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Ingredient Issues

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Dr. Aldrich at
www.petfoodindustry.com/
ingredientissues.aspx.

Greg Aldrich, PhD

Glycemic index:
Elegant technique in search of
a petfood product claim
THE CONCEPT OF a product
possessing a "low glycemic index"
is emerging as a new parameter
for evaluating petfoods. The index
is a carryover from the human
foods industry, where it is used as a
method to help diabetic individuals
make ingredient and meal choices in
their effort to constantly monitor and
control blood glucose levels.
Is this carryover
Because of its simplicity and the
from the human link between glucose metabolism and
a host of chronic diseases, such as
food industry a obesity, the glycemic index has also
valid concept for become more widely recognized as
a dietary management tool for the
evaluating petfoods? broader population. So, it is no wonder
that the idea has found its way into
petfood promotions and requests for
low-glycemic ingredients and products. However,
given this notion that the glycemic index has
migrated over from the human foods and nutrition industry, one must question, is it a
valid concept for evaluating a petfood?

samples are collected in 15- to 30-minute increments for two hours by simple finger prick tests
and blood glucose is measured by standard
methods. The blood glucose values are then
plotted over time and the "area under the glucose
curve" computed. Then the area under the curve
of the test carbohydrate is expressed as a proportion of the area from the glucose challenge.
Ordinarily, interpreting glucose and insulin
responses can be quite complicated; but this
method boils it down to a single value for each
ingredient and uses the same glucose reference for all samples. Glucose would have a
value of 100, and the test carbohydrates would
be something lower than 100. It is generally
accepted under this premise that a "low glycemic
index" would be below the mid-50s and a "high
glycemic index" would be above. There is also
evidence that the glycemic index of a multi-ingredient food could be estimated from the individual
ingredient data.

The body's response to
blood sugar following a
meal is very important.

GLYCEMIC INDEX WAS first described
by Jenkins et al. in 1981 and has been
explored in great depth over the past
30-plus years. In short, their work was
intended to simplify the "carbohydrate
exchange" values for diabetics. It did
this by comparing the response of an individual
to a 50-gram carbohydrate challenge meal
following an overnight fast and expressing the
results relative to the person's response to a
50-gram glucose challenge.
Thus, in practice, following the fast, the
subject consumes the challenge meal, blood

WHY SHOULD WE CARE? The body's response
to blood sugar following a meal is very important.
It sets in motion an entire cascade of metabolic
events, some of which may negatively influence
long-term health. Specifically, a high glycemic
index has been identified as a marker to a number
of health issues in humans, such as diabetes,

Dr. Greg Aldrich is president of Pet Food & Ingredient Technology Inc.
December 2013

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