Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins – you must have heard of these three together because they go hand in hand whenever proper nutrition is discussed. You can also see them listed on different nutrition food labels where you can find information on their amount.
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins belong to the group of macronutrients, but each of them has its own function. They are responsible for our development and growth, as well as the energy we need to breathe, walk, work, or simply function.
In this short article, we will focus on carbohydrates in food, and you will get familiar with their role, health benefits, and risks.
1. The Role of Carbohydrates In Food
Carbohydrates in food are the primary source of energy, which we need to function. They are a “fuel“ that help our minds think, our muscles move, and our bodies function, so that we can perform our everyday activities. Let me explain how this process takes place.
When we eat food that contains carbohydrates, our body or more precisely our digestive system, breaks the simple sugars down into Glucose. Then, the Glucose is soaked up into our bloodstream causing the levels of blood sugar to raise up. When this happens, our pancreas releases Insulin. It is a hormone whose job is to take the sugar from the blood to the cells. In other words, it allows our body to use the energy that we get from the carbohydrates. If our body doesn’t use the Glucose immediately, it is stored, and it will be used when necessary.
According to their chemical structure or the way they are absorbed and digested, we can divide carbohydrates into two groups:
- Simple carbohydrates are very quickly broken down or digested. They make you feel satisfied for a shorter time, and you feel hungry very soon after their consumption. You can find them in all the products that contain added, artificial sugars.
- Complex carbohydrates require a longer time to break down. This is a good thing because when you consume complex carbs, you feel more satisfied and full for a longer time. It is better to consume these type of carbs because they are beneficial when it comes to weight regulation. You can find them in starchy vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, etc.
2. Health Benefits
Despite the fact that they provide us with energy, carbohydrates in food also have many other health benefits.
- They control the weight and help you get rid of the fat in your body. Carbohydrates rich in fiber can help you lose weight. The fiber does not contain any calories, and it also boosts the metabolism.
- They boost your mood. This happens when a higher amount of Tryptophan, an amino acid, reaches our brain. Then, the brain produces the mood regulator called Serotonin. Thus, by eating more complex carbohydrates, you will feel happier.
- They improve our memory. It is thanks to starchy carbs that our brain function and think. They are responsible for our brain development. The more we consume them, the better our memory will be.
- Carbs also prevent different diseases like diabetes 2 by bringing the levels of sugar down to normal. Carbohydrates help your heart to stay healthy and avoid the chance of having a heart attack. They are a big help in treating cancer, and in that way, they improve the immune system.
In addition, many nutritionists and doctors insist on following a low-carb diet. So, if you struggle with obesity or with some of the above-mentioned health issues, you might need to take this diet into account.
Some carbs (complex) are much healthier than the others (simple). Bear in mind that excessive consumption of the second ones may lead to some health risks. If you consume products that contain a higher amount of refined sugar you might face with:
- Weight gain – sugar is very addictive, and since simple carbs contain added sugars, they will make you crave for more, eat more and, as a result, gain weight.
- Insulin resistance – when we consume a high amount of simple carbohydrates, the levels of Insulin raise up. However, if its levels constantly raise, as we consume more and more sugar, our bodies may become resistant to the Insulin. This may lead to diabetes type 2, cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure, etc.
- Cardiovascular diseases – high consumption of carbohydrates may lead to raising of triglycerides (a type of fat), but as well as to lower the levels of high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol). When these two actions take place together, the chances of heart disease are high. High consumption of carbs may also be responsible for different vascular diseases.
Carbohydrates in food play an essential role when it comes to our health. However, if we want to stay healthy and skinny, we must pay attention to which carbs we consume.
It is true that they are beneficial for our health. They control our weight, boost our mood, and help us prevent different diseases. But, if we consume high amounts of simple carbs, they may also lead to some risks connected to our health, and as well as to obesity.
As a nutritionist, I highly recommend following a low-carb diet if you find it difficult to get rid of extra pounds, or if you face some health problems. To find out more about the consumption of carbs and the rules of this highly effective diet, feel free to book a consultation with me.