You’ve heard of the health benefits of following a low GI diet but now new research shows that a low GI diet could be more important than ever before.
The GI is the Glycaemic Index of food, and it is a score that is applied to different types of carbohydrates to indicate how quickly the sugars contained in the food are broken down and released into the blood. High GI foods (with a score of more than 70) include white breads, rice, processed cereals, and potatoes. Low GI foods are foods that are broken down slowly, leading to a sustained slow release into the blood and leaving a person feeling fuller for longer. Low GI foods have a score of 55 or less, and include wholegrain bread, basmati rice, oats, and legumes.
Foods such as potatoes and white breads, which are high GI, have been linked to cancer in a new study carried out by Australian researchers. The study was carried out on nearly two million men and women and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. High GI foods have been shown to cause constant spikes in the body’s blood glucose levels. This causes the body to release more insulin to stabilise blood sugar, as well as a related substance called insulin like growth factor one (IGF-1). Both insulin and IGF-1 increase cell growth rates and decrease cell death rates. This increases the risk of developing cancer.
The 20 percent of people that have the highest GI diets have an increased risk of breast cancer (8 percent higher), and an overall increased risk of cancer and other disease of 14 percent.
To lower the overall GI of your diet, there are some steps that you can take. Choose a low GI bread, either by looking for the GI symbol or by choosing a grainy or sourdough bread. Replace high GI cereals with natural muesli, traditional porridge, or a lower GI cereal. Cut back on the number of potatoes that you eat, and look for basmati rice, which is lower in GI than traditional rice. Try and get plenty of beans, lentils, and other legumes in your diet and choose low GI snacks such as fresh fruit, dried fruits and nuts, low fat milk, or yoghurt.