Carbohydrates are the most important macronutrient influencing blood sugar levels. The physiological effect of carbohydrates on our health is best illustrated in terms of its ability to raise blood glucose levels. The glycemic index (GI) is a quantitative assessment of foods based on blood glucose response after meal intake. High GI food is more quickly digested, absorbed and metabolised, causing a faster and sharper rise in blood glucose levels, and therefore usually insulin levels as well.Regular consumption of a high-GI diet reduces the body’s sensitivity to insulin and overworks the pancreas, which is the organ that secretes insulin. Long-term consumption of a high GI diet is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and a reduction in cognitive function. On the other hand, consumption of a low GI diet has been associated with a reduced incidence of diabetes, hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular disease.
Rice and bread, which are staple food items for most of the world’s population, are considered to be high glycemic index (GI) food. For those who have diabetes, these types of food pose significant concern about adverse effects on their blood sugar level.
One way to lower the glycemic index of an inherently high GI food is to co-ingest it with other types of food. Co-ingestion can help slow the conversion of starch to sugar, consequently lowering the glycemic index. Amino acids, the constituents of protein, have also been reported to reduce glycemic response of carbohydrate-rich foods. However, due to the bitter flavor of amino acids, they have rarely been used deliberately to reduce glycemic response.
Interestingly, the consumption of chicken essence, which is a protein-based drink comprising peptides, proteins and amino acids, has shown a glycemic response lowering in scientific studies. In one study, the glycemic response following co-ingestion of chicken essence and white rice was investigated. 16 healthy Chinese males were served 68 or 136 ml chicken essence together with rice and the rise of blood glucose and plasma insulin concentrations were measured at fasting conditions and every 15 minutes after consumption of the meal. The co-ingestion of 68 ml of the amino acid mixture with white rice produced the best results in reducing the peak blood glucose and glycemic response of white rice without increasing the insulin response.
In a second study, chicken essence co-ingested with white bread was found to lower the glycemic response compared to white bread consumption alone. The study involved 10 healthy young subjects that consumed either white bread alone or white bread with chicken essence. With co-ingestion of 136ml of chicken essence, the glycemic index was reduced to 57, compared to a glycemic index of 83 for white bread only consumption. A glycemic index of 57 is considered to be in the medium GI range (medium GI: 56-69).
Results from these studies indicate that peptide or amino acid mixtures in the form of chicken essence may help to prepare pancreatic β-cells to produce insulin and stimulate peripheral tissue for the uptake of glucose. Thus, the use of chicken essence may be a practical and simple way to reduce the glycemic response of rice and bread consumption, which may be a beneficial effect especially for the diabetic population or those predisposed to diabetes.
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Bhupinder Kaur, Viren Ranawana, and Jeyakumar Henry, ‘The Glycemic Index of Rice and Rice Products: A Review, and Table of GI Values’, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 56, no. 2 (2016): 215–36, https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2012.717976.
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