Welcome to the fifth installment in our XY Wellness Diet series. Our focus today is on Low Glycemic Foods. If you have not already done so, before proceeding further, we encourage you to review our previous four installments:
- XY Wellness Diet Overview
- XYW Diet Part 1: Anti-inflammatory Foods
- XYW Diet Part 2: Cancer-fighting Foods
- XYW Diet Part 3: Immune System Boosting Foods
In this series we are exploring a highly effective yet enjoyable approach to eating, which is comprised of these elements:
- Anti-inflammatory: minimizes gluten, dairy, and other inflammatory triggers.
- Cancer-fighting: is abundant in phytonutrients that actively inhibit cancer growth.
- Immune system boosting: is rich in antioxidants and immune system enhancers.
- Low-glycemic: is free of granulated sugar or low in refined flour.
- Pesticide-free: is organic when necessary, yet "conventional" when appropriate.
- Delicious: is fresh, local, top quality, vibrant, enzyme-rich, clean cuisine.
- Doable: for some it may involve a bit of learning, but nothing that you cannot easily master.
When it comes to your diet, there are foods that will boost your ability to fight prostate cancer, just as there are foods that will actively fuel the disease. Eating right every day will help you in your fight. It is not a question of “if” you can do it, but of how quickly and effectively you can make these new habits a way of life. We’re going to show you the ropes. The rest is up to you.
Let's now explore how to easily make low glycemic savvy food choices and why it matters so much that you do.
Why does a low-glycemic diet matter to me?
Beyond the serious problem of diabetes, high glycemic foods like sugar feed cancer by generating excess insulin and insulin growth factors. High glycemic foods also suppress our immune system. Did you know that one tablespoon of sugar will leave your immune system working at half capacity for 4 or more hours?
Since your post-diagnosis body cannot afford to be taxed this way, high glycemic foods simply have to go. This includes refined flour and simple carbohydrates.
For example, "white foods” such as mashed potatoes, white pasta, white bread, and white rice might as well be sugar since they metabolize in similar ways. Another example is corn syrup, which is a hidden simple carbohydrate in many processed foods, since it metabolizes at lightning speed, causing an even more rapid spike in blood glucose and insulin release than sugar does.
Remember that our daily goal is to create a truly hostile environment for prostate cancer, to become even more of an inhospitable host. Our goal is to boost our body's innate ability to generate healthy cells and to suppress further generation of aberrant cells. We must avoid doing anything that will tax our immune system or damage our body's ability to successfully battle the disease.
What is captured in a glycemic score?
The glycemic index (GI) measures the amount by which a particular food increases your blood sugar compared to the amount by which the same quantity of white bread would increase it. GI is a system designed to rank foods according to their affect on your blood sugar level. It measures how quickly a food converts to sugar.
Foods with carbohydrates that break down rapidly cause a dramatic rise in your blood sugar and insulin levels largely because your body needs less energy to convert such foods into sugar. These foods are assigned higher numbers on the GI scale. Foods with lower numbers will cause your blood sugar to rise and then fall more slowly than will foods with higher numbers, and have been shown to satisfy hunger longer and minimize food cravings.
The GI value of a food can vary depending on a number of factors such as ripeness, storage time, cooking method, variety, and the food combination in the meal. Foods with a GI score of 55 or less are defined as "low GI" and foods a GI score of 70 or above are defined as "high GI."
An alternative measure, the glycemic load (GL), may be a more accurate indicator of carbohydrate conversion and its effect on your blood sugar and insulin levels because it provides a measure of an overall impact on our blood sugar and insulin level. Foods with a GL score of 10 or less are defined as "low GL" and foods a GL score of 20 or above are defined as "high GL."
The are many publicly available listings of the GI and GL values of popular foods, along with their carbohydrate content. Pick one up and refer to it while planning meals and shopping. Eventually, you will know what you are looking to load up on and what you are looking to avoid.
So what do I need to do?
Keep your food choices as low on the glycemic index and glycemic load scale as possible. Also pair or combine food choices to minimize their glycemic impact. Proteins and healthy fats lower the spike in your blood sugar, so being mindful of food combinations will help you in a pinch. For example, a banana with almond butter is far better for you than a banana alone.
For simplicity, here is a sample of foods to load up on:
- Organic vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, and zucchini
- Organic, free-range eggs
- Free-range, grass-fed meats
- Wild-caught salmon and other cold water fish
- Nuts, including almonds, cashews, and walnuts
- Olive oil
- Beans, including black, chickpea, and lentils
- High protein grains, in particular quinoa
- Organic fruit when eaten in combination with a protein or healthy fat
- Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
And here is a sample of foods to reduce your consumption of or avoid altogether:
- Sugar, including corn syrup
- Processed foods, including bread, pasta, and crackers
- Low protein grains, including white and brown rice
- Dairy, with the exception of non-fat Greek yogurt
- Limit fruit intake unless eaten in combination with a protein or healthy fat
- Starchy vegetables, including both white and sweet potatoes
- More for pesticide avoidance, certain "conventional" fruits and vegetables (click here for the list)
What about my need to feed my "sweet tooth?"
Try to get over it by remembering your priorities. That said, some sugar substitutes are healthy, but some common ones are not. Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, and saccharine since they are comprised of synthetic chemicals, which will increase the toxic burden on your body. Instead, stick to natural sugar substitutes such as stevia, erythritol, and agave. These are good options in moderation.
Remember that you do not have to do everything perfectly at all times. Life just doesn’t work that way. That said, try to minimize mistakes because they have consequences, Your priority always needs to be to beat prostate cancer, so do not make your fight any more difficult by not controlling something that you have complete control over: what you put into your body. Be smart, be successful, and always know that we are here to help you.