Thursday, 28 July 2011 00:00

Have you had your Essential Carbohydrates today?

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It's true. No diet high in carbohydrate can inflate appetite and increase belly fat. The truth is there is a distinct difference between good and bad carbs.

It's true. No diet high in carbohydrate can inflate appetite and increase belly fat. The truth is there is a distinct difference between good and bad carbs.

Most of our carbohydrates come from cereals and grains, both products of the agricultural revolution. Our bodies are not genetically designed to thrive on large amounts of these fibreless complex carbs. With the popularity of cereal- and grain-based "health diets," carbohydrate metabolism has been upset in approximately ¾ of the population which simply cannot handle this large load of carbs.

Increased insulin output from the pancreas, over the years, results in hyper-insulinism (above normal level of insulin in the blood), insulin resistance (natural hormone insulin becomes less effective at lowering blood sugars), metabolic syndrome (combination of medical disorders that, when occurring together, increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes) and result in diseases such has hypertension (high blood pressure), dyslipidemia (abnormal amount of lipids e.g. cholesterol and/or fat) in the blood), atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Complex carbs with lots of fiber should be consumed in proper proportion for maximum health and vitality. Complex carbs are rich sources of necessary vitamins and minerals as well as enzymes. The problem occurs when carbohydrates are altered by processes which provide empty calories stripped of much of their original food value. The healthiest form of carbohydrates is the complex carbohydrates present in high-fiber vegetables; however, it is certainly acceptable to include simple sugars in the form of whole, fresh fruits. Grains should be consumed moderately.

The American Diabetes Association tells us that the brain and central nervous system normally have a daily requirement of about 130 grams of carbohydrate in the form of glucose. However, glucose breaks down quickly and rapidly enters the bloodstream which produces spikes in blood sugar.

Nevertheless, the brain and the central nervous system are also able to use ketones as an energy source. This reduces the carbohydrate requirement to about 30 grams of glucose per day. As low-carbers with Ketostix already know, ketones are produced in abundance from the fats and amino acids consumed on a low-carb diet. The remaining need for thirty grams of glucose can easily be met through a metabolic pathway called gluconeogenesis, which allows the body to use amino acids from proteins and the glycerol backbones from fats to synthesize glucose in the absence of any carbohydrate intake.

As far as the general energy requirements of the body, these can be met very efficiently both by the utilization of dietary fat and by the mobilization of stored fat.

Carbohydrates, therefore, are not an essential element of a healthy diet. There are essential fats, which include the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Because they are not produced by the body, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (found in salmon, flax seeds, walnuts, avocado, evening primrose oil) must be regularly consumed in order to ensure the normal function of the nervous system, heart and immune system. You will die without these essential fats, yet they are not even listed on the Canada Food Guide or the US Food & Drug Administration Nutritional Guide for Daily Values.

There are essential amino acids - the building blocks of protein and include isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Although some amino acids can be synthesized by the body, these eight cannot. Unless they are ingested, and ingested in the proper amounts, the body is unable to assemble all of the structural and enzymatic proteins that are needed to sustain life.

By contrast, there is no disease state associated with an insufficient intake of carbohydrates. It is true that the body needs carbohydrates for energy within certain types of tissues, for synthesis of the backbones of DNA and RNA, and for signaling purposes, but it is well able to synthesize all of these from the raw materials provided by the amino acids in the proteins we eat.

For those of us raised on the dogma of eating low-fat and starchy high-carb, often propagated by the highest profit corporations such as cereal companies (you must eat breakfast to be healthy coined by Kellogg), the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Diabetes Association, THIS IS HARD TO BELIEVE. But if we think about our caveman ancestors, we realize that they didn't have access to pasta, potatoes or rice, or even high-carb fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. They were able to survive and reproduce without a high carbohydrate intake because, amazingly enough, there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.

By contrast, the Canadian Dietary Allowance Intake (RDA) and the US Department of Agriculture recommends that both children and adults eat 45-65% of their daily calories as carbohydrates. That can mean well over 300 grams of carbohydrates per day for a person consuming a 2000 calorie diet.

What happens if we ignore these guidelines and don't eat enough carbs every day? Carbohydrates are popularly thought to be essential for providing energy. Specifically they are thought to be necessary to provide fuel for the brain and to refill stores of glycogen in muscles and in the liver.

The sweetener and grain lobbyist are powerful groups whose members infiltrate universities by funding studies, government, and nutritional organizations to ensure that their high-carbohydrate products and their multi-national food empire are strongly recommended. They twist and distort scientific studies to justify their products. Prior to the advent of grain cereals in 1900, the heart disease rate was very near zero with virtually no mention in medical books and journals of anyone having a heart attack. After the advent of grain cereals and the refined sugar commonly used to sweeten breakfast cereals, the heart attack rate soared. Eating refined carbohydrates places the body in a continual blood sugar control crisis that is very unhealthy.

So what happens when we consume too many carbohydrates in our diets?

Excess carbohydrates can cause generalized vascular disease. A high-carbohydrate diet causes the pancreas to produce large amounts of insulin, and if this happens for many years in a genetically disposed person, the insulin receptors throughout the body become resistant to insulin. Because insulin's action is to drive glucose into the cells, this results in chronic hyperglycemia, also called "high blood sugar." A large portion of this sugar is stored as fat resulting in obesity. Excess insulin also causes hypertension and helps initiate the sequence of events in the arterial wall which leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

For most people, reducing their carbohydrate intake can be health promoting. The question is: In order to get the benefits of cutting back on carbs, which is the best approach? The fact is that there is no one carb level that will be best for everyone. Different bodies have different abilities to handle carbohydrate and the trick is to figure out what is best for your body.
The goal is to find the highest carb level where the individual will: 1) lose or maintain weight, 2) not have cravings which will drive him or her to overeat and/or 3) not fatigue after meals. One of the most striking features of finding your carb tolerance level is that people no longer find themselves wanting to randomly munch. Being free of those urges is so liberating that it turns people into devoted followers of carb reduction. Other positive signs of eating the correct carb level are increased energy and mental alertness.
People who are sensitive to carbohydrates are on a continuum. Some will benefit from small reductions in carb, while others need a larger reduction in order to feel the benefits. So finding the highest carb level where the benefits can be achieved is a good goal.

Read 3397 times Last modified on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 17:18
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