CARBOHYDRATES AND BLOOD GLUCOSE CONTROL
The role of carbohydrates in the digestive process is taking a new look, according to Phyllis A. Crapo, RD in "Theory Vs Fact: The Glycemic Response to Foods," published in Nutrition Today, March/April 1984.
The way we digest carbohydrates appears to be a lot more complicated than previously thought. Complex carbohydrates, or starches, were believed to be slowly digested and absorbed, causing only a small rise in blood glucose levels; simple carbohydrates, such as glucose and sucrose, were thought to be readily absorbed, resulting in a rapid rise of blood glucose levels.
Although the results of some new (and older) studies are not easy to summarize, they do reveal that a biologic or physiologic response to the carbohydrate content of a food might be more significant than analysis of the chemical content of that food. This "glycemic response" may prove helpful in dietary recommendations regarding blood glucose control.
Dietary factors which were also found to affect the "glycemic response" to food include the form of the food, the way the food is cooked, the effect of carbohydrate taken in one meal on the digestion of a carbohydrate taken in a second meal, eating rapidly versus eating slowly, etc.
Some researchers have suggested using a "glycemic index." It consists of a list of foods which are given an index number indicating the average blood glucose response. Studies using the index have shown that this may be a very useful method for planning special diets in the future, particularly for diabetics.
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. IX, No. 4, Fall 1984, page 2.