Health has become the top priority for most people in today’s busy life schedule. Feeding your body with the right nutrition is of paramount importance.
Consuming the right carbohydrates for having the energy to carry out day-to-day activities, meeting strict deadlines in the workplaces, staying healthy is necessary.
Here is a guide on good and bad carbohydrates:
Let us first understand what carbohydrates are and what is their function. Simply put, your body gets glucose sugar from the breakdown of carbohydrates and is fueled every single day.
Sugar! The word itself indicated weight gain, an invitation to diseases, so on and so forth, doesn’t it. Turns out, the human body needs a consistent supply of glucose. Don’t be afraid of all carbs, choose the good ones to stay healthy.
Why Do We Need Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are responsible for providing our body with the energy that it needs to carry out normal day to day functioning. They are mainly found in all plant foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, etc. as well as in milk and dairy products. Since the body cannot every form of carbohydrates, they are categorized into bad and good carbs.
Complex carbohydrates are classified as “Good” carbs. They consist of a complicated molecular structure of atoms, which are broken down slowly to release glucose sugar into the bloodstream.
Once the blood gets a steady supply of sugar, it is burnt to maintain an energy level. Good carbohydrates are present in fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grain bread, meat and whole grain pasta.
These are low glycemic index foods and are high in fiber. These foods supply sufficient energy that is required by the body throughout the day.
The low glycemic index foods have a much better chance of getting utilized for energy instead of getting stored as fat. They lead to a slow and steady rise in the blood glucose levels.
Good carbohydrates are said to stimulate the body metabolism. They are digested slowly and, therefore, the body has the sufficient time to convert the calories into energy.
Bad carbs are mostly processed food items, devoid of essential nutrients for the body, mostly sold for business purposes. They are usually very low in fiber and high in sugar.
Bad carbs are present in white bread, cakes, pasta, biscuits, candies, sweets, chips and soft drinks. Moreover, there are ingredients like preservatives, artificial flavorings, and colorings that are used in preparing these type of food items.
Since these food items have high calorific value, the body faces a hard time to break down these foods which eventually converts them into fat deposits.
Bad carbohydrates can be digested quickly thus leaving the body with less time to burn the calories. Bad carbs can harm the body since they are less natural and more processed. They are high on the glycemic index and low on fat burning properties. It takes no time for the body to convert the sugar that comes from these processed foods to fat.
The distinguishing factor between good and bad carbs is the glycemic index. Simply put, the glycemic index shows how fast and by how much the glucose level in the blood rises.Glycemic index has a direct bearing on weight control, getting rid of chronic ailments and staying in perfect health.
Take, for instance, a bad carbohydrate food like refined white bread. White bread spikes up your blood sugar level in little time, making you tired early and you only end up wanting to run back to the kitchen to eat more. Eat them often, and you certainly run the risk of attracting diabetes and all Type 2 diseases.
Glycemic Index And Glycemic Load Factor
The Glycemic Index can rank the carbohydrates depending upon how quickly they increase the blood glucose and insulin levels.
A high glycemic index can lead to a quick rise in the blood glucose levels whereas low glycemic index can give slow rise in the blood glucose levels.
High Glycemic Index foods can get converted into fat quickly whereas low glycemic index foods have a better chance of getting utilized for energy rather than getting stored as fat. Some high GI foods include white rice, processed snacks, white bread and crackers. Low-GI foods include most of the vegetables and fruits.
Glycemic load is based on the glycemic index. It can be achieved by multiplying the glycemic index by the carbohydrate content of a particular food and dividing that number by 100. So the glycemic load of a meal forms the sum of the glycemic loads of all foods that are consumed during the meal.
Low Carb Diets
In the last couple of years, low-carb diets such as Atkins diet, Cabbage Soup diet, and South Beach diet were a huge hit among people who wanted to lose their weight.
These diets have restricted carbohydrates that interfere with the proper functioning of the body. They help people lose weight but are quite unhealthy since they lead to nutritional deficiencies that can result in rickets and scurvy.
These diets also result in depletion of serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feeling of happiness and well-being.
These diets are likely to bring food cravings that are very hard to control.
It is not advisable to go on low carb diets since carbs help to reduce bloating and aids metabolism as they provide all essential B vitamins that are responsible for converting food into energy.
A low carb diet can cause loss of water from the tissues which can lead to involuntary dehydration. Therefore, they are necessary to prevent dehydration.
Carbohydrates act as a reserve fuel supply in the form of glycogen that is stored in the liver and muscles. The body contains an amount of 300 g of glycogen which must be maintained by regular intake of carbohydrates to prevent the breakdown of protein tissue and fat.
It is important to consume a good carbohydrate diet for high energy content and body mass. You can judge a good carbohydrate by taking a look at its fiber content.
Fibre In Carbohydrates
Although fiber does not get digested, it still plays a significant role in the body. These indigestible substances help in the elimination of intestinal wastes.
Fibers are classified as soluble and insoluble fiber.
The soluble fiber as the name suggests tends to dissolve in the liquid whereas insoluble fiber does not dissolve in the liquid.
The insoluble fiber needs chewing and improves the mastication of food. It helps the food to pass through the stomach and intestines quicker.
Some of the good sources of fiber include whole wheat flour, whole grain cereals, fruits like apples which can be eaten along with their skin, pineapple, bananas, vegetables like amaranth and cabbage. It is advisable to have plenty of vegetables and fruits as well as whole grains in your diet.
Check The Nutrition Label
It indicates the amount of fiber present in that particular food per serving. It is not digestible and passes through the system without getting absorbed.
The amount of total grams of sugars, fiber, and other carbohydrate form the total carbohydrate.
The other carbohydrate specifies the digestible carbohydrate which is not regarded as sugar.
Sugars indicate the complete amount of carbohydrate in that particular food per serving. There are natural as well as added sugars, and it is important to distinguish both these sugars.
One can find a list of ingredients present the label that can help to get an idea about the total grams of sugar that come from the added sugars like corn syrup or white sugar.
Insulin & Diabetes
The right carbs can help to maintain normal blood sugar level that can prevent diabetes. The food is broken down into sugar in the digestive system which makes its entry into the blood stream.
When there is a rise in the blood sugar level, the pancreas secrete insulin that stimulates the body cells to grab glucose thus leading to a fall in the glucose levels. It instructs the liver to store glucose as glycogen.
When the glucose levels fall below an optimal level, the pancreas secrete glucagons that instruct the liver to convert glycogen back to glucose. Thus, these two pancreatic hormones namely insulin and glucagon are responsible for maintaining healthy blood glucose levels.
The consumption of processed carbohydrates results in a sharp increase in the blood glucose levels over a short period which is followed by an enormous dip in the levels. Due to this, the two sensitive hormones are overburdened that leads to obesity. These hormones lose their sensitivity to blood glucose levels over a period and this is called type 2 diabetes or insulin insensitivity.
It is important to consume right type of carbohydrates that can promote good health. It is advisable to stay away from fad diets since they are unhealthy and lead to many physical illnesses.