Carbs are not all bad! Carbohydrates break down into glucose molecules that the body needs for fuel—carbs provide energy and structure to living things—still, carbs have become the pariah for those trying to manage their weight and blood sugar.
But Are All Carbs the Same?
All carbs are not processed by the body the same—
and they don’t effect the body the same.
Here are 3 Questions to Help Determine How a Carb Will Affect Your Body—
- Is the carb nutrient-rich or poor?
- How quickly does the carb affect blood sugar levels?
- What components are in a carb and what are you eating it with?
Some carbs are nutrient-rich, some are not. Carbs from the sugar in a candy bar are devoid of any nutrition. In contrast, a sweet potato that has natural sugars and carbs is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. To avoid all carbs is also avoiding good nutrition that doesn’t allow for a variety of vitamins and minerals in your diet. If you are counting carbs, choosing nutrient-rich carbs like those found in fruits and vegetables, is the way to go.
Blood sugar level—
Some carbs are broken down into glucose that is used immediately for energy and causes a rapid rise in blood sugar, others are stored for later use and cause a slower rise in blood sugar levels. Carbs that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels can cause weight gain, concerns for diabetics, and long-term health issues such allergies and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as osteoarthritis, lupus, arthritis, asthma, IBD, IBS, and Crohn's Disease.
How does this happen?
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store for future use. Insulin helps to keep your blood sugar level from getting too high or too low.
When blood sugar levels get too high (Hyperglycemia) blood vessels that supply blood to vital organs can be damaged, and the risk increases for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.
A diabetic’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin on its own. Without the needed insulin, the body doesn’t properly process carbohydrates into sugars (glucose) that the body needs for fuel (energy). Without taking insulin, a diabetic’s blood sugar can get too low (hypoglycemia). Low blood sugar can cause dizziness, confusion, headaches, irritability, racing heart rate, sweating, trembling, weakness, anxiety, and long-term health issues.
When carbs are eaten, a healthy body produces insulin that helps transport glucose into the cells, particularly the muscle cells—without it, the glucose stays in the urine and in the blood, causing high blood sugar levels and the body isn’t able to use or store the sugars (energy). This explains the weight loss that some diabetics experience prior to beginning insulin therapy.
Weight gain is a normal side effect of taking insulin or when the body produces it naturally. Eating foods that cause your body to produce more insulin than you need in a day will result in your liver being full of glycogen (glucose) that will turn into fatty acids for long-term storage—the fatty acids are delivered around the body through the blood and stored in the fat tissues—body fat.
How can you know how a carb effects blood sugar?
The Key is Understanding the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)
Everyone can benefit from having a knowledge of where the foods they eat land on the GI scale or what its glycemic load (GI) is.
Wild Zora uses ingredients with the lowest possible Glycemic Load.
We use lots of veggies and pasture-raised meats, and never use bread,
grains, or added sugar of any kind in any of our foods.
A food’s Glycemic Index (GI) indicates the rate at which the carbohydrate in a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. Carbs that are digested quickly and that break down into sugar quickly are high on the GI. Carbs that are digested slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels are low on the GI.
The Glycemic Load is a classification of different carbs and how they effect the blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic load keep blood sugar levels consistent, meaning that you avoid experiencing the highs and lows that can be caused by blood sugar levels that rise rapidly and then quickly drops— the sugar crash effect.
Eating mainly low GI foods everyday is best to provide a slow,
continuous supply of energy from one meal to another.
A diet that is made up of low glycemic foods can keep blood sugars more consistent, lower the risk of developing diabetes, make losing weight easier, and lower the risk of heart disease and other long-term health issues.
How do other foods and carb components
effect how the body processes the carbs you eat?
Why is Fiber Important?
The glycemic index ranks foods based on how quickly they're digested and get into the bloodstream. Typically, the more fiber there is in a food, the slower it’s digested and gets into the bloodstream and the lower it will be on the glycemic index and the lower its glycemic load.
Other carb components effect its GI—protein, fat, starches all affect the GI of a carb.
The overall GI of a meal is affected by other components of a meal. For example, eating a high GI food in the same meal with a low GI food will bring the meal to a moderate GI rating. Eating high GI foods on an empty stomach will cause a quicker rise in blood sugar than if it is eaten on a full stomach.
Don’t be carb obsessed. The body needs carbs. Take the time to learn the health value or lack of in the food you eat. Knowing the nutrition value of a carb, its GI/GL, and taking note of what other components are in the carb and/or meal are the keys to eating carbs and still achieving health goal success.