Bio-chemistry Blog Know Your Food

Carbohydrates are on Crack (and they’re in crackers)

While carbohydrates have earned a bad reputation in the past year, just like fats, they’re actually really important. Like really really.

Importance of Carbohydrates

    • Carbohydrates are our body’s primary and preferred energy source
    • Our brain relies almost exclusively on glucose for energy. We need a lot of carbs to make sure we’re thinking straight.
    • Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate and it helps in the digestion process. Soluble fiber helps soften stool, while insoluble fiber adds bulk, helping in bowel regularity.
    • Carbohydrates are, say it with me, important for fueling muscles when we exercise
    • Getting in enough fiber has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer (another reason to love carbs)
    • An excess carbohydrates can be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, which provides a reserve of energy

Different Types of Carbohydrates
Complex Carbohydrates:

So what foods are we talking about?

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Whole wheat products (bread, pasta)
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • It’s a pretty long list, I’d recommend searching up different foods from your culture to see what food group they fit into
Simple Carbohydrates:

  • Simple carbohydrates include sugars found in fruits (fructose), milk (lactose), and processed foods
  • They consist of one or two sugar molecules, making them easy and quick to digest while giving a quick energy boost
  • Over-consuming simple carbohydrates can lead to frequent and intense blood sugar spikes, so it’s a good idea to pair them with some other food group like proteins or fats to lower the blood sugar response
Fiber:

  • Fiber deserves very special, birthday level attention
  • Complex carbohydrates contain fiber in them, but fiber is also a carbohydrate in itself
  • While our bodies cannot break down fiber, it plays an important!! role in maintaining our digestive health and overall health
  • Fiber helps keep us full and satiated and helps maintain stable blood sugar levels. Win win win
  • Fiber is also really important for our gut health because it acts as a prebiotic, which is a type of food the bacteria in our gut LOVE
  • When consuming fiber-rich foods, it passes through the digestive system mostly undigested, until it reaches the colon
  • In the colon, the gut bacteria ferment the fiber, breaking it down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)
  • SCFAs provide energy to the cells lining the colon and support the integrity of the gut lining
    • Research suggests that a healthy gut microbiome is not only essential for digestive health but also influences other aspects of well-being, including immune function, mental health, and metabolism.
    • Your gut is often referred to as your “second brain”
Summary: Complex carbs are like a really slow songs, simple carbs are songs that hype you up, and fiber is the playlist that your gut never wants to stop hearing 

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