Glycemic Index


Recently, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati) developed a portable, affordable glycemic index (GI) sensor that can determine the GI of different food sources in real-time.

GS02 (Health)


  • Importance of Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL):
    • GL is determined by multiplying GI with carbohydrate intake.
  • Debate on GI’s Impact:
    • While some nutritionists emphasize the harmful effects of high GI diets and the benefits of low GI diets, others argue that focusing solely on GI overlooks the quality of other macronutrients like protein and fat.
  • Evidence of GI’s Role in Health:
    • Studies, including the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, link high GI diets to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality.
    • This underscores the significance of considering GI beyond diabetes management.
  • Global Implications:
    • The association between high GI diets and cardiovascular events is particularly relevant in countries like India, where carbohydrate-rich foods like white rice dominate diets, leading to elevated GL and increased disease risk.
  • Recommendations for Low GI Diets:
    • Foods with low GI, such as brown rice, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, offer alternatives to high GI options like sugar, white rice, and refined flour products.
    • Shifting towards low GI foods can contribute to better health outcomes.
  • Combating Cardiovascular Disease in India:
    • Encouraging the adoption of low GI diets alongside regular physical activity can help reduce the prevalence of premature cardiovascular disease in India.
    • Replacing ‘bad’ carbohydrates with ‘good’ ones holds promise for improving public health outcomes.

Understanding Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load:

  • Glycemic Index (GI):
    • The concept of GI was introduced by Prof. David Jenkins. It assesses how foods affect blood glucose levels.
    • It categorizes foods into low, medium, and high GI based on their impact compared to glucose.
    • Foods with higher GI values lead to elevated blood sugar readings.
    • The scale ranges from 0 to 100, with pure glucose assigned a value of 100.
    • Lower GI foods cause a slower increase in blood sugar levels, while highly processed foods tend to have higher GI values. Additionally, foods rich in fiber or fat typically have lower GI values.
  • Glycemic Load:
    • Glycemic Load (GL) considers both the quality and quantity of carbohydrates in a specific food.
    • It is determined by multiplying the food’s GI by the amount of available carbohydrate in a serving.

Key Facts about Diabetes:

  • Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by either the pancreas’s inability to produce insulin or the body’s ineffective use of the insulin it produces.
  • Insulin is essential for regulating blood glucose levels.
  • Failure to produce or utilize insulin properly results in high blood glucose levels, known as hyperglycemia.
  • Prolonged hyperglycemia can lead to damage to various organs and tissues in the body.

Types of Diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: In this condition, the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells (beta cells) in the pancreas. As a result, the body produces little to no insulin. Type 1 diabetes typically requires daily insulin administration to manage blood glucose levels and is often diagnosed in children and young adults.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes arises from the body’s ineffective use of the insulin it produces, often linked to factors such as excess body weight and physical inactivity. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin, but the body cannot utilize it effectively.