What are CARBOHYDRATES?
When you think about CARBS what foods cross your mind? Pizza, white bread, bagels? Nowadays almost everyone runs away from carbs, the Americans have even invented a word for it ” carbophobia” hahaha. But are they really that bad for us? Or there is such a thing as ” healthy carbs” ? Let’s find out!
CARBS are molecules found in food, such as fruits, vegetables, sugars, grains and dairy. Our body uses CARBS for energy, to facilitate a healthy digestion and support a healthy weight.
Are CARBS good or bad for me?
- SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES:
These CARBS are broken down quickly and provide a quick boost of energy.
For example, when you eat simple carbs ( pizza– white flour, white pasta, white rice) they get digested and absorbed into the bloodstream as GLUCOSE (sugar). Insulin ( hormone) allows glucose to enter the cells as a source of energy and helps maintaining a constant level of blood sugar. When you eat lots of SIMPLE CARBS, you get lots of sugar which means that your insulin rise up desperately trying to normalize the levels of your blood sugar, resulting in too much insulin that eventually cause a drop in the blood sugar levels and you feel tired and hungry again. Get it? It’s so easy! You eat pizza, in a few minutes you feel energy, lots of energy than you crash into a bed, couch or possibly on your desk, at work. After one hour you wake up more hungry than ever!
Sources — Sugar, Dairy, Fruits & Honey, Corn syrup & High-fructose corn syrup.
- COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES:
These CARBS are larger compounds and require more time to be broken down, resulting in slower digestion and absorption.
For example, when you eat complex carbs ( brown rice, oats, whole wheat, beans) they get digested and absorbed slower because they contain FIBER. Slowing the process of digestion and absorption helps avoiding those blood sugar spikes which allows us to maintain more consistent levels.
Complex carbs are healthier than simple carbs simply because the latter go through a process that destroys their nutrients.
For example, brown rice ( complex carb) VS white rice ( refined carb). When you eat white rice you will get hungry faster! Here is why →
→ Brown rice is a whole grain built from three parts : bran, endosperm and germ. The bran and the germ contain fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals beneficial for our health.
→ White rice is essentially a whole grain too but through the process of milling, the bran and the germ ( most nutritious parts) are removed to increase shell life. That means the grain no longer contains the fiber that makes the digestion and absorption slow.
Sources: beans, lentils, peas, vegetables ( starchy veggies too such as potatoes and sweet potatoes), whole grains.
What is FIBER?
Fiber is also a carbohydrate found in plants. It cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, therefore it remains intact in our digestive tract.
- SOLUBLE FIBER:
It dissolves in water, slows digestion by increasing digestive transit time.
Sources: brown rice, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, apples, oatmeal, blueberries.
- INSOLUBLE FIBER:
Speeds up the movement of food through our intestines which prevents constipation. They expand like a sponge, adding bulk to the stool to support bowel regularity.
Sources: corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and green peas.
When consuming grains is better if you soak them over night or at least for a few hours. Grains contains PHYTIC ACID which combined with other nutrients like Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium can inhibit their absorption. But when soaking them, PHYTIC ACID is released. Examples ( chickpeas, beans, brown rice).
It’s a sticky protein that can be hard to digest. Lots of people have gluten intolerance, because their digestive system is compromised ( overuse of antibiotics, processed food). If you have symptoms such as bloating, nausea, dizziness, numbness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, skin rashes, headaches, mood swings ( can lead to depression) , unexplained weight loss, iron- deficiency anemia ( remember the physic acid how combined with other nutrients inhibits the absorption of Iron), and you’ve been to too many doctors and they don’t really tell you what is going on, then you might have gluten intolerance. Try consuming gluten free products for 2-3 weeks and see how you feel, if the symptoms are gone it means you are sensitive to gluten or ask your doctor to order the following test: IgA anti-gliadin antibodies. People with Candida growth, Crohn’s disease, IBS ( irritable bowel syndrome), colitis or any other intestinal dysfunction may have a hard time digesting gluten.
GLUTEN- free products:
– Buckwheat ( kasha);
CHEW YOUR FOOD!
There is an enzyme called MYROSINASE in the plant cell membrane and a chemical compound called GLUCOSINOLATES in the middle of the plant cell. When these two, M and G meet they create anticancer elements ( indole-3-carbinol and diindolylmethane). In order to get these elements you need to destroy the membrane by chewing it. That is why it’s better to blend vegetables raw before boiling, heat destroys the MYROSINASE.
Also, chewing means more energy! You are helping your body’s digestion if you chew your food properly, which means less energy for digestion and more energy for you!
If you chew more, you eat less!
Because we all are different when it comes to our culture ( food choices) and what our stomach is used to ( DNA), age, gender, climate and lifestyle ( a person whose job requires lots of movement VS a person who has a desk job) I believe we all require different ways of eating. Something may be good for you but it might be bad for me or another person. Remember you are the only one who decides what it’s best for your health.
Listen to everything, try what you learn but do what is good for you!