Are Carbohydrates good for us- YES!. For years, my father read heavily about how to stay healthy for himself and his family. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer, and I’m sure this had something to do with it.
Back then, about 15 years ago, the argument was being made that Carbohydrates were our biggest problem when it came to keeping our weight in check. To an extent, this is still true with the advent of the Keto Diet craze.
But as of recently, I have heard a lot of the ‘healthy set’ start championing the complex carb. Especially carbs during days that people train or workout. One of the most in-shape people on the planet – The Rock swears by carbs to help develop muscle and to have enough fuel in the tank to perform at peak ability.
When people talk about carbohydrates many times, it is usually about the physiological phenomenon: blood sugar and energy. Sadly, most people only hear the wrong side of the carbs story as related to their bodies and their health.
However, carbs may not be as ‘detrimental’ to your health after all. The trick is to understand where to strike a balance and give your body just what it needs, no more, no less. So what is it with carbs anyway?
Of all the classes of food available to humanity, carbohydrates have to be the commonest. They are about the most crucial food that the body needs: they supply the body with energy to carry out all its other activities, both internal and external.
Carbs are not the only sources of body energy (fats are also stored as glycogen in the liver and converted to energy when the body is short on glucose). Sugars and starches get broken down and stored in our body cells, tissues, and organs as glucose.
Types of Carbohydrates
Biologists have divided them into three broad categories based on their chemical structure and complexness (how long they take to get broken down and used by the body).
Usually, people use ‘starch’ and ‘sugar’ to refer generally to carbohydrates, but there is another type of carbs called FIBRES. We will discuss each of them further down.
These simple sugars are usually made of one (monosaccharide) or two (disaccharides) molecules of sugar.monosaccharides. They can be found in vegetables, grains, syrups and table sugar.
Polysaccharides are made of many linked molecules of monosaccharides, also referred to as ‘complex sugars’. There are various types of polysaccharides, but four major ones are found in the in food and the body, namely starch, fiber, cellulose, and glycogen.
Starch is found in most plant-based carbs. Until broken down into smaller particles, starch does not dissolve in water and takes a longer time than the simple sugars to digest. Examples of starchy foods are rice, yam, corn, and potatoes.
Fibers are quite a unique kind of carbs: they mostly do not digest in the body but help to aid the process of digestion. They also help in regulating body cholesterol and blood sugar. Some examples of foods that contain fibers are fruits like oranges, mangos, and berries, vegetables like carrots, sweetcorn and cabbage, nuts, peas, cereals, and grains.
Cellulose polysaccharide is an energy store found in plant cells. It forms the plant cell structure and is located in plant cell walls.
Glycogen is a form of carb that serves as energy storage for the body. When the body is running low on energy, it converts already stored glycogen into glucose for energy.
How the Body Uses Carbs
When food is ingested, the body sets to work to process the food into usable molecules by the body organs and cells. This digestion process varies with the different types of foods and the complexity of carbohydrates.
For simple sugars, the process is usually faster. For polysaccharides, however, it takes longer. At each stage of digestion, beginning from the mouth- the body releases enzymes that aid the breaking down of these carbs into simpler, digestible, absorbable forms until it becomes glucose, which the body can use as energy.
Not every molecule of carb introduced into the body becomes glucose immediately, however. While part of the ingested carbs become glucose and are absorbed into the bloodstream and body cells, some other parts are converted into glycogen and stored in the liver and body muscles.
When the body runs short of glucose, the stored glycogen is converted into glucose, and I turn into energy, Through this process, the glucose level of the body is regulated.
Are Carbs (not) Good for Your Health?
Health professionals and nutritionists have a lot to say about the good and bad sides of carbs in the body. Because many health problems can be traced to them, most people have thought it safe to reduce their intake of carbs drastically.
While it as a great safety precaution, it is also important to ensure that the body gets enough supply of carbs, as they may not be as hazardous to our health if ingested in the right quantities. Actually, carbs have a number of advantages when you take them regularly.
They Help to Regulate Blood Sugar
Fiber aids the easy digestion process and helps to regulate body cholesterol.
Carbs serve as vast energy sources for our bodies. When in need of instant energy supply, it is advisable to take the simple sugars. However, complex carbs serve as long-term energy suppliers for continued body activity.
Carbs help the brain function effectively
Carbs also regulate body weight. When healthy starchy foods and fibers are eaten regularly, the body is continuously engaged in breaking down this food particle which
Like every other good thing, carbs can become a health hazard if taken in unwholesome quantities or patterns. Nutritionists, therefore, advise that intake of simple sugars in large number should be kept at a controlled rate, especially in adults.
It is also advisable to consult with the doctor before to ascertain the amount which is healthy for your body.