Author(s): Truswell AS
From the mid-1970s several groups realized progressively that the same amounts of carbohydrates in different foods produce quite different blood glucose curves after ingestion. The glycaemic index (GI) was introduced by Jenkins to express the rise of blood glucose after eating a food against a standard blood glucose curve after glucose (or white bread) in the same subject. The GI ranges from about 20 for fructose and whole barley to about 100 for glucose and baked potato. A table is given of representative GI values. There appears to be no general correlation between GI and per cent resistant starch in foods. Questions about methodology for GI are discussed and the factors in food that affect glycaemic response are briefly reviewed. The GI is affected by the physical form of a food, by processing and by associated fat in the food, which reduces the GI, presumably by delayed gastric emptying. As a rule the degree of insulin response to carbohydrate-containing foods is similar to the glycaemic response. Most investigators have found that the GI of a meal of mixed foods can be predicted from the (weighted) GI of its constituent foods. The GI concept is proving useful in dietary design for the management of diabetes mellitus, especially the non-insulin-dependent type. It may prove useful for prevention of diabetes and perhaps also in pre-event meals for athletes, as a factor in dental cariogenesis, in determining satiety, and conceivably regular low GI foods could delay ageing by reducing glycosylation of body proteins.