1 May 2007

GI News—May 2007


Real food is our focus for May starting off with Michael Pollan’s 9 rule-of-thumb principles of healthy eating, followed by David Ludwig’s recipe for the whole family to make a ‘Clean Sweep’. We know Clean Sweeps aren’t that easy (or that inexpensive), but David makes it seem very achievable, so give it a try. Take it a step at a time and like the rest of us you’ll get there. After this, we tempt your tastebuds with some real food recipes including Tangy Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad, Creamy Fish Pie, and Turkey and Bean Chili with Avocado Salsa. Something for everyone we hope. We don’t have a big budget, so we really are very grateful to the people and organisations who share their healthy recipes with us along with delicious food photography that makes you want to cook it right now.

Eat well and enjoy the taste of a wide variety of real food.


GI News Editor: Philippa Sandall
Web Design and Management: Scott Dickinson

Food for Thought

Michael Pollan’s rule-of-thumb principles of healthy eating.

Michael Pollan

  1. Eat Food. Though in our current state of confusion, this is much easier said than done. So try this: Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. (Sorry, but at this point Moms are as confused as the rest of us, which is why we have to go back a couple of generations, to a time before the advent of modern food products.) There are a great many foodlike items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn’t recognize as food (Go-Gurt? Breakfast-cereal bars? Nondairy creamer?); stay away from these.
  2. Avoid even those food products that come bearing health claims. They’re apt to be heavily processed, and the claims are often dubious at best. Don’t forget that margarine, one of the first industrial foods to claim that it was more healthful than the traditional food it replaced, turned out to give people heart attacks. When Kellogg’s can boast about its Healthy Heart Strawberry Vanilla cereal bars, health claims have become hopelessly compromised. (The American Heart Association charges food makers for their endorsement.) Don’t take the silence of the yams as a sign that they have nothing valuable to say about health.
  3. Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are (a) unfamiliar, (b) unpronounceable (c) more than five in number – or that contain high-fructose corn syrup. None of these characteristics are necessarily harmful in and of themselves, but all of them are reliable markers for foods that have been highly processed.
  4. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. You won’t find any high-fructose corn syrup at the farmer’s market; you also won’t find food harvested long ago and far away. What you will find are fresh whole foods picked at the peak of nutritional quality. Precisely the kind of food your great-greatgrandmother would have recognized as food.
  5. Pay more, eat less. The American food system has for a century devoted its energies and policies to increasing quantity and reducing price, not to improving quality. There’s no escaping the fact that better food – measured by taste or nutritional quality (which often correspond) – costs more, because it has been grown or raised less intensively and with more care. Not everyone can afford to eat well in America, which is shameful, but most of us can: Americans spend, on average, less than 10 percent of their income on food, down from 24 percent in 1947, and less than the citizens of any other nation. And those of us who can afford to eat well should. Paying more for food well grown in good soils – whether certified organic or not – will contribute not only to your health (by reducing exposure to pesticides) but also to the health of others who might not themselves be able to afford that sort of food: the people who grow it and the people who live downstream, and downwind, of the farms where it is grown.
    ‘Eat less’ is the most unwelcome advice of all, but in fact the scientific case for eating a lot less than we currently do is compelling. ‘Calorie restriction’ has repeatedly been shown to slow aging in animals, and many researchers (including Walter Willett, the Harvard epidemiologist) believe it offers the single strongest link between diet and cancer prevention. Food abundance is a problem, but culture has helped here, too, by promoting the idea of moderation. Once one of the longest-lived people on earth, the Okinawans practiced a principle they called ‘Hara Hachi Bu’: eat until you are 80 percent full. To make the ‘eat less’ message a bit more palatable, consider that quality may have a bearing on quantity: I don’t know about you, but the better the quality of the food I eat, the less of it I need to feel satisfied. All tomatoes are not created equal.
  6. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. Scientists may disagree on what’s so good about plants – the antioxidants? Fiber? Omega-3s? – but they do agree that they’re probably really good for you and certainly can’t hurt. Also, by eating a plant-based diet, you’ll be consuming far fewer calories, since plant foods (except seeds) are typically less ‘energy dense’ than the other things you might eat. Vegetarians are healthier than carnivores, but near vegetarians (‘flexitarians’) are as healthy as vegetarians. Thomas Jefferson was on to something when he advised treating meat more as a flavouring than a food.
  7. Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks. Confounding factors aside, people who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than we are. Any traditional diet will do: if it weren’t a healthy diet, the people who follow it wouldn’t still be around. True, food cultures are embedded in societies and economies and ecologies, and some of them travel better than others: Inuit not so well as Italian. In borrowing from a food culture, pay attention to how a culture eats, as well as to what it eats. In the case of the French paradox, it may not be the dietary nutrients that keep the French healthy (lots of saturated fat and alcohol?!) so much as the dietary habits: small portions, no seconds or snacking, communal meals – and the serious pleasure taken in eating. (Worrying about diet can’t possibly be good for you.) Let culture be your guide, not science.
  8. Cook. And if you can, plant a garden. To take part in the intricate and endlessly interesting processes of providing for our sustenance is the surest way to escape the culture of fast food and the values implicit in it: that food should be cheap and easy; that food is fuel and not communion. The culture of the kitchen, as embodied in those enduring traditions we call cuisines, contains more wisdom about diet and health than you are apt to find in any nutrition journal or journalism. Plus, the food you grow yourself contributes to your health long before you sit down to eat it. So you might want to think about putting down this article now and picking up a spatula or hoe.
  9. Eat like an omnivore. Try to add new species, not just new foods, to your diet. The greater the diversity of species you eat, the more likely you are to cover all your nutritional bases. That of course is an argument from nutritionism, but there is a better one, one that takes a broader view of ‘health.’ Biodiversity in the diet means less monoculture in the fields. What does that have to do with your health? Everything. The vast monocultures that now feed us require tremendous amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to keep from collapsing. Diversifying those fields will mean fewer chemicals, healthier soils, healthier plants and animals and, in turn, healthier people. It’s all connected, which is another way of saying that your health isn’t bordered by your body and that what’s good for the soil is probably good for you, too.
    – Copyright Michael Pollan and reproduced with permission.
Click for Amazon link

Michael Pollan is the best-selling author of Second Nature. His most recent book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma was chosen by the editors of ‘The New York Times Book Review’ as one of the 10 best books of 2006.

GI News Podcast

GI News Podcast: Understanding GI Food values
In the third of the New Glucose Revolution podcasts, Prof Jennie Brand-Miller explains why the GI value of foods matters for everybody - not just people with diabetes - and where choosing smart carbs that reduce the peaks and troughs of your blood glucose levels fits, in the context of a healthy diet that's low in saturated fat and has plenty of fruits and vegetables.


Play the Podcast above or download here

GI News Briefs

The calcium factor
A recent study in March Diabetes Care reports that over a 6-month period, a diet rich in low-fat dairy calcium boosted weight loss in overweight people with type 2 diabetes - particularly in females. Those with the highest intake of dairy calcium were 2.4 times more likely to see a weight loss of greater than 8% versus those with the lowest intake of dairy calcium, despite consuming more kilojoules (calories). Such a diet may be helpful for people with diabetes who find it hard to stick to other weight loss regimes suggest the authors Dr Danit R. Shahar from Ben Gurion University and colleagues.
Diabetes Care 2007;30:485–489


Does the diabetes clock start ticking earlier for women?
The diabetes clock may start ticking in women long before it’s possible to diagnose it by rising blood glucose levels according to new research published in February Diabetes Care. Epidemiologists at the University at Buffalo report that risk factors for diabetes found in the blood, such as markers of endothelial dysfunction, chronic sub-acute inflammation and blood clotting factors, are present early on in women who eventually progress from normal glucose status to prediabetes. The study involved 1,455 healthy men and women from the Western New York Health Study who were given a physical examination when they entered the study and for the follow-up. Results showed that 52 women and 39 men had progressed from normal blood glucose levels to prediabetes over the previous six years. Whether this relates to the higher risk of heart disease among women with diabetes needs more study. Meantime, lead author Richard Donahue, PhD, professor of social and preventive medicine and Associate Dean for research in UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions suggests that women whose blood glucose increases over time, even if it doesn't reach diabetic levels, should be screened more intensively for cardiovascular disease.
Diabetes Care 2007;30:354–359


What does endothelial dysfunction mean?
GI Group: The endothelium are the cells that line the inner surface of all our blood vessels including arteries and veins. Endothelial dysfunction is a physiological dysfunction of their normal biochemical processes and is thought to be a key event in developing atherosclerosis and significant in predicting stroke and heart attacks.

Cross-section of the vascular endothelium

Does the low GI diet have enduring merit?
‘A low-GI diet [is] a prudent approach to the prevention and treatment of diabetes, heart disease and obesity’ concludes Dr David Ludwig from the Department of Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston in The Lancet. In reviewing the evidence for the benefits of low GI eating he says: ‘The low-GI diet, with its focus on carbohydrate quality rather than quantity, aims to address an underlying physiological cause of diseases arising from excessive swings in postprandial glycemia. Because the diet does not restrict either fat or carbohydrate, it may be more behaviourally sustainable. Although the data are variable, most published studies report beneficial effects of lowering the GI and virtually no study suggests potential for harm (by contrast with low-fat and very-low-carbohydrate diets that can adversely affect some risk factors for cardiovascular disease).
The Lancet Vol 369 March 17, 2007

Dr David Ludwig

Nuts over nuts
A review by Australian nutrition experts in Current Opinion in Lipidology provides further support for the heart-health benefits derived from regularly eating nuts. In their conclusions, researchers Dr Alison Coates and Professor Peter Howe describe nuts as ‘ready-to-eat snack foods that are satisfying, have healthy lipid profiles, and are excellent sources of protein … There’s an extensive body of literature describing the beneficial effects of regular consumption of nuts on blood lipid profiles, and there are also different ways that bioactive nutrients in nuts can act – possibly synergistically – to improve blood circulation by enhancing the ability of blood vessels to dilate,’ said Professor Howe. Beyond the direct heart health benefits, nuts can offer a wider array of benefits, including:

  • weight loss in an energy restricted diet
  • satiating effect to balance appetite and energy through high fibre, protein and energy content, and
  • improved insulin sensitivity, with a positive impact on type 2 diabetes risk.
‘Many would-be nut eaters are concerned that the high fat content of nuts will contribute to weight gain,’ said Dr Coates, although evidence suggests this is not the case.
Current Opinion in Lipidology 2007 Feb;18(1):25–30.


Hyperglycemia and cancer risk

Swedish researchers report a statistically significant association between cancer and hyperglycemia in Diabetes Care and write that: ‘A lifestyle that decreases blood glucose levels may reduce overall cancer risk not only among overweight or obese subjects but most likely also among subjects with normal body weight. At the same time, current evidence suggests that such a strategy also would contribute to the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.’ In their prospective cohort study, Dr Par Stattin of Umea University Medical Center and colleagues examined data from 31,304 men and 33,293 women who had participated in a larger study and identified a total of 2478 cases of cancer. They found that abnormal glucose metabolism was associated with an increased risk of cancer overall in women but not in men. However, for both men and women, high fasting blood glucose was significantly associated with an increased risk of cancer of the pancreas, endometrium, urinary tract and malignant melanoma.
Diabetes Care 2007;30:561-567.


Low GI Food of the Month

‘Raw or dry roasted, halved or whole, walnuts are a heart healthy food,’ says Eat to Beat Cholesterol author, Nicole Senior. ‘But, stop at a handful to prevent kilojoule (calorie) overload. They contain very little carbohydrate, so they don’t have a measurable GI, but they are rich in fibre and protein and so can lower the GI of a meal when used as an ingredient and they make a great snack instead of foods high in saturated fat such as biscuits or cookies. They also contain loads of other beneficial nutrients such as vitamin E, folate, manganese (a trace element) and arginine (an amino acid), tannins and polyphenols (phytochemicals). And of all the nuts they are the highest in the good polyunsaturated fats – including omega 6 and omega 3. Thirty grams (1 oz) of walnuts (approx. 20 walnut halves) contains around 2 grams of plant omega 3 fat (alpha linolenic acid) – meeting the suggested daily amount for an adult. Omega-3s have amazing benefits for the heart. They can assist in lowering blood pressure, reduce blood clotting that causes heart attacks, improve blood vessel flexibility and elasticity and have anti-inflammatory properties. If you have pre-diabetes, boosting omega-3 intake can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce diabetes risk. If you have diabetes, you can benefit from eating walnuts, too. Not only are these heart-friendly, wonder foods a tasty and convenient snack, but they won’t upset blood glucose levels.’


Portion caution: Divide walnuts into individual small handful-sized bags or containers to resist over-indulgence. If you can’t stop at a small handful, enjoy them in cooking rather than as snacks. If you’re on a kilojoule-controlled eating plan to lose weight, have smaller portions, and eat them instead of less nutritious treats like lollies and biscuits.

Nicole’s 10 tips on how to get more

  1. Top oat porridge with sliced banana, nutmeg and chopped walnuts
  2. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over stewed apple and cinnamon
  3. Present a platter of whole walnuts in their shell after dinner
  4. Enjoy walnut halves with raisins or dates as a snack
  5. Add walnuts along with dried fruit to scones, cakes and biscuits (cookies)
  6. Add chopped walnuts and sultanas or raisins to coleslaw
  7. Create a wonderful pasta dish by adding steamed vegetables, chopped walnuts, olive oil, cracked black pepper and the juice and zest of a lemon to hot wholemeal pasta
  8. Combine salad greens, walnuts, fresh sliced pear and thinly sliced goats cheese and serve on the side with lean chicken or beef
  9. Add walnuts to couscous seasoned with salt-reduced stock, lemon juice, capers and green olives – great served with fish
  10. Scatter roasted walnuts on a plate of cut vegetables and dips
Tangy roasted beet and walnut salad
This fibre-rich salad from the California Walnut Commission features roasted beets to highlight the flavour of fennel and oranges. Walnuts add the finishing touch. Although this recipe is high in fat, it's the heart-healthy kind providing essential omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. To complete the meal, serve with small lean pieces of steak (beef, lamb, kangaroo or venison)or add chickpeas for a vegetarian option, along with a slice of wholemeal sourdough bread. To reduce the sodium, simply omit or reduce the added salt. To reduce the kilojoules/calories (and fat), use 2 tablespoons (40 ml) of olive oil only.

Serves 6 as an accompaniment
Cooking time 1 hour


1 tablespoon (15 ml) orange juice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
1/4 cup (50 ml) extra virgin olive oil

2 lb (1 kg) beets
2 bunches watercress or arugula
2 oranges, peeled and cut into sections
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 cup California walnut halves, toasted
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  2. Place the beets in an 8 inch (20 cm) square baking dish. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, or until beets are tender (will depend on size of beets). Let cool.
  3. To make the dressing, whisk together orange juice, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil.
  4. Peel and slice the cooled beets and toss with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of dressing.
  5. In large bowl, gently toss watercress, oranges, fennel and walnuts. Divide over 4 plates. Top with beets and drizzle with remaining dressing.
Cook’s tip
Bake the beets the day before and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Nutrition analysis per serve

Energy 1445 kJ/ 345 Cal; 26 g fat (includes saturated fat 2.4 g); 9 g fibre; 7.8 g protein; 21 g carbohydrate

Low GI Recipes of the Month

Creamy crispy fish pie
This fish pie created by Dairy Australia’s dietitians has a scrunchy, crunchy filo twist and is on the table in not much more than 30 minutes. Serve it with a grainy bread roll to mop up the juices and a big crispy mixed salad.

Serves 4
Cooking time 20–25 minutes


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 leek, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups (500 ml) reduced fat milk
1 teaspoon salt-reduced chicken stock powder
2 tablespoons cornflour
400 g (14 oz) firm white fish fillets, cut into cubes
300 g (10½ oz) broccoli, cut into florets
½ cup frozen green peas, thawed
6 sheets filo pastry
2 tablespoons reduced fat milk, extra
olive oil spray

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add leek and garlic, cooking for 2–3 minutes until tender. Pour in milk and stock powder, bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. Combine cornflour with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and stir until a smooth paste forms. Add to milk mixture and continue stirring over a low heat until thickened.
  4. Add fish, broccoli and peas to sauce and heat through. Transfer mixture to a 2-litre (8-cup) capacity ovenproof dish.
  5. Lightly brush pastry sheets with extra milk and layer on top of each other. Cut widthways into 6 strips.
  6. Scrunch each length of pastry and place on top of the fish mixture. Spray lightly with oil and bake for 10–15 minutes, until pastry is golden and fish and vegetables are tender.
Nutrition analysis per serve
Energy 1370 kJ/ 326 Cal; 6 g fat (includes saturated fat 2 g); 6 g fibre; 38 g protein; 27 g carbohydrate

Click HERE for more calcium-rich Dairy Australia recipes to try.

Turkey and Bean Chilli with Avocado Salsa
This recipe is from a new book called Magic Foods from the editors at Readers Digest that’s packed with recipes, menus and foods to help people achieve better blood glucose management. To find out more about it, check the link to Readers Digest at the end of the recipe. The chili will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Serves 8 (One serving of chilli is 1¼ cups chilli and 2 tablespoons salsa)
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes


12 oz (340 g) lean ground turkey breast
¼ cup chili powder (or to taste)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cups chopped onion (1 large)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 x 4½ ox (130 g) cans chopped green chillies
1 x 28 oz (800 g) can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 x 14 oz (400 g) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 x 19 oz (540 g) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 x 19 oz (540 g) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Avocado salsa
2 medium Hass avocados, diced
2/3 cup, seeded fresh tomato (1 medium plum tomato)
¼ cup finely diced white or red onion
2 tablespoons minced, seeded jalapeno pepper (chilli) (1 small)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  1. Cook the ground turkey with the chili powder, cumin and oregano in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat and mixing in the spices with a wooden spoon, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven (large casserole) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and green chiles. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth and browned ground turkey. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
  3. Stir in the black beans and kidney beans. Return to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat until flavours have blended, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. To make the Avocado Salsa: combine the avocado, tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and salt in a medium bowl. Toss gently to mix.
  5. Spoon 2 tablespoons of salsa on each serving of chilli.
Nutrition analysis per serve
Energy1373 kJ/ 327 Cal; 11 g fat (includes saturated fat 1 g); 12 g fibre; 23 g protein; 38 g carbohydrate

To find out more about Magic Foods click HERE.

Your Success Stories

People need to get back to eating basic, healthy foods. – Ashton
I purchased two of your books. My husband and I have completely changed our eating habits based on the GI. Within the first ten days we lost seven pounds and we feel fantastic. Food prep is a little more involved now and I have to shop more often for fresh foods, but we are simply amazed. We now understand why we were not losing weight when we were eating ‘healthy’. It just makes so much sense. People need to get back to eating basic, healthy foods and ignore the messages that are being sent to us by the giant companies pushing junk. I say this because since we began eating this way we look at commercials for things like fast food and processed food and just shake our heads. We feel we have truly found a new and permanent way of eating. Finally!


If I can turn my diabetes around like this in just a few months, despite having an underlying endocrine condition, I think there’s hope for everyone! – Kerry

In 2000, I was diagnosed with either a pheochromocytoma or other type of ganglioneuroma, in either case a rare cancerous tumor that brings havoc to the endocrine system, a condition that apparently only one in a million people have. Lucky me! Usually with this type of tumor (which is almost always benign) once the tumor is located and surgically removed, the patient can return to a normal life. In my case, like a very few who have this condition, an army of doctors and all of their tests have not been able to locate the tumor. It became clear a few years back that I was permanently disabled by the condition. Despite all of this bad news, I was able to adjust to most of the debilitating symptoms (dizziness, panic attacks, flushing, hypertension alternating with hypotension, fainting) and with the right mix of meds I’ve been able to find some quality of life.

Then came the news about a year ago that due to my endocrine problems I had developed diabetes. Having not been able to exercise for about 7 years due to my condition, with one of my few activities being eating, I had gained a huge amount of weight, and that added due and brought on the symptoms of diabetes, the last thing I needed on top of everything else. Though I had not had success with defeating my underlying endocrine problem, I knew I could fight Diabetes with the right medical help. I sought out the aid of Dr Richard Berkowitz of Wayne, NJ, a highly recommended endocrinologist whose specialty was the treatment of diabetes. Dr. Berkowitz was a godsend. He put me on actoplus metformin and other meds which helped me greatly. But more than this he referred me to Johanna Burani, M.S., Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator.

I knew I had to fight the diabetes by seriously changing my diet and had begun this process already. I knew I wanted a healthy food plan but I was so confused as to what that plan should be. Johanna explained the causes of diabetes and the way the body converts foods to sugar in a way that I finally understood. She taught me about good carbs versus bad carbs, the ones she calls ‘gushers’. She was so understanding, patient and helpful and put me on a very simple food plan – one that I could easily follow. And follow it I did!

From the time I saw Johanna in August until the time of this writing (February 23, 2007), I have dropped from 330 pounds to 270 pounds, an amazing 50 pounds, (and a total of 70 pounds lost from my high of 350)! Even better, my blood sugar levels have dropped down into the normal range, my trigliceride level which was high has dropped, my bad cholesterol is down and my good cholesterol is up. When I saw Dr Berkowitz and Johanna recently for follow up visits in the last few weeks, they both were as thrilled with my progress as I am.

Most importantly, I feel so much better. Not only have my symptoms from diabetes been improving, but my other chronic problems related to the endocrine tumor have abated to a degree. In general I have more energy, I am less dizzy and I am more able to function. I have even now been able to begin a walking program, which is helping me continue to lose weight and in general feel better. As I’m learning I just have to carefully observe my food plan and stay with it! Notice, I don’t call it a diet. I don’t like that term, because it implies that there is an end to this and I know I can’t stop eating healthy. This for me has to be a lifestyle choice and I know I am choosing to eat this way for the rest of my life, not for the next year or so alone. I hope this story will inspire all of those readers out there who are feeling discouraged or overwhelmed with their fight to regain their health.’

Inspire others. Share your GI story.
success story

We'll send you a free copy of The Low GI Diet Cookbook or The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook if your story is published.


Move it and Lose it!

Glenn Cardwell’s tip for blokes
If you see home exercise machinery advertised suggesting it will make you look like the 25-year-old body builder in the advert, be thankful you aren’t foolish enough to give them your credit card details. For more information see Gold Medal Nutrition.

Glen Cardwell

Exercise goals for May
Fitness expert Joanna McMillan Price says aim to walk at a steady, comfortable pace for 20 minutes on four days every week. Plus complete two resistance exercises – squats (see April GI News) and single leg extensions (see below) on three days.

Joanna McMillan-Price

Single leg extensions

One of the most important groups of muscles for you to exercise are those involved in posture and back support. By working this group of muscles you develop core strength that will immediately improve your posture, reduce the risk of back pain and strengthen you from the inside out.

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your knees bent in towards your chest, and arms by your sides with hands flat to the floor.
  2. Pull in your belly as if trying to shorten the distance between your navel and spine—it should feel as if you are bracing the abdominal wall. Extend one leg out parallel to the floor while keeping the abdominals braced.
  3. Bring the leg back in and repeat on the other side.
Remember: Breathe normally (it’s easy to hold your breath subconsciously during this exercise).

How many: 20 (10 on each leg).

– Source: The Low GI Diet and The Low GI Diet Revolution.

Books, DVDs, Websites: What’s New?

Ending the Food Fight
Guide your child to a healthy weight in a fast food/fake food world

By David Ludwig, MD, PhD with Suzanne Rostler, M.S., R.D.


Dr David Ludwig, Director of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program at Children’s Hospital Boston shares his 9-week low-glycemic plan for families with overweight children to give parents the tools they need to win the food fight. We thought that you’d enjoy a snippet from Week 1 – ‘The Clean Sweep,’ where he shows us how we can work together and have fun turning our homes into a nutritional safe zone filled with an abundance of real food.

  • Right after breakfast, assemble the family in the kitchen and explain the plan for the day.
  • Go through cupboards, cabinets, refrigerator and pantry and other food storage areas. Remove all sugary drinks, chips, cookies, candy, ice-cream, refined crackers, and other fake food that doesn’t support your family’s health. Throw them away. Just for today, don’t worry about being wasteful: the health costs of eating those factory products are far greater than their purchase price.
  • Take the family to lunch at a restaurant that serves healthy food, go see a matinee, or do both.
  • After lunch, go shopping together for real food to replace the fake food you tossed. Stock your home with fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, nuts, nut butters, beans, wholegrain bread and crackers, brown rice, lean protein, and health snacks.
For more information, check out David's website at: www.endingthefoodfight.com

Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

Dietitians Kaye Foster-Powell and Alan Barclay, co-authors of The Diabetes and Pre-diabetes Handbook answer your questions in feedback this month.

I have just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I am not overweight, have a balanced diet and exercise now and again. I am just 20. I have not told my family yet. Can you give me some advice on eating, the GI and other tips?
It’s rare, but not unheard of, for us to see young people who aren’t overweight, diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In such cases referral (from a general practitioner) to an endocrinologist really needs to be considered to confirm the type of diabetes (you need to make sure that it isn’t type 1) and work out the most appropriate management for you. It isn’t unusual that you are reluctant to tell people you have diabetes. The diagnosis can be a shock and you have every right to take your time to come to terms with it yourself. You are to be congratulated for seeking information on how to best manage it. We would encourage you to see a diabetes educator and dietitian with experience in managing diabetes. They can provide personal advice on the diet and lifestyle aspects of managing diabetes, which is essential given the serious and life-long nature of the condition.


I read in one of your books that dairy food causes a higher insulin response than would be expected by its low GI. Does cheese cause a high insulin response or just milk and yoghurt?
Protein is what called an insulin secretagogue (this means it stimulates insulin secretion). It isn’t necessarily a high insulin response. For most foods the glycemic response parallels the insulin response, so low GI would also be low insulin. However with foods that are sources of both carbs and protein (like dairy foods), this relationship is clouded by the insulin-stimulating action of protein. In response to your specific question, we expect that cheese (being a source of protein) would also stimulate some insulin secretion.


Just wondering if herbal teas have been known to raise blood glucose levels? Particularly peppermint tea? finding that since I have been taking it my levels seem higher? Could it be a coincidence?
Assuming you aren’t adding sugar or honey we would say coincidence. Though caffeine may cause transient rises in those who are not habitual drinkers of tea or coffee, regular consumption appears to attenuate the response. Most herbal teas do not contain much caffeine – usually!


In The New Glucose Revolution you discuss the benefits of vinegar. I have read in other books that the only benefits to be derived from vinegar are if it is ‘mother vinegar’ or raw and unprocessed. Do apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar have the same effects?
Yes they do. So will balsamic vinegar and white wine vinegar. A realistic amount (say a tablespoon) of acid in foods like vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, some salad dressings and even pickled vegetables slow down stomach emptying, thereby slowing the rate at which starch can be digested.


GI Values Update

The highs and lows of sweet potato
We thought that it was time to see if we could sort some of the confusion about sweet potatoes. This handy vegetable has been GI-tested on a number of occasions at various labs around the world (Canada, New Zealand and Australia), and like potato, the results have been varied: sometimes high, sometimes moderate and sometimes low, What we haven’t always been able to tell from some of the earlier tests which variety was tested. So, Fiona Atkinson at SUGiRS set to and has been cooking up a storm over the past few months. What did she find? Like potatoes, it comes down to variety.

Copper-coloured skin, orange flesh
(boiled) GI 61

Purple skin, creamy flesh
(boiled) GI 75


Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas), commonly called a yam in the US and Canada aren’t a ‘potato’ at all. They aren’t actually yams either, botanically speaking. They are the sweetish tasting tuberous roots of a vine from the sprawling morning glory family. They have a smooth skin which can be red, purple, copper-coloured, brown and white depending on variety and white, yellow, orange, and purple flesh. They are rich in nutrients including beta-carotene, vitamin C and fibre plus vitamin E, thiamin and folate. A big advantage over potatoes is that the skin does not develop green patches (making them inedible) when exposed to light.

What do these new values mean if you are trying to lower the GI of your diet? Well, first of all look for the lower GI varieties. Secondly, remember that not everything you eat has to have a low GI. Enjoy the higher GI varieties in season, but in moderation. And remember that serving them with a vinaigrette dressing or mashing them with legumes (pulses) will also lower the GI. And above all keep in mind that we don’t want anyone to use the GI in isolation when creating a healthy eating plan. It’s important to eat a wide variety of foods. Sweet potatoes are nutritious and filling and fat free (when steamed or boiled). A serving is about 120 grams (4 oz).

The latest North American values

Tested by Glycemic Index laboratories, Toronto
When that meal needed to be on the table 5 minutes ago, super convenience is what you need, even though it may cost a little more. Here are 9 pouch products from Uncle Ben’s Ready range with a low GI. All you do is pop the pouch in the microwave and it heats in 90 seconds.

Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice
Original Long Grain GI 48
Long Grain and Wild GI 49
Roasted Chicken Flavoured GI 51
Spanish Style GI 51

Uncle Ben’s Ready Whole Grain
Brown Rice GI 48
Chicken Flavored Brown Rice GI 46

Uncle Ben’s Ready Whole Grain Medley
Santa Fe GI 48
Vegetable Harvest GI 48
Brown and Wild GI 45


You can find details of the ingredients in each product and nutrition information on Uncle Ben’s website. But for those who need to consider carbohydrate quantity, a one-cup serving contains from 37–46 grams of carbohydrate.

Where can I get more information on GI testing?

North America
Dr Alexandra Jenkins
Glycemic Index Laboratories
36 Lombard Street, Suite 100
Toronto, Ontario M5C 2X3 Canada
Phone +1 416 861 0506
Email info@gilabs.com
Web www.gilabs.com

Fiona Atkinson
Research Manager, Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS)
Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences
Sydney University
NSW 2006 Australia
Phone + 61 2 9351 6018
Fax: + 61 2 9351 6022
Email sugirs@mmb.usyd.edu.au
Web www.glycemicindex.com

New Zealand
Dr Tracy Perry
The Glycemic Research Group, Dept of Human Nutrition
University of Otago
PO Box 56 Dunedin New Zealand
Phone +64 3 479 7508
Email tracy.perry@stonebow.otago.ac.nz
Web glycemicindex.otago.ac.nz

Where can I get more information on the GI symbol program?


Alan Barclay
Acting CEO, Glycemic Index Ltd
Phone: +61 2 9785 1037
Fax: +61 2 9785 1037
Email: awbarclay@optusnet.com.au
Web www.gisymbol.com.au

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