The Glycemic Index assigns a value to each food with regards to how much it raises blood sugar levels. Although it was originally intended for use by people with diabetes, many healthcare professionals use the Glycemic Index to determine which foods their patients should consume, and which ones they should avoid. If you’re familiar with this index then to some extent this makes sense, as even some whole foods (such as numerous fruits) will raise a person’s blood sugar levels, causing a release of the hormone insulin, followed by cortisol when the blood sugar levels shoot down. So eating a lot of foods with a high Glycemic Index can lead to weakened adrenal glands. And for those who have been reading my articles and blog posts for awhile, weak adrenal glands can cause the development of a thyroid condition.
As for the what levels are considered to be too high, foods with a Glycemic Index greater than 70 are considered to be really high. So eating foods with a Glycemic Index greater than 70 will spike up one’s blood sugar levels. Some examples of these foods include baked potatoes, doughnuts, and pretzels. A medium Glycemic Index is considered to be between 56 and 69, and includes foods such as cheese pizza, muffins, and ice cream. Foods with a low Glycemic Index (55 or less) include most vegetables, apples, peanuts, whole wheat pasta, and All-Bran cereal. For a complete list of different foods and their respective Glycemic Index you can visit http://www.southbeach-diet-plan.com/glycemicfoodchart.htm.
Just keep in mind that these values aren’t definitive, as different charts may have different ranges. But most sources do agree with the ranges, which means that most will consider a baked potato and doughnut as having a high Glycemic Index, whereas all will show that most vegetables have a low Glycemic Index, etc. However, some foods which are considered to be borderline low according to one source might be medium in another source, and vice versa. So while those foods which have extremely low or high values should be considered to be valid, I’d be cautious with those foods which have a borderline low value or a medium value, as the values might not be completely accurate.
The Glycemic Index Doesn’t Consider The Food’s Nutrient Value
One problem with the Glycemic Index is that it doesn’t consider the food’s nutrient value. So for example, a baked potato has a Glycemic Index of about 85. On the other hand, according to one source a Snickers Bar has a Glycemic Index of about 40. And while I think many people would enjoy eating a Snickers Bar over a baked potato (I admit I would be one of those), we all know a baked potato is a healthier option, at least with regards to the nutrients provided. After all, a potato has many different nutrients, while a Snickers bar has basically no nutritional value at all.
So by this example you now know that you shouldn’t just consume foods that have a low Glycemic Index, and perhaps you don’t need to completely avoid all of those that have a high Glycemic Index. After all, besides the potato example, there are other healthy foods which have a high Glycemic Index but also have some good nutritional value. For example, watermelon also has a high Glycemic Index, but is also arguably more healthier than a Snickers Bar . Similarly, there are other foods with a low Glycemic Index that are unhealthy for us.
So what does all of this tell us? Well, part of this comes down to using common sense and what I’ve taught you in the past. First of all, you want to try to eat as many whole foods as possible, and minimize the consumption of refined foods. This will automatically eliminate foods with a low Glycemic Index such as a Snickers bar and other junk food. And for those who make these health changes, I’m not suggesting that you can never eat a Snickers Bar, cheesecake or any other junk food again, but you definitely don’t want to each such foods on a regular basis if you want to maintain your health.
Is It Okay To Consume Whole Foods With A High Glycemic Index?
As for whether it’s okay to eat whole foods which have a high Glycemic Index, I do think it’s a good idea to minimize your consumption of these foods. So yes, you can definitely have a baked potato or a slice of watermelon every now and then. But it’s probably not a good idea to eat these foods on a regular basis. And if you do eat these foods on an occasional basis, you probably will want to be careful about the time of day when you eat them. For example, having watermelon an hour or two before going to bed might not be a good idea, since it will spike up the blood sugar levels considerably, which can interfere with your sleep.
So while it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Glycemic Index values of certain foods, especially the ones you eat on a regular basis, you shouldn’t use this solely as the source of what you should and shouldn’t eat. Just remember there are numerous foods with a low Glycemic Index which are unhealthy for you, and you can eat some foods with a medium or high Glycemic Index on a moderate basis. And also remember that different sources might have different Glycemic Index values, which is when you need to use your common sense regarding your food choices.
With regards to thyroid health, eating a lot of foods on a frequent basis which have a high Glycemic Index can compromise the adrenal glands, which in turn can and usually does affect the thyroid gland. So while you shouldn’t rely on the Glycemic Index with regards to what you should and shouldn’t eat, just keep in mind that even some whole foods will spike up your blood sugar levels, and thus can stress out your adrenals if eaten regularly. I realize that when you factor in whole foods with a high Glycemic Index, goitrogens, and other foods which might have a negative impact on thyroid health that it may seem like there isn’t much left to eat, but there actually is plenty of whole, healthy foods you can eat. And once again, it’s not as if you can never eat these foods, as having them every now and then is fine. The same thing applies to refined foods, as while you don’t want to make these foods a part of your regular diet, eating them in moderation is usually not going to cause any major health issues for the majority of people.