You may be aware that carbohydrates, also known as carbs, are the building blocks of all plant life. They include all the fruits, vegetables, grains and starches—plus some milk products.
Nearly all of the carbohydrates we consume are converted into glucose with the notable exceptions of fiber and glycerin. Glucose, commonly referred to as blood sugar, is the primary source of energy for our body.
Energy is good, right? But here’s the rub. Too much of a good thing ends up causing some real serious problems. Some carbs are high in sugar and digest quickly flooding your blood with glucose. Others digest slowly and provide a controlled, steady source of energy.
The chief troublemakers are refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup and other high-glycemic carbs such as white flour, potatoes, rice and pasta.
When the sugar from these foods hits your blood stream your body quickly perceives this danger and reacts by mounting an insulin counter attack.
Insulin carries a small amount of the glucose to the cells for immediate energy and some is converted into glycogen and stored in the muscles and liver for later use.
When the glycogen storerooms are full the over flow is stuffed into fat storage tanks on your belly, thighs, buttocks and other unwanted places.
An increase in body fat is only one of the side effects of these recurring glucose excesses. Over time the insulin receptors on the surface of the cells no longer function properly and this leads to insulin resistance, which is the road to fatigue, malaise, diabetes and of course obesity.
If this isn’t enough to get you on the low carb bandwagon consider the words of researcher, Nicholas Perricone M.D., and author of the Perricone Prescription.
“Sugar and foods that are rapidly converted to sugar are potent inflammatory agents. They cause a sharp spike in insulin levels, resulting in a rapid acceleration of the aging process, increasing the risk of heart disease, every form of cancer, memory loss, and mental deterioration.”
Some carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables and legumes are lower in sugar, high in fiber and digest more slowly. They provide an even stream of glucose thereby avoiding insulin spikes.
You can also slow down the rate at which carbohydrates enter your blood stream by combining them with fats and oils.
Measuring the impact of various carbohydrates on blood sugar is a complex process that takes into account how much and how quickly the sugar gets into the bloodstream.
Glycemic indexes have been created that give a numerical rating to each carbohydrate but I’ve found that the simplest way to control carbs is with a carb counter and by checking the number of carbs listed on food nutrition labels.
It is getting easier all the time to eat low carb in a high carb world. A wide variety of delicious and healthy low carbohydrate food choices including bread, muffin and pancake mixes, chips and even ice cream are now available to satisfy the most discriminating taste.
Hippocrates said, “Let thy food be medicine.” Do you suppose he was thinking of low carb cuisine?
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