Carbohydrates, like many of life’s deadliest elements are very tempting. But after years of suffering with chronic pain and Crohn’s Disease, I discovered something that seems to have literally reversed the disease. My lifesaver is what they call a Low Glycemic Load Diet.

Whether or not you have medical issues relateing to food and digestion, you will probably see the weight loss benefits. Doctor Rob Thompson claims “The increased consumption of starchy carbohydrates, particularly wheat, is held to blame for the obesity problem. Also, the claim is made that insulin resistance (said to be present in 22% of the population) would be less evident if starchy carbs like rice, potatoes and bread were reduced.“

The scientific literature has a lot of support for these benfits of low-carb living and not just in the arena of dietary or excersise science.  The popular futurist Ray Kurzweil has leapt in to the ring and along with Terry Grossman, MD makes some intriguing points in their book: “Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever”:

  • Many serious diseases have been found to be associated with silent, chronic inflammation. (That’s heart disease, auto-immune diseases, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, cancer, etc.)

  • Chronic inflammation can be silent and symptomless for many years.

  • An easy way to control inflammation in your body is through your diet.

  • When you consume sugar and high glycemic load carbohydrates, you ultimately cause a chain of events that increases pro-inflammatory hormones as well as insulin spikes/plunges.

  • The solution: Eat a high-fiber, low-glycemic load diet for optimum health

Some of the practical  conclusions are intuitive: unsurprisingly: White starchy foods are the worst. Super high glycemic food include bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, along with your standard junk food and of course other processed food and soda. The less you eat of that stuff, the better. Eat as many vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean meats as you can (as long as you’re not allergic or vegetarian, obviously).

If you’re wondering how to determine whether a food is high or low glycemic, there are a ton of apps that can tell you. I use Low GI Diet Tracker. As you do your research, keep in mind there’s a difference between Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL). I focus on GL, because it measures the effect on your body based on how much of a certain food you eat.

In general, foods with a lower glycemic index are better for you than those with a higher glycemic index, but not always. So, a food’s glycemic load is a much more useful indicator.

Again, Kurzweil explains: “Not all carbohydrate foods are unhealthy. In fact, many are highly desirable… To help you determine whether a particular food falls into the ‘good carbs’ group, you need to know its glycemic load, and that is determined, in part, by its glycemic index… The speed at which a particular food is converted into glucose in the blood, thus how fast it boosts your insulin level, is called its glycemic index. Because glucose is the primary blood sugar and needs no processing to enter the bloodstream, scientists gave assigned glucose a glycemic index of 100. The glycemic index for any particular food is determined as a function of how fast it turns to sugar in the bloodstream as compared to glucose itself…

Any time you eat high-glycemic food, there is a sudden rush of sugar or glucose into your bloodstream. The body has minimal ability to store glucose, so the only options are: (a) burn it as fuel immediately or (b) turn it into triglycerides and store it as fat… If you consume a high-glycemic food such as a candy bar or sugary soft drink and have a sample of your blood drawn 60 minutes later — unless you’re doing something physically very strenuous and burning all the sugar as soon as you eat it — you’ll find your blood sample filled with triglycerides or fat particles.”

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