Sometimes determining what is an optimal food can be tricky to navigate, particularly with all the advertising and health claims that packaging makes nowadays.
An easy and effective method of determination is utilizing glycemic index and glycemic load. Glycemic index is a measure of the speed at which carbohydrates, more specifically glucose, is absorbed into the bloodstream, as compared to pure glucose. Glycemic load is the measure of the glycemic index of that food, plus factoring in fiber content and serving size.
The classic example is a carrot: the glycemic index is 71, meaning that there is a lot of potential for sugar in the food. However, the glycemic load of a carrot is 6, meaning that there is almost no impact on blood sugar whatsoever (unless you intend to juice it, or eat three pounds of carrots in one sitting).
Why should we care about that?
When sugar is introduced to the bloodstream, the speed and volume determines how much insulin the body is supposed to secrete. When an item is higher in sugar, more insulin is secreted more rapidly; if this happens to the body for long periods of time, the cells tend to go “deaf” in their sensitivity to insulin, meaning that there is a higher demand for an increased amount of insulin for the same type of reactivity as was previously seen. This "deafness" is hallmark for type II diabetes, referred to as insulin resistance.
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