Food for Thought

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Science and the low GI concept
The number of papers with ‘GI’ in their title published in peer-reviewed scientific journals has increased exponentially over the last 10 years. In an interview with FoodIngredientsfirst Jennie talked about how science is developing around the GI concept. We reprint an extract here.

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller
Prof Jennie Brand-Miller

‘Science has always underpinned the low GI concept,’ said Prof Jennie Brand-Miller. ‘Indeed, it is what separates the GI concept from a ‘fad’. Research is showing that high GI foods and diets with a high glycemic load are much more likely to be linked to development of diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease than the amount of carbohydrate, starch or sugar content of the diet. There is also more focus on weight control, particularly the ability to prevent weight re-gain after weight loss – the holy grail.

And while the science of GI can be complex, the consumer application isn’t. It’s really simple – you swap a high GI food for a low GI food from within food categories – a low GI bread instead of a high GI one, a low GI breakfast cereal for a high GI one. The consumer learnt that there are good fats and bad fats and to swap one for the other. The same applies to carbohydrate.’

What are the new emerging GI areas? ‘It amazes me that the GI is being linked to so many things, including inflammatory diseases (e.g. arthritis), birth defects, Alzheimer’s disease, memory and different types of cancer. There’s even research that suggests that food ‘addiction’ is related to high blood glucose spikes. I’m currently involved in research applying low GI diets to pregnancy. We want to reduce the risk that the baby will have excess fat on its body at birth. The child obesity epidemic can be traced back to increasing birth weights over the past 25 years.’

Which countries and food markets hold the most potential for low GI? ‘I think the GI is relevant to every nation on the planet. All of us are more or less susceptible to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Our health care budgets can’t sustain the current rate of expenditure. Prevention is the only way forward – diet and exercise are the two biggest parts of the solution.’

– Reproduced with kind permission of FoodIngredientsfirst.