CARBS - The Whole Truth
Written by Sherry Brescia
Submitted by Bonnie D. Utahn
With all the conflicting dietary advice out there (coupled with the fact that our typical medical community is not educated in nutrition and therefore has very little advice to give, and we’re constantly blasted by the sensationalizing and fear-instilling reporting by the media), it’s truly no wonder that
many people’s heads are spinning and they don’t know what to eat anymore!
One day you will read about a study that says red meat is the devil and the next day it’s being touted as a good source of protein. Or one day eggs are indicted for raising cholesterol levels and the next day they’re found to have no effect on cholesterol.
If enough money is thrown at a study, some researchers would [probably] conclude that eating shredded cardboard topped with motor oil is good for you.
And one area where confusion is running rampant is in the area of CARBS (aka carbohydrates). Sometimes I feel that if I hear one more person saying they've “cut all carbs out of their diet because they’re not good for you,” I will tear my hair out.
I will explain more about this below, but what I’d like to first say to all carb-o-phobes is that if you cut all carbs out of your diet, you will not live to tell about it. In other words, you MUST have carbohydrates or you die. That’s a fact.
Now let me tell you the REAL story about carbs — not the story as slanted by some group or fancy study, but the simple facts about carbohydrates, which ones are best for you, and why you must have them to live.
Carbs from Nature
There are 2 types of carbs that occur in Nature--simple and complex.
Simple carbs are comprised of one or two sugar molecules. They're broken down VERY quickly by your body and are absorbed directly into your bloodstream, creating a flood of glucose into your veins.
Examples include (unprocessed, raw) sugar, honey and maple syrup.
Fruit is also considered a simple carbohydrate, but the sugar in fruit (fructose) raises your blood glucose level MUCH slower (more on that below).
Complex carbs, on the other hand, are made up of long strains of sugar molecules, otherwise known as starches. It takes your body MUCH longer to digest complex carbs, so they provide a slow, even, steady supply of glucose to your bloodstream.
Examples of complex carbs include vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
Thanks to food manufacturers, we have two more "created" carbs that our bodies have to deal with.
The first of these is refined carbs. They include white sugar, white flour, white rice and all products made with them (including white bread, breakfast cereals, cookies, cakes, crackers, pastries, pasta, donuts, bagels, hamburger and hot
dog rolls, etc.)
Refined carbs typically start out as complex carbs (such as a beet or a grain of whole wheat), but the processing strips away most of the vitamins, enzymes, minerals and fiber that were in the original food from Nature. Once the food is "stripped" of all its beneficial components, you're basically left with...SUGAR.
So refined carbs act just like simple carbs, flooding your bloodstream with glucose.
The other "lab-created" carb is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Like its name suggests, HFCS is made from fructose (fruit sugar)--but in a violated, adulterated form that has NEVER occurred in an apple or a pear or a strawberry.
HFCS is seen as a toxin by your body and as such, it has to be broken down by your liver.
Your body needs carbohydrates--glucose is our body's main source of fuel, so clearly you must have carbs in your diet.
The carb of choice here is complex carbs--they provide a nice even flow of glucose so your body gets what it needs as it needs it. So load up on those veggies, whole grains and legumes!
Fresh fruit is also beneficial in moderation - although it causes more of a fast sugar influx, its nutrients, fiber and enzymes are also good for you.
Even natural sugar, honey and maple syrup aren't entirely terrible in very limited amounts, such as a dash of honey to sweeten your tea or some maple syrup drizzled on your oatmeal.
The REAL health dangers come from the "carb creations"--refined carbs and HFCS. Let's take a closer look...
The health price of carb creations:
1- Refined carb wreckage
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), type 2 diabetes and obesity are the most common results of eating lots of refined carbs. What happens in your body is this:
When your bloodstream gets flooded with glucose from refined carbs, your body sends an alert to the pancreas. Then the pancreas releases insulin which tells your cells to "take in" the glucose, thereby bringing your blood glucose level back to where it should be. But when your bloodstream is flooded with glucose repeatedly from a regular intake of refined carbs, your pancreas gets overworked. Eventually it can get to the point where it can't keep up with your insulin needs anymore and/or your cells become resistant to the insulin (they "ignore" the signal to take in the glucose).
This causes a buildup of glucose in your blood, otherwise known as hyperglycemia and eventually if it continues, type 2 diabetes.
Plus obesity can be in your future too because your cells can only "take in" so much glucose when the insulin sounds the alarm... And the excess over and above what they need is stored as FAT.
Because research now shows that refined carbs can also trigger food cravings similar to the cravings that drug addicts experience!
That's right. In a study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers noted that the quick spike and subsequent crash in blood sugar that comes after eating refined carbs activates reward and addiction areas in your brain.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of test subjects who drank a highly sweetened drink showed increased activity in a region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which has been tied to rewards and cravings. So calling someone a "carb-o-holic" isn't too far from the truth in many cases!
2- HFCS horrors
High fructose corn syrup causes its own share of health horrors. First of all, since your liver needs to break it down like a poison, HFCS puts a tremendous stress on your precious organ of detox.
And unlike glucose which is burned up by your body, HFCS turns into fatty acids, excess cholesterol and triglycerides, which in turn get stored as FAT.
As a matter of fact, artificially processed fructose causes THREE TIMES MORE fat storage than glucose!
Not only does this lead to the obvious weight gain, but these fatty deposits also accumulate in your liver and muscle tissues and lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Plus unlike other foods, eating fructose has NO effect on your hunger hormones--in other words, you can eat it by the truckload and not ever feel full.
Sounds like a recipe for obesity to me.
vision loss, and trouble with blood pressure regulation. It can also cause chronic fatigue and neuro-muscular dysfunction, and has been linked to autism, heart disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.
What to do:
If you suspect you are suffering the health effects of too many refined carbs and/or HFCS, in addition to seeing your doctor as necessary, it's absolutely VITAL to change your diet to include more complex carbs and fewer refined carbs and sources of HFCS.
You NEED them, in the right form. Remember that your body MUST have carbs. Without them, you would be permanently horizontal very soon.
What your body does NOT need is too many simple carbs (especially sugar) and any refined carbs or HFCS. But what it DOES need is complex carbs--those that come from vegetables and whole grains.
Give your body the fuel it needs, and I'm sure it will thank you many times over with abundant energy and great health!
To your health,