Sunday, September 13, 2009

How Can I Find the Glycemic Index of a Food I Eat?

Can you please tell what the glycemic index would be of Thomas English Muffins - Light Multigrain. Each muffin has 100 calories, 22 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fiber. My sister is borderline diabetic and I am trying to help her find the glycemic level of this muffin.  Thank You, Linda F.

Dear Linda,

It's great to see someone take control of their diet and monitor it closely in attempts to control their blood sugar, even before they are labeled with diabetes.
In first trying to come with a simple numerical answer for you, I found this informationon a website called 
 "GI testing is relatively expensive and very time-consuming. Human test subjects are required, and only a limited number of laboratories currently perform these tests. Consequently, GI data is only available for a very small percentage of the foods that we consume. . . .
To make matters worse, food manufacturers are creating new food products at a much faster rate than GI testing can be performed. Each year, tens of thousands of new packaged-food items are added to grocery shelves, but only a few hundred foods are tested for GI. Because of this, it's doubtful that we'll ever reach a point in time where GI is known for all foods. . . ."

So the short answer is, there may not be a known Glycemic Index number for the product about which you inquire.  That said, the fact that these muffins are multigrain is probably going to mean a lower glycemic index than a refined grain product. 

Even so, the number itself is something to be taken with a grain of salt.  Glycemic index is tested when the food is eaten alone in a measured amount (not necessarily a serving size) and based on the amount it raises blood glucose levels as compared to a reference food with the same number of grams of carbohydrate.  It is tested on a small number of healthy individuals, and you cannot necessarily extrapolate that information to yourself or another person with altered blood glucose metabolism.  Furthermore, the glycemic index will change if you eat the muffin with anything else--say an egg, or a buttery spread on top of the muffin--or drink juice or milk or any other calorie-containing beverage along with the muffin.

The best way to know how this muffin will affect your sister's blood sugar levels are for her to test her sugar 2 hours after eating the muffin and several times throughout the day to see if it has an effect on her readings in comparison to a day when she has another type of bread at the same meal.

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