The glycemic index represents a proportional value, which means that it does not have a unit of measurement such as grams, milliliters, or calories, but it is related to a point of comparison, which in this case would be the level of blood glucose. What is done is to calculate it based on the immediate increase in blood glucose generated by a certain food compared to pure glucose, which is attributed the value of 100. For the comparison to be valid, the calories provided by the food which is going to be studied should be the same as the glucose used as reference.
What is sought with these values is to identify how much of those carbohydrates carbon ingested in common foods can be absorbed in the intestine, and how many go to the colon undigested , being used by the intestinal flora. In other words: in a laboratory we have a volunteer who does not have diabetes, who must drink a glass of pure glucose and then have blood glucose measurements every 15 minutes. These data are saved. The next day, the test is repeated with the same person, but on this occasion the food to be studied is provided, for example, bread, pasta, a certain fruit, etc. taking care that the amount of Calories are equivalent to those provided by glucose the day before. The blood glucose is then re- measured every 15 minutes and the results obtained are compared on both days, attributing to glucose the value of 100, and to the food its corresponding proportion. Thus it is known how much glucose contained in the food was absorbed and how much was eliminated during the digestive process.
The important thing in practical sense is that it is clear that not all carbohydrates are the same, that some are absorbed more than others, and that there are tables based on laboratory tests that indicate that level of absorption. Thus, depending on all this, the glycemic index can be:
- High: equal to or greater than 70
- Medium: 56 – 69
- Low: 0-55
The intention of this explanation is not to bring a table of glycemic index to the kitchen or table, but to highlight the differences between the various types of carbohydrates and their impact on the diet.
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