Health Alert

Reasons You Might Have Cramps That Have Nothing to Do With Your Period

For some women, menstrual cramps are a bother for a few days every month. For others—like those who suffer from conditions like endometriosis or adenomyosis—the pain can be severe, chronic, and even debilitating.
But cramps and abdominal discomfort aren’t always period-related, and you should consider other causes if you have ongoing pelvic pain. That’s especially true if your cramps don’t get better or worse around the same time every month.

Talking to your gynecologist is a good start, but you may also want an evaluation from your primary care physician, a gastroenterologist, a urologist, or a pelvic medicine specialist as well, says Benjamin Brucker, MD, assistant professor of urology and ob-gyn at NYU Langone Health.

“There are several different categories of health problems, such as pelvic-floor issues or bladder issues, that could contribute to a similar type of pain,” says Dr. Brucker. If you suspect your persistent symptoms aren’t related to your monthly cycle, here are some other potential culprits.

Kidney stones:

Kidney stones—hard masses formed in the kidneys from calcium—often cause back or side pain just below the ribs. But if a stone works its way down the urinary tract, it can cause pain in the lower abdomen or even the vagina. An ultrasound or CT scan can help diagnose this common condition, and blood and urine tests may also be required to rule out other problems.

Small kidney stones can usually be passed on their own with the help of over-the-counter pain relievers and plenty of fluids. Doctors may also prescribe medications known as alpha blockers, which help relax the muscles in the urinary tract. Large stones may need to be broken apart with sound-wave technology or removed surgically.

Painful-bladder syndrome:

Technically known as interstitial cystitis, this condition is what doctors call pain in the bladder with no obvious or identifiable cause. “Bladder muscles can contract and spasm the same way the muscles of the uterus can, and they can cause a similar cramping sensation,” says Dr. Brucker. “Sometimes the pain gets worse with bladder filling and better with bladder emptying, but that’s not the case for everyone.”

There’s no diagnostic test for painful-bladder syndrome, and treatment varies depending on a woman’s specific symptoms. One potential therapy include electrical stimulation of the pelvic nerves, a treatment also used for overactive bladder.

A fibroid, cyst, or tumor:

If you’re experiencing unexplained pelvic pain, doctors will often perform imaging tests to look for structural causes—like uterine fibroids, a cyst on the ovaries, or, rarely, a tumor in the reproductive organs. (Ovarian cysts are usually benign, but they can occasionally become cancerous.)

Doctors may also recommend a colonoscopy to make sure you have no polyps—unusual growths that can sometimes progress to cancer—in your bowel tract. Colon polyps and early colon cancer are often symptomless, but doctors still say that belly pain or discomfort that lasts longer than a week should be checked.

Ovarian torsion :

Last year, actress Busy Philipps went to the emergency room after suffering “crazy, excruciating pain” in her lower right side, she posted on social media. Turns out, she had ovarian torsion—when an ovary or a fallopian tube twists around itself, which can cut off blood flow and affect fertility.

The condition accounts for only about 3% of all gynecological conditions, and it’s not caused by anything a woman does, like jumping or twisting her body. (One thing that can raise your risk, however, is having an existing ovarian cyst.) Experts say that anyone with sudden and severe abdominal pain—especially if it’s also associated with vomiting—should get to the emergency room right away and be checked out for this.


Some women can immediately recognize the symptoms of a urinary tract infection—like a constant need to pee, and a burning sensation when they go. But sometimes, a UTI can be harder to diagnose, says Sheila Dugan, MD, director of the pelvic and abdominal health program at Rush University Medical Center. UTIs can also cause lower abdominal pain and cramping, especially in older women.

Other types of infections can also cause chronic pelvic pain, including diverticulitis (inflamed pouches in the colon) or infected Skene’s glands—tiny ducts located in the vagina that are sometimes referred to as the female prostate. “When an organ becomes infected, it fills with pus and begins to stretch and stimulate the muscles around it,” explains Dr. Dugan.

An untreated STI:

Untreated sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia or gonorrhea can lead to a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease. PID causes structural changes to the reproductive tract—and while it may not trigger any symptoms at first, it can eventually contribute to persistent abdominal pain, fever, abnormal vaginal discharge, pain or bleeding during sex, and infertility or pregnancy complications.

PID can be treated, but if it goes undiagnosed for too long, the damage it causes can be irreversible. It’s estimated that about 2.5 million American women have had PID, and those who have had more sexual partners are at higher risk.

A pelvic-floor injury

“The vagina and the pelvic floor are made up of lots of muscles, and you can get cramps and tightness in those muscles just like any other muscle in the body,” says Dr. Brucker. “If you sleep funny and you have a stiff neck, it’s really obvious the next day. But if you have a stiff pelvic-floor muscle, it’s more internal and the symptoms can be more vague.”

If a muscle in the pelvic floor becomes too tight, the nerves around it can become irritated and cause cramp-like pains. This can happen as a result of exercise, old orthopedic injuries that didn’t heal properly, chronic constipation, or even sex. “And sometimes those muscle don’t become sore for a few days after the initial trauma, so it’s hard to figure out what the potential cause is,” Dr. Brucker says.

Sexual assault or domestic violence:

“There’s also a big association between tight pelvic-floor muscles and domestic violence or sexual assault,” says Dr. Brucker. “It’s very common for women who have been abused to hold a lot of tension in this area and have difficulty relaxing those muscles—which can cause physical symptoms and also make exams and intimate relations more painful, as well.”

Physical therapists trained in pelvic-floor medicine can often help women with tight pelvic-floor muscles. “It’s not just doing kegal exercises, which involves contracting and ‘uptraining’ to tighten the muscles,” says Dr. Brucker. “There’s also a lot of ‘downtraining’ to relax and stretch those muscles out.” Women with a history of abuse may also benefit from psychological counseling, as well.


It’s no secret that extra air in the digestive tract can cause bloating and cramping, and this often occurs after eating gas-producing foods like cauliflower, beans, and broccoli. Some people also suffer from chronic bloating, which may have to do with a bowel disorder, a food intolerance, or even the way they breathe.
“When you have chronic bloating, the air pushes forward and stretches your abdominal wall and makes it hurt,” says Dr. Dugan. That can lead to shallow breathing, which can cause further tightening of the abdominal muscles—forming a vicious cycle that keeps getting worse.

Food poisoning or stomach flu:

These causes of stomach cramps tend to be fairly obvious, since they comes on quickly and are often accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea in addition to pain. In many cases, food poisoning is caused by bacteria—such as salmonella, E. coli, or campylobacter—that’s lurking in undercooked meat or contaminated produce.
Similar symptoms can also be caused by a virus (like norovirus) that’s picked up from contaminated food or from another person who’s infected. This is often referred to as stomach flu, although it’s entirely different from the seasonal influenza virus.

A previous surgery :

If you’ve had any type of abdominal surgery in the past and are now experiencing unexplained stomach cramps, it’s possible that scars from your procedure are playing a role. “Scar tissue can get stuck to layers of tissue underneath and can cause pain in the belly,” says Dr. Dugan.

Scar tissue that causes pain or interferes with organ function is also known as an abdominal adhesion. Occasionally, these adhesions can block the intestines and require additional surgery.


Health Alert

Smoking and the Digestive System

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Smoking has direct effect on Digestive System:
Smoking can harm your digestive system in a number of ways. Smokers tend to get heartburn and peptic ulcers more often than nonsmokers. Smoking makes those conditions harder to treat. Smoking increases the risk for Crohn’s disease and gallstones. It also increases the risk of more damage in liver disease. Smoking can also make pancreatitis worse. In addition, smoking is associated with cancer of the digestive organs, including the head and neck, stomach, pancreas, and colon.

Smoking affects the entire body, increasing the risk of many life-threatening diseases—including lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Smoking also contributes to many cancers and diseases of the digestive system. Estimates show that about one-fifth of all adults smoke,1 and each year at least 443,000 Americans die from diseases caused by cigarette smoking.

Smoking contributes to many common disorders of the digestive system, such as heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcers, and some liver diseases. Smoking increases the risk of Crohn’s disease, colon polyps, and pancreatitis, and it may increase the risk of gallstones.

Quitting smoking can improve the digestive system:
Quitting smoking can reverse some of the effects of smoking on the digestive system. For example, the balance between factors that harm and protect the stomach and duodenum lining returns to normal within a few hours of a person quitting smoking. The effects of smoking on how the liver handles medications also disappear when a person stops smoking. However, people who stop smoking continue to have a higher risk of some digestive diseases, such as colon polyps and pancreatitis, than people who have never smoked.12, 13

Quitting smoking can improve the symptoms of some digestive diseases or keep them from getting worse. For example, people with Crohn’s disease who quit smoking have less severe symptoms than smokers with the disease.

Points to Remember:
*Smoking has been found to increase the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and pancreas. Research suggests that smoking may also increase the risk of cancers of the liver, colon, and rectum.

*Smoking increases the risk of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

*Smoking increases the risk of peptic ulcers.

*Smoking may worsen some liver diseases, including primary biliary cirrhosis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

*Current and former smokers have a higher risk of developing Crohn’s disease than people who have never smoked.
People who smoke are more likely to develop colon polyps.

*Smoking increases the risk of developing pancreatitis.

*Some studies have shown that smoking may increase the risk of developing gallstones. However, research results are not consistent and more study is needed.

*Quitting smoking can reverse some of the effects of smoking on the digestive system.



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Health Alert

Bad effects of sugar

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SUGAR -The bigger killer than infectious diseases; every year it claims 35 million lives worldwide:
it was believed that sugar is bad for health because it adds a whole lot of calories to the diet but no nutrition. Now, new research reveals that too much sugar in the blood – even if you are not a diabetic – can actually ravage your heart and liver, upset the hormonal system, raise the level of cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and increase the chance of cancer.
The study, published in a recent issue of the journal, Nature, states that the annual worldwide death toll due to sugar overload is approximately 35 million – as much as the population of Morocco. In other words, sugar is a bigger killer than even infectious diseases. And here is a list of some of the food types in which it lurks.

Fat-free food
To keep increasing weight in check, some people get obsessed with removing all fat from the diet. They insist on having only food and drinks labelled low-fat.
But what exactly is low-fat food? Let’s begin with fat-free food or drinks such as double toned milk, low-fat ice cream or zero-calorie colas. These items are so bland that manufacturers add something, usually variants of sugar and preservatives, to make them palatable. As a result, you get rid of the fat but not the calories.
The thing to keep in mind is that not all fats are bad. Fats such as monounsaturated fatty acid (Mufa) – found in almonds, cashews, peanut butter and olive oil – or polyunsaturated fatty acid (Pufa) – walnuts, animal fats, safflower oil – are beneficial. They play a key role in nutritional balance and disease prevention. It is trans-fats – found in deep fried foods as well as commercial baked goods like biscuits – that are harmful.

Processed food:
Most processed food has a lot of added sugar. That includes breakfast cereals, bread, canned or packed fruit juice, beer, sauce, ketchup, cookies, candy, mayonnaise, salad dressings, soft drinks and so on. A 300ml bottle of soft drinks usually has eight teaspoonfuls of sugar while a single scoop of ice cream has five.
To put it in perspective, according to WHO, men must not have more than nine teaspoons of sugar a day, while six teaspoonfuls are enough for women. A US government guideline on nutrition says about 10-15 per cent of calories can be derived from sugary food but studies reveal that most of us get 25 per cent of calories from sugar.
Refined sugars
Sugar is added to food in many avatars – white, brown, high fructose corn syrup (present in most processed food) and agave nectar. Milk and fruits have the natural sugars lactose and fructose, respectively. These are less harmful.

“The protein in dairy products and the fibre in fruits help our body absorb the natural sugar slowly. Slowing down the digestion of sugar prevents an insulin spike and is less harmful to the liver,” says Dr Satinath Mukhopadhyay, head of Endocrinology at IPGMER, Calcutta.
Avoid processed food and limit the intake of sugar-rich food.

Sugar addiction:
According to a study at the University of Florida, sugary food can be as addictive as nicotine and cocaine. Whenever we see sugar, the brain gets a rush of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. When we consume sugar, our natural opiods and beta-endorphins rush to the brain, a reaction similar to someone on nicotine, cocaine or heroin.
Experts contend that sugar addiction has become the biggest public health crisis in history. “Since sugar induces the same addictive pathways as narcotics, why should this not be taken seriously,” asks Dr Mukhopadhyay.

Sweeteners: good and bad
• Replace sugar with molasses, palm sugar or date palm juice, which provide Vitamin B, iron, calcium and potassium
• Fresh cane juice has vitamins B and C, iron and manganese; coconut sugar (dehydrated sap of the coconut palm) has antioxidants, calcium, zinc, iron and potassium. It doesn’t raise blood sugar and is good for diabetics
• If dessert is a must, have dates – rich in potassium, calcium and Vitamin B6 – raisins and other dry or fresh fruits
• While baking, use palm sugar. Add fresh or dry fruits to sweeten puddings
• Add honey to green tea and maple syrup to tea and coffee. While these sweeteners have calories, they also have antioxidants.
• Avoid sugar substitutes such as aspartame. If you are addicted to sweet tea, add a bit of sugar but never an artificial sweetener, which can give you migraine, eye problems, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, stomach problems, joint ache, depression and even brain cancer.

Resources: The Telegraph Calcutta (India)

Health Alert

Alcohol and Age : The most risky combination

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Most people drink less as they grow older. However, some maintain heavy drinking patterns throughout life, and some develop problems with alcohol for the first time during their later years. The many challenges that can arise at this stage of life — reduced income, failing health, loneliness, and the loss of friends and loved ones — may cause some people to drink to escape their feelings.
Addiction of alchol can test the strongest family. It can cost friendships. It can strain patience. It can drain finances. It can bring irretrievable loss. Maney people lose their lives at early age due to prancreas,liver and other internal organ problems due to drinking alchol.

Several factors combine to make drinking — even at normal levels — an increasingly risky behavior as you age. Your ability to metabolize alcohol declines. After drinking the same amount of alcohol, older people have higher blood alcohol concentrations than younger people because of such changes as a lower volume of total body water and slower rates of elimination of alcohol from the body. That means the beer or two you could drink without consequence in your 30s or 40s has more impact in your 60s or 70s.

Your body might also experience other age-related changes that increase the risks associated with drinking. Your eyesight and hearing may deteriorate; your reflexes might slow. These kinds of changes can make you feel dizzy, high, or intoxicated even after drinking only a small amount. As a result, older people are more likely to have alcohol-related falls, automobile collisions, or other kinds of accidents. Drinking can also worsen many medical conditions common among older people, such as high blood pressure and ulcers.

In addition, older people tend to take more medicines than younger individuals, and mixing alcohol with over-the-counter and prescription drugs can be dangerous or even fatal.


Overcoming Addiction: Finding an effective path toward recovery, to discover new ways to cope with life’s difficulties:

The good news is that there are a number of effective treatments for addiction, including self-help strategies, psychotherapy, medications, and rehabilitation programs.Recent scientific advances have shaped our understanding of this common and complex problem.

Overcoming Addiction reveals 30 proven strategies for conquering addiction and sustaining recovery!

But freedom from addiction is possible. New approaches are providing motivation, easing withdrawal, and renewing purpose. Overcoming Addiction shares those strategies that can end a dependency and restore well-being.

Overcoming Addiction brings focus to those addictions that too often intrude upon our lives. You will learn how to deal constructively and successfully with issues of opioids, alcohol, stimulants, sedative-hypnotics, cannabis, nicotine, and gambling and other behavioral addictions.

The best strategies for lasting change. Recovery involves resolve. This Special Health Report offers tips to strengthen your will power and smooth your pathway. You’ll learn the importance of a safe—and satisfying—substitute. You’ll be briefed on effective psychotherapies…and why a relapse isn’t always bad.

Targeted treatments for the most wide-reaching addictions. The report shares the latest findings on specific techniques and medications that can lessen withdrawal symptoms and help you achieve independence from today’s most common substance use and behavior disorders.

What to do when a friend or family member needs help. Finding a middle ground of giving support without enabling is a delicate balance. You’ll find nine steps that may spur action…why interventions rarely work and how to care for yourself in such a stress-filled time.

More than 3 milion people died from consuming alcohol in 2012,acording to World Health Organisation(WHO),who are calling on Government around the world to do more to reduce harmful drinking. Drinking kills more men than woman and rises the risk of developing more than 200 diseases.

From :ABC NEWS , 2014 May 13


Resources: Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School

Health Alert Health Problems & Solutions

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