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Authors

  1. Small, Penelope PhD
  2. Brand-Miller, Jennie PhD

Abstract

The glycemic index (GI) is one of the most controversial concepts in modern nutritional science. Nutritionists seem to either embrace it or dismiss it. However, the GI is an enduring concept that has been around for more than 25 years. The weight of the research tells us that low-GI foods are part, but not the whole, of the healthy eating story. Although GI research in its simplest form has redefined and clarified our understanding of "quickly" or "slowly" digested carbohydrate, it is interesting to examine why this research, which has been so valuable in increasing our knowledge about carbohydrates, has become so contentious. Tracing the debate, we find that it has arisen because, like all emerging sciences, it has taken time to establish methodology, increase validity, and understand physiological mechanisms. The fundamental questions around GI and its role in diabetes management have been answered. Clinicians now can be assured that GI is a tool that sits comfortably alongside, but does not replace, recommendations for carbohydrate "counting." The importance of the GI to other diseases states, however, may take a little more time to differentiate