Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Carbs, Fiber, Food Processing and Diabetes

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A comprehensive, simple explanation about how carbs with their inherent fiber content are affected by food processing and thus encourages the development of diabetes, type 2.

First, some definitions and background may help (unless you just took a nutrition course.)

Glycemic response: The rate, magnitude, and duration of the rise in blood glucose that occurs after a particular food or meal is consumed.It is affected by both the amount of carbohydrate and type eaten and the amount of fat and protein in that food or meal. Refined sugars and starches generally cause a greater glycemic response than unrefined carbohydrates that contain fiber.

Glycemic index: A ranking of  the effect on blood glucose of a food of a certain carbohydrate content relative to an equal amount of carbohydrate from a reference food such as white bread or glucose. The reference food is assigned a value of 100 and the values of other foods are expressed relative to this. Foods that have a glycemic index of 70 or more compared to glucose are considered high-glycemic foods; those with an index of less than 55 are considered low-glycemic-index foods.

Glycemic load: An index of the glycemic response that occurs after eating specific foods. It is calculated by multiplying a food’s glycemic index by the amount of available carbohydrate in a serving of the food.To calculate glycemic load, the grams of carbohydrate in a serving of food are multiplied by that food’s glycemic index expressed as a percentage. A glycemic load of 20 or more is considered high, whereas as value of less than 11 is considered low.

A shortcoming of both the glycemic index and load is that they are determined for individual foods, but we typically eat meals containing mixtures of foods. For example, a bowl of white rice has a high glycemic index and load, but if rice is part of a meal that contains chicken and broccoli, the rise in blood glucose is much less. Source: Smolin and Grosvenor, Nutrition: Science and Applications. 2013.

Insulin: A hormone secreted by the pancreas that allows the uptake of glucose by body cells and has other metabolic effects such as stimulating protein and fat synthesis and the synthesis of glycogen in liver and muscle. Glycogen is a storage form of carbohydrate in animals.





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