In today’s fast paced environment not all of us are able to focus on our eating habits. We don’t pay attention to what we are buying and eating. We just consume food because food is necessary to keep us alive and keep our batteries charged. But did you know that some foods that are rich in carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, white pasta and some of the cereals; not only provide energy, but also add extra unnecessary calories to our diet. Not only that, but these foods are also responsible for creating insulin imbalance in our body. Why does this happen? Does it happen because these foods are rich in carbohydrates (sugar) and carbohydrates are bad for the body? The answer is no.
Carbohydrates are very important to our body and our day-to-day functioning. When they are absorbed in the body, they provide energy to the vital parts of the body. In their absence a person can feel very tired and brain is unable to process the simplest of tasks. However not all carbohydrates are good for the body. To differentiate there are two types of carbohydrates:
1. Simple Carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates are nothing but simple sugar. The reason they are called simple is because of their chemical composition of one to two sugar molecules. Simple carbohydrates due to their simpler chemical composition are broken down and digested quickly by the body, resulting in sudden rise of glucose (blood sugar) in the blood and quick release of energy. Due to higher level of glucose in blood, the body responds by producing excess insulin to remove extra glucose from blood and inhibit the release of further glucose. Eventually our body feels the lack of energy, therefore to refuel energy levels we tend to consume more food.
2. Complex Carbohydrates:
As compared to simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates instead of a simple chemical composition of one-two sugar molecules have a much more complex chained like composition of sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates are broken down much slowly and absorbed by the body at a slower rate, thus resulting in slow and constant release of energy over a longer period of time. Hence our body stays fuller for a longer period of time while supplying constant energy to the body parts. As a reason we tend to consume lesser quantity of food.
Products such as white pasta, white rice, white bread and some cereals are processed foods. These processed foods contain simple carbohydrates due to added sugar and lack complex carbohydrates due to removed fiber. As pointed out earlier that simple carbohydrates provide quick energy to our body, hence our body responds to them by releasing excess insulin to combat excess blood glucose. If consumed, can result in a state where body becomes less sensitive to insulin. In other words our body will not respond well to produce the amount of insulin needed to normalize blood glucose. As a result there is a change of hormonal activity in our body and the excess glucose starts converting in to fat.
In conclusion, over consumption of simple carbohydrates is bad for our body. Due to change in insulin sensitivity one can develop a state of diabetes and other health problems such as high blood pressure, organ failure, etc.
Foods to consider
1. Whole foods: Foods such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, whole meal pasta, whole meal cereals/oatmeal cereals contain complex carbohydrates. Such foods will keep you fuller during the day and provide you with constant energy throughout. Many athletes are considering whole foods these days. Especially in longer format of games such as football, tennis and cricket one needs constant energy supply for healthy working of the body and brain.
2. Fresh fruits and vegetables: Fresh green vegetables and fresh citrus fruits are rich in fiber (complex carbohydrates) and other essential minerals for the goodness of body. These keep you full and satisfied during the day with constant energy. Some of the examples are: peas, carrots, broccoli, capsicum, mushrooms, etc. in vegetables; and grape fruit, oranges, apples, cherries, plums, etc. in fruits. If cooking meat, add good quantity of steamed vegetables to the dish. You can also use vegetables in curries.
3. Legumes: Legumes such as lentils, chick peas, Lima beans, red kidney beans, etc. are a rich source of fiber. Legumes are also good sources of iron and folate. Due to their higher protein content, these take longer to digest thus keeping us full for a longer period of time. You can prepare lentil soups, prepare Mexican wraps, use them in salads, etc.
Mostly processed, packaged and canned foods contain simple carbohydrates. Consuming them on regular basis can really damage our body over time. If consumed, should be used in moderation. Adding more fresh and whole foods to the diet can offer greater health benefits, increase energy levels and can help in fat loss efforts.
Stay fresh and healthy.
– NAKUL BAJAJ