According to the Expert: the Gi Diet - Your Guide to Better Health

You may have heard of the GI diet before; it’s been linked to weight loss, a reduction in the risk of diseases including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and improvement of energy levels and mood. Less of a diet, more a long-term lifestyle choice, we spoke to our Expert, Dr. Elisabet Nordstrom, to get the lowdown.

WHAT IS THE GLYCAEMIC INDEX?
The GI, or the Glycaemic Index, is a measurement of how quickly and to what extent certain foods raise your blood sugar levels. The Index runs from 0 to 100, with high GI foods (those over 70 on the scale) being quickly broken down by the body causing a spike in blood sugar levels. Low GI foods (those under 55) are broken down and absorbed more slowly into the blood stream, resulting in a lower and longer-lasting rise in blood sugar and the need for less insulin.

WHY ARE HIGH GI FOODS BAD FOR YOU?
Originally designed for diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels, dieters use the Glycaemic Index to limit their intake of high GI foods. High GI foods are “bad” because they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, which prompts the pancreas to release the hormone insulin. Insulin’s job is to remove sugar from the bloodstream and direct it to your cells to be used as energy. If it’s not put to use, it’s stored in the body as fat.

In addition, these rapid spikes in blood sugar also lead to rapid drops in blood sugar and insulin levels, causing food cravings, which can lead to unhealthy snacking.

SO WHAT CAN YOU EAT? 
  • - Low GI foods include beans and legumes, such as lentils, most fruits and low-starch vegetables, nuts and dairy.
  • - Moderate GI foods include sweet potatoes, whole grain breads and cereals, like barley, rye bread and brown rice, ripe bananas and some tropical fruits.
  • - High GI foods include white bread and white rice, boiled potatoes, many breakfast cereals and most melons.

SO IT’S EASY AS THAT?
A low GI diet isn’t completely clear-cut. Many foods that are high in sugar or fat have a low GI – like pizza for example – but it’s still not good for you. This means that you can’t toss the concept of calories out of the window completely. You’ll still need to consider nutritional value and keep portion-size in mind. 

The way foods are processed, prepared and served will also impact a food’s GI ranking. For example, ripe fruits have a higher GI than green ones, overcooked pasta ranks higher than al dente – and so on.

You also need to think about how you combine food. A good tip is to pair high protein food with wholegrain carbohydrates, as protein will slow down the absorption of carbohydrates.

And – of course – you still need to exercise. No diet negates the need for aerobic exercise several times a week!



3 LOW GI PRODUCTS BY ORIFLAME
Natural Balance Shakes
Natural Balance Soups
Natural Balance Bar
Words by: Photographs by: Getty images