To Carb Or Not To Carb
By Tyler Linn
Should You Really Be Eating Carbs?
In the past five years, the reputation of carbohydrates has gone back and forth like an epic tennis match. Carbs have been touted as the feared food in fad diets. And some carbs have also been promoted as a healthful nutrient associated with lower risk of chronic disease.
Why Carbohydrates Matter
In September 2002, the National Academies Institute of Medicine recommended that people focus on getting more good carbs with fiber into their diet. The following statements are based on information given in the report:
- To meet the body’s daily nutritional needs while minimizing risk for chronic disease, adults should get 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fat and 10% to 35% from protein.
- There is only one way to get fiber – eat plant foods. Plants such as fruits and vegetables are quality carbohydrates that are loaded with fiber. Studies show an increased risk for heart disease with low-fiber diets. There is also some evidence to suggest that fiber in the diet may also help to prevent colon cancer and promote weight control.
Disadvantage Of Simple Carbohydrates:
Simple carbohydrates reach the blood directly and quickly and are responsible for a steep rise in sugar (in the form of glucose) in the blood. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as “fast” carbohydrates.
Since too much sugar can be dangerous for several different systems of the body, it reacts with the distribution of large amounts of insulin, which cleans up the sugar from the blood. In turn, the rapid reduction in blood sugar levels may lead to fatigue, weakness, difficulty concentrating, and an increased feeling of hunger.
High levels of sugar in the blood quickly saturate cells and excess glucose is transported to the liver, where it is rapidly converted into fat. Also, large amounts of glucose affect the processing of other nutrients, since the processing of carbohydrates is always of top priority for the body.
Complex – colloquially known as ‘slow’ – carbohydrates, however, take much longer to reach the bloodstream, because their decomposition requires some more energy and time, resulting in the blood glucose levels rising much more slowly and evenly. The consequences are a less explosive secretion of insulin and a long-lasting energy supply.
What Foods Should I Choose?
Good sources of complex carbohydrates and fiber are whole grains, legumes and many types of vegetables. They are digested slowly, thus providing a long-lasting and even supply of energy and cause the body to feel satiated longer.
Simple carbohydrates are found primarily in processed foods in the form of various sugars and white flour. The problem with the latter is that it contains no nutrients and is thus broken down in a very short time, driving the blood sugar level up, similarly to eating ordinary sugar.
Originally from Sacramento, CA, Tyler Linn moved down to San Diego in 2006 to attend college at San Diego State University. Tyler enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, surfing, hiking, meeting new people and traveling all over the world.
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