There are 5 sub-sections:
24.3 GI (Glycemic Index) Values
24.4 GL (Glycemic Load) values
24.5 5-a day concept.
Health issues involves a range of issues for the well-being of the individual like:
• Eating well – information on what one needs to have a healthy, balanced diet, healthy weight – Check body mass index (BMI)
• Sensible drinking – Guide to alcohol levels
• Sexual health – information on taking care of one’s sexual health
• Protection from the sun
• Smoking – reasons to give up smoking, how to quit and where you can get information and support
• The importance of hand hygiene – simple steps on effective hand washing to help prevent the spread of infections and illnesses.
Despite incredible improvements in health, there are still a number of challenges, which should have been easy to solve but not so:
• Lack of timely access to health care systems.
• Non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases.
• Tuberculosis with new cases a year.
• Pneumococcal diseases every year, making it the number one vaccine-preventable cause of death
These and other diseases kill more people each year than conflict alone.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems.
Calculate for Adults – 0ver 20 years – and children& teens 2-19 years separately.
BMI gives you an idea of whether you’re underweight, overweight or an ideal weight for your height. It’s useful to know because when your weight increases (or decreases) outside of the ideal range, health risks may also increase.
Find your height at the top or bottom of the chart. Follow the column up or down until you reach your weight to get your BMI rating. Click on the relevant box below to see what your rating means.
The body mass index is a calculation of body fat that takes into accounts your age, weight and height. The result is given as a number. For adults the BMI categories are:
Under 18.5: Underweight
18.5-25: Normal weight
35 and over: Morbidly Obese
The BMI is a useful measurement for most people over 18.
But there are limitations to this system. For instance:
• Adults with a very athletic build (e.g., professional athletes) could show as overweight. This is because muscle weighs more than fat and the BMI does not take this into account.
• If you’re pregnant, the BMI does not apply. You should seek advice from your doctor or midwife on what a healthy weight is.
• View special charts for children and young people under 18.
In children and teenagers (below the age of 18), weight is compared with other people of their age, height and gender. BMI is then given as a percentage or ‘centile’ of this group.
Some people think that BMI is not a good way of deciding if a person is overweight or obese. It is especially difficult to say if a child or young person is overweight or obese because they are still growing and each child grows at a different rate. Most people felt unhappy about the words used with the BMI and didn’t like to think of being ‘obese’.
See your Nurse / GP if you require a more precise reading.
When a heart beats, it pumps blood round the body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is blood pressure. If blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on the arteries (and heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Having high blood pressure (hypertension) is not usually something that one feels or notices. It does not tend to produce obvious signs or symptoms. The only way to know what the blood pressure is to have it measured.
Blood pressure is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury’ (mmHg) and is written as two numbers. For example, if the reading is 120/80mmHg, the blood pressure is ‘120 over 80’.
Even if one does not have high blood pressure at the moment, it is important to keep the blood pressure as low as one can. The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk of health problems.
For example, a blood pressure of 135 over 85 may be “normal” but someone with this reading is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115 over 75.
a. Blood pressure chart
Use the blood pressure chart below to see what your blood pressure means. The blood pressure chart is suitable for adults of any age. (The level for high blood pressure does not change with age.)
Blood pressure readings have two numbers, for example 140/90.
The top number is your systolic blood pressure. (The highest pressure when your heart beats and pushes the blood round your body.) The bottom one is your diastolic blood pressure. (The lowest pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.)
The blood pressure chart below shows ranges of high, low and healthy blood pressure readings.
b. Blood pressure chart for adults
Using this blood pressure chart: To work out what your blood pressure readings mean, just find your top number (systolic) on the left side of the blood pressure chart and read across, and your bottom number (diastolic) on the bottom of the blood pressure chart. Where the two meets is your blood pressure.
c. What blood pressure readings mean
As one can see from the blood pressure chart, only one of the numbers has to be higher or lower than it should be to count as either high blood pressure or low blood pressure:
• 90 over 60 (90/60) or less: You may have low blood pressure. More on low blood pressure.
• More than 90 over 60 (90/60) and less than 120 over 80 (120/80): Your blood pressure reading is ideal and healthy. Follow a healthy lifestyle to keep it at this level.
• More than 120 over 80 and less than 140 over 90 (120/80-140/90): You have a normal blood pressure reading but it is a little higher than it should be, and you should try to lower it. Make healthy changes to your lifestyle.
• 140 over 90 (140/90) or higher (over a number of weeks): You may have high blood pressure (hypertension). Change your lifestyle – see your doctor or nurse and take any medicines they may give you. So:
• If your top number is 140 or more – then you may have high blood pressure, regardless of your bottom number.
• If your bottom number is 90 or more – then you may have high blood pressure, regardless your top number.
• If your top number is 90 or less – then you may have low blood pressure, regardless of your bottom number.
• If your bottom number is 60 or less – then you may have low blood pressure, regardless of your top number.
24.3 GI Values
The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods based on the overall effect on blood glucose levels. Slowly absorbed foods have a low GI rating, while foods that are more quickly absorbed have a higher rating. This is important because choosing slowly absorbed carbohydrates, instead of quickly absorbed carbohydrates, can help even out blood glucose levels when you have diabetes.
Foods are given a GI number according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Glucose is used as a standard reference (GI 100) and other foods are measured against this.
The web sites given below give the GI values of foods.
The number listed next to each food is its glycaemic index. This is a value obtained by monitoring a person’s blood sugar after eating the food. The value can vary slightly from person to person and from one type or brand of food and another. A noticeable difference is the GI rating of Special-K, which produced considerably different results in tests in the US and Australia, most likely resulting from different ingredients in each location. Despite this slight variation, the index provide a good guide to which foods you should be eating and which foods to avoid.
The glycaemic index range is as follows:
Low GI = 55 or less
Medium GI = 56 – 69
High GI = 70 or more
The glycaemic index (GI) is a numerical system of measuring how much of a rise in circulating blood sugar a carbohydrate triggers–the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. So a low GI food will cause a small rise, while a high GI food will trigger a dramatic spike. A list of carbohydrates with their glycaemic values is shown below. A GI of 70 or more is high, a GI of 56 to 69 inclusive is medium, and a GI of 55 or less is low.
a. High, Medium and Low GI Foods
One of the Internet’s most comprehensive lists of foods with their glycaemic index. If you are following the GI or certain diet you should aim to include more foods with a low glycaemic index in your diet. Your body will digest these foods slowly leaving you feeling full for longer and allowing you to eat less calories without feeling hungry. Adding a low GI food to a meal will lower the glycaemic index of the whole meal.
Factors that may affect the GI of a food include:
Cooking methods: frying, boiling and baking.
• Processing and the ripeness of fruit and certain vegetables.
• Wholegrain and high fibre foods act as a physical barrier to slow down absorption of carbohydrate. This is not the same as ‘wholemeal’, where, even though the whole of the grain is included, it has been ground up instead of left whole. So some mixed grain breads that include wholegrain have a lower GI than either wholemeal or white bread.
• Fat lowers the GI of a food. For example chocolate has a medium GI because of its fat content and crisps will actually have a lower GI than potato cooked without fat.
• Protein lowers the GI of food.
• Milk and other dairy products have a low GI because of their high protein content, and because they contain fat.
• Note: If you were to restrict yourself to eating only low GI foods, your diet is likely to be unbalanced and may be high in fat and calories, leading to weight gain and increasing your risk of heart disease. It is important not to focus exclusively on GI and to think about the balance of your meals, which should be low in fat, salt and sugar and contain plenty of fruit and vegetables.
The GI value relates to the food eaten on its own and in practice we usually eat foods in combination as meals.
Bread, for example is usually eaten with butter or margarine, and potatoes could be eaten with meat and vegetables.
An additional problem is that GI compares the glycaemic effect of an amount of food containing 50g of carbohydrate but in real life we eat different amounts of food containing different amounts of carbohydrate.
Note: The amount of carbohydrate one eats has a bigger effect on blood glucose levels than GI alone.
24.4 GL Values
GL stands for Glycaemic Load. It’s a unit of measurement that tells you exactly what a particular food will do to your blood sugar. Foods with a high GL have a greater effect on your blood sugar, which isn’t desirable. Foods with a low GL encourage the body to burn fat, which is what we’re aiming for.
Keeping your blood sugar balanced is the concept at the heart of the low GL diet – sustainable weight loss will follow.
When your blood sugar level increases, the hormone insulin is released into the bloodstream to remove the glucose (sugar). Some glucose goes to the brain and muscles where it’s used as an energy fuel, but any excess goes to the liver where it’s turned into fat and stored, causing you to gain weight. Insulin is known as the fat-storing hormone.
The glycaemic load (GL) is based on the glycaemic index (GI). Put simply, the glycaemic index of a food tells you whether the carbohydrate in a food is fast or slow releasing (fast is bad, slow is good). What it doesn’t tell you are exactly how much of the food is carbohydrate. Glycaemic load on the other hand tells you both the type and amount of carbohydrate in the food and what that particular carbohydrate does to your blood sugar. It doesn’t tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food. You need to know both things to understand a food’s effect on blood sugar. That is where glycaemic load comes in. The carbohydrate in watermelon, for example, has a high GI. But there isn’t a lot of it, so watermelon’s glycaemic load is relatively low. A GL of 20 or more is high, a GL of 11 to 19 inclusive is medium, and a GL of 10 or less is low.
Foods that have a low GL almost always have a low GI. Foods with an intermediate or high GL range from very low to very high GI.
Both GI and GL are listed here.
The GI is of foods based on the glucose index–where glucose is set to equal 100. The other is the glycaemic load, which is the glycaemic index divided by 100 multiplied by its available carbohydrate content (i.e. carbohydrates minus fiber) in grams. (The “Serve size (g)” column is the serving size in grams for calculating the glycaemic load; for simplicity of presentation I have left out an intermediate column that shows the available carbohydrates in the stated serving sizes.) Take, watermelon as an example of calculating glycaemic load. Its glycaemic index is pretty high, about 72.
According to the calculations by the people at the University of Sydney’s Human Nutrition Unit, in a serving of 120 grams it has 6 grams of available carbohydrate per serving, so its glycaemic load is pretty low, 72/100*6=4.32, rounded to 4.
24.5 5aday Concepts
Fruit and vegetables are part of a balanced diet and can help us stay healthy. That’s why it’s so important that we get enough of them.
The 5 A DAY message highlights the health benefits of getting five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables every day. That’s five portions of fruit and veg in total. 5 A DAY is based on advice from the World Health Organization, which recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
It’s a simple and popular device that the powers that be have been using to get us to eat more of the things that will keep us healthy: so a handful of dried mango pieces is, say, one of your five-a-day, where a salad – full of freshly sprouted mung beans (one point), tomatoes (another point) and lettuce (one point) might be three. The idea is that if you take care to accumulate five of your five-a-day in any one-day you’ll stand a chance of maintaining a good state of physical health long-term.
The following reasons are given as justification for recommending 5 portions:
A bad diet MIGHT contribute to severe illnesses
An increase in the consumption of fruit and vegetables are important to help manage illnesses like asthma, heart problems, diabetes and various forms of cancer.
The reason why fruit and vegetables are so beneficial is because of their array of compounds: vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals (including flavonoids, glucosinilates and phyto-oestrogens).
Some vitamins and phytochemicals are antioxidants, which destroy cancer causing free radicals in the body.
The suggested quantities are meant to be consistent with dietary recommendations around the world, including those from the World Health Organization.
Eating produce is better than taking supplements. It’s great to see this acknowledged – in fact we’ll quote the source (4) – “It appears that the benefits of fruit and vegetables stem not only from the individual components, but also from the interactions between these components. Dietary supplements containing isolated vitamins or minerals do not appear to have the same beneficial effects as fruit and vegetables themselves. Indeed, in some studies, supplements caused more harm than good.”
It is also worth noting that the 5 portions is a recommended minimum amount and that it is importance of variety is emphasised.
The above are general guidelines for the adults and for children different standards apply. There are also cautionary notes about Fructose and juices. So causation has to be exercised and one is advised to see more articles in web sites on this topic.