1 September 2006

Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

I am 53 and not overweight, but I constantly feel tired and run down. And my mood can get low at times. Would low GI eating be of benefit to me? My doctor says I am healthy, I am just going through menopause. I do weight training and I am trying to walk more. I have a sister who is diabetic with high blood pressure and a sister and brother with high cholesterol. I don’t want to end up with these problems which seem to run in the family. I want to have a healthy middle to older age.
The Low GI Diet co-author, Joanna McMillan-Price says: ‘Yes we do believe a low GI diet would benefit you enormously. Carbohydrate-rich foods have been shown to be important in brain function and in improving mood, while low GI carbohydrates specifically can help you to maintain constant energy levels over the course of the day. They also help keep cholesterol levels down and there is increasing evidence to show they play an important role in preventing diabetes. Since you are also doing a moderate amount of exercise you will find that you need your carbs to keep you going. All up therefore a low GI diet sounds perfect for you. A low GI diet is not just important for those who need to lose weight, but for all of us for good health. The only difference will be in the quantity of food that you eat. Make sure you focus on consuming as many healthy foods as possible and use the GI as a tool to choose the best quality carbohydrates. You can use the database on our website www.glycemicindex.com to search specific foods or look to one of the Glucose Revolution books for more advice on how to put a low GI diet into practice. Since you don’t need to lose weight, perhaps Low GI Eating Made Easy is the one for you. Best of luck!’

Does it matter if you eat less protein than is recommended in the 12-week action plan on The Low GI Diet? A man of my husband's weight is supposed to eat 8 carb, 8 protein and 4 high fat serves. There’s only so much protein you can jam into a roll at lunch time so I’m having trouble fitting enough into the earlier part of his day. Do you have any suggestions on easy to make/handle high protein nibbles he can munch in the afternoon so he won't be tempted to go back to eating hot chips?
Joanna says: ‘Don’t get too caught up on trying to measure exact portions of carbs, protein and fat – it is there as a guide only. We recommend an increase in your protein intake in order to help in eating less overall – this is because protein foods are known to be satiating and keep you full and satisfied for longer. If your husband is not finding he is hungry between meals then his protein intake is absolutely fine. Remember the most essential part of your eating plan is to listen to your body and respond to your appetite cues. So long as he is not eating too much fat or resorting to carb-rich, high GI snacks to fill him up then all is well. If he is hungry between meals then you can try boosting his protein at meals or choose to snack on a low fat flavoured milk or yoghurt, a handful of nuts and dried fruit, carrot sticks with hummous or a low GI snack such as fruit.’

Joanna McMillan-Price

I heard people with diabetes should eat between meal snacks and supper before going to bed – is that true?
Alan Barclay from Diabetes Australia says: ‘Children with type 1 diabetes and people using some of the older types of insulin’s often need to have in between meal snacks and a supper to prevent them from going hypo. People with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes probably don’t need to snack. In fact, evidence is mounting that in between meal snacks lead to weight gain, which may in turn make your diabetes worse: aim to have three moderate size meals based around low GI carbohydrates to keep your blood glucose levels stable throughout the day. If you find you are still going low between main meals, ask your diabetes team to review your blood glucose lowering medications.’

Alan Barclay

Look it up in our A–Z: The GI Glossary (continued)


Ketones Our bodies need to maintain a minimum threshold level of glucose in the blood to provide energy for our brain and central nervous system. If for some reason, glucose levels fall below this threshold, (a very rare state called hypoglycemia) the brain will make use of ketones – a by-product of the breakdown of the body’s fat stores. Ketones are strong acids, and when they are produced in large quantities they can upset the body’s delicate acid-base balance. They are normally released into the urine, but if levels are very high or if the person is dehydrated, they may begin to build up in the blood. High blood levels of ketones may cause fruity-smelling breath, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, and fast, deep breathing. In severe cases, it may lead to coma and death. In a pregnant woman, even a moderate amount of ketones in the blood may harm the baby and impair brain development. Large amounts of ketones in the urine may signal diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that is caused by very high blood glucose levels.

Ketosis is the metabolic state when the body is burning fat for fuel. Normally carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for your brain, heart and many other organs.

Kilojoule or kJ is the metric system for measuring the amount of energy produced when food is completely metabolised in the body. The Calorie is the imperial measure of energy, and can be calculated from the number of kilojoules by dividing by 4.2.

Lipids or fats are found in the blood and the walls of all of the body’s cells. The most common lipids are cholesterol and triglycerides (sometimes called triacylglycerols).

LDL cholesterol see Cholesterol

Millimole (mmole) is a unit for measuring the concentration of glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and other substances in a certain volume of blood – usually 1 litre (L).
Mono-unsaturated fat is found in large quantities in olive and canola oil, and some nuts and seeds. Like all fats, mono-unsaturated fats are high in kilojoules. Mono-unsaturated help lower LDL cholesterol levels and are thought to help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.


Neville said...

I am male, aged 73 and enjoy good health. However I find that over the past 15-20 years I suffered from night cramps. After reading an article on honey some months back and seeing our Bush Honey has a reasonably low GI, I tried taking a desertspoonful of honey on retiring each night, ( The lack of quinate tablets helped) to see what affect this might have.
The cramps have all but dissappeared and the night sweats I have suffered for years have also gone. Would this have been due to due to fluctuating glucose levels during the night? Any comments would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Hi.I am new to the GI way of eating.It's been about 3 weeks and in spite of food intolerances(mainly wheat and cows' milk) I am so happy with the variety and amount of food I can eat.I was on a low carb diet for years and felt so deprived.The only problem I'm having is that many of the wheat free low GI brand name foods on your lists are not available here in the U.S.I've tried contacting some companies to find out if their products are low GI.I guess the low GI diet is not as popular here and they say testing is expensive.Any suggestions?
Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Re wheat free/gluten free eating: It is a problem for people wanting to eat a low GI gluten-free diet that so few gluten-free/wheat-free products have been GI tested. But there's a whole world out there of healthy low GI, gluten-free foods fo explore and enjoy. Here are some ideas for starters.

Fruit and vegetables
Temperate climate fruits – apples, pears, citrus (oranges, grapefruit) and stone fruits (peaches, plums, apricots) – all have low GI values. Tropical fruits – pineapple, paw paw, papaya, rockmelon and watermelon tend to have higher GI values, but their glycemic load (GL) is low because they are low in carbohydrate.
Leafy green and salad vegetables have so little carbohydrate that we can’t test their GI. Even in generous serving sizes they will have no effect on your blood glucose levels. Higher carb starchy vegetables include sweet corn (which is actually a cereal grain), potato, sweet potato, taro and yam, so watch the portion sizes with these. Most potatoes tested to date have a high GI, so if you are a big potato eater, try to replace some with lower GI starchy alternatives such as sweet corn, yam or legumes. Pumpkin, carrots, peas, parsnips and beetroot contain some carbohydrate, but a normal serving size contains so little that it won’t raise your blood glucose levels significantly.

Breads and cereals
Opt for breads made from chickpea or legume based flours. For example chapattis made with besan (chickpea flour) have a low GI. If you make your own bread, try adding buckwheat kernels, rice bran and psyllium husks to lower the GI. Most gluten-free breads seem to be better toasted than used to make sandwiches.
Breakfast cereals containing pysllium husks are likely to have a lower GI – you could also add a teaspoon or two of pysllium to you usual cereal. To date there are just a few gluten-free breakfast cereals on our database that have a low GI. If you do have a higher GI gluten-free cereal, combine it with lots of fruit and low fat yoghurt or low fat milk, to lower the GI.
Noodles are a great stand-by for quick meals, a good source of carbohydrate, provide some protein, B vitamins and minerals and will help to keep blood glucose levels on an even keel. There are several low GI gluten-free options available fresh and dried.
 Buckwheat (soba) noodles
 Cellophane noodles, also known as Lungkow bean thread noodles or green bean vermicelli, are made from mung bean flour.
 Rice noodles made from ground or pounded rice flour, are available fresh and dried.
Gluten-free pastas based on rice and corn (maize) tend to have moderate to high GI values so opt for pastas made from legumes or soy. As for wholegrains, try buckwheat, quinoa, lower GI varieties of rice such as basmati and sweet corn. Currently there are no published values for amaranth, sorghum, and tef. Millet has a high GI.
Minimise refined flour products and starches irrespective of their fat and sugar content such as crispy puffed breakfast cereals, crackers, biscuits, rolls, most breads and cakes or snack foods. Limit high GI snacks such as corn and potato chips, rice cakes, corn thins and rice crackers

Legumes (pulses) including beans, chickpeas and lentils
When you add legumes to meals and snacks, you reduce the overall GI of your diet because your body digests them slowly. So make the most of beans, chickpeas, lentils, and whole and split dried peas.

Although nuts are high in fat (averaging around 50 per cent), it is largely unsaturated, so they make a healthy substitute for foods such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, potato chips and chocolate. They also contain relatively little carbohydrate, so most do not have a GI value. Peanuts (actually a legume) and cashews have very low GI values.

Low fat dairy foods and calcium-enriched soy products
Low fat milk, yoghurt and ice-cream or soy alternatives provide sustained energy, boosting your calcium intake but not your saturated fat intake. Check the labels of yoghurts, icecream and soymilks as many contain wheat-based thickeners.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am new to the GI way of eating.
I have a mild case of acne and I was wondering if I would benefit from these low GI diets.
If so, what can I eat and what can't I eat?
Any advice?

Anonymous said...

Re night sweats: These can be a sign of low blood glucose levels. A spoonful of a low GI pure floral honey might reduce nocturnal dips in blood glucose levels. However, in all such matters it's a good idea to get proper medical advice.

Anonymous said...

Re acne: The jury is still out on the acne diet link. But the debate is ongoing. After Prof Loren Cordain and his colleagues published ‘Acne Vulgaris: A Disease of Western Civilization,’ Archives of Dermatology/Vol 138, December 2002) we received a number of questions asking where you can read more about GI and acne. Cordain believes the Western diet filled with refined carbs permanently boosts the production of the hormone insulin, which leads to acne. By elevating growth factors and hormones, insulin indirectly stimulates the overproduction of oil and skin cells in pores. Clogged pores nourish bacteria, forming infected blemishes. Follow up research on GI and acne is underway but nothing has yet been published. However, you can read Cordain’s article in full on www.thepaleodiet.com/articles/Acne%20vulgaris.pdf

Anonymous said...

I have been eating low GI for several months now and have noticed major improvements in my physical and mental well being. I am also a pesco vegetarian and was wondering what recommendations could be made to someone who engages in body building on such a diet. My specific concerns are adequate protein consumption.

Anonymous said...

Body building and adequate protein: Miles, you should probably have a chat to a registered dietitian about adequate protein intake for bodybuilding on a vegetarian diet that includes fish. We know from David Lee Nall's story in August GI News that bodybuilders need plenty of protein along with those low GI carbs.

Anonymous said...

I am a 29 year-old female. I was on a low-carb diet for about 2 years and lost 20 lbs. It was becoming hard to maintain this diet and I was worried about it being unhealthy...so I stopped...and gained about 10 pounds. I then came across the GI diet and thought this sounded like a a very good option for me and started trying to understand and follow it and gained another 10 lbs. So I thought maybe I wasn't quite grasping it and decided to start following the meal plans from the 12 week GI diet book. I'm on week 9, and I haven't lost any weight. I follow the meals and snacks exactly, and measure out all my portions. Is it possible that my body is still adjusting to eating carbs again?? Do you have any advice/tips?