GI Symbol News with Alan Barclay

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Alan Barclay

Getting those slow carbs into the shopping trolley
Around the globe, rates of overweight/obesity are growing at an alarming rate with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers increasing as a direct result. Now more than ever, there is an urgent need to take action to stem the tide before it hits us like a tsunami of human suffering accompanied by unprecedented health care costs.

The current epidemic of obesity and associated lifestyle-related disease has multiple causes and it’s clear there isn’t going to be a simple solution or magic bullet. For example, our 20-year obsession with low-fat/high-carb diets in the ‘West’ hasn’t stemmed the tide. Indeed, large dietary surveys suggest that as fat consumption went down, rates of overweight/obesity went up. It seems, according to an already large and rapidly growing body of evidence, that in cutting back on fats, we overlooked the quality of the carbs we typically put in their place – thus increasing the glycemic impact of the foods that make up the largest proportion of our diet.

In fact, apart from the simple sugars ‘bad’/complex starches ‘good’ story, carbs had received little attention until the Atkins low carb ‘re-Revolution’ in the early 1990s really hit the headlines and best-seller lists. And Atkins got it right when he said that ‘Mankind is not geared to handle an abundance of refined carbohydrates.’ We aren’t. Atkins-type low-carb regimes are undoubtedly effective in the short and possibly even medium term for weight loss, but their long-term health benefits have long been questioned – and the jury is still out, despite one recent study finding that a “vegetarian-style” low-carbohydrate diet is as effective as other alternatives (“Mediterranean style” diets) to the low-fat diet for weight loss over a two year period. In addition, the environmental sustainability of a diet with an emphasis on eating large amounts of animal protein such as typical low-carb Atkins has to be a consideration.

What research on the GI over the past nearly 30 years shows is that there’s no need to avoid or drastically cut back entire food groups like carbs to reduce the glycemic impact of your diet. A low GI diet with its emphasis on ‘slow’ carbs to fuel your body and power your life will help you do just that. We also know from very large epidemiological surveys that low GI diets are flexible, livable, family friendly and help you optimise your insulin sensitivity and decrease your insulin levels over the whole day. With their emphasis on minimally processed plant foods, they are also better for the environment. Sustainable nutrition all-round we say.

Woolworths Supermarkets joins the GI Symbol Program
The GI Symbol was devised to help consumers put healthy low GI choices into the shopping trolley. The latest company to join the Program is Australia’s largest food retailer – Woolworths Supermarkets. In choosing the GI Symbol for its Select range, Woolworths is not only making the practical implementation of a low GI diet even simpler and more affordable than ever, it is sending out a loud and clear signal that that consuming more healthy low GI foods and beverages is one of the primary tools in the battle against obesity.

The GI Ltd team has worked closely with Woolworths for the past couple of years identifying and testing appropriate foods to ensure they met the program’s strict nutrient criteria. The result is an all-new range of healthy low GI options under the Woolworths Select brand with packaged fruit, corn-based tortillas and breakfast cereals being the first on the shelves. Email us for more information:

Dr Alan W Barclay, PhD
CEO, Glycemic Index Ltd
Phone: +61 2 9785 1037
Mob: +61 (0)416 111 046
Fax: +61 2 9785 1037