Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Response

Not all calories are equal—foods like white bread and white potatoes affect you very differently from foods like nuts, beans, or brown rice, even when the calories are roughly the same. A big difference is how our blood sugar rises and falls after eating the food.

The way our blood sugar rises and falls is our glycemic response.  How much a particular food drives blood sugar is called its glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index was designed to help guide our choices in foods and beverages to prevent multiple blood sugar spikes during the day. Healthcare professionals advise that such repeated blood sugar spikes promote insulin resistance, marked by high A1c levels, and sometimes advise people to avoid high GI foods.

Foods with a high GI elicit a rapid blood sugar response, causing your blood sugar to become very high very quickly. This leads to a large insulin response—your body’s way of handling the excess sugar. Foods with a low GI instead raise your blood sugar in a sustained, moderate way. A glycemic index of 55 or under is considered low; 56-69 is moderate; and 70 or above is high.

The glycemic index of food is measured by comparing the blood glucose-time curve (the glycemic response) of foods and beverages in a healthy volunteer to a standard Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) of healthy volunteers. Here is a standard OGTT of a healthy individual.

Many people believe that carbohydrates are the root of the problem, but that idea is far too simplistic. Glycemic index varies widely among different types of carbohydrate-rich foods. White bread, for example, has a high GI, while corn tortillas have a low GI.  Some grains, such as barley, have a very low GI. Glycemic indices for several common foods have been measured; a list can be found here.

The glycemic index is useful, but the glycemic response in reality is much more complex. For example, the glycemic response experienced from eating a particular meal can differ from person to person. That’s because it depends not just on the meal in question, but on what you have been eating for the days and weeks prior to that meal. Why? Because those foods affect the population of microbes that lives inside you–your microbiome. And a healthy and well-balanced gut microbiome can help improve glycemic response.

Good microbes help to even out blood sugar and decrease high sugar spikes. If you have been nourishing your microbiome with prebiotic nutrients for the days prior to a meal, the glycemic response can be lower.

We can steer our microbiome towards the healthiest mix of bacteria by nurturing the ones that do the most for our health. Some food nutrients that our bodies don’t absorb—such as prebiotic fiber—are broken down to metabolites by our gut microbes. Some microbes produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which can help manage the glycemic response from subsequent meals.  Importantly, as you nourish the microbiome over time, the microorganisms will continue to make more SCFAs.  In addition, soluble fiber such as beta-glucan increases viscosity and thus impedes absorption.

Drinking a fiber drink with a high GI food lowers the overall glycemic index, helping you to maintain a steady blood sugar level. When you drink BiomeBliss along with a high GI food, you are adding fiber into the meal and thereby lowering the glycemic index of the meal.  As demonstrated in clinical studies, after four weeks of daily consumption, BiomeBliss significantly lowered the glycemic response to a glucose challenge, and therefore will likely lower the glycemic response to other foods or beverages.

There are many ways to tune up the performance of your microbiome, but few as powerful, natural, and tasty as BiomeBliss—try a glass today and see how easy it is to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, deliciously!

Published: June 25, 2018

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