The Essential Guide to the Glycemic Index and Gluten Free Living

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The glycemic index or GI was developed to measure carbohydrates and how quickly they are released into the body after eating food. Foods classed as low GI release their energy slowly and have values of 55 or less. Medium GI foods have values between 56 and 69, and high GI foods have GI values of 70 or above. A value of 100 means the food has releases energy as fast as pure glucose.

Effects on the Blood Sugar

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If you eat a high-GI food you may experience a sudden surge of energy which quickly drains away, leaving you feeling tired, weak and hungry again. This is because the quick releasing carbohydrate caused your blood sugar levels to rise and fall sharply. To avoid this and keep your blood sugar levels stable, try low-GI foods.

Benefits of Low-GI Foods

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According to the GI Symbol Program, including low-GI foods in your diet can help you to feel fuller for longer after meals meaning you are less likely to snack or overeat. This can help you to either lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Low-GI foods can help reduce your risk of developing type-2 diabetes, heart disease and certain eye diseases. You may also find your skin improves, along with your ability to perform physically and mentally. A study in the March 2013 issue of "Longevity and Healthspan" reports that a diet of low-glycemic foodsnot only keeps blood sugar levels elevated but it may also extend your lifespan by 12 percent, noting the results of their study performed on mice.

Gluten-free Living

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Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. If you suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease, you will find removing gluten from your diet can ease your symptoms. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, you should avoid foods containing barley, bulgur, durham, farina, kamut, matzo meal, rye, semolina, spelt and wheat when following a gluten-free diet.

GI Values of Gluten-free Products

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The GI of gluten-free pasta varies depending on the variety; however, all have similar values to the glutinous varieties. According to the Glycemic Index Database, general gluten-free pasta has a GI of 54, gluten-free corn pasta has one of 68 and gluten-free rice pasta has a GI of 51.

The GI of gluten-free spaghetti and gluten-free bread is slightly higher than that of the glutinous varieties. The GI of gluten-free spaghetti is 51, while spaghetti is 42. Similarly, the GI of gluten-free multigrain bread is 79, while the wheat-based version is 62, and white bread is 80 compared to 70 for the wheat-based version.

Gluten-free Eating

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When following a gluten-free diet, base your meals around large-flake or rolled oats, buckwheat and quinoa, as these have low GI values. You can lower the overall GI value of gluten-free breads and pastas by adding plenty of protein such as chicken, fish or eggs, low-GI vegetables and beans or pulse vegetables to your meal.