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A Word to the Wise: The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a system of assigning a number to carbohydrate-containing foods according to how much each food increases blood sugar. The glycemic index itself is not a diet plan but one of various tools — such as calorie counting or carbohydrate counting

There are many choices for gluten free foods, including bread. I love bread. So, finding a gluten free product made me excited. Oh, boy, I can have a sandwich. After gaining five pounds, however, I remembered the glycemic index which quantitates how the body reacts to certain foods --- such as how much blood sugar goes up. The GI of sugar is 100. Most foods fall below 100, including regular white bread. But there are some gluten free products that are very close to 100, including rice flour, an ingredient in many gluten free breads.

In general, the more refined a carbohydrate is, the higher the glycemic index or GI. On the other hand, the more fiber in a product, the lower the glycemic index.

Insulin is produced by the pancreas to handle high blood sugar. It pushes the sugar into cells and encourages the body to produce fat. High glycemic foods raise blood sugar faster than do low GI foods. High blood sugar results in more insulin production and a rapid drop in blood sugar which causes cloudy thinking, lethargy, and mood swings.

The bottom line is awareness. Read labels. Look at both calories and carbs in gluten free starches like pasta and bread. The calories in some gluten free breads, two slices—and they are often quite small, can be 190 calories. You want most of the food you eat to be mid to low on the glycemic index scale.

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