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Newsletter The Low Glycemic Index Diet

Newsletter June 6/01 - Susan Van Dueck

Glycemic Index
of Foods

The Low Glycemic Index Diet

  1. Farming Introduced Excess Carbohydrate Consumption

  2. Why Carbohydrates Can Cause Health Problems

  3. The Insulin Factor

  4. Big Business Makes Money from Carbohydrates

  5. A Different Food Pyramid

  6. The Nasty Story of Puffed Wheat

  7. Recommendations

  8. Recipe: Potato Skins

  9. References

Farming Introduced Excess Carbohydrate Consumption

Did you ever wonder when our health began to decline? It didn't just start with the onset of chemical farming, pollution, and genetically engineered foods. It began thousands of years ago. For 2 million years humans ate a diet consisting mainly of meat, fat, nuts and berries. It is only in the last 8,000 years that we have learned to farm.

It is well documented that with the consumption of grains our health declined. When anthropologists examined the bones of our ancestors they could tell the difference between the hunter-gatherers (protein eaters) and the farmers (mainly carbohydrate eaters). The hunter-gatherers had strong bones and teeth and were relatively tall, whereas the farmers had signs of inhibited growth and tooth decay.

For example, ancient Egyptians ate a low fat diet consisting of large amounts of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as some fish and fowl. When the remains of Egyptian mummies were examined, paleopathologists found arteries choked with cholesterol that were often calcified, exhibiting an advanced stage of atherosclerosis. Many subjects had arteries that were scarred and thickened, indicating the presence of high blood pressure.

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Why Carbohydrates Can Cause Health Problems

So why did this happen? Since humans were hunter-gatherers for such a long period, our metabolisms were designed to cope with food supplies that were unpredictable. Insulin enabled us to store calories for the lean times. Unfortunately, a diet heavy in carbohydrates sends our insulin levels soaring, and our body interprets this as a need to store calories, to make cholesterol and to conserve water which was very important to our survival back then.

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The Insulin Factor

If it were not for insulin, we would constantly have to be hooked up to our energy source (food) in order to merely function. Insulin stores fat in our bodies, and this fat acts like a built-in battery, which gets re-charged when we eat, and used for energy when we don't. So, diet is the best way to control insulin; in fact it is the only way.

Consumption of large quantities of carbohydrate produce large quantities of insulin. This is because carbohydrates are composed of various sugar molecules, or glucose, bonded chemically. Once you have eaten a carbohydrate, even a complex carbohydrate, your body has digestive enzymes that  break these chemical bonds and release the sugar molecules into the blood. Insulin springs into action when the blood sugar starts to climb too high, as it does after a carbohydrate meal.

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The elevated blood sugar triggers the pancreas to synthesize and release insulin into the bloodstream. This insulin first makes a pass through the liver, where it shuts down any sugar production that may still be going on, then travels on to the rest of the body, where it acts on sensors or receptors scattered across the surfaces of muscle and fat cells. These receptors, when activated by insulin, initiate a series of reactions that pump sugar (along with protein and fat) from the blood into the interior of the cells for use now or storage for later. Insulin stimulates the fat cells to take up fat and sugar from the blood and store it away as body fat, especially in the middle of the body, within the abdomen and around the vital organs.

Basically, this is the story of what high-glycemic carbohydrate consumption has done to our health in the past and what it is doing to us today. So why do so many of us all over the world still eat this way?

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Big Business Makes Money from Carbohydrates

If you think about it, big corporations and government dictate to a large extent the quality of our health. Due to tremendous pressure from big business, our governments promote genetic engineering of foods, chemical farming and all sorts of things that do not contribute to the health of the people...but day by day strip it away.

Why do you think this is? Could it possibly be money? As you read on, note the comment by the puffed wheat company president. In the picture below, you can see that the government and AMA (American Medical Association) promote a food pyramid that slates carbohydrates (high-glycemic) as the most important area of our diet. Therefore, companies producing these types of foods have plenty of support.

Also, high-glycemic carbohydrates are generally cheaper to buy than proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a tendency for people to fill up on the cheap breads and pastas to save money on their food budget. This is understandable if you have a family to feed on a limited income. However, if a child was fed a diet with protein, veggies, fresh fruits (not too much juice or pop), nuts and only very limited refined sugars and carbohydrates they would likely need less quantity as their food would sustain them longer. Not to mention, there would be less spent on medical bills and drugs.

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A Different Food Pyramid

We feel, as many health care practitioners do, that high-glycemic carbohydrates should be relegated to the upper portion of the food pyramid. Does the AMA and the government promote high-glycemic carbohydrates because they don't know any better or is it because they have pressure from lobby groups and huge food conglomerates? We may never know for sure, but it is up to us as individuals and concerned citizens to speak up for what we want. Personally, we are very thankful for the people who have continued to research and stand up for a view contrary to what big business and government dictate.

Where does vegetarianism fit into this picture? See our related newsletter article called Vegetarianism.

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THE FOOD PYRAMID (U.S. GOVERNMENT STANDARD)

 

THE FOOD PYRAMID - BASED ON THE LOW-GLYCEMIC CARBOHYDRATES INDEX

 

Starting at the base of the pyramid and moving up:

Low-starch vegetables - Lettuce, all greens, broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, onions. 

Meats, seafood, cheese - All meats, all seafood, all cheeses, eggs. This is the protein group.

Fruits- The higher glycemic fruits are mangoes and bananas. Fruits have a higher glycemic index than vegetables because of their sugar content.

Grains and starchy vegetables - All grains, anything made from grain (breads, crackers, cereals, etc.), winter squash, carrots, parsnips, potatoes (potatoes are higher in their glycemic index when baked as opposed to other cooking methods),  legumes. 

Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and other dairy products - Yogurt has beneficial acidophilus, but buy it plain and add your own fruit for a reasonable snack or dessert.

Fats and oils - Vegetable oils (try to use cold pressed and not canola oil), butter (not margarine), nuts and seeds. A small amount of animal fat is okay.

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The Nasty Story of Puffed Wheat

Sally Fallon's book "Nourishing Traditions"This is a true story about puffed wheat from Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.

 

Four sets of rats were given special diets.

Group 1) plain whole wheat, water, vitamins and minerals
Group 2) puffed wheat, water and same chemical nutrients
Group 3) water, white sugar
Group 4) water and the same chemical nutrients

Which group's lives were shortest?

Group 2, the puffed wheat group, only lived 2 weeks.
Group 1 lived for over a year.
Group 3 lived for one month.
Group 4 lived for eight weeks.

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The study showed that it wasn't a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition; results like these suggested that there was actually something toxic about the puffed wheat itself. Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the puffing process of putting the grain under 1500 pounds per square inch of pressure and then releasing it may produce chemical changes which turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance.

Sally goes on to say that Paul Stitt, author of Fighting the Food Giants, states that Dr. Clark who shared his concern, took this report to the company who produced the puffed wheat. The president of the company said, "I know people should throw it on brides and grooms at weddings, but if they insist on sticking it in their mouths, can I help it? Besides, we made 9 million dollars on the stuff last year."

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Recommendations
P.I. Health Services feels that the puffing process is dangerous. Also, if you let a child snack on puffed rice cakes, you should know that each one contains 14 grams of high-glycemic carbohydrates. That can add up in a day. Add a couple of glasses of juice and you might as well have given the child 2 or 3 candy bars. Yes, there are more nutrients in the juice than in candy bars but the body will produce the same insulin reaction in both cases.

What do you give them for snacks? What about celery sticks with almond butter, or an apple with some cheese. Much healthier and much more sustaining!

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Recipe: Potato Skins

Here is a great recipe to help with potato cravings. Enjoy!

Potato Skins - 2 servings

2 large baking potatoes
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp sour cream, optional
grated cheese, optional
chopped green onions, optional
bacon bits, optional

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash potatoes and prick with a fork to avoid explosions! Put on rack in oven for around 1 hour or until tender. Cool slightly and cut in quarters lengthwise. Scoop out most of the flesh. Put the skins on a baking sheet. Drizzle the shells with melted butter, season with salt and pepper. Add cheese if desired and place back in oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until melted. Upon removal from oven add any of the other suggestions above or your own favourite toppings.

Carbohydrates: 10gm per serving.

Read about a grain you may not be familiar with...Quinoa...higher protein...lower carbohydrates.

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References:

  1. Mary Frost, M.A., Going Back to the Basics of Human Health

  2. Corinne T. Netzer, The Complete Book of Food Counts

  3. Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

  4. Fran McCullough, Living Low-Carb: The Complete Guide to Long Term Low-Carb Dieting

  5. Fran McCullough,The Low-Carb Cookbook: The Complete Guide to the Healthy Low-Carbohydrate Lifestyle with over 250 Delicious Recipes

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