Managing blood sugar levels is key to maintaining a healthy weight and sustaining natural energy levels.
Society is getting fatter and sicker. The World Health Organization calls it the 21st Century Plague. We even have new terms for this global pandemic: “Globesity” and “Diabesity.”
But there is hope! A scientific consensus is pointing to blood sugar management as key to managing weight, sustaining energy and living more vitally.
Understanding how society got into this mess informs us how to get out of it. But to go forward, we first need to look backwards.
Fundamentally, there’s a big disconnect between our “Stone Age” body design and our modern diet and sedentary lifestyle. Our ancestors didn’t hunt in stores or eat processed foods. Diabesity results from a mismatch between a digestive system and metabolism, adapted to a hunter-gatherer environment, being pushed beyond its limits.
The source of the problem is the blood sugar “spike, crash and crave.” This metabolic process helped our prehistoric ancestors store energy as fat to survive periods of starvation. Today this “thrifty” gene is causing us to store fat — for a famine that never comes.
What makes it worse is that the foods we eat today are very different from the Stone Age. The carbs our ancestors ate were “slow-digesting” and “slow-releasing” carbs, because they were high in fiber and low in starch. They included roots, bark, pulses, unripened fruit and vegetables which take 22 feet of the small intestine to digest and metabolize into glucose (blood sugar), compared to the two feet it takes for the body to assimilate today’s highly-refined carbs.
Another disconnect is that the intestine evolved to be a powerful extractor of glucose from high-fiber foods. This pre-historic advantage now results in the super-rapid absorption of refined-carbs, rocketing blood sugar levels. The mismatch between the intestine’s ability to absorb glucose, and the body’s inability to handle the flood of glucose from processed foods, is now causing metabolic chaos and driving Diabesity.
Diabesity is accelerating with the increase of processed foods developed for an on-the-go society. To sweeten and bind these processed foods, grains are milled into fine powders and syrups. These highly-refined carbs are effectively “predigested” through the milling process, leaving very little work for the body to convert them to glucose, which is blood sugar, perpetuating a cycle of spike, crash and crave.
The solution is not to eliminate carbs, Nature’s preferred source of energy for the body, brain and nervous system. But rather to consume slow-releasing carbs that provide a steady supply of energy, without spiking blood sugar levels.
If consuming fast-releasing carbs cause a roller-coaster of blood sugar swings, slow-releasing carbs help to keep blood sugar levels in a narrow, healthy range. But, how do we separate the “gushers” from the “tricklers”? That’s where the Glycemic Index comes in!
Every so often a revolutionary approach comes along that changes everything. The Glycemic Index is a scientific measure, on a scale from 1-100, based on a food’s ability to raise blood sugar levels. Dr. David Jenkins developed the Glycemic Index at the University of Toronto, where insulin was discovered, after observing that a mashed potato raises blood sugar faster than table sugar. The Glycemic Index is a great innovation that can help reverse Diabesity. It is a tool that individuals can use to make better food choices and food companies can use to develop products that don’t spike blood sugar levels.
SoLo GI Nutrition is one company focused on leading the slow-carb evolution, promoting consumers to consider the blood sugar impact, as well as nutritional content, when selecting a food or beverage. Each SoLo product is clinically validated low glycemic by Glycemic Index Labs at the University of Toronto, and GI rankings are indicated to help consumers make informed decisions.
Increased physical activity is a second adjustment to help manage blood sugar. Our prehistoric ancestors didn’t drive to the corner store. They used a persistent hunting technique to track and wear down their prey. The real value of exercise is that it helps to stabilize blood sugar and reduce appetite.
Tips for living a glycemic lifestyle
Following a low glycemic lifestyle that includes a diet of low glycemic foods and increased physical activity helps to manage blood sugar, which is key to managing weight, sustaining energy and living vitally. The following highlights important points that can help you “stop the Yo-Yo” of blood sugar and energy swings and keep weight off after you lose it. The glycemic index is a tool that helps you look at food in a differently way and to make better food choices, for life! It helps you to:
- Move from “a low-carb diet to slow-carbs for life”
- Avoid foods with sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners
- Avoid foods or beverages that cause the spike, crash and crave
- Switch from carbs that rank high on the Glycemic Index to those that rank low
- Consider the glycemic impact, equal to the nutritional content, when selecting a food or beverage
- Increase physical activity to maintain a faster metabolism and store more blood sugar as glycogen
More Inspiration: Check out this great article on the best supplements and how to pick them.
Author: Saul Katz is founder and chairman of SoLo GI Nutrition, which produces a science-based line of low glycemic nutritional energy bars. He is an industry leader in functional food R&D and commercialization. On occasion he contributes to Optimyz and Silver Magazines.