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January 12, 2015

Low Glycemic and Natural Foods


In Why You Should Avoid High Glycemic Foods we described the relationship between the effects of high and low glycemic carbohydrates on blood sugar and insulin levels. Today we focus on the benefits of eating low glycemic foods and natural foods.

natural foodsWith low glycemic eating blood glucose rises and falls more slowly than it does following high glycemic eating. Low glycemic eating reduces food cravings and provides more constant energy levels. The rise and fall of blood glucose and insulin following low glycemic eating is depicted below. The levels are both parallel one another. The purple line depicts blood glucose levels and the red line depicts insulin levels. Blood glucose neither gets too high to trigger excess insulin, or too low (energy crash).

Insulin is structurally similar to something called IGF-1 or insulin growth factor 1. IFG-1 is the main mediator of growth hormone function. Insulin and IGF-1 compete for the same receptor sites on the cell. So when insulin is high IGF-1 cannot do what it is supposed to do – so its function is blunted. Growth hormone/IGF-1 have many important functions and the effects of low growth hormone can be read here.

To optimize growth hormone function insulin levels need to be kept low and that is accomplished with low glycemic eating.

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Effects of Low Glycemic Eating

  • Consistently high energy levels
  • Sense of satiety from meals
  • Weight loss and increased ability to maintain weight.

 Key Points to REMEMBER

  • Insulin competes with growth hormone for the same receptor sites on the cell. Low glycemic eating optimizes growth hormone function since insulin levels are kept to a minimum.
  • It takes a minimum of two weeks to transition from the hormone and energy levels related to high glycemic eating to those of a low glycemic diet. Processed carbohydrates like breads, pastas, grains, rice, potatoes, crackers, cookies, and cakes are high glycemic and should be avoided for the first two weeks. Once you achieve the weight you desire you can slowly reintroduce some of them as long as you can maintain your weight.
  • During those first two weeks of eating a low glycemic diet you may notice food cravings and low energy until your body adjusts to eating healthier foods. To some degree you just have to tough it out. It’s probably wise to reduce your exercise during these 2 weeks so as not to make cravings any more intense.


Our Paleo ancestors ate foods that were nutrient-dense and calorie-sparse. They ate fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy essential fats. They did not have access to refined and processed foods that we do today. Eating natural foods only almost ensures that you will be eating a low glycemic diet.

Our genetics have only changed 0.02% since those Paleolithic days, but our diets have change enormously with the advent of agriculture and farming 10,000 years ago and our bodies have not had time to adapt to our new Western diet that now includes grains, dairy, additives, food coloring, and artificial sweeteners and flavorings.

Here are our suggestions for consuming natural foods our Paleo ancestors would have consumed.

Omega-3 Eggs

Chickens fed flaxseed produce eggs that contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids than do chickens fed grain or corn. Eggland ‘s Best is one brand of such omega-3 eggs.

Free-Range, Organic, and Grass-Fed

  • Meats from free-range animals have a higher ratio of good fats to bad fats compared to meats from animals that are grain fed. Grass contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids, whereas grains contain omega-6 fatty acid most of which are unhealthy.
  • Organic foods are devoid of pesticides and insecticides.
  • Non-organic meats may contain antibiotic and bovine growth hormone that interfere with our body’s physiology.

Processed Foods – Consume in Most Natural Form

By avoiding processed foods you will avoid refined sugars, additives, preservatives, artificial colorings and flavorings, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, extra salt, and high glycemic loads.

If you must choose processed foods, pick those are minimally processed and contain only natural ingredients. Follow the suggestions below.

  • Whole grains are better than refined grains.
  • Natural peanut butter contains healthy fats. Processed peanut butter is high in sugar and hydrogenated oil.
  • Farm raised Atlantic fish contain less healthy omega-3 fatty acids than wild Alaskan fish.
  • Fat free yogurts and ice creams contain extra sugar.
  • Instant oat meals and rice are higher glycemic than their slow-cooking counterparts.

Eat low glycemic and natural foods and you will take one huge step towards healthier living and youthful aging.



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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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