Long before there were such things as wonder drugs and antibiotics, our grandparents and ancestors knew that food was the best medicine of all. It still is, but many of us seem to have forgotten that. Instead, we stuff ourselves full of unhealthy foods that add fat to our bodies and can subtract years from our lives.
Which brings me to the topic of this month's column: the glycemic index and foods that are glycemically beneficial for loss of body fat in conjunction with exercise. The glycemic index is a ranking of foods according to their effect on blood sugar level. High-glycemic foods digest very quickly, causing the blood sugar level to elevate. If this energy isn't used right away, the liver can cause it to be stored as fat. Low-glycemic foods are those that digest slowly, releasing their energy over a longer period of time.
The over-fat individual should consume food with the lowest glycemic index, while athletes who need to accelerate recovery after training or competition need moderate- to high-glycemic foods.
Most types of ripe fruits are glycemically acceptable. These include all types of citrus fruits and most types of berries and melons. High-glycemic fruits are generally those that are over-ripe or dried (raisins, prunes, dates, etc.). Most unsweetened fruit juices (those with no sugar added) are glycemically acceptable. Juices, sodas, drink mixes and boxed drinks with added sugar are glycemically unacceptable to many over-fat individuals.
Most types of fresh or frozen vegetables, especially those that are green and leafy, are glycemically acceptable. A few types of vegetables, such as beets, carrots, corn and white potatoes, are glycemically unacceptable, but they are good for other nutrients so I wouldn't discourage you from consuming them. Most beans, peas, salads, grains, many types of spices and oils, and many types of breads and crackers made with whole grains are glycemically acceptable. Likewise for fiber-rich cereals, pastas, long-grain brown rice and low-fat dairy products. Many types of clear soups and Chinese dishes may also be low in sugar content. The same goes for high-protein foods and skinless animal products.
Glycemically unacceptable foods and drinks include some sports drinks, breads made with bleached flour, many types of processed and sugared cereals (hot and cold), white rice and most sweetened dairy products and junk foods.
To learn more about the glycemic rating of foods, I suggest you pick up a copy of my book, Lose Your Love Handles, available at local bookstores, or log on to www.glycemicfoodlist.com.