Low Glycemic Diet
By Steven Horne, RH (AHG) & Kimberly Balas, ND

See Glycemic Index Table here

The single biggest problem with our modern diet is the huge amount of refined carbohydrates we consume. We experience many problems due to this obsession we have with refined sugars, white flour and processed grains. Here is what's happening inside the body that makes a diet high in simple starches and sugars so harmful.

The pancreas, adrenals and liver work together to maintain a stable blood sugar for healthy body and brain function. When you get up in the morning, your body has been fasting all night and your blood sugar is low. You "break your fast" by eating breakfast. And how you break-fast in the morning will set up your metabolism for the day.

If you start off with coffee and donuts or other pastries, sugar sweetened breakfast cereal or other simple carbohydrates, you raise your blood sugar level quickly, but it comes at a cost. Your blood sugar goes too high and your pancreas has to secrete high levels of insulin to get this sugar out of your bloodstream. Insulin causes the body to store carbohydrates in the liver and fat cells (causing weight gain). Insulin also increases inflammation, which is the root cause of heart disease, cancer and numerous other degenerative ailments.

Normally, when blood sugar levels drop, another pancreatic hormone called glucagon steps in to mobilize sugar stored in the liver to keep the blood sugar level stable. However, high levels of insulin depress the release of glucagon, so, once that sugar is low you crave your next high carbohydrate and/or caffeine fix. This low blood sugar is called hypoglycemia. 'Hypo' meaning low, 'gly' for sugar and 'cemia' referring to the bloodstream.

When blood sugar levels start to dip below normal, the body gives certain subtle clues that it needs help. These may include suddenly feeling cold or getting a cold nose, strong craving for sweets or caffeine, sudden fatigue or mental confusion, the inability to concentrate, a mild headache, or a sense of pain around the eyes. If not dealt with soon, the symptoms may worsen into irritability, severe fatigue, dizziness or shakiness.

As the above symptoms suggest, hypoglycemia affects far more than our physical bodies. It also affects our mind and emotions. As the sugar in candy and chocolate rushes into the blood stream, it produces a sugar "high." once the sugar drops the person experiences a corresponding "downer." As one again consumes sugary and starchy foods, the body goes on a blood sugar roller coaster ride, with your energy and mood going up and down with it.

Refined carbohydrates also rob your body of vitamins and minerals, since it requires these nutrients to process the carbohydrates into energy. This steadily reduces nutrient stored and depletes the health not only of bones and teeth, but the brain, heart, liver and other vital organs.

Probably half of most people's health problems would go away if they just stopped eating refined carbohydrates and processed fats. And, although this sounds hard, it's actually easier to make this change than most people think. It starts with that breakfast we referred to earlier.

Instead of starting the day with sugary, starchy foods and caffeine, start the day with some high quality fat and protein. Organic eggs, avocados, organic meats or unsweetened, whole milk yogurt are all good choices. If you are in a hurry, take a spoonful of coconut oil and make a protein shake with a protein powder or a whole food meal replacement powder such as Love and Peas or Nature's Harvest.

Protein and good fats cause your pancreas to secrete glucagon. Glucagon mobilizes sugar stored in your liver to enter the blood stream. This raises your blood sugar, but it also sets your metabolism to start burning fats instead of storing them. The result, your blood sugar stays more stable throughout the day and so does your energy and mood.

You can also reduce sugar cravings by taking two licorice root capsules at breakfast, two again at lunch, and two in the mid-afternoon. Super Algae or Target Endurance taken in the morning and again at lunchtime can also help.

It also helps to eat low glycemic foods during the day. A low glycemic food is one that does not trigger high levels of insulin. Starchy foods like potatoes and whole grains have a higher glycemic index than non-starchy vegetables. Low glycemic vegetables include: green leafy vegetables, zucchini squash, green beans, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.), tomatoes, onions, asparagus, Cucumbers, peppers and turnips. You can lower the glycemic index of potatoes by mashing equal parts of cooked cauliflower with cooked potatoes. Tree of Light's Blood Type and Nutrition charts differentiate between high and low glycemic carbohydrates, which can make it easier to determine which foods to consume and which to avoid.

It's also important to avoid eating an excess of sugary fruits. Fruit juices tend to have a high glycemic index. Fruits with lower glycemic indexes include apples, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, lemons, limes, peaches, pears and plums. If you are trying to lose weight or balance blood Sugar in hypoglycemia or diabetes, it may be wise to avoid all fruits for a period of time until your body becomes more stable.

When foods are combined, it can lower the glycemic load. For example, adding fats, like butter or sour cream, to a baked potato will lower the amount of insulin released. When looking at prepackaged foods, you can calculate the glycemic load of the food using the following formula. Take the total carbohydrates and subtract the amount of fiber and half of the fat. This gives you the glycemic load. You want to keep this under 10 grams.

For example, if you have a food that has 12 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of fat, the glycemic load would be 9. That's 12 minus 2 for the fiber and 1 for the fat (Glycemic Index Tables).

It takes about two weeks to get over the cravings for sugar. However, once you have done so, you'll be pleased with how much your overall mood, energy and health will improve. Try it!

The therapy Low Glycemic Diet helps deal with Nutritional Deficiencies, one of the root causes of disease.

Below is a list of suggested products. Those in bold are key products for the health issue explained on this page. For details and ordering simply copy a product's name in the search box above or click on the bold name.

Herbs: Licorice Root and Spirulina

Herbal Formulas: Blood Sugar Formula, HY-C, Super Algae and HY-A

Nutraceuticals: Pro-pancreas, SugarReg, Sweet FX and Target P- 14

Foods: Meal Replacements (Love and peas, Nature's Harvest)