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Posts from the ‘Carbohydrate’ Category


Carbohydrates, moderation or nothing?

I, me and my fat, Part 8

 There is no one-size-fits-all prescription for the quantity of carbohydrates in our diet.

There are genetic variations in fatness and leanness, that are independent of diet. Also, multiple hormones and enzymes affect our fat accumulation (e.g. menopausal men and women lose the restraining effect of testosterone and estrogen as they age.) 

Insulin is the one hormone that we can consciously control through our diet. For some, staying lean or getting lean, might mean avoiding sugars and eating fattening carbohydrates in moderation. For others, losing weight might only be possible with virtually zero carbohydrates. But, then for some obese patients, the longer they had been obese, the more likely they were to remain obese. They have reached a point of no return, where they could not reverse all the damage done by a lifetime of eating carbohydrate-rich foods. 

The conventional logic of diets is a “quick fix” in weight loss. The dieters don’t try to reregulate their fat tissue, but only reduce the calories they consume, expecting their fat cells to willingly give up it’s fat. If there are no immediate results, they decide the diet has failed and they move on to the next one or give up totally. The fact is, unfortunately, that we are counteracting a regulatory disorder of fat metabolism, that took years to develop and will take a few months, to years, to reverse!.

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What can we do about fat?

I, me and my fat, Part 4

We can control the quantity and quality of our carbohydrates we eat!!

A born predisposition to get fat, is beyond our control, but this predisposition is set off by the quantity and quality of the carbohydrates we eat. If the carbohydrates we eat, determines insulin secretion and insulin drives the accumulation of fat, eating fewer carbohydrates will surely help to keep us leaner. 

Obesity would be a rare disease in a world without a carbohydrate-rich diet!. 

Not all the foods that contain carbohydrates, are equally fattening. 

The most fattening carbohydrates are the ones with a high glycemic index – that have the greatest effect on our blood sugar and insulin levels.

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High carbohydrate diets

On a high-carbohydrate diet, glucose is used by the cells for energy and about 2/3 of body cells require insulin in order to use glucose. Excessive amounts of blood glucose are the primary cause of the complications of diabetes and obesity, when glucose reacts with body proteins (glycosolated proteins) and change their behavior. After a high-carbohydrate meal, the blood glucose will rise for an hour or two after a meal, the beta cells in the pancreas release insulin to cause uptake of glucose in the cells. In liver and muscle cells, more glucose is taken in than is needed and stored as glycogen (300-500g carbohydrates are stored). Many sugar-containing foods produce a high glycemic response, promoting postprandial carbohydrate oxidation at the expense of fat oxidation, leading to body fat gain.

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Implications of carbohydrate metabolism on weight control

Carbohydrates are not fat, but they have a significant effect on fat storage. The monosaccharides, which have been absorbed from the intestinal tract, are carried to the liver by portal circulation. The fructose and galactose are converted into glucose. The liver cells release this glucose into the bloodstream to be distributed to the body tissues as a source of energy. The excess glucose is stored as insoluble glycogen in the liver cells. The conversion of glucose to glycogen is reversible – as the need arises, the liver mobilizes glucose from it’s glycogen stores and releases it into the bloodstream to maintain an optimal blood sugar level.

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Combining different food groups and weight control

Nutritionally related disease is often not due to a lack in our intake, but to a lack of ability to absorb the nutrients we have ingested.

The body is designed to combine most natural foods, without too much difficulty. It is the ULTRA CONCENTRATED carbohydrates that create problems, such as indigestion. FERMENTATION occurs when concentrated carbohydrates are trapped in the stomach, by the presence of protein and/or fat, which require three to five hours for digestion. The sugars combine with certain bacteria and create GAS. Therefore, high sugar foods (pastries, pies, cakes, white bread, macaroni, spaghetti, fruit) should be eaten alone and NOT combined with concentrated proteins and/or fats (meat fish, eggs, cheese, milk, butter). Spaghetti bolognaise, macaroni and cheese and chicken pie can only be eaten in heaven, where everything impure is made pure….with God’s grace!!.

Concentrated proteins and/fat CAN be eaten with complex carbohydrates (grains, whole grain bread, vegetables).

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Digestion, absorption and metabolism of carbohydrates

Carbohydrates ingested, are mostly in the form of poly- and disaccharides and need to be broken down into simple sugars, before absorption can take place. Digestion starts in the mouth, through the salivary enzyme, ptyalin. In the intestinal tract, the pancreatic amylase, hydrolyzes the remaining starch to maltose.

No matter what we eat, whether it’s a juicy fillet steak or a crispy apple or a cheese cake, are nothing more and nothing less than proteins, carbohydrates and fats. To convert these three basic food materials into biochemical substances we can use, we need three groups of enzymes, the protein-digesting enzymes (protease), the fat-decomposing enzymes (lipases) and the carbohydrate-decomposing enzymes (amylases). The enzymatic transformation starts as soon as we take the first bite. Our bodies have a preference for carbohydrates and our digestive system acts on them first, then on the proteins and finally on the fats.

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Importance of carbohydrates in the diet

The human body is designed to run on carbohydrates – we can use fat and protein for energy, but carbohydrate is the easiest fuel. Considering genetic background, nutritionists favor a diet with 50% calories from unrefined, complex carbohydrates (whole-grain products, legumes, soybeans etc), 20% from fat (those rich in omega-3 fatty acids) and 30% from protein (mainly vegetable protein).

NOTE: The TYPE of carbohydrate and protein is more important than the protein–to–carbohydrate RATIO in the diet. Starch, high in fiber, along with vegetable protein, has a more positive effect on the blood glucose levels and insulin release, than simply varying the protein-to-carbohydrate ratio of the diet.

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  • MONOSACCHARIDES: (single sugars)
  1. They are simple sugars, which cannot be broken down into smaller units by hydrolysis during gastrointestinal digestion e.g. glucose (blood sugar) , fructose (fruit sugar) and galactose (milk sugar). These three monosaccharides are the most important ones in nutrition and each contain 6 carbon atoms, 12 hydrogens and 6 oxygens (C6 H12 O6). The monosaccharides differ in their arrangements of the atoms. These chemical differences account for the differing sweetness of the monosaccharides e.g. glucose and galactose are hardly sweet at all, while fructose is very sweet, such as honey.

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Pro’s and con’s of eating a high carbohydrate diet

A high carbohydrate diet contain a greater intake of vitamins A, C, foliate, carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium BUT a lower intake of zinc, sodium, B12. This should be taken into account to prevent deficiencies. People on high carbohydrate diets have a lower BMI. They also tend to include foods high in fiber and water content, but low in fat (e.g. fruits, vegetables, grains, reduced-fat dairy products). Less trans-fats and saturated fats are consumed.

In some diseases it’s better to increase carbohydrate consumption e.g. high- carb diets, which avoid gluconeogenesis (formation of glucose from amino acids), tend to slow down hepatitis B and C (these viruses can exploit the process of gluconeogenesis to promote their own replication).

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