Sense of Carbohydrates
Dr. Ben Kim
are created in the leaves of plants, where they are created out of water, carbon
dioxide, and the radiant energy of sunlight.
your body can obtain all of the energy that it needs from dietary protein and
fat, the most efficient source of fuel for your cells are carbohydrates.
can classify all of the carbohydrates that we know of into three general categories:
- Simple carbohydrates
fibers (pectin, cellulose, and hemicellulose)
take a close look at each of these categories.
carbohydrates are also called sugars, and range in size from single sugar molecule
to short chains of sugar molecules. Examples of simple carbohydrates include:
carbohydrates are longer strings of sugar molecules and can be grouped into two
general categories: digestible complex carbohydrates and indigestible complex
complex carbohydrates (also known as starches) can be absorbed into your
bloodstream. Although digestible complex carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules,
they are not sweet like simple sugars are, and they do not dissolve in water.
Digestible complex carbohydrates are absorbed into your bloodstream more gradually
than simple sugars, and are therefore less likely to cause problems associated
with blood sugar regulation. Vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and seeds are
good examples of foods that are naturally rich in digestible complex carbohydrates.
complex carbohydrates (also known as plant fibers) are components of
plants that you cannot break down with your digestive juices and enzymes for absorption
into your bloodstream. These fibers pass through your digestive tract undigested,
but play an important role in protecting your digestive tract and overall health.
Indigestible complex carbohydrates can be categorized into two main groups:
- Soluble fiber
(dissolves in hot water) - includes gums, pectins, and mucilages.
fiber (does not dissolve in water) - includes cellulose and hemicellulose.
whole plants contain varying proportions of soluble and insoluble fiber.
fibers can slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. Soluble fibers
can even prevent the absorption of fat into your bloodstream, which may be beneficial
to your health if you regularly consume unhealthy fats.
fibers help to add bulk to the matter that passes through your intestines, which
promotes efficient elimination of waste products from your colon.
regular intake of fiber-rich plants can accomplish the following:
- Lower the level
of unhealthy fats in your bloodstream.
for gradual release of sugars from the foods that you eat into your bloodstream,
decreasing your risk of experiencing diabetes or reactive hypoglycemia.
regular elimination of waste products.
the formation of endogenous toxins.
your risk of developing digestive tract disorders, including colon cancer.
you need to know about carbohydrates and your health
to the tenets of many low-carb diets on the market, simple and complex carbohydrates
can contribute to excellent short and long term health.
key to eating carbohydrate-rich foods and staying healthy is to get your carbohydrates
from whole, minimally processed foods.
and unrefined grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits contain simple
and complex carbohydrates (digestible) that are intertwined with vitamins, minerals,
enzymes, protein, fat, and fiber, all of which allow your body to make optimal
use of simple and complex carbohydrates.
foods that have been heavily processed and refined - like sugar and flour - have
been stripped of much of their vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and healthy fat content.
When your body is faced with the challenge of digesting these low-nutrient foods,
it must gather up vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from its own stores to properly
metabolize them. Over time, repeated ingestion of sugar, flour, and other refined
carbohydrates can use up enough of your nutritional reserves to actually contribute
to the accumulation of nutritional deficiencies, particularly in B vitamins.
contributing to nutritional deficiencies, regular consumption of refined carbohydrates
can lead to steady exposure to large waves of insulin, the hormone that your body
releases into your bloodstream to deal with influxes of sugar. Over time, exposure
to large and unnecessary amounts of insulin can cause:
gain, since insulin promotes storage of fat.
cellular levels of magnesium, a mineral that is essential to keeping your blood
vessels relaxed and your blood circulation efficient.
increase in sodium retention, which leads to excess water retention in your system,
which causes high blood pressure.
amounts of inflammatory compounds in your blood, which can cause direct physical
damage to your blood vessel walls and encourage the development of blood clots
which can lead to heart attacks and respiratory failure.
reduction in HDL cholesterol, an increase in undesirable small molecules of LDL
cholesterol, and an increase in triglycerides, all of which increase your risk
for heart disease.
a higher risk of developing different types of cancer due to insulin's ability
to contribute to cell proliferation.
health challenge that may result from regular consumption of refined carbohydrates
is the tendency to experience undesirable dips into low blood sugar territory,
which often occurs with overreactive waves of insulin release. If this back and
forth swing in blood sugar level - from a dangerously high level after eating
refined carbohydrates to a dangerously low level after an overshoot of insulin
- occurs repeatedly, the net result can be burnout of your blood sugar-regulating
mechanisms. Symptoms of such a state include:
cravings for sweets
depression and/or anxiety
or all of these symptoms are often clustered together to produce a label of reactive
your blood sugar level drops below an acceptable level, your adrenal glands are
forced to produce and release hormones called glucocorticoids into your bloodstream.
Glucocorticoids cause your muscles and liver to release their stores of sugar
(called glycogen) into your blood, the goal being to restore a healthy blood sugar
level. If your adrenal glands are repeatedly asked to respond in this fashion
to reactive hypoglycemia, the result can be adrenal exhaustion and poor ability
to raise blood sugar to an adequate level.
are other endocrine issues that can result from regular consumption of refined
carbohydrates, but the bottom line is this: If you eat sugar, flour, and other
processed carbohydrates on a regular basis, you can expect to have serious health
problems in the future if you don't already.
you do not have a sedentary lifestyle and do not have an existing problem with
blood sugar regulation or other components of your health, you should feel peace
of mind about regularly eating simple and complex carbohydrates that naturally
occur in vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. The only caveat
to this recommendation is to soak uncooked legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds in
water for at least a few hours before eating them or preparing them to eat - doing
so will best support optimal digestion and your health.
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