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New Glycemic Tables

Ever since 1995, when the first international tables of glycemic index appeared in print and on my website, they have been the gold standard for determining the glycemic index of as many foods as researchers had tested at that point.

Now, in the third revision of the international tables you can find the glycemic indexes of many more foods.

The 1995 tables listed the glycemic indexes of 565 foods from 79 studies in the professional literature from around the world. Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, PhD, of the school of microbial biosciences at Australia’s University of Sydney was the lead author of those and subsequent updates of those tables.

Many years earlier, in March 1981, Dr. David J.A. Jenkins of the University of Toronto had published the first list of G.I. values for just 62 foods in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But it wasn’t until that journal’s publication of the first international tables in its October 1995 issue that set off the first ripple of what became a huge wave of interest in the glycemic index.

When a doctor at the V.A. Clinic in Santa Barbara, California, diagnosed my diabetes in February 1994, I heard the first rumors about the existence of the glycemic index. But when I asked my Certified Diabetes Educator at the clinic about it, she couldn’t tell me anything. So we agreed to learn what we could about it — and I have kept learning about it ever since.

The following year I helped to bring the glycemic index to the attention of people with diabetes with the first article addressed to the lay public when I reviewed the original Australian edition of Dr. Brand-Miller’s first book about the glycemic index for Diabetes Interview magazine (now called Diabetes Health). Ever since then I’ve worked closely with her, including co-authoring our book, The New Glucose Revolution: What Makes My Blood Glucose Go Up…And Down? (New York: Marlowe & Co., first edition in 2003, second American edition in July 2006, and other publishers in the U.K., Australia, Italy, and Taiwan).

Because of our close working relationship, Dr. Brand-Miller authorized me to publish each of the three revisions of the international tables on my website. The second revision came out in the January 2002 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Those tables showed the glycemic indexes of 750 foods from 120 professional studies and for the first time anywhere calculated the glycemic load values of most of those foods.

The glycemic load is an extension of the glycemic index, which is a numerical system of measuring how fast a carbohydrate triggers a rise in circulating blood glucose — the higher the number, the greater the blood glucose response. So a low G.I. food will cause a small rise, while a high G.I. food will trigger a dramatic spike. Some of the highest G.I. foods are potatoes and anything made from wheat flour. The glycemic load is simply the glycemic index divided by 100 multiplied by its available carbohydrate content (i.e. carbohydrates minus fiber) in grams.

This month Diabetes Care published the third revision of the international tables. Unfortunately, they would charge you $45 to buy a copy of the article (and a lot more to buy the whole issue). That’s the main reason why I asked Dr. Brand-Miller to authorize me to publish it in HTML format on my web site.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to do all the onerous work of converting the PDF to HTML. It took one of my programmers 26 hours to accomplish that task, but it was worth whatever it will cost me. For a dozen years the international tables of glycemic index have been far and away the most visited web page on my site. Five years ago when far fewer of us used the Internet, Woman’s World magazine directed its readers to that page. More than 100,000 people came in the first week alone.

That was so much traffic that my Internet Service Provider imposed a $600 surcharge that month. But now that my site has greater capacity, Y’all come!

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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