What is Glycemic Load?

For a long time, nutritional content has been listed on the labeling of processed foods, and this listing includes sugar content. On a nutritional label, the sugar content tells you, how much glucose, fructose, or other form of sugar is in a given serving of food.

Here’s the only issue with this: Not all sugar is created equal. A teaspoon of sugar in the form of white table sugar hits the blood stream a lot faster than a comparable amount of sugar contained in an apple. Why? Refined white sugar requires little digestion, and is absorbed very rapidly by the body. By contrast, the sugar contained in an apple must first be digested before being absorbed by the body, a process that takes much longer to happen.

In light of the recent diabetes epidemic, doctors, nutritionists, and scientists have sought a way to understand foods that goes beyond their sugar content, and assesses how the sugar impacts the body. As we know, diabetes is caused by chronic overexposure to sugar in the blood, a problem made worse by sudden spikes in blood sugar. The glycemic load is an estimate of how a given food will impact the blood sugar. It’s calculated by factoring in both how quickly a food will be metabolized into sugar and how much sugar would be generated by the food.

If a high glycemic food is consumed, it hits the blood stream faster and raises blood sugar levels higher than a low glycemic food. In response, the pancreas has to work hard to produce insulin, and it has to do so quickly. If this cycle is repeated too frequently for too long a period of time, it can lead to Type II Diabetes.

In general, foods with a low glycemic index include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and unprocessed grains. Foods with a high glycemic index include obvious culprits, such as candy, soda, and other sweets, but also refined grains as found in bread and pasta, and even some starchy root vegetables, such as potatoes.

If you still have questions, your naturopathic doctor at Charm City Natural Health can help you design a diet plan that will help you avoid illness and keep working towards health.