Is Glycemic Index Useful?

“Glycemic index” is a common indicator of how a food impacts blood sugar, or how quickly blood sugar rises after consumption. High glycemic diets are linked with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, a variety of cancers, and cardiovascular disease.[1] Glycemic index helps classify carbohydrates beyond the categories of simple or complex; simple carbohydrates are sugars or highly refined grains compared to complex carbohydrates, which include unrefined grains, whole grains.[2] This has led to recent trends focused on “low glycemic” foods and sweeteners, like agave syrup or coconut sugar.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 7.24.12 PM.png

The glycemic index (GI) is based from the glycemic impact of glucose, or simple sugar, which has a has variable GI depending on the GI reference list used. GI scores differ across different sources, but always use glucose and white bread as reference points within the index. While this variability in scores has been attributed to methodological differences in the past, it is becoming more clear that GI may be more complicated than researchers once believed.[1]

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 7.25.24 PM.png

A recent study at Tufts University found that GI can differ as much as 25% among individuals and 20% within an individual. This study found the same food can have low, moderate, and high glycemic impact, which makes it difficult to create categories that are accurate across individuals. The study used white bread, which is often villainized as a high glycemic food, yet in the study it had moderate to low impact for a number of participants. Additionally, the same foods have variable impact even within the same individual. The results suggest that glycemic index has far less value than was previously believed.[3]

Anadama_bread_28129
While glycemic index promotes healthy choice in theory, it is not a reliable measure. A senior author of the study suggests that individuals should choose whole foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and lean meats. Glycemic index also only observes the impact of carbohydrates in isolation, rather than looking at the effects of a whole meal; individuals eat more than carbohydrates in any given meal, which renders the isolated effects of a single carbohydrate source far less meaningful in real life situations. While advertisements may continue to tout the benefits of low GI food products, research has shown that the benefits are limited.

References: 
1: Foster-Powell, K., Holt, S. H., & Brand-Miller, J. C. (2002). International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. The American journal of clinical nutrition76(1), 5-56.
2: Saris, W. H. M., Astrup, A., Prentice, A. M., Zunft, H. J. F., Formiguera, X., Verboeket-van de Venne, W. P. H. G., … & Vasilaras, T. H. (2000). Randomized controlled trial of changes in dietary carbohydrate/fat ratio and simple vs complex carbohydrates on body weight and blood lipids: the CARMEN study. International journal of obesity24(10), 1310.
3: Matthan, N. R., Ausman, L. M., Meng, H., Tighiouart, H., & Lichtenstein, A. H. (2016). Estimating the reliability of glycemic index values and potential sources of methodological and biological variability. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition104(4), 1004-1013.

This post was originally featured here on 03/29/17. 

Easy Amore Spring Pasta

Everyone knows that familiar feeling…it’s 6PM, your stomach is growling, you have no idea what to make for dinner…

An easy option is pasta, but then comes another question…what kind of pasta? Amore has tons of solutions! Our family loves using the Amore herb paste (a tasty mix of fresh herbs in olive oil) to toss the pasta and some freshly sautéed spring veggies! 

The paste is vegan, all natural, and tastes just like fresh herbs! A little goes a long way and adds the perfect light flavor to a pasta dish. A mix of whole grain pasta, herb paste to taste (2 tsp or so), and sautéed asparagus, bell peppers, and yellow summer squash is colorful, flavorful and healthy! 

The perfect side for salmon, or a tasty light dinner on its own!

***

What’s your favorite easy go-to dinner?

Ted Talk Friday: Good Boundaries Free You

I have found that boundaries are one of the most challenging things to maintain in relationships. We are not taught them, and they are often seen as cold, unkind, or distant. I love this talk because it highlights the real benefits of boundaries and how they can improve both your own life, but also your relationships. Boundaries in work, relationships, and with ourselves are crucial and I think Sarri GilmanSarri GilmanSarri Gilman does a great job explaining that.

***
How do you practice good boundaries? Where do you find boundaries the most challenging?

Wise words from a professor

As a senior in college, I am facing some major life choices as I decide where to go and what to do next. I struggle with change, and making this decision has been a great challenge for me. As such, I have been reaching out to numerous friends, mentors, and professors to gain their insight and advice. While advice can only get you so far, I have found that many lessons and ideas have helped me reach my own conclusions in a more confident way.

2000px-Mentor_learner_co-op.svg_

There was one conversation that was particularly striking; I met with one of my favorite professors (and mentors) on campus and we discussed his experiences, my options, and his philosophy on living. He is a deep believer in finding a career that combines work and play. While I agree, it is difficult to use that belief as guidance as you embark on a first career choice–a time when there are innumerable paths and options.

Given this problem, he told me about his bucket theory. Here is the idea:
1) You have three buckets
2) Time, Security/Financial Security, Loving what you do
3) Make sure at least two are full, while filling all three is ideal…it might not always be possible

Don’t mind my scribbling, but this is the picture I drew as he described his theory to me:

Using this theory, I decided on the next step in my life. I made a difficult choice…but I know I will be filling the buckets of time and loving what I am doing. It might not be secure, which scares me, but I am beyond excited. I am so grateful for guidance from such wonderful people and can’t wait to start my life in the grown-up world!

***
How do you make big decisions? Do you have trusted mentors to turn to?

Queen Bey Likes Popcorn 

I used to always be the party host in high school, but after coming to college I let go of that role. I loved it, but I can’t say it was always easy. The host has to plan, coordinate, invite, which is all fun, but also comes with a lot of responsibility! If you forget someone, you hurt their feelings. If you forget chips, the guac gets lonely. If you’ve ever hosted, I’m sure you understand! I’m a host of imperfection, and you see past all that (Beyoncé, 2006).

Now this imperfection bothers me less so when one of my good friends at college and I came up with a brilliant party idea, I knew it was time to bring back my host identity. And the planning for a baby shower for Beyoncé’s newly announced pregnancy began. We made sure to plan a few things ahead of time, but a lot of it was kept very low key. We divided the tasks and she generously offered her apartment for the venue. It could not have been easier or more fun!

Our guests were welcomed starting at the front door:

Obviously we also had plenty of (spiked) Lemonade

Blue(berry) Ivy Lemonade


When I learned from an article that Beyoncé LOVES popcorn, I knew that had to be on the party menu. Luckily, Live Love Pop was happy to provide some delicious popcorn to fuel our night of Beyoncé. Our snacks in formation:

 

Live. Love. Yoncé.

A bowl of my favorite salt and vinegar flavor, which was followed by getting down on the dance floor…

Get it poppin’

 

I love sharing my love of Live Love Pop–thank you!

And an even bigger thank you to my first college friend and fellow Beyoncé lover, Naomi:

“Freakum dress out my closet, Yoncé filling out this skirt I look damn good, I ain’t lost it.” (Beyoncé, 2013)


***

Are you always the host? What’s your favorite party theme?

Ted Talk Friday: Balancing our Adams

Most of the Ted Talks I post are about fifteen minutes long, but here is a shorter talk that still packs quite the punch. David Brooks gives a great five minute talk on two types of virtues; the dichotomy he describes between Adam I and Adam II really rang true for me. I constantly catch myself caught up in my Adam I virtues–striving to get into this or that program or wanting to get a certain grade. While Adam I certainly has a role in our lives, it is important to respect and nurture the virtues of Adam II in order to live a truly rich, fulfilling life. I plan to do a more in-depth post on this in the future, but for now…here is the amazing 5 minute Ted Talk!

***

Can you think of moments where one Adam takes over in your life? How do you handle those moments?

Ted Talk Friday: Ending the pursuit of perfection

So many people live their lives pursuing perfection, I have addressed this topic in depth before, but believe it is worthy of endless discussion. One of my good friends passed this Ted Talk on to me after we chatted about the value of self-care. I love this talk’s approach to self-love through self-care practices; the notion of self-love can often feel so abstract, but thinking of it in terms of self-care is very helpful and concrete. This talk touches on so many issues–body image, social media, relationships–so fluidly. I hope you enjoy!

***

Do you think of self-care as self-love in action? Do you agree with Iskra?

The Questionable Science of Nutrition

We know that nutrition plays a large role in our health, but in all honesty, I don’t think we truly know much more than that. What about nutrition science, you ask? Well, it’s not simply science. It’s also a lot of lobbying, policy, Dr. Oz, and business interests. For example, the dairy industry has convinced us that milk is a necessity for healthy growth and bones, yet there are few real, reputable studies to back the claim. Large scale studies have shown that female milk drinkers even face an increased risk of fractures later in life. Keep in mind that milk is not necessarily related to the increased risk, but it certainly shows that drinking milk may not have the protective power we are told it has.

milk

This problem extends far beyond “Got Milk?” campaigns; there are so many misconceptions surrounding nutrition, especially when nutrition is so heavily influenced by business interests. Since March is National Nutrition Month, I thought this was the perfect time to share my thoughts on the current state of nutrition. And it’s a mess.

2326837169_7784254cb2_z

While I am not a nutritionist or registered dietitian, I do consider myself a scientist and strive to be an informed consumer, but being an informed consumer is FAR from easy. Those nutrition articles in Shape magazine, or even in reputable news sources or some research journals, are not always accurate. Those clinical studies shown on websites may not be factual. Many companies hire an external group to conduct studies, which means that many of those studies are funded by the brand and designed in a way to produce the most convincing results to support the product’s claims.

15374336591_778acb1e74_b

Mark Twain said it first.

I feel like this post has been a bomb of negativity, but I think it is so important to address. My advice for you is to always look for scholarly sources (peer-reviewed medical journals) for information, and make sure to read the note on any potential conflicts of interest the study or researchers might have. Beyond that, listen to your body. All of the nutrition advice in the world can’t compare to the specific ways your body functions. I think this is part of the challenge in the field, everyone’s body is different. We process and metabolize foods so differently depending on genes, the bacteria in our gut microbiome, or our past dietary choices. Keep this in mind, and take those nutrition articles with a grain of salt–something that may not be so bad for you after all.

Salt_shaker_on_white_background

References:

Michaëlsson, K., Wolk, A., Langenskiöld, S., Basu, S., Lemming, E. W., Melhus, H., & Byberg, L. (2014). Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies. Bmj, 349, g6015.

 

Ted Talk Friday: Grit

I think grit is what differentiates people who excel versus individuals who do well and “make it by.” Everyone I know who has achieved amazing things has an immense amount of grit. While hard work is not always everything–I don’t think that people who struggle simply aren’t trying–grit is the key to accomplishing many tasks. You’ll notice that this talk ties in very well with last week’s Ted Talk on growth mindset with Dr. Carol Dweck. Grit is so important, especially for people who don’t feel particularly gifted with one skill or “special” talent. Being smart, funny, or gifted is not everything…it’s about putting in the work.

***
Do you feel like you have grit? Where did you learn it?

On Being Nice

I am lucky in that I am not often confronted by individuals who are simply mean. I typically pretend that those people do not exist, but every once in a while I get a very ugly wake up call. This past weekend I was studying at the local public library. As I packed up my things and began browsing the DVD collection by the check-out desk, I couldn’t help but overhear a terrible conversation. A library patron was indignantly (and loudly) attacking the librarian saying she was “sighing” and had “such an attitude.” And she went on and on. It was 4:40pm and the library closes at 5pm.

22468805072_941b892fde_b

While I did not see the full interaction, I did see the entire scene of the patron criticizing the librarian for a solid five minutes straight at a volume that seemed to echo throughout the library. I work part-time in retail, and I know first-hand how humiliating these experiences can be. She was trapped behind the desk; she couldn’t say anything in response as the employee, yet had to stand there and listen. I know I would have been in tears after those five minutes.

These are the moments when it is important to remember we are all human; maybe the librarian had a bad day, maybe she was exhausted and waiting the twenty minutes until closing time, or maybe she is just a grumpy person, but none of these things make it acceptable for someone to treat her so poorly. We owe respect and kindness to everyone.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 2.01.39 PM

While this was not a momentous event by any means, it represents a microcosm of something that I find deeply important: treat others the way you want to be treated. Be nice. Be thoughtful. Be compassionate. It is easy to get caught up in the moment at frustrating times like this, but taking a step back and acting with compassion will always lead to a better outcome for everyone involved.

1280px-My_religion_is_very_simple._My_religion_is_kindness._14702390732

***

What is your take on kindness? How do you practice compassion, even when you’re frustrated?