1 March 2006

Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

What effect good or bad, can a GI diet have on prostate cancer patients undergoing hormone treatment to limit testosterone?
We couldn’t find any published research on the links between the GI of your diet and hormone treatment for prostate cancer patients to limit testosterone. There are however, well established dietary guidelines for men to reduce their risk of prostate cancer by reducing the amount of red meat and high-fat dairy foods they eat and making sure they eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day. Reducing the GI of your diet is now added to the ‘reduce the risk’ list as prostate cancer has been linked to high circulating levels of insulin. A study from Italy and Canada reports a direct relationship between dietary GI and GL and prostate cancer risk – men whose diets were highest in GI and/or GL were more likely to develop prostate cancer even after adjusting for all other factors. The researchers explain that low physical activity levels together with high GI carbohydrate and hence higher blood insulin levels were likely responsible for the increased cancer risk (International Journal of Cancer ( 2004; 112(3):446-50). The strength of this particular study is the large number of participants and controls and the use of a reproducible and validated questionnaire. For additional information, contact Claudio Pelucchi, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Via Eritrea 62, 20157 Milan, Italy. E-mail: pelucchi@marionegri.it.

I enjoy brown rice and always assumed it had a lower GI than any kind of white rice, but I see that Basmati’s is lower. Why’s that?
The GI group is on the hunt for a brown low GI rice – stay tuned! Rice can have a very high GI value, or a low one, depending on the variety (there are around 2000 varieties worldwide) and its amylose content. Amylose is a kind of starch that resists gelatinisation. Although rice is a wholegrain food, when you cook it, the millions of microscopic cracks in the grains let water penetrate right to the middle of the grain, allowing the starch granules to swell and become fully ‘gelatinised’, thus very easy to digest. So, if you are a big rice eater, opt for the low GI varieties with a higher amylose content such as Basmati. These high-amylose rices that stay firm and separate when cooked combine well with Indian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines.
Brown rice is an extremely nutritious form of rice and contains several B vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and protein. Chewier than regular white rice, it tends to take about twice as long to cook. The varieties that have been tested to date have a high GI, so enjoy it occasionally, especially combined with low GI foods such as legumes.


Sushi rice (Koshihikari rice GI 48) is a short-grain rice with a slightly, sticky soft texture when cooked. Wild rice (GI 57) is not actually rice at all, but a type of grass seed.
Arborio rice releases its starch during cooking and has a medium GI.

Does it matter if you eat carbs after 5pm? Will this affect your fat metabolism?
The first point to make is that people with diabetes who are taking insulin or other blood glucose lowering medication should definitely not practice a carb curfew – they could develop a hypo. The second point is that there’s no scientific evidence yet to support the carb curfew theory. It’s certainly not endorsed by health authorities.

‘I think the “carb curfew” myth for weight loss arose from the body builders on one their pre-competition regimes,’ says dietitian Catherine Saxelby (www.foodwatch.com.au). ‘They are heavily into protein and denial and usually follow a semi-fast before a competition to remove surface fat and better define their muscles. Cutting out carbs like potato, pasta or rice with dinner is simply a way of cutting down on kilojoules (calories). That’s all. Here’s what you’ll save:

  • Cut out a large baked potato and you reduce your dinner intake by 580 kilojoules.
  • Cut out a cup of steamed white rice and you’re down 770.
  • Cut out a cup of cooked spaghetti and you’re down 840.
So out of a total dinner intake of say 1200 kJ for grilled steak, potato and a salad, you can knock off over 50% if you say No to the carbs. That’s why you lose weight! But there’s no point in eating an unbalanced meal – it only sets you up to snack the night away because you’re still hungry. A steak or fish fillet with non-starchy vegetables is not a balanced meal. Add a small carb portion and you’ll feel a lot better and you’ll feel satisfied. Just half of cup of rice or pasta or a small potato or even a slice of grainy bread will balance things out nicely.’

Dispelling some myths about … Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the glucose level in the blood falls below normal levels. It derives from the Greek words “hypo” meaning under and “glycemia” meaning blood glucose – hence blood-glucose level below normal. People with diabetes know all about it. If you don’t have diabetes, but you have vague health problems ranging from tiredness to depression and think you may have hypoglycemia or someone tells you that you probably have ‘low blood sugar’, see your doctor and get a proper diagnosis.
  • Hypoglycemia is far less common that once was thought in people who do not have diabetes.
  • Hypoglycemia due to a serious medical problem is rare.
  • The most common form is reactive hypoglycemia, which occurs after eating.
What you need to know about reactive hypoglycemia
What is it?
If you have reactive hypoglycemia, it means that your blood-glucose level rises too quickly after you have eaten causing the release of too much insulin. This then draws too much glucose out of the blood, your blood-glucose levels fall below normal and you suffer a variety of unpleasant symptoms from sweating, tremor, anxiety, palpitations, and weakness to restlessness, irritability, poor concentration, lethargy, and drowsiness.

How is reactive hypoglycemia diagnosed?
Diagnosis is difficult because there are no clear diagnostic criteria. Your doctor may:
  • ask you about signs and symptoms
  • test your blood glucose while you are having symptoms (The doctor will take a blood sample from your arm and send it to a laboratory for analysis. A personal blood glucose monitor cannot be used to diagnose reactive hypoglycemia.)
  • check to see whether your symptoms ease after your blood glucose returns to 70 mg/dl or 3.5 mmol/L or above (after eating or drinking)
If your doctor uses an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to diagnose hypoglycemia you have to continue it for at least 3-4 hours (the normal time is 2 hours). Your insulin levels would be measured at the same time.

How is it treated?
The aim of treating reactive hypoglycemia is to prevent sudden large increases in your blood-glucose levels so you won’t produce excessive, unnecessary amounts of insulin and your blood-glucose levels will not plunge to abnormally low levels.

You can achieve smooth, steady blood-glucose levels by changing from high- to low-GI foods. This is particularly important when eating carbohydrate foods by themselves. Low GI foods like wholegrain bread, low-fat yogurt, and low GI fruits are best for snacks. If you can stop the big swings in blood-glucose levels, then you will not get the symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia and chances are you will feel a lot better.
—Source: The New Glucose Revolution

© ® & ™ The University of Sydney, Australia


golfer_d said...

Thank you for the post. It is often difficult to find information on hypoglycemia and what kinds of diets etc should be used. Any additional information, or places to find more information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I used to suffer all the symptoms listed for reactive hypoglycemia quite severly. However, I used to suffer these symptoms not shortly after eating, but quite a while after eating. i.e. if I didn't eat very regularly (every couple of hours) I would get this symptoms. I would often feel light headed, dizzy, extremely weak, like I was going to pass out, and all the other symptoms listed there. I was also always, always hungry, never full. The symptoms would be relieved by eating, usually something sugary, as intense cravings for sweet things usually accompanied the symptoms. I had these symptoms every day. This was all despite having a well balanced, healthy diet (as verified by various GPs).

Various doctors were no help. I asked about the possibility that I had some form of hypoglycemia but all rejected this. My symptoms weren't severe enough! Yeah, like feeling like I'm going to pass out several times a day is normal!

About six months ago, I modified my diet to make it low and medium GI diet. This wasn't too difficult - just switching various things. For example, ensuring I ate a low or medium GI rice and not jasmine. Wow! It transformed my life! The symptoms literally disappeared! I felt FULL for the first time that I could ever remember. I feel trully liberated, trully free. No longer have to deal with dizziness, light headed etc on a daily basis.


Sincerely, KR.

Anonymous said...

What causes fasting hypoglycaemia?
I had a Glucose Tolerance Test (after skipping breakfast as instructed) and it was good, but my fasting blood glucose was too low.
Could this be caused by hyperinsulinaemia? I do sometimes feel a little dizzy between meals. I was diagnosed with PCOS 8 years ago but my blood tests are all normal now and my doctor doubts the diagnosis.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the magazine, but have a comment. I tried to print out the article about rice (I didn't want to print the whole magazine) but couldn't do it.

Am I just dumb? If not, please find a way of allowing readers to print out specific articles (the NSW seniors magazine seems to allow this).

Thanks; Spartacus

Anonymous said...

Suffering from hypoglycemia, I found the most telling symptom was a form of insomnia. Every morning, between 3 and 5AM, I would wake and not be able to fall back to sleep. This is a hallmark symptom of HG,as the glucose levels bottom out at about this time each morning. To rectify this, I made sure that my evening meal consisted of a stable, low GI carb (sweet potato, rice, legumes) with lots of veggies and a small portion of easily digested protein (no red meats). Night time snacking was discontinued for the most part (occasionally a piece of low GI fruit) and I am now sleeping through the night. What a relief!

Anonymous said...

The comment on waking between 3 and 5am hit a nerve with me so I will be very careful on what I eat for my evening meal from now on and am hoping low GI will be the answer. Let you know how I go in a week or two.

Anonymous said...

Being diagnosed reactively hypoglycemic in my late thirties explained the symptoms I have had since childhood. During the "5 hour GTT" that confirmed an earlier diagnosis, my blood sugar bottomed out at 36. I was still conscious, but tachycardic, disoriented and panic-stricken. An hour later, after a high protein meal, I was fine. Finding this site, 25 years later, has been a real gift. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Is anyone out there having a similar problem to me

I wa diagnosed with diabetes in the middle of December 2005. I was not overweight, but had been slowly losing weight. Since the diabetes was detected the weight has just fallen off of me and I am still losing it. If I eat more than the reading for blood sugar level increases. I should add that I am trying to control it without medication.

According to the Dr there are 2 kinds of medication
1 will knock out all the sugar and the Dr is concerned that I will pass out !
2 the other will make me lose weight which I don't need todo.

I have gone from 65ks to 52.3 in less then 3 months.

There doesn't seem to be anything
that I can do to stop the weight falling away.

I eat rice, fish, eggs andvegeatables and fruit, salad, pumpernickel bread.

Does anyone have any answers please. I am almost anorexic and am very concerned.

Dr appears not to be able to help.
Dietician at diabetese Australia couldn't anserw most of my question or assist just shoved a piece of paper at me with foods that I can eat, which I already know about and am eating.

I should add that my husband has been a diaabetic for 10 years so I am aware of the food value

Many thanks


hermin said...

hi Rosemary, i'm sorry to hear you getting frustrated & helpless with your diabetic treatment. i reckon u r losing weight because your body "discards" some glucose - the precious energy source - down the toilet. this glucose normally goes into the cells and they use it for daily activities, but this needs insulin to act as a "police" to regulate how much glucose your cells can use. so when you dont produce enough insulin, the glucose cannot be used by the cells, but runs into the kidney and "discarded".
sometimes doctors give insulin to control diabetes (esp. when other drugs dont work) - it's actually a hormone naturally present in our body, but your body doesn't produce enough of it so the insulin shots are given to help your body deal with sugar (or carbs). i dont think it knocks out the whole sugar in ur body - instead, it will help your body manage carbs better.

Anonymous said...

what is the opinion of drinking
wheat grass juice and how healthy is it