1 April 2008

GI News—April 2008


  • 10 tips to reduce the GI of your diet
  • Nicole Senior looks at fibre, colon cleansing and being ‘healthy on the inside’
  • Less sleep more fat says Prof. Trim
  • Want healthy bones? Have a bowl of miso
Grandma was right, you are what you eat. Read all about it in Food for Thought. A new meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides compelling evidence that high GI diets increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. There’s also evidence for links between high blood glucose and gallstones and even some cancers. In News Briefs we look at the balance of protein to carbs in extending lifespan (in fruit flies!) and a new Dutch study that found people eating a low GI diet had higher levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, improved insulin sensitivity and reduced chronic inflammation. Also this month we have two inspiring Success Stories, three delicious recipes plus Catherine Saxelby’s tips on getting enough iodine and why it matters in Feedback. You'll be pleased to hear we have put all our podcasts in one place in the right-hand column under 'Podcasts'.

Good eating, good health and good reading.


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

Food for Thought

Choose tricklers not gushers
Because there have been inconsistent findings from observational studies, the controversy over the effects of GI and the risk of lifestyle diseases has had that ‘how long is a piece of string quality’ about it.

The first meta-analysis to evaluate the association between the GI of the diet, and the risk of developing common lifestyle-related diseases, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in March and provides additional evidence that diets with a high GI or a high GL will increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It also shows there is evidence for links between high blood glucose and gallstones and even some types of cancer. ‘The key message,’ says lead author Alan Barclay, ‘is that the GI of your diet is a predictor of your disease risk. Grandma was right, you are what you eat.’


Low GI foods (the ones that trickle glucose into your bloodstream) have benefits for everybody. Not only can they keep you feeling full longer, they help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight and provide you and your brain with more consistent energy throughout the day. They can also have a major effect on the way the body functions and whether or not you develop health problems. Alan Barclay explains why: ‘If you have constantly high blood glucose levels from eating a high GI diet, you may literally “wear out” your pancreas over time and eventually this can lead to pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.’

‘There’s also evidence from the studies that have been done that high blood glucose levels are linked to certain types of cancer, as well. This is because constant spikes in blood glucose from eating high GI gushers cause the body to release more insulin, and also increase a related substance called insulin like growth factor one (IGF-1). Both these hormones increase cell growth and decrease cell death, and have been shown to increase the risk of developing some types of cancer.’

‘Other research shows that a high GI diet tends to reduce “good” HDL cholesterol levels and raise triglycerides levels; bad news for cardiovascular diseases. And people with low HDL cholesterol and high triglyceride levels are more prone to gallstones.’

‘What it comes down to is that there’s a simple, cost-effective way for everybody to reduce their risk of developing diabetes and heart disease and enhance their quality of life. We all need to eat a healthy, low GI diet. I guess that simply means when it comes to carb-rich foods, choose the tricklers and reduce the overall GI of your diet.’

10 tips for reducing the GI of your diet

  • Aim to eat at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day, preferably of three or more different colours. Tidbit: Fill half your dinner plate with veggies.
  • If you are a big potato eater, either have one or two Nicola, Almera or tiny chat potatoes. Tidbit: Make ‘mash’ replacing half the potato with cannellini beans.
  • Choose a low GI bread. Look for the GI Symbol or choose a really grainy bread, true sourdough bread or a soy and linseed bread.
  • Replace high GI breakfast flakes (real glucose gushers) with low GI alternatives like natural muesli, traditional porridge oats or one of the lower GI processed breakfast cereals.
  • Look for lower GI rices such as basmati, Doongara Clever Rice or Moolgiri medium grain rice and choose less processed foods or low GI wholegrains such as traditional rolled or steel-cut oats, or quinoa for porridge or pearl barley, buckwheat, bulgur, whole kernel rye, or whole wheat kernels.
  • Eat legumes (beans, chickpeas and lentils) often – home cooked or canned.
  • Include at least one low GI carb with every meal. You’ll find them in four of the food groups: fruit and vegetables; bread and cereals; legumes; low fat dairy or soy alternatives.
  • Choose low GI snacks – fresh fruit, a dried fruit and nut mix, low fat milk or yoghurt.
  • Vinegar and lemon or lime juices slow stomach emptying and lower your blood glucose response to the carbohydrate with which they are eaten. Tidbit: Get the salad habit and toss it in a vinaigrette dressing.
  • Limit refined flour products – cookies, cakes, pastries, pies, crumpets, crackers, biscuits irrespective of their fat and sugar content.

Two extra tips to reduce blood glucose spikes

  • Incorporate a lean protein source with every meal – lean meat, skinless chicken, eggs, fish or seafood, or low fat dairy, legumes or tofu if you are vegetarian.
  • Remember portion caution with carb-rich foods such as pasta, noodles and low GI rices. It’s all too easy to over-eat them. While they may be low GI choices themselves, eating lots of them will have a marked effect on your blood glucose.

News Briefs

Low GI diet reduces metabolic risk factors
Heart disease and type 2 diabetes don’t just happen. The signs may be silent, but the metabolic risk factors such as low levels of good HDL cholesterol, insulin resistance and elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood will be there. An article in the March issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that in the Dutch population that was studied, people who ate a low GI diet rich in dairy foods and fruit but with a low potato and cereal intake had higher levels of HDL 'good' cholesterol (the one that clears cholesterol from our arteries and aids its removal from the blood), improved insulin sensitivity, reduced chronic inflammation, and in nonsmokers, fasting glucose. The authors make the point that the 29% decrease they found in CRP was associated with a 10-unit decrease in dietary GI and seems promising for decreasing the risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

We asked Alan Barclay whose meta-analysis that systematically reviewed the results of 37 prospective cohort studies on the association of dietary GI and chronic disease 'What’s a realistic GI to aim for in our diet and meals?' ‘A GI of 45 or less is a reasonable definition of a low GI diet or meal,' he says. ‘This is because what we now know from numerous observational cohort studies around the world is that the average GI of the diet of people in the lowest quintile (20% of the population) is about 40–50. Similarly, in a recent meta-analysis of 15 experimental studies investigating the role of low GI diets in managing diabetes, the average GI was 45. Since this average GI has been proven to have significant health benefits in people with existing diabetes and in reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and importantly, people can and do achieve it in real life, we believe a GI of 45 or less is what we all need to be aiming for.’
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2008; 87


There’s always a catch
The balance of protein to carbs in the diet is critical in extending lifespan – in fruit flies – according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The key to a long life is eating less protein – and not just fewer calories, as was previously thought. But there’s a catch. While cutting protein may help you live longer, it may mean you'll have fewer children, well, if you’re a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster).

‘Animals that eat less live longer, up to a point,’ says Prof. Stephen Simpson of the University of Sydney's School of Biological Sciences. Using new techniques developed by Simpson and Prof. David Raubenheimer (Auckland University) ‘Our research shows the balance of protein to carbohydrate in the diet is critical.’

‘Flies lived longest when the diet contained a low percentage of protein, and died sooner the more protein they consumed,’ says Professor Simpson. ‘But protein is needed for reproduction – so flies are faced with a conundrum: eat less protein and live longer, or eat more protein and lay more eggs? When offered a choice, flies behaved like nutrient-seeking missiles, unerringly mixing a relatively high protein diet that maximised their lifetime egg production. In other words, flies preferred to achieve maximum evolutionary fitness rather than live as long as possible,’ says Simpson.

– For more information: www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/0710787105/DC1
– email: stephen.simpson@bio.usyd.edu.au


GI Group: What is Drosophila melanogaster and why bother about it?
We turned to Gerard Manning’s website for answers here. Drosophila melanogaster the little fruit fly about 3 mm long that hovers over the ripe fruit bowl may be a pest in your kitchen but it has proved to be one of the most valuable organisms in biological research. Gerard Manning says: ‘Drosophila has been used as a model organism for research for almost a century. Its importance for human health was recognised by the award of the Nobel Prize in medicine/physiology to Ed Lewis, Christiane Nusslein-Volhard and Eric Wieschaus in 1995. Part of the reason people work on it is historical – so much is already known about it that it is easy to handle and well-understood – and part of it is practical: it’s a small animal, with a short life cycle of just two weeks, and is cheap and easy to keep large numbers.’ If you want to know more about fruit fly research, check out: ceolas.org

Don’t underestimate yourself
Five hundred and two people asked to estimate their waist measurement got it wrong! Men on average underestimated their waist size by 3.1 inches (7.9 cm).

The study, conducted by researchers from Leicester University, looked at 502 people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Women in general got their waist measurements wrong by 2.2 inches (5.5 cm). People from white European backgrounds were worse than people from South Asian backgrounds when estimating measurements, with an average 2.9 inches (7.4 cm) error compared to 1.6 inches (4.1cm) for South Asians.

The results of the study were presented to Diabetes UK's Annual Professional Conference in March. It can take years for symptoms of type 2 diabetes to emerge so simple indicators like waist size (having a large waist is one of the main risk factors) are important signals. ‘Measuring up is a reality check, the first step to recognising that you may not be as well as you feel,’ said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK. ‘To believe that you are more than three inches slimmer than you are is to ignore a clear warning of a risk of diabetes.’

So the take-home message is measure up. With a tape!


What's new?
Heart Food
By Veronica Cuskelly and Nicole Senior

Don’t get it, prevent it, is the message in this delicious new cookbook. While you can’t control your age, sex or family background, you can reduce your risk of becoming a heart disease statistic with a healthy heart diet and an active, low-stress lifestyle. Veronica and Nicole’s practical guide to caring for your heart starts in the kitchen. Their new book is packed with family friendly recipes that will be a hit at home, boost your energy, delight your tastebuds and best of all, give your heart the TLC it needs.

Peach, Orange, Carrot and Tahini Juice with Honeydew Melon
Makes 2 serves


Each serving contains ½ a serve of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit

1 cup (250 g/9 oz) sliced canned peaches in natural juice
1 orange (300 g/10½ oz), peeled, quartered, seeds removed
1 carrot (125 g/4½ oz), peeled, chopped roughly
1½ tablespoons (30 g/1 oz) tahini
3 ice cubes
2 wedges(100 g/3½ oz each) honeydew melon

  • Place the peaches and juice, orange, carrot, tahini and ice cubes in a blender and blend until smooth – about 20 seconds. Pour into glasses and serve with the melon wedges
Per serving
917 kJ/219 calories; 6 g protein; 9 g fat (includes 1 g sat fat); 27 g carbohydrate ; 8 g fibre

Low GI gluten-free Living Made Easy North American edition now available
By Kate Marsh, Prof. Jennie Brand-Miller and Philippa Sandall
Published by Da Capo Lifelong Books


More than two million North Americans have celiac disease and need to eat a gluten-free diet – but the absence of grains and the higher fat and sugar content of many gluten-free products can cause some nutrient deficiencies. Having lived with type 1 diabetes since she was ten and celiac disease for the past few years, dietitian and author Kate Marsh knows the difficulties of following a restricted diet. That’s why she teamed up with Prof Jennie Brand-Miller and Philippa Sandall, to put together in a very simple and down-to-earth way everything you need to know about healthy, gluten-free eating including:
  • 7 simple dietary guidelines for low GI gluten free eating
  • Low GI substitutes for common high GI foods
  • GI values of hundreds of popular gluten-free foods.
Plus 70 easy-to-prepare, delicious recipes the whole family will relish.

Food of the Month

Healthy bones and a bowl of miso
Hot on the heels of last month’s ‘legumes linked to lower diabetes risk’ story, comes news that boosting your intake of fermented soybeans (like miso) can help with insulin resistance and lead to improvements in bone health. In a study published in Geriatrics and Gerontology International (vol. 8, supplement 1), 56 healthy post-menopausal women were randomly assigned to receive a bowl of fermented soybean soup, providing a daily isoflavone aglycone dose of 24 milligrams, or a bowl of a placebo soup for four weeks. The women didn’t eat any other soybean-based foods or isoflavone supplements for five weeks prior to the start of the trial nor during it. Lead author Mari Mori from Mukogawa Women's University Institute reports that a ‘four-week intake of fermented soybeans improves bone metabolism in post-menopausal women by attenuating the excessive enhancement of bone resorption as well as by promoting bone formation.’ The researchers also found that blood levels of insulin were significantly lower after four weeks of the fermented soybean soup, compared to the placebo soup.


If you haven’t tried it, miso is a Japanese soybean and grain paste that has been fermented and then aged for up to three years. It is usually made with rice or barley. It’s a versatile savoury soup base similar to bouillon paste or cubes. Look for tubs of miso in the refrigerated section of Japanese food markets, health foods stores, or large supermarkets. Powdered miso is also available, as are powdered soup mixes made with miso and dashi.

And if you want to boost your bone health, try Kate Hemphill’s miso soup recipe this month.

Where do you get it?
Readers tell us that they have problems tracking down some of the low GI foods we recommend. So now you have it. ‘Where do you get it?’ Dietitian Kate Marsh is first of the rank with her favourite organic home delivery service who stock Nicola potatoes, brown basmati rice, quinoa and a wide range of legumes and sourdough breads! So Sydneysiders, this one is for you: www.abundantorganics.com.au

Low GI Recipes of the Month

Our chef Kate Hemphill develops deliciously simple recipes for GI News that showcase seasonal ingredients and make it easy for you to cook healthy, low GI meals and snacks. For more of Kate’s fabulous fare, check out: www.lovetocook.co.uk. For now, prepare and share good food with family and friends.

Miso, Shitake and Soy Bean Soup
When you really want something nutritious and comforting, try this soup. It’s gluten-free too! Fresh soy beans are now readily available shelled and frozen in some larger supermarkets and in Asian produce stores. You may know them as edamame in Japanese restaurants.

Serves 4

2 tbsp brown rice miso
6 cups (1½ litres) water
handful dried shitake mushrooms
200 g (7 oz) frozen shelled soy beans (edamame)
50 g (1¾ oz) buckwheat soba noodles
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 spring onions, finely sliced
red pickled ginger to serve (optional)

  • Dissolve the miso paste in water and bring to the boil. Add the soy beans, mushrooms, noodles and ginger and simmer for 10 minutes, or until beans and noodles are cooked.
  • Serve in soup bowls topped with spring onions and pickled ginger (if using).
Per serve
570 kJ/ 136 calories; 9 g protein; 3.8 g fat (includes 0.5 g saturated fat); 18 g carbohydrate; 3.8 g fibre

Brown Rice Salad with Beetroot Relish
By combining the brown rice with barley, you reduce the overall GI of this lovely, crunchy, nutritious salad. Use a low (or lower) GI brown rice such as Uncle Ben’s Ready Whole Grain Brown Rice (GI 48) or Doongara brown rice (GI 66). The beetroot relish also works well with grilled meats and burgers and will last for five days, covered, in the fridge. You can add any other vegetables you like to the salad to make it a veritable Mediterranean medley.
Serves 4–6

100 g (3½ oz) brown rice
100 g (3½ oz) pearl barley
1 red + 1 yellow pepper, cut into 2–3cm (1 inch) squares
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
200 g (7 oz) baby spinach, rinsed
extra virgin olive oil (about a teaspoon)

2 large beetroot, roasted and peeled (or pre-cooked in natural juices and drained)
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
  • Cook the brown rice and pearl barley in two separate large saucepans of boiling water until tender. Drain and return to the rice pan with all other salad ingredients. Stir well and add a little extra virgin olive oil. Even if you are serving the salad cold, this step will soften the vegetables with the heat in the rice pan. Season with plenty of cracked black pepper.
  • While the rice and barley are cooking, blitz all relish ingredients together, leaving a little texture.
  • Serve rice salad warm or room temperature with a spoonful of beetroot relish on top.
Per serve (based on 6 serves)
980 kJ/233 calories; 5 g protein; 11 g fat (includes 1.3 g saturated fat); 26 g carbohydrate; 4.5 g fibre

Busting Food Myths with Nicole Senior

Myth: Colon cleansing promotes a healthy bowel.

Nicole Senior

Fact: While the idea of sticking a tube up your bottom and flushing your bowel with loads of warm water might make you squirm, alternative practitioners of colonic irrigation say it has a variety of benefits such as removing toxins, restoring healthy bowel function, and even reducing tiredness and depression. Despite it being a most unnatural act, you should know that colonic irrigation (or lavage) has a number of risks such as bowel perforation and infection, electrolyte imbalance and transfer of bugs that cause diarrhoea. The most serious risk, bowel perforation and infection, requires surgical repair and IV antibiotics. While good bowel function is essential for your inner glow, a healthy balanced diet with enough fibre and a bit of exercise does the job for you in a more natural and enjoyable way.

So, how do you eat enough fibre to stay healthy on the inside? Well, not by sprinkling bran on everything. Actually too much insoluble fibre (such as bran) can interfere with the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc, and without a simultaneous increase in fluid intake may plug things up. In general, it’s best to drink plenty of fluids and get fibre the way nature intended: in plant foods such as vegetables; wholegrains; legumes; fruits; nuts and seeds. And the bonus is these foods are heart-friendly and good for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes as well.

There’s no need to stick anything anywhere the sun don’t shine for a healthy bowel – let healthy food shine through for you!

Click on the cover to purchase

Dietitian Nicole Senior is author of Eat to Beat Cholesterol available online at: www.eattobeatcholesterol.com.au

Dr David’s Tips for Raising Healthy Kids

The dreaded V word
Sooner or later there comes a moment that all doctors working with overweight kids dread. We pause, take a breath and utter the ‘V’ word. Vegetables. Suddenly the mother trembles, the father dives for cover and the kid erupts with some version of ‘Eewwwwwww! Yuck.’ Of course there’s nothing in a child’s nature that makes him hate vegetables. If there were, humans would have died out from malnutrition generations ago. Vegetables don’t have to be a battle. But they do have to be tasty. And you don’t have to be sneaky. It’s better for all concerned if kids understand why veggies are important for their health and learn to enjoy them.


Eleven year old Sam and his mother Tricia were generally pleased with the progress made during their first few months at OEL. Sam had really made substantial improvements with his diet and was getting to be more active. However, he simply refused to eat vegetables. Period. Tricia, who held down a demanding full-time job was honest in admitting she was no Julia Child. ‘I’m not a great cook, and my husband is worse,’ she said. Nevertheless, each night she dutifully prepared a balanced meal consisting of protein, low GI starch and … canned vegetables. She was frustrated Sam wouldn’t even give them a try. Cautiously I said I possibly wouldn’t eat canned veggies either. I told Tricia that I appreciated how little time she had, but making veggies tasty doesn’t take much time. In fact they have to look good, taste good, smell good and feel good. Here's my tips that helped Tricia get Sam to gobble up his greens. I hope they help you get your very own ‘refusenik’ asking for more.

  • Make a salad of crispy lettuce tossed in a vinaigrette dressing with raw veggies such as tiny tomatoes, carrot rings, celery slices, pieces of capsicum (sweet pepper)
  • Stir fry any fresh green leafy vegetable (spinach, broccoli, mustard greens, collard greens) in a pan with a little olive oil, garlic and a tiny pinch of salt if you wish and stir over a medium heat.
  • Bake sliced zucchini topped with a favourite red pasta sauce in the oven for twenty or thirty minutes.
  • Steam just about any vegetable until just tender, sprinkle with reduced-fat grated cheese and enjoy.
  • Juice some veggies or add them to soups or serve vegetable finger foods with dips.
And as Kaye Foster-Powell says in her Low GI Family Cookbook: ‘Don’t leave vegetables till the end of the day. Young children especially can be tired and fragile by dinnertime so getting them to eat their dinner let alone the vegetables is a big ask. Try to incorporate 3 vegetables as a normal part of eating throughout the day from raw carrot and celery sticks as snacks to salad with their lunchtime sandwich.’

Dr David Ludwig

– Dr David Ludwig is Director of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program at Children’s Hospital Boston and author of Ending the Food Fight

Move It & Lose It with Prof Trim

Less sleep, more fat
This month’s story sounds a bit like a contradiction of the ‘move it and lose it’ terms. But lack of sleep causes more problems than just feeling tired the next day. Although the connection has been suspected for some time, several studies have now shown a connection between lack of sleep and increases in body weight. This has been shown to occur early in life, with children as young as five or six having a greater risk of becoming overweight later in life if they sleep less than seven hours a night on a regular basis.


One reason for this might be obvious: The longer you are awake, the more time you have to eat. And given that this time is not likely to be spent being active, the extra energy intake will quickly develop into extra body weight.

More detailed research however has also shown that certain hunger hormones, particularly one called leptin, are increased with extra waking hours. It’s proposed that this goes back to evolution when longer periods of wakefulness were associated with getting more food in lean times. Irrespective of the cause it seems sleep is important – and we’re getting less and less of it with our busy modern lifestyles.

Many of us have trouble sleeping from time to time, especially when we are stressed or have worries. Insomnia is a symptom not a disease. Reducing anxiety and sticking to a day–night routine can improve sleep quality. Suggestions include:

  • Get your bedroom right, it should be cool, dark and quiet. And limit activities to sleeping and sex. No television or dealing with the day’s emails on your laptop.
  • Take time to unwind before bed – whatever it takes: a warm bath, soft music, meditating, a good book. No late night news or sitcoms.
  • Cut down on drinking. Yes a nightcap can be relaxing. It may even help you nod off. But it will more likely produce fragmented, fitful sleep than sweet dreams and sound sleep.
  • Avoid tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks after four in the afternoon. That includes drinks with guarana.
  • No big meals late at night. Give your full stomach the good two hours it needs to digest food before you dream of turning in.
If your insomnia has persisted for years, see your doctor or contact a sleep disorder clinic.

Dr Garry Egger aka Prof Trim

– Click for more information on Professor Trim.

Your Questions Answered

This month GI News welcomes back dietitian and nutritionist Catherine Saxelby to answer your questions about healthy living, food and nutrition.

The fundraising chocolate bar makes my blood boil! Do you have any suggestions for alternatives that parents like me will be happier selling to our friends?
Fundraising chocolate isn’t the Win/Win situation the chocolate companies would have you believe. It’s actually a win for them but a no-win for your family’s health. Chocolate has long been an easy vehicle for fundraising because it keeps for weeks without refrigeration, it’s easy to carry, and everyone loves a treat. I have to confess that all too often we end up buying the whole box and just paying the school the money! Here are five win/win fundraisers that I have found. I am sure you’ll be much happier asking your friends to buy these practical products.


  • Small 100 g tubes or roll-ons of SPF30+ sunblock. Keeps well and every family always needs more! The local pharmacy may be happy to help organise this with your school.
  • An Apple Spiral or Slinky machine is an easy, healthy alternative. It cores, slices and peels an apple into apple spirals or slinkies that kids love. Google ‘apple spiral or slinky’ for brands and contact details.
  • This one is good for you and good for the planet. Instead of buying bottled water when you are out and about, take your own filtered water bottle. The one I know about is Brita’s sport bottle. But there are others on the market. Just Google ‘filtered portable water bottles’.
  • Consider making inroads into your school’s lost property by fundraising with easy, fun iron on clothing and name labels. The school or the P&C circulates an order form from a label making company and takes orders and money. The goods get delivered to the school which receives a 20% donation from the supplier which is what a retailer would normally take. Google ‘iron on clothing and name labels’ for brands and contact details.
  • Fresh produce – a bit like having a farmers’ market at school. Invite the local fresh produce market or shop to supply mangoes, watermelon, corn cobs or other fresh product on a set day – depending what’s in season. The school advertises it as “Magic Mango Day” or similar and the kids go home with something fresh for the family to eat at a good price.
If you have some bright ideas for school fundraisers that are healthy and practical, we would love to hear from you. Just post your suggestions below.

I was interested in your comments on salt last month. I have heard that the Australian soil is devoid of iodine. Is this true?
Yes, the soil in some parts of Australia has low levels of some minerals, especially the trace minerals iodine and selenium. Tasmania and the ACT for example have low levels of iodine as do many parts of New Zealand which means that foods grown in these soils will be deficient. Iodine prevents goitre and promotes normal functioning of the thyroid gland. It also aids brain function. And although we only need a teaspoon for an entire lifetime, lack of iodine is a major problem in many parts of the world and it’s now thought that iodine intake levels in Australia have dropped. Your best sources of iodine are readily available — fish and iodised salt. In fact, eating fish once a week should give you all the iodine you need.


'What is the latest research on low GI carbs and those who exercise moderately (around 60 minutes, mod intensity) and those who exercise at a higher intensity. Information on pre and post exercise carbs (as per a fitness course I'm currently undertaking) appears to conflict with general advice on good nutrition, advocating high GI foods.
Dr Emma Stevenson who is an expert in these things says: ‘Our research has continually showed that consuming low GI carbs in the hours before exercise can increase the rate at which you burn fat during exercise and also will help to maintain a more sustained blood glucose level. Eating a meal or snack containing LGI carbs 2–4 hours before exercise is what’s usually recommended. The type of carbohydrates that you consume during recovery from exercise depends on the length of time before your next training session. If your recovery time is more than 4 hours then it doesn’t matter what type of carbohydrate you eat or drink as long as you consume enough of it! If recovery time is short, then HGI carbs are useful to replace muscle glycogen concentrations quickly and efficiently. However, research has shown that consuming low GI carbs over a 24-hour recovery period can improve endurance capacity the next day.’


Following your piece on the benefits of beans (particularly soybeans), do you have a selection of recipes which includes these beans? And how much is a high intake?
The cookbooks by Prof Jennie Brand-Miller and her team all have lots of legume recipes, including a few with soybeans and miso. Some titles to check out are The Low GI Diet Cookbook, The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook, Low GI Gluten-free Living and The Low GI Family Cookbook. As you will see this month our food of the month is miso (fermented soybeans) and Kate has a recipe using it too. Asian and vegetarian cookbooks are the best place to find recipes using soybeans, but we will keep your request in mind. If you would like to snack on roasted soy nuts, check out the recipe in the January 2007 issue of GI News (just pop the recipe name in the Google search bar in the right-hand column). What's a high intake of legumes? Well the women in the study who were consuming the most legumes were eating around 65 g (2 1/2 oz) legumes a day (including soybeans) and a high daily intake of soybeans was 32 g (a bit over 1 oz). The women also ate around 3 g a day peanuts (yes, they are legumes too). It’s very achievable as these aren't huge amounts at all. To help you get started, here are some tips to boost your intake.
  • Serve home-cooked or canned red kidney beans with tacos, burritos, pasta or rice.
  • Chickpeas go well with curries and stir-fries.
  • Make some dahl with lentils or split peas to serve with a curry.
  • Add home-cooked or canned cannellini, borlotti, butter or black-eyed beans to soups, stews and salads.
  • Snack on roasted soy nuts. Just a small handful.

Your Success Stories

‘Eating low GI is saving my life’ – Bev
The threat of type 2 diabetes loomed large in my life. I had undiagnosed gestational diabetes with my first child and was able to control it through healthy food choices during my second pregnancy. Although significantly overweight, I was always interested in nutrition. Then last year I realised I’d better take the weight off if I didn’t want to develop diabetes and end up significantly disabled by it – just like my mother. Low GI made that change possible. I was never hungry because my blood sugar no longer spiked and I was eating high fibre foods. My chronic headaches disappeared and I had much more energy. After the first 30 pounds (13.6 kg) I began jogging and now, at almost 60 pounds (27 kg) lost, I would never want to eat or live any other way.


Low GI foods help me maintain a healthy blood glucose and give me all the energy I need to raise a family, work full time and still fit in a run three times per week. Even my kids like low GI. Last night I was greeted with squeals of joy that we were having salmon with pasta and a crispy salad for dinner. And you should see all the blueberries I have in my freezer that I put up when they were in season. I plan to be around a long time now and healthy enough to chase after my future grandchildren when that day comes.

‘We both love being outdoors and staying active.’ – Kathy
I was diagnosed as being pre-diabetic and quickly adopted the GI way of eating. Everything is under control with this healthy eating program and increased exercise. I lost the unwanted and unhealthy weight, and my energy levels soared. You are never too old to get into shape. I am on no medication whatsoever. For starters I go to the gym two or three times a week. I always take a couple of classes per visit, and mix up the classes each week.


I am 60 years old and have been married for 40 years. I get my most fun exercise during all four seasons with my best friend and husband, Bill. In the winter we cross country ski and snowshoe. In the spring, summer and fall we kayak, bike, swim, hike, camp, fish, walk, etc. We also own three horses and maintain 10 acres of pasture. We both love being outdoors and staying active. Even on days when I feel sluggish, our hyper active English Springer Spaniel dog still needs to be walked. Getting our dog out to walk daily is a great chance to reflect on life.

success story

GI Symbol News with Alan Barclay

Lowering the GI of your diet starts in the supermarket
We now know that lowering the average GI of your daily diet to around 45 is one of the keys to good health. Computer modelling has shown that whenever possible, choosing carbohydrate foods or beverages with the lowest GI within a specific category, is the best way of achieving this. Ideally, this means choosing ones with a low GI (less than or equal to 55) for each main meal or snack (if you have snacks).

Of course, for some food/beverage categories, there are no low GI alternatives, and as such, products with a medium GI may in fact be the best choice. For example, the average GI of most common varieties of potatoes is around 80 , and most breads is around 75. Choosing lower GI varieties of potato like Nicola (58) and Almera (65), which are not technically low GI, will still help you to lower the average GI of your diet if you are traditionally a big potato eater, because they are significantly lower than their regular counterpart.

Similarly, if you only like white breads ( or if you are unable to chew the heavy grained breads), choosing the lower GI varieties like Tip Top Up energi (58) or WonderWhite LowerGI (59) will still lead to a substantial reduction in the average GI of your daily diet.

To help people lower the average GI of their daily diet to around 45, GI Ltd will be encouraging manufacturers of lower GI foods to join the GI Symbol Program so that consumers can choose the tricklers at a glance when they are shopping.

Alan Barclay

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

The Latest GI Values

Edgell's canned brown lentils
Although this is an Australian brand, it will probably be similar for other brands of canned lentils. Generally in our testing of legumes (pulses) we find that the GI values are a little higher for canned products than home cooked. Here are the results: GI 42

Sunrice Doongara CleverRice
This is the fifth time SUGiRS has tested this long grain rice in the past five years (they do it every time they are using this brand of rice in a GI study). This time Fiona's team cooked it in a rice cooker. Here are the results: GI 48

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 http://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 http://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

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