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The Glucose Revolution:

The Authoritative Guide to the Glycemic Index

Current books on diabetes reviewed David Mendosa

Last Update: January 12, 2001

The Glucose Revolution: The Authoritative Guide to the Glycemic Index
By Jennie Brand-Miller et al.
Marlowe & Company, July 1999, 272 pages, $14.95

Popular diet books based on the glycemic index have been big bestsellers ever since 1995, when Barry Sears came out with the first of his Zone books. And now Sugar Busters! has been near the top of the bestseller list for more than a year.

Mostly starchy foods…have high glycemic indexes.

Originally published in Australia as The G.I. Factor and now extensively revised and updated for an American audience as The Glucose Revolution, this book will probably never be as big a bestseller as the Zone and Sugar Busters! But it should be.

The Glucose Revolution is about the glycemic index, a scientifically validated tool that can help you find the right kind of carbohydrate to control hunger, improve athletic performance, and most especially to manage diabetes. It summarizes two decades of research and hundreds of professional papers published in sometimes obscure academic journals. The authors are the field's most noted professionals actively engaged in this research. The lead author, Jennie Brand-Miller, Ph.D., is associate professor of human nutrition at the University of Sydney, Australia, and the author of more than 200 research papers, including 60 on the glycemic index.

The book's co-authors include Thomas Wolever, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the department of nutritional sciences of the University of Toronto and a member of the division of endocrinology and metabolism of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. Since 1980 his research has focused on the glycemic index and the prevention of type 2 diabetes. The three other co-authors include an M.D. who is the president of the Australian Diabetes Society and two registered dietitians.

The glycemic index is about carbohydrate. Carbohydrate has the most immediate effect on blood glucose. The other components of our diet—protein and fat—work much more slowly. The proportion of carbohydrate that we need in our diet is a matter of raging debate between advocates of traditional diets such as the exchange lists and carbohydrate counting, on one hand, and low-carb diets, on the other. But they all agree that we need some carbs. The glycemic index addresses the the quality of the carbohydrate in our diets, not the quantity. The qualitative difference between different carbohydrates is how quickly they break down during digestion. Those that break down quickly cause your blood glucose quickly to rise higher and are assigned a higher glycemic index value.

As you might guess, table sugar has a rather high glycemic index. But perhaps surprisingly, many other foods—for example, baked potatoes—have even higher values. It turns out that the modern Western diet is mostly starchy foods that have high glycemic indexes.

The Glucose Revolution includes a table of some 300 different foods listing their glycemic indexes and the carbohydrate and fat content in a sample serving. While this table is a valuable part of the book, a limitation of the glycemic index is that to date only these 300 foods have been tested.

But it would be a mistake to buy this book for the table of the 300 tested foods. You can find that information on the Web, both on the DiabetesWebSite and on my site. Instead, get this book for the much deeper understanding that it provides of the concept.

The first part provides a scientific and yet quite easy-to-understand explanation of what comprises a healthy diet. The second part provides specific weight loss recommendations, tips for athletes who want energy to fuel their exercise, and for people with diabetes to control their blood glucose. This section also contains 61 easy recipes new to this edition, including their glycemic indexes as well as calorie, fat, carbohydrate, and fiber counts.

Ever since Jenny Brand-Miller came out with the first Australian edition of her book in 1995, she has wanted to get it published in North America. But it wasn't until a publisher named Matthew Lore was diagnosed with diabetes in 1996 that it began to happen.

He recently told me over lunch that as soon as he learned that he had diabetes he began searching the Web for dietary guidance other than the exchange lists that his doctor had told him about. There he found my review of the first Australian edition of The G.I. Factor.

"This makes sense," Matthew thought at the time. Wondering if any American publisher had picked up the book, he wrote Jennie. The rest is history, with the North American publication of The Glucose Revolution


This article appeared originally on the DiabetesWebSite.com, which is no longer on-line.


Update

The current edition, published in 2003, is The New Glucose Revolution.



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