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Simple and complex carbohydrates

by: Isabelle Faith, Health and Natural Lifestyles Inc.


Carbohydrates supply the body with the energy it needs to function. They are found almost exclusively in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, peas and beans. Carbohydtares are divided into two groups - simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydates. Simple carbohydrates, sometimes called simple sugars, include fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar), and lactose (milk sugar), as well as several other sugars. Fruits are one of the richest natural sources of simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are also made up of sugars, but the sugar molecules are strung together to form longer, more complex chains. Complex carbohydrates include fibers and starches. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include vegetables, whole grains, peas, and beans.

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Except for fiber, which cannot be digested, both simple and complex carbohydrates are converted into glucose. The glucose is then either used directly to provide energy for the body, or stored in the liver for future use. When a person consumes more calories than the body is using, a portion of the carbohydrates consumed may also be stored in the body as fat. They are the main source of blood glucose, which is a major fuel for all the body's cells and the only source of energy for the brain and red blood cells.
 
When choosing carbohydrate-rich foods for your diet, always select unrefined foods such as fruits, vegetables, peas, beans and whole-grain products as opposed to refined, processed foods such as soft drinks, desserts, candy and sugar. Refined foods offer few, if any, of the vitamins and minerals that are important to your health. In addition, if eaten in excess, especially over a period of many years, refined foods can lead to a number of disorders. Did you know every one teaspoon of sugar reduces your immunity for two hours after it is ingested? A can of pop, for example, can contain up to 12 teaspoons of sugar. Poof goes your immunity for a day.
 
Fiber is a very important form of carbohydrate. Only a relatively small amount of fiber is digested so most of it moves through the gastrointestinal tract and end up in the stool. A high-fiber diet helps prevent constipation and colon cancer, perhaps by speeding the rate at which wastes pass through the system and by keeping it clean. Although most fiber is not digested, it delivers several important health benefits. First, fiber retains water, resulting in softer and bulkier stools that prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. A high-fiber diet also helps lower blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease. In this regard if you eat three to five times a day you should have two to three bowel movements per day to keep the bowel clean.


Health and Natural Lifestyles
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Calgary, AB T2G IY6, Canada
Phone: (403) 212-6077 Fax: (403) 212-6079


 
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