"Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;...
and not today's pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man."
~James H. West

Low Food List: GI and GL

Managing your blood sugar levels is the key ingredient if you want to manage your weight, your mood, cravings and feel full of energy.
Source: Glycemic Edge
Understanding the glycaemic index and the glycaemic load of a food or a meal or a snack is the important first step.

The glycemic index relates to how quickly a food is broken down into glucose or simple sugars and enters the blood stream.  The glycemic load relates to the total glucose "load" of the meal and considers portion size and the effect of combining foods.

Patrick Holford has made it easy to check whether a food is low GL or not:  you can use this great tool to help you construct your meal plan: GL database

Or to get a general idea: The Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a great article which includes a full glycemic index and glycemic load table.

I have attached the link here for your convenience: International Table of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values (Foster-Powell, Holt, Brand-Miller, 2002).  This list can be especially useful for anyone managing diabetes.

Some interesting facts about "blood sugar".

  • Glucose (blood sugar) is the main fuel your body uses to produce energy
  • Insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas) helps regulate blood sugar levels and attempts to keep them within a "healthy range".
  • Uncontrolled (too high and too low) blood sugar levels can lead to serious health complications, like diabetes, hyperglycaemic, hypoglycaemia, coma, blindness, heart disease, kidney disease, and can also affect the health of ovaries and the reproductive system.

Choosing Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrate Guide:

Important information to help you manage your blood sugar levels, manage
your energy levels, control your mood and manage your weight!

Carbohydrates are essential in the diet, they provide the primary source of energy or
fuel for the brain and red blood cells. Most carbohydrate rich foods will also
contain other important vitamins and minerals essential for health and life e.g. B
vitamins. Examples of Carbohydrate containing foods are fruit, vegetables and grains.

All carbohydrates were not created equal! The type of carbohydrate and the amount
eaten are key, and will directly affect on your blood sugar. Different carbohydrates are
broken down by the body and utilized differently (this is measured with Glycaemic
Index or Load). All carbohydrates are broken down into “simple sugars” such as
glucose, which then enters the blood stream and is either used or stored. The rate
that this happens directly impacts on energy levels and weight, among other things, in
the body.

Some carbohydrates are broken down very easily and will dramatically affect blood glucose levels, e.g. sugar or refined foods. The best carbohydrates to choose are those that are “broken down” or released slowly e.g. oats or whole grains. Generally those that exist in their whole form or most natural state, for example brown rice or a fresh apple. Some of these will be more “slow releasing” than others, and should be chosen in accordance with your lifestyle e.g. it is fine to choose the fast releasing carbohydrates before exercising if you are an athlete, but you wouldn’t want these if you were just sitting behind your desk. Eat only small amounts at a time of other types of carbohydrates, i.e. processed and refined forms such as sweets. When you control your “blood sugar” or blood glucose levels you can manage your weight, your energy levels and your mood.

This list below outlines some of the best carbohydrate choices (in terms of managing blood glucose in particular). Enjoy these in their whole or most natural form:

Brown rice (especially basmati)
Pumpernickel bread
Sourdough rye
Wheat tortilla
Wholemeal rye bread
Oatcakes/ Oat Crackers (Nairns)
Taco shells
Wholemeal wheat pasta

Berries (black berries, blue berries,
raspberries, strawberries)
Kiwi fruit

Salad leaves
Green beans
Green peas
Sweetcorn (small serving)
Sweetpotato (small serving)
Healthier Sweeteners:
Agave syrup

Best Soup choices:
Tomato soup
Minestrone soup
Lentil soup

Remember to watch your serving size, the type and amount are equally

Limit or have only small amounts of:
Puffed rice cakes
Water crackers
Corn chips
Chocolate bars
Condensed milk
Millet porridge
Cous cous
White rice
Potato (best option is boiled baby
potatoes or microwaved, limit to 3)
Dried fruit
Fruit juice
Soft drinks

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list (there are many foods that do not appear here, if you want a complete list... try the resource above).  This serves just to give you an idea and to help you get your head around some of the best carbohydrate options. Remember you can enjoy everything in moderation and a variety of types of food will encourage a balanced diet. Extra tip: To help lower the Glycaemic Load (the rate glucose is released into the blood stream) of a meal, you can combine some protein (e.g. nuts, seeds, beans, pulses, sprouts, cottage cheese, egg) with your carbohydrate (to ensure ease of digestion choose vegetable proteins predominantly).

For example:
  • Have nut butters or hummus on your bread/toast rather than jam.
  • Eat a handful of raw unsalted nuts with a piece of fruit (apple, banana,mandarin).
  • Have beans or lentils with your rice
  • Have some natural yogurt with your fruit salad or cereal in the morning

The second Low Food List you want to be concerned with is a Low AGE Food List

Foods that AGE YOU!

AGEs or Advanced Glycoxidation End Products are produced through overheating, processing or interferring with foods.  These compounds are pro-inflammatory (they cause inflammation in your body- so contribute to diseases that end in -itis like arthritis, dermatitis etc.) and are pro-oxidant so bascially they are often high in free radicals which are nutrient scavengers and have the potential to damage cells.  "Junk" foods, "Frankenfoods" (foods that have been processed, altered or manipulated in some way so that they may look or taste like food but are devoid of nutrients and can actually be considered harmful), high fat meats and cheeses, processed meats, deep fried foods, fast foods, and many convenience foods (including frozen waffles and rice crispies) are on the High AGE containing foods list. As the name suggested they definitely promote AGING.

So it is probably a good idea to put them on your Low Food INTAKE List! 

Foods on the Low AGE List include: 

  • Fish, whole grains, low fat milk products, fruits, vegetables, (naturally low fat, carbohydrate rich foods tend to be lower in AGEs).
  • Food preparation is important: stewing chicken instead of frying it can cut your AGE intake by more than 50% or even using a marinade (with an acid ingredient such as lemon or vinegar) seems to make a difference in grilled meat.

These are the two most important Low Food Lists you need to be concerned about in my professional opinion.  Low fat, Low protein, Low carbohydrate, Low-anything else can lead to an imbalanced eating style and can result in cravings, deficiencies or malnutrition and associated consequences.  Stick to these Low Food Lists and focus on eating A RAINBOW OF WHOLE FOODS MOST CLOSELY RESEMBLE THEIR NATURAL FORM and you can look forward to health worth celebrating with all its benefits!

The Third Addition to keep on your LOW FOOD LIST are:

Artificial Additives: Preservatives, colourants, artificial flavorings are very hard on the liver.

"Dangerous sugars":

Processed fructose (specifically fructose that has been extracted from fruit or vegetables and artificially added to another food, you don't need to be concerned with naturally occurring fructose present in fruit and vegetables or natural and real food.)

Most of the carbohydrates we eat are made up of chains of glucose. When glucose enters the bloodstream, the body releases insulin to help regulate it. Fructose, on the other hand, is processed in the liver, and basically if too much fructose enters the liver, this load is too great and the liver can't process it fast enough to use as "sugar".  The liver therefore will convert this excess into fats and sends them off into the bloodstream as triglycerides.  Fructose is also believed to bypass the normal appetite signaling system and so has been implicated in weight gain and also insulin resistance.  High Fructose corn syrup is probably one of the worst culprits and that's because of its wide use in processed foods.

Be sure to read labels and look out for these sugar additives:

  • corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • High-fructose corn syrup

"Dangerous fats":

The fats you need to avoid at all costs are trans fats or hydrogenated fats.  These are chemically made fats and are very destructive in the body.  Limit animal fats and oils (usually saturated) and enjoy vegetable fats and oils (including coconut oil) and fish oils (for the omega 3) daily.