Accumulating data indicate that a diet characterized by low glycaemic-index (GI) foods not only improves certain metabolic ramifications of insulin resistance, but also reduces insulin resistance per se. Epidemiological data also suggest a protective role against development of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. A major disadvantage in this connection is the shortage of low-GI foods, and many common starchy staple foods, such as bread products, breakfast cereals and potato products, have a high GI. Studies in our laboratory show that it is possible to significantly lower the GI of starchy foods, for example by choice of raw material and/or by optimizing the processing conditions. Such low-GI foods may or may not influence glucose tolerance at a subsequent meal. Consequently, certain low-GI breakfasts capable of maintaining a net increment in blood glucose and insulin at the time of the next meal significantly reduced post-prandial glycaemia and insulinaemia following a standardized lunch meal, whereas others had no ‘second-meal’ impact. These results imply that certain low-GI foods may be more efficient in modulating metabolism in the long term. Although the literature supports a linear correlation between the GI and insulinaemic index (II) of foods, this is not always the case. Consequently, milk products elicited elevated IIs, indistinguishable from a white bread reference meal, despite GIs in the lower range. This inconsistent behaviour of milk products has not been acknowledged, and potential metabolic consequences remain to be elucidated.
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