sugar levels are now considered one of the major causes of obesity. This is because the high blood sugar levels triggered in return cause a very high insulin release. As a result, the blood sugar level is often pushed below its previous starting position, which leads to cravings. The consequence: We eat more frequently than would actually be necessary and inevitably consume more calories At the same time, increased insulin levels block fat burning. The "low carb" diet is based on these findings.

Foods with a low glycemic index cause only a low insulin release, corresponding to the slower absorption of sugar into the blood. Satiety is therefore long-lasting and insulin secretion is at a low level adapted to the body's need. At the same time, complex carbohydrates provide valuable fiber. These food components are not digested, but rather swell up in the intestines and provide the intestinal bacteria with food for a healthy gut bacteria and regular bowel movements.

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