Carbohydrates often called “carbs” have enjoyed a great press in the nutritional world in recent years. Carbohydrates are often recommended as the best source of energy, and should, therefore, be eaten in great quantities by both marathon runners and mere mortals alike. High carbohydrates are often recommended as the answer to weight loss problems. But are they really such a fabulous food? Although some types of carbohydrates are essential to health, others are simply dangerous.
“Simple carbohydrates” are basically sugars. White or brown sugar or anything you see on a packet ending with “ose” means sugar. These simple sugars added to foods almost always deplete helpful nutrients and are vastly over used in our society. They are profoundly damaging and may cause heart and cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and lowered immunity. It really is a wonder that these sugars do not carry a government health warning.
“Complex Carbohydrates” are what we used to call starches: bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice. They have a better image, but are not all as great as they appear to be. The refined complex carbohydrates are significantly lower in nutrition than the wholegrain variety. In refined carbohydrates the health giving outer husk is removed. This leaves a part of the grain that is very low in nutrients and higher in fast acting sugars than the wholegrain.
The level of nutrients in white flour is so low that it has to have, nutrients added before it is sold. Sadly the added nutrients do not replace all the nutrients lost leaving a very inferior substitute. White bread, white flour, white pastry, and white rice should all be avoided.
You have to keep your wits about you when shopping these days, as “brown” bread for example is not necessarily wholegrain. It sometimes is a nutritionally inferior white bread with brown colouring or “fibre” added to make it appear a more health giving loaf. The added fibre is not necessarily helpful either. When the outer husk is left on the grain the body easily absorbs it, however when it is removed in the form of “bran” it is hard to absorb, can irritate the bowel, and deplete the body of nutrients.
There are excellent forms of complex carbohydrates. These are the non-refined whole grains, and high carbohydrate vegetables i.e. potatoes, parsnips, turnips, swedes, and carrots, also some fruit such as bananas. If these are organic they will be so much more nutritious. In organic food the nutrient levels will be higher and the food will not be laden with unwanted pesticides and insecticides etc.
High quality carbohydrates have a very important role to play in nutrition. Different people will need different proportions of carbohydrates in relation to proportions of protein and fats.
Even if the carbohydrates are of good quality a high carbohydrate diet can cause problems in many people, such as: weight gain, low energy, low mood, aggression, impaired metabolism, and fluctuating blood sugar levels. These and other problems may be exacerbated if the diet is also very low in protein, good quality fats, fruit, vegetables, and water.
If supplements are used I recommend the Entire Katoa Food State supplements for the best absorption.
Original Article April 2010
Copyright Jaine Kirtley