Carbohydrates are very controversial these days.
Nutrition guidelines recommend that we take half of our calories from carbohydrates.
On the other hand, some claim that carbohydrates cause obesity and type-2 diabetes, and most people say they should avoid them.
Both sides have good arguments, and it appears that the need for carbohydrates varies greatly depending on the individual.
Some people get better with low carb intake, but others need to consume plenty of carbohydrates.
What is Carbohydrate?
Carbohydrates are molecules with carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
The term carbohydrate in nutrition refers to one of three basic macro nutrients. Others are protein and fat.
Consumable carbohydrates can be divided into three basic categories:
- Sugars: Sweet, short-chain carbohydrates found in foods. There are examples such as glucose, fructose, galactose and sucrose.
- Starches: They are long chains of glucose molecules and are converted to glucose over time in the digestive tract.
- Fibers: People cannot digest fiber, but bacteria in the digestive tract can use some of them.
The main task of carbohydrates in nutrition is to give energy. Most carbohydrates are converted or converted to glucose, which makes it available as energy. The carbohydrates can also be converted to fat for later use.
The fibers are an exception. They do not directly energize, but they feed friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. These bacteria can use fibers to produce the fatty acids that our cells use for energy.
Sugar alcohols are also classified as carbohydrates. Sweets, but usually do not give much calories.
Complete and Refined Carbohydrates
Not all carbohydrates are the same.
There are many different types of carbohydrate-containing foods and their health effects are quite different.
Although carbohydrates are generally separated in simple and complex terms, full and refined terms are more meaningful.
Whole carbohydrates are unprocessed and contain fibers naturally found in food. Refined carbohydrates were processed and natural fibers removed.
Whole carbohydrates include vegetables, fruits, legumes, potatoes and whole grains. These foods are usually healthy.
On the other hand, refined carbohydrates are found in sugary drinks, fruit juices, pastry foods, white bread, pasta, white rice and many other foods.
In many studies, refined carbohydrate consumption is associated with health problems such as obesity and type-2 diabetes.
They have a tendency to increase blood sugar suddenly, which then causes a sudden drop, triggering hunger and a desire to eat, increasing the consumption of more high-carbohydrate food.
This is the reason why so many people live their blood sugar.
Refined carbohydrates generally do not contain essential nutrients, which makes them empty calories.
The addition of sugar is another topic because they are the worst type of carbohydrates and they have connections with all kinds of chronic diseases.
However, due to the health effects of processed versions of all carbohydrates should not be seen bad.
Full carbohydrate foods are filled with nutrients and fibers and do not have the same ups and downs on blood sugar.
Hundreds of studies on high-carbohydrate foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains show that eating them improves metabolic health and reduces the risk of disease.
Low Carbohydrate Nutrition is Good for Some People
Of course, the discussion of carbohydrates does not end without mentioning low-carbohydrate nutrition.
In such dietary restrictions, carbohydrates are restricted, but plenty of protein and fats are allowed.
According to 23 studies, low-carbohydrate nutrition is more efficient than low-fat nutrition recommended in previous years.
In these studies, low-carbohydrate diets provide more weight loss and good cholesterol, blood triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure and other health markers are said to provide more improvement.
In those who are obese or have type-2 diabetes with metabolic syndrome, low-carbohydrate nutrition may have life-saving characteristics.
It should not be underestimated because they are currently the biggest health problem in the world and cause millions of deaths every year.
However, although low-carbohydrate nutrition is good for weight loss and certain metabolic problems, it may not be ideal for everyone.
Carbohydrates are not the cause of obesity
Limiting carbohydrates generally and partially reverses obesity.
But that doesn't mean that carbohydrates are what causes obesity.
Actually, it's a myth and there's a lot of evidence against it.
It is true that the addition of sugar and refined carbohydrates leads to an increase in obesity, while the same is not true of fiber, a complete carbohydrate source.
People have been consuming carbohydrates for thousands of years. The outbreak of obesity began in the 1980s, followed by the outbreak of type-2 diabetes.
It doesn't make sense to connect new health problems to what we've been consuming for so long.
Okinawa, Kitavan people and rice consumers in Asia have excellent health while continuing to eat high carbohydrates.
What they have in common is that they eat real, unprocessed foods.
But communities that consume plenty of refined carbohydrates and processed food are more likely to be ill and unhealthy.
Carbohydrates Are Not Essential But Many Carbohydrate Foods Are Very Healthy
Many low-carb proponents say carbohydrates are not essential food.
This is technically correct. The body can function without a gram of carbohydrate in nutrition.
It's nothing but a myth that the brain needs 130 grams of carbohydrate every day.
When we don't consume carbohydrates, the brain uses ketones for energy. They are produced from oils.
In addition, the body can produce the small amount of glucose needed by the brain through the process called gluconeogenesis.
But the fact that carbohydrates are not essential does not mean they cannot be useful.
Many carbohydrate foods are healthy and nutritious: for example vegetables and fruits. The beneficial components of these foods are many and provide many benefits to health.
Although it is possible to survive even with a zero carbohydrate diet, this is probably not the best choice because it prevents you from consuming vegetable foods that science has shown to be beneficial.
How to make the right choice?
As a general rule, carbohydrates in their natural, fiber-rich form are healthy and not fiber-derived.
If it is a complete, one-component food, it will probably be healthy for most people, regardless of carbohydrate content.
Although it is possible to categorize most carbohydrates as good and bad, it should be noted that this is only general terms.
In the world of nutrition, everything is rarely black and white.
- Vegetables: All. It's best to eat a variety of vegetables every day.
- Full fruits: apples, bananas, strawberries and so on.
- Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and so on.
- Nuts: Almond, walnut, hazelnut, peanut and so on.
- Seeds: Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Whole grains: Choose whole grains such as pure oats, quinoa, brown rice
- Root plants: Potatoes, sweet potatoes and so on.
Those who want to limit carbohydrates need to be careful about whole grains, legumes, root crops and high sugar fruits.
- Sugary drinks: Cola, vitamin waters and so on. Sweet drinks are one of the most unhealthy things you can put in your body.
- Fruit juices: Unfortunately, the metabolic effects of fruit juices are very similar to sugar-flavored drinks.
- White bread: Essential foods in these refined carbohydrates are few and not good for metabolic health. This applies to many commercial breads.
- Pastries, cookies and cakes: Their sugar and refined wheat content is quite high.
- Ice Cream: Many ice creams have a lot of sugar but there are exceptions.
- Confectionery and chocolate: If you are going to consume chocolate, you should consume good quality black chocolate.
- Chips and fries: Potatoes are healthy but not chips and fries.
These foods do not cause problems for some people in moderate consumption, but most people should avoid them as much as possible.
Low Carbohydrate is Good for Some, But Others Need More Carbohydrate
There is not a single option for everyone to eat.
Optimum carbohydrate intake depends on many factors such as age, sex, metabolic health, physical activity, food culture and personal preferences.
If you have a lot of weight to lose or if you have health problems such as metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes, you are probably susceptible to carbohydrates.
In this case, reducing carbohydrate intake can have life-saving effects.
On the other hand, if you are a healthy person who wants to stay healthy, you have no reason to avoid carbohydrates. Just stick to full, one-component foods.
If you are naturally weak and physically active, plenty of carbohydrates in your diet can even work.
Different preferences are needed for different people.
Good and bad carbohydrates; How to make the right choice? first appeared on Ayse Tolga Good Life.
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