Tag Archives: Eating

Allium pendulinum

Botanical Name: Allium pendulinum
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Allioideae
Tribe: Allieae
Genus: Allium
Species: A. pendulinum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

*Allium album Spreng. 1825, illegitimate homonym not Santi 1795 nor F. Delaroche 1810
*Allium triquetrum Sebast. & Mauri 1818, illegitimate homonym not L. 1753 nor Lour. 1790 nor Schrad. ex Schult. & Schult f. 1830
*Allium triquetrum var. pendulinum (Ten.) Regel
*Allium triquetrum subsp. pendulinum (Ten.) K.Richt.
*Nectaroscordum pendulinum (Ten.) Galasso & Banfi

Common Name: Italian garlic

Habitat : Allium pendulinum is native to Europe – Mediterranean. It grows on shady damp locations and woods.
Allium pendulinum is a perennial herb up to 25 cm tall but usually much shorter. It generally produces only leaves, both of which wither before flowering time. There is no spathe at flowering time. Umbel has only a few flowers, usually less than 10, all on long pedicels and very often drooping (nodding, hanging downward). Tepals are white, each with three thin prominent green veins; anthers cream; ovary at flowering time green.


The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil. Succeeds in light shade, growing well in light woodland. Closely related to A. triquetrum, although we have found no written records of its edibility, it can be used in all the same ways as A. triquetrum. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply. Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle – if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough. Division in spring. The plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season, pot up the divisions in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing well and then plant them out into their permanent positions.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root.

Bulb – raw or cooked. The bulbs are up to 10mm in diameter. Leaves – raw or cooked. Flowers – raw. Used as a garnish on salads.
Medicinal Uses:
Although no specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system.

Other Uses:

The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles

Known Hazards: Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.



Aralia mandschurica

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Botanical Name : Aralia mandschurica
Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Aralia
Species:A. elata
Order: Apiales

Synonyms : Manchurian Thorn Tree

Common Name: Manchurian Angelica Tree

Habitat :Aralia mandschurica is native to E. Asia – China, Japan, Korea, Manchuria. It grows in forests on rich well moistened slopes, 900 – 2000 metres in N. Hupeh. Thickets and thin woods in lowland and hills in Japan.
Aralia mandschurica is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3.5 m (11ft 6in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil…...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Prefers a good deep loam and a position in semi-shade. Requires a sheltered position. Plants are hardier when grown on poorer soils. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[. This plant is very closely related to A. elata and is included in that species by many botanists.

Seed – best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 – 5 months of cold stratification. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 4 months at 20°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Once the plants are 25cm or more tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions, late spring or early summer being the best time to do this. Root cuttings 8cm long, December in a cold frame. Store the roots upside down in sand and pot up in March/April. High percentage. Division of suckers in late winter. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.

Edible Uses:
Young shoots – cooked. They can also be blanched and used in salads.

Medicinal Uses:
Anodyne; Carminative; Tonic.

Anodyne, carminative. The root, and especially the bark, stimulates the central nervous system. The plant is said to restore the appetite, memory, vigour etc

It is used in Homeopathic medicines.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Living healthy for 100 years

Living to be a 100 years old with sound health & mind is a very real possibility for many many people in the near future. After all, in present days there are sprightly 80 year olds running businesses, managing their finances and living independently (with a very little help from friends and relatives)!


Health is the only key to a long and happy life. The only effort to maintain a healthy life allalong is to start when one is young, before disease sets in as one gain age.
A great deal of research has gone into understanding aging, as the world’s population is getting older. In one study, senior citizens were divided into three groups. The first group did an hour of aerobic activity (such as running, jogging, walking or cycling) a day combined with weight training with weights of 1-2 kilos. The second group did only little flexing and stretching exercises. The third continued with their usual sedentary life. After a period of six months, the first group was found to not only have gained muscle but also developed a positive outlook on life and become mentally strengthy & sharper. There was no noticeable difference in groups two and three. Uniformly though, they had lost muscle mass and “slowed down” mentally and physically.


After research and several studies, 10,000 steps a day was declared a magic figure to maintain health. It works out to about five miles a day. Most people actually walk only 3,500 steps a day. The new smartphones, some watches and pedometers are able to track daily activity accurately. The other way is to get up every hour and walk for a minute. This can be added to, or alternated with, stair climbing – a 1,000 calorie per hour activity. Swimming, walking, jogging and running use about 300 calories per hour depending on the intensity, the distance covered and the speed.

Our body requires a certain amount of energy to stay alive even if we sleep all day. This can be calculated as the weight in kilos multiplied by 2.2 multiplied by 11. It works out to around 1,500 calories for a 60-kilo adult. 1,500 calories a day is a “restricted diet.” It is barely enough to enjoy a good meal or indulge even occasionally in tasty, high calorie snacks. To be able to eat more and enjoy it, you need to increase activity. Then the calories utilised in the activity can be added to the total daily consumption.

Every decade the metabolic rate falls by five per cent in men and three per cent in women. Muscles atrophy and become insidiously replaced by fat if they are not used, and with increasing age. Muscle, even at rest, consumes more energy than fat. This lowers the metabolic rate. It also reduces strength and affects balance. Weight training needs to be done. A litre bottle can be filled with water and held in each hand and the traditional school drill should be done using this. This consists of five up and down and side-to-side movements with the arms. Gradually work up to twenty repetitions of each circuit.

Mental activity like puzzles, Sudoku and learning verses by heart alone will not keep the brain sharp, it will only marginally delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It has to be combined with an hour of physical activity a day, preferably outdoors in the sunshine. Even walking up and down a portico or around a block of flats is all right.

It is proved that a person who does regular Yoga exercise with Pranayama & Meditation, with moderate & control diet keeps and maintains long healthy life.

The effect of an hour’s effort today and everyday will make a hundred fold difference in a lifetime. The other fact – one is never too old to start.

It is modern days recommendation that the busiest person should do work out daily …one should consider it as a daily routine as one needs to sleep,get up in the morning,go to toilet, brushing teeth etc. There is a saying that persons who skip daily exercise or physical workout with the excuse they do not afford any time to do exercise will have to spent more time IN BED  when they suffer from different kind of diseases.

Click & learn : My 2015 Exercise Recommendations and Update by Dr. Mercola

Resources: Health article from The Telegraph (kolkata, India)

Arca shell

Other Names: Arca noae or the Noah’s Ark shell
Family: Arcidae
Genus: Arca
Species: A. noae
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Arcoida

Common Names: Cockle shell or Wa Leng Zi in mandarin,

Distribution & availablity: Arca noae or Ark shell is found in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. It used to be common in the Adriatic but in 1949/50 there was a sudden unexplained, catastrophic decline in numbers. Since then populations have been creeping back upwards and in 2002, densities of up to 13 individuals per square metre (11 square feet) were recorded but, because of lack of records, it is unclear whether a return to prior population levels had been reached.
The shell of Arca noae grows to about 10 cm (4 in) in length. It is shortened at the anterior end and elongated posteriorly. It is irregularly striped in brown and white and has fine sculptured ribs running from the umbones to the margin. The hinge is long and straight and the shell is attached strongly to the substrate by byssal threads. There are pallial eyes on the edges of the mantle, especially at the posterior end. There are 42 to 48 radial ribs outside.


They are characterized by boat-shaped shells with long, straight hinge lines bearing many small, interlocking teeth. The shells are usually coated with a thick, sometimes hairy periostracum (outer organic shell layer). Many of these clams have rows of simple eyes along the mantle margins. Most of the 200 or so known species are found in tropical seas, with only a few species occurring in temperate areas. Ark shells are slow-moving or sedentary.It lives shallowly buried in sands and silts.

In the lower part of the intertidal zone in the Adriatic, Arca noae often grows in association with Modiolus barbatus.The shells are often heavily encrusted with epibionts. Water is drawn into the shell mainly at the posterior end. Plankton and fine organic particles are filtered out as the water passes over the gills and inedible particles are rejected at the same time. Its shell contains a large amount of calcium carbonate and a small amount of calcium phosphate. Besides, it also contains aluminum silicate and inorganic elements, such as chlorine, chromium, copper, iron, potassium, manganese, sodium, nickel, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon, strontium, and zinc. And it has a specific enrichment capacity of nuclide manganese.

Collection & Uses:
Arca noae is fished commercially in the Adriatic Sea, either by divers gathering individual shells by hand or from boats using specially adapted rakes which are pulled along the seabed. The shellfish are then sold in local markets. In China it is produced around the coastal areas and captured all year round for medicinal purpose. And the subsequent steps are to clean, slightly boil in boiling water, remove the meat, and finally dried in sun. Medicinally it is used broken and raw or calcined.

Medicinal Uses:
Modern pharmacology reveals that its ability of reducing gastric ulcer pain comes from calcium carbonate, which can neutralize stomach acid.

Ark shell, clam shells (Hai Ge Ke), and pumice (Fu Hai Shi) have quite similar medicinal uses in traditional Chinese medicine. However, it doesn’t mean that they are interchangeable. On the contrary, they need to be well distinguished clinically for proper uses.

All of the three are of salty in flavor and have the common function of eliminating phlegm, softening hardness and dissipating binds. As a result, all of them can be used to treat phlegm-fire stagnation induced scrofula, subcutaneous nodule, goiter and tumor; clam shell and pumice stone can also treat cough and asthma accompanied with thick yellow sputum that is caused by lung heat and phlegm-fire since both of them is capable of clearing lung and eliminating phlegm; clam shell and ark shell are also good at treating stomach discomfort and acid reflux since they can neutralize acidity and relieve pain.

And they do have their own advantage respectively on healing properties. Clam shell is still capable of inducing diuresis to alleviate edema. So it is often used for the treatment of edema and difficult urination; pumice stone can treat bloody stranguria and urolithiasis by inducing diuresis; ark shell removes blood stasis and disperses phlegm. Hence, it treats mass in the abdomen and hepatosplenomegaly.

Sample ark shell recipes on herbal remedies:   The Chinese Pharmacopoeia says that it is salty in flavor and neutral in nature. It covers meridians of lung, stomach, and liver. Crucial functions are dissolving phlegm, dispersing blood stasis, resolving hard lump, relieving hyperacidity, and stopping pain. Prime ark shell uses and indications include substantial amounts of lingering phlegm, difficulty coughing up thick, sticky mucus, goiter and tumor, scrofula, abdominal mass, stomachache, and acid regurgitation. Recommended dosage is from 9 to 15 grams in decoction. And please keep in mind to decoct it before other ingredients.

1) Han Hua Wan from Zheng Zhi Zhun Sheng (The Level-line of Patterns and Treatment). It is formulated with Hai Zao (Sargassum Seaweed), Kun Bu (Kombu), etc. to treat scrofula, goiter and tumor;

2) Wa Long Zi Wan from Wan Shi Jia Chao Fang (Wan’s Heirloom Prescriptions). It is fried, processed with vinegar, and used alone to cure abdominal mass and eliminate phlegm;

3) Wa Leng Zi Wan from Nu Ke Zhi Zhang (Full Knowledge of Gynecology). It is formulated with Xiang Fu (Cyperus), Tao Ren (Peach Seed), Mu Dan Pi (Tree Peony), Chuan Xiong (lovage), Da Huang (rhubarb), and Hong Hua (Safflower) to heal pain and no blood flow during menstruation. Lower abdomen is hard and full when pressed and it is kind of excess pain.

Clinical research of ark shells:  50 cases of burns and scalds, including second degree, have been treated with the combination of ark shell and vegetable oil at the ratio of 1:1. The oil was directly applied to the wounds and wall of them were cured. – Si Chuan Yi Xue (Sichuan Medicine), 1982; 1:44.

Ark shell side effects and contraindications:
Generally ark shell causes no adverse reaction when it is used in the treatments a variety of diseases like gastric and duodenal ulcers. But there were individual cases reported with facial swelling, blood in the urine, cloudy urine, recurrent urinary tract infections and others. Ben Cao Yong Fa Yan Jiu (Studies of The Uses of Drugs in Chinese Materia Medica) says that it shouldn’t be used in the patients with no blood stasis and sputum retention.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Ark Shell (Wa Leng Zi)

Glycaemic Index

The glycemic index or glycaemic index (GI) is a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food’s effect on a person’s blood glucose (also called blood sugar) level. The number typically ranges between 50 and 100, where 100 represents the standard, an equivalent amount of pure glucose.

The GI represents the total rise in a person’s blood sugar level following consumption of the food; it may or may not represent the rapidity of the rise in blood sugar. The steepness of the rise can be influenced by a number of other factors, such as the quantity of fat eaten with the food. The GI is useful for understanding how the body breaks down carbohydrates  and only takes into account the available carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) in a food. Although the food may contain fats and other components that contribute to the total rise in blood sugar, these effects are not reflected in the GI.

The glycemic index is usually applied in the context of the quantity of the food and the amount of carbohydrate in the food that is actually consumed. A related measure, the glycemic load (GL), factors this in by multiplying the glycemic index of the food in question by the carbohydrate content of the actual serving. Watermelon has a high glycemic index, but a low glycemic load for the quantity typically consumed. Fructose, by contrast, has a low glycemic index, but can have a high glycemic load if a large quantity is consumed.

GI tables are available that list many types of foods and their GIs. Some tables also include the serving size and the glycemic load of the food per serving.

A practical limitation of the glycemic index is that it does not measure insulin production due to rises in blood sugar. As a result, two foods could have the same glycemic index, but produce different amounts of insulin. Likewise, two foods could have the same glycemic load, but cause different insulin responses. Furthermore, both the glycemic index and glycemic load measurements are defined by the carbohydrate content of food. For example when eating steak, which has no carbohydrate content but provides a high protein intake, up to 50% of that protein can be converted to glucose when there is little to no carbohydrate consumed with it.  But because it contains no carbohydrate itself, steak cannot have a glycemic index. For some food comparisons, the “insulin index” may be more useful.

Glycemic index charts often give only one value per food, but variations are possible due to variety, ripeness (riper fruits contain more sugars increasing GI), cooking methods (the more cooked, or over cooked, a food the more its cellular structure is broken with a tendency for it to digest quickly and raise GI more), processing (e.g., flour has a higher GI than the whole grain from which it is ground as grinding breaks the grain’s protective layers) and the length of storage. Potatoes are a notable example, ranging from moderate to very high GI even within the same variety.

The glycemic response is different from one person to another, and also in the same person from day to day, depending on blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, and other factors.

Most of the values on the glycemic index do not show the impact on glucose levels after two hours. Some people with diabetes may have elevated levels after four hours.

Why  GI is so Important?
Over the past 15 years, low-GI diets have been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke, depression, chronic kidney disease, formation of gall stones, neural tube defects, formation of uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, and pancreas. Taking advantage of these potential health benefits can be as simple as sticking with whole, natural foods that are either low or very low in their GI value.

Determination of GI of a food:
Foods with carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream tend to have a high GI; foods with carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, tend to have a low GI. The concept was developed by Dr. David J. Jenkins and colleagues  in 1980–1981 at the University of Toronto in their research to find out which foods were best for people with diabetes. A lower glycemic index suggests slower rates of digestion and absorption of the foods’ carbohydrates and may also indicate greater extraction from the liver and periphery of the products of carbohydrate digestion. A lower glycemic response usually equates to a lower insulin demand but not always, and may improve long-term blood glucose control   and blood lipids. The insulin index is also useful for providing a direct measure of the insulin response to a food.

The glycemic index of a food is defined as the incremental area under the two-hour blood glucose response curve (AUC) following a 12-hour fast and ingestion of a food with a certain quantity of available carbohydrate (usually 50 g). The AUC of the test food is divided by the AUC of the standard (either glucose or white bread, giving two different definitions) and multiplied by 100. The average GI value is calculated from data collected in 10 human subjects. Both the standard and test food must contain an equal amount of available carbohydrate. The result gives a relative ranking for each tested food.

The current validated methods use glucose as the reference food, giving it a glycemic index value of 100 by definition. This has the advantages of being universal and producing maximum GI values of approximately 100. White bread can also be used as a reference food, giving a different set of GI values (if white bread = 100, then glucose ? 140). For people whose staple carbohydrate source is white bread, this has the advantage of conveying directly whether replacement of the dietary staple with a different food would result in faster or slower blood glucose response. A disadvantage with this system is that the reference food is not well-defined.

GI values can be interpreted intuitively as percentages on an absolute scale and are commonly interpreted as follows:

Low GI…..(55 or less fructose;) …….Examples:beans (white, black, pink, kidney, lentil, soy, almond, peanut, walnut, chickpea); small seeds (sunflower, flax, pumpkin, poppy, sesame, hemp); most whole intact grains (durum/spelt/kamut wheat, millet, oat, rye, rice, barley); most vegetables, most sweet fruits (peaches, strawberries, mangos); tagatose; mushrooms; chilis.

Medium GI…..(56–69 Examples: white sugar or sucrose, not intact whole wheat or enriched wheat, pita bread, basmati rice, unpeeled boiled potato, grape juice, raisins, prunes, pumpernickel bread, cranberry juice,[10] regular ice cream, banana.

High GI….….(70 and above) Examples: glucose (dextrose, grape sugar), high fructose corn syrup, white bread (only wheat endosperm), most white rice (only rice endosperm), corn flakes, extruded breakfast cereals, maltose, maltodextrins, sweet potato , white potato , pretzels, bagels.

A low-GI food will release glucose more slowly and steadily, which leads to more suitable postprandial (after meal) blood glucose readings. A high-GI food causes a more rapid rise in blood glucose levels and is suitable for energy recovery after exercise or for a person experiencing hypoglycemia.

The glycemic effect of foods depends on a number of factors, such as the type of starch (amylose versus amylopectin), physical entrapment of the starch molecules within the food, fat and protein content of the food and organic acids or their salts in the meal — adding vinegar, for example, will lower the GI. The presence of fat or soluble dietary fiber can slow the gastric emptying rate, thus lowering the GI. In general, coarse, grainy breads with higher amounts of fiber have a lower GI value than white breads.  However, most breads made with 100% whole wheat or wholemeal flour have a GI not very different from endosperm only (white) bread.  Many brown breads are treated with enzymes to soften the crust, which makes the starch more accessible (high GI).

While adding fat or protein will lower the glycemic response to a meal, the relative differences remain. That is, with or without additions, there is still a higher blood glucose curve after a high-GI bread than after a low-GI bread such as pumpernickel.

Fruits and vegetables tend to have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index can be applied only to foods where the test relies on subjects consuming an amount of food containing 50 g of available carbohydrate.[citation needed] But many fruits and vegetables (not potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn) contain less than 50 g of available carbohydrate per typical serving. Carrots were originally and incorrectly reported as having a high GI.  Alcoholic beverages have been reported to have low GI values; however, beer was initially reported to have a moderate GI due to the presence of maltose. This has been refuted by brewing industry professionals, who say that all maltose sugar is consumed in the brewing process and that packaged beer has little to no maltose present. Recent studies have shown that the consumption of an alcoholic drink prior to a meal reduces the GI of the meal by approximately 15%.  Moderate alcohol consumption more than 12 hours prior to a test does not affect the GI.

Many modern diets rely on the glycemic index, including the South Beach Diet, Transitions by Market America and NutriSystem Nourish Diet. However, others have pointed out that foods generally considered to be unhealthy can have a low glycemic index, for instance, chocolate cake (GI 38), ice cream (37), or pure fructose (19), whereas foods like potatoes and rice have GIs around 100 but are commonly eaten in some countries with low rates of diabetes.

The GI Symbol Program is an independent worldwide GI certification program that helps consumers identify low-GI foods and drinks. The symbol is only on foods or beverages that have had their GI values tested according to standard and meet the GI Foundation’s certification criteria as a healthy choice within their food group, so they are also lower in kilojoules, fat and/or salt.

Weight control:
Recent animal research provides compelling evidence that high-GI carbohydrate is associated with increased risk of obesity. In one study,  male rats were split into high- and low-GI groups over 18 weeks while mean body weight was maintained. Rats fed the high-GI diet were 71% fatter and had 8% less lean body mass than the low-GI group. Postmeal glycemia and insulin levels were significantly higher, and plasma triglycerides were threefold greater in the high-GI-fed rats. Furthermore, pancreatic islet cells suffered “severely disorganized architecture and extensive fibrosis.” However, the GI of these diets was not experimentally determined. In a well controlled feeding study no improvement in weight loss was observed with a low glycemic index diet over calorie restriction.  Because high-amylose cornstarch (the major component of the assumed low-GI diet) contains large amounts of resistant starch, which is not digested and absorbed as glucose, the lower glycemic response and possibly the beneficial effects can be attributed to lower energy density and fermentation products of the resistant starch, rather than the GI.

In humans, a 2012 study shows that, after weight loss, the energy expenditure is higher on a low-glycemic index diet than on a low-fat diet (but lower than on the Atkins diet).

 Prevention of Diseases:
Several lines of recent [1999] scientific evidence have shown that individuals who followed a low-GI diet over many years were at a significantly lower risk for developing both type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and age-related macular degeneration than others.  High blood glucose levels or repeated glycemic “spikes” following a meal may promote these diseases by increasing systemic glycative stress, other oxidative stress to the vasculature, and also by the direct increase in insulin levels.  The glycative stress sets up a vicious cycle of systemic protein glycation, compromised protein editing capacity involving the ubiquitin proteolytic pathway and autophagic pathways, leading to enhanced accumulation of glycated and other obsolete proteins.

In the past, postprandial hyperglycemia has been considered a risk factor associated mainly with diabetes. However, more recent evidence shows that it also presents an increased risk for atherosclerosis in the non-diabetic population   and that high GI diets,  high blood-sugar levels more generally,  and diabetes  are related to kidney disease as well.

Conversely, there are areas such as Peru and Asia where people eat high-glycemic index foods such as potatoes and high-GI rice without a high level of obesity or diabetes.  The high consumption of legumes in South America and fresh fruit and vegetables in Asia likely lowers the glycemic effect in these individuals. The mixing of high- and low-GI carbohydrates produces moderate GI values.

A study from the University of Sydney in Australia suggests that having a breakfast of white bread and sugar-rich cereals, over time, may make a person susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that age-related adult macular degeneration (AMD), which leads to blindness, is 42% higher among people with a high-GI diet, and concluded that eating a lower-GI diet would eliminate 20% of AMD cases.

The American Diabetes Association supports glycemic index but warns that the total amount of carbohydrate in the food is still the strongest and most important indicator, and that everyone should make their own custom method that works best for them.

The International Life Sciences Institute concluded in 2011 that because there are many different ways of lowering glycemic response, not all of which have the same effects on health, “It is becoming evident that modifying the glycemic response of the diet should not be seen as a stand-alone strategy but rather as an element of an overall balanced diet and lifestyle.”

A systematic review of few human trials examined the potential of low GI diet to improve pregnancy outcomes. Potential benefits were still seen despite no ground breaking findings in maternal glycemia or pregnancy outcomes. In this regard, more women under low GI diet achieved the target treatment goal for the postprandial glycemic level and reduced their need for insulin treatment. A low GI diet may also provide greater benefits to overweight and obese women. Interestingly, intervention at an early stage of pregnancy has shown a tendency to lower birth weight and birth centile in infants born to women with GDM.

Other factors:
The number of grams of carbohydrate can have a bigger impact than glycemic index on blood sugar levels, depending on quantities. Consuming fewer calories, losing weight, and carbohydrate counting can be better for lowering the blood sugar level. Carbohydrates impact glucose levels most profoundly,  and two foods with the same carbohydrate content are, in general, comparable in their effects on blood sugar.  A food with a low glycemic index may have a high carbohydrate content or vice versa; this can be accounted for with the glycemic load (GL). Consuming carbohydrates with a low glycemic index and calculating carbohydrate intake would produce the most stable blood sugar levels.

Criticism and alternatives:
The glycemic index does not take into account other factors besides glycemic response, such as insulin response, which is measured by the insulin index and can be more appropriate in representing the effects from some food contents other than carbohydrates. In particular, since it is based on the area under the curve of the glucose response over time from ingesting a subject food, the shape of the curve has no bearing on the corresponding GI value. The glucose response can rise to a high level and fall quickly, or rise less high but remain there for a longer time, and have the same area under the curve. For subjects with type 1 diabetes who do not have an insulin response, the rate of appearance of glucose after ingestion represents the absorption of the food itself. This glycemic response has been modeled, where the model parameters for the food enable prediction of the continuous effect of the food over time on glucose values, and not merely the ultimate effect that the GI represents.

Although the glycemic index provides some insights into the relative diabetic risk within specific food groups, it contains many counter-intuitive ratings. These include suggestions that bread generally has a higher glycemic ranking than sugar and that some potatoes are more glycemic than glucose. More significantly, studies such as that by Bazzano et al.  demonstrate a significant beneficial diabetic effect for fruit compared to a substantial detrimental impact for fruit juice despite these having similar “low GI” ratings.

From blood glucose curves presented by Brand-Miller et al.  the main distinguishing feature between average fruit and fruit juice blood glucose curves is the maximum slope of the leading edge of 4.38 mmol·L-1·h-1 for fruit and 6.71 mmol·L-1·h-1 for fruit juice. This raises the concept that the rate of increase in blood glucose may be a significant determinant particularly when comparing liquids to solids which release carbohydrates over time and therefore have an inherently greater area under the blood glucose curve.

If you were to restrict yourself to eating only low GI foods, your diet is likely to be unbalanced and may be high in fat and calories, leading to weight gain and increasing your risk of heart disease. It is important not to focus exclusively on GI and to think about the balance of your meals, which should be low in fat, salt and sugar and contain plenty of fruit and vegetables.

There are books that give a long list of GI values for many different foods. This kind of list does have its limitations. The GI value relates to the food eaten on its own and in practice we usually eat foods in combination as meals. Bread, for example is usually eaten with butter or margarine, and potatoes could be eaten with meat and vegetables.

An additional problem is that GI compares the glycaemic effect of an amount of food containing 50g of carbohydrate but in real life we eat different amounts of food containing different amounts of carbohydrate.

Note: The amount of carbohydrate you eat has a bigger effect on blood glucose levels than GI alone.

How to have lower GI?
*Choose basmati or easy cook rice, pasta or noodles.
*Switch baked or mashed potato for sweet potato or boiled new potatoes.
*Instead of white and wholemeal bread, choose granary, pumpernickel or rye bread.
*Swap frozen microwaveable French fries for pasta or noodles.
*Try porridge, natural muesli or wholegrain breakfast cereals.
*You can maximise the benefit of GI by switching to a low GI option food with each meal or snack