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Nutrients. 2019 Jan 24;11(2). pii: E260. doi: 10.3390/nu11020260.

A Short Study Exploring the Effect of the Glycaemic Index of the Diet on Energy intake and Salivary Steroid Hormones.

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Cardiovascular Science, Queen's Medical Research Institute, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, UK.
Dietetics, Nutrition & Biological Sciences, Queen Margret University, Edinburgh EH21 6UU, UK.
Dietetics, Nutrition & Biological Sciences, Queen Margret University, Edinburgh EH21 6UU, UK.
Faculty of Health and Social Care, Edge Hill University, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, Lancashire L39 4QP, UK.


Background: The glycaemic index or load (GI or GL) is a concept for ranking carbohydrate-rich foods based on the postprandial blood glucose response compared with a reference food (glucose). Due to the limited research investigating the effect of the GI or GL of the diet on salivary steroidal hormones, this explorative short study was conducted. Methods: 12 female participants consumed a low GI and a high GI diet for three days each, followed by a washout period between each intervention. Saliva was collected at baseline, and following the low or high GI diets. Cortisol and testosterone concentrations were measured by enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assay (ELISA). Results: GI and GL were significantly different between the low and high GI diets (p < 0.001). There was a small but significant increase in salivary cortisol after the high GI diet (7.38 to 10.93 ng/mL, p = 0.036). No effect was observed after the low GI diet. Higher levels of testosterone were produced after the low GI diet (83.7 to 125.9 pg/mL, p = 0.002), and no effect was found after the high GI diet. The total intake of calories consumed on the low GI diet was significantly lower compared to the high GI diet (p = 0.019). Conclusions: A low GI diet was associated with a small but significant increase in salivary testosterone, while a high GI diet increased cortisol levels. Altering the GI of the diet may influence overall energy intake and the health and wellbeing of female volunteers.


cortisol; diet; glycaemic index; steroid hormones; testosterone

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