Carbohydrate and Glycaemic Index

One of the most common questions patients ask me is “What food has carbohydrates?” To answer that, we first need to know what carbohydrates are. Carbohydrates are a group of food that provide energy or fuel for our bodies to function. Human body is amazing as it can break down carbohydrates into glucose with digestion. There are different types of carbohydrates in the food. There is no need to fear carbohydrates at all as many of them contain dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins which are important to achieve overall health.
Our blood glucose levels are affected by many factors, such as stress, illness and many more. How much carbohydrate we eat (glycaemic load) and what types of carbohydrates we eat (glycaemic index) will both affect our blood glucose levels. Do you know that fat and protein can also affect our blood glucose levels?

First point in mind, let’s talk about what glycaemic index (GI) is. It’s simply a measure of how fast or slow our human body digests carbohydrate food and how fast or slow the blood glucose levels increase after digestion. Low GI carbohydrates are the preferred choices as they increase blood glucose levels slower in comparison to high GI carbohydrates. A low GI value is 55 or less. However, be aware of food labelled as low GI since many have lots of fat which slow the digestion of carbohydrate. Just like food labelled as low fat which has lots of sugar. That’s why it’s important to read the label before we purchase anything.

Second point in mind, some people can’t understand why their blood glucose levels are still high despite the change to low GI food. As mentioned before, there are many factors affecting blood glucose levels. However, when we look closer, most people with high blood glucose levels have given themselves permission to eat more of the low GI food. The amount we eat is just as important as the type of carbohydrates we choose to eat.

Examples of lower GI food are rolled oats, multigrain bread, traditional sourdough, vermicelli, mung bean noodles, soba noodles, basmati rice, wild rice, red or black rice, quinoa, buckwheat, lentils and legumes, orange flesh sweet potato (not the purple skin ones), apple, berries (such as strawberry or blueberry), kiwi fruit and apricot, almond milk, Ryvita multigrain. There are many more low GI foods.

If you have any gastrointestinal tract issues, please speak with an accredited practising dietitian. Together we can help find food that suits you.