Carbohydrates: are compounds of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. This element provides us both heat and energy. The main carbohydrate in our food is starch and sugar. Our body burns carbohydrates all the time so that heat and energy are produced. An average person requires 200 to 250 grams of carbohydrates every day. If we eat more carbohydrate than required it is converted into glycogen or fat and stored in our body after digestion of food. In case we do not eat sufficient carbohydrates, or if lot of carbohydrates are burnt in our body during exercise or heavy physical work, or during sickness the reserve in the form of glycogen stored in the liver and muscles is first brought out and utilized and then fat is also used by the body to produce heat and energy.
Carbohydrates are an ideal source of energy for the body. This is because they can be converted more readily into glucose, the form of sugar that's transported and used by the body, than can proteins or fats. Even so, a diet too high in carbohydrates can upset the delicate balance of your body's blood sugar level, resulting in fluctuations in energy and mood that leave you feeling irritated and tired. It is better to balance your intake of carbohydrates with protein, a little fat and fiber. The maximum daily requirement of carbohydrates is about 400 grams. Latest advice is that we should get more than half our energy needs from carbohydrates.
How the Body Uses Carbohydrates? When you eat carbohydrates, the body breaks them down into simple sugars, which are absorbed into the bloodstream. All carbohydrates form glucose when digested. Glucose is transported around the body via blood and taken into cells to be converted into energy. As the sugar level rises in your body, the pancreas gland in your abdomen secretes the hormone insulin which controls the uptake of glucose by your cells. Insulin is needed to move sugar from the blood into the cells, where the sugar can be used as a source of energy. If you have any excess glucose, this is converted into glycogen which is stored in the liver or in fat around the body. When your body needs more energy, a second hormone called glucagon is secreted by the pancreas. This converts the glycogen back into glucose, which is then released into your bloodstream for your cells to use. When this process goes fast as with simple sugars, you're more likely to feel hungry again soon. When it occurs more slowly, as with a whole-grain food, you'll be satisfied longer. These types of complex carbohydrates give you energy over a longer period of time.
Conversion and reconversion of glycogen and fat to produce heat and energy is done by the liver so that liver is put to great strain if we do not eat balanced diet. Too much carbohydrate in a meal causes acidity and those who eat more carbohydrates suffer from constipation. Large carbohydrate meals will make you slow and sleepy. All carbohydrates are not equal: refined sugars should make up only 11 per cent of your daily diet. For adults, the average intake of refined sugars is slightly higher than this recommended level, with men the worst offenders at 14 per cent. The average child's intake is 16 per cent, with the main culprits being fizzy drinks and confectionery.
There are two types of carbohydrate: complex and simple.
Complex carbohydrates are often referred to as starch or starchy foods. They are found naturally in foods and also refined in processed foods. Complex carbohydrates are also called starches. Starches include grain products as flours and rice. As with simple sugars, some complex carbohydrate foods are better choices than others. Refined grains, such as white flour and white rice, have been processed, which removes nutrients and fiber. But unrefined grains still contain these vitamins and minerals. Unrefined grains also are rich in fiber, which helps your digestive system work well. Fiber helps you feel full, so you are less likely to over eat these foods.
Simple Carbohydrates You'll find in more nutritious foods, such as fruit and milk. Simple sugars are also found in refined sugars, like the white sugar. If you have a hard candy on a stick or Ice cream, you're eating simple carbohydrate. It's better to get your simple sugars from food like fruit and milk because they contain vitamins, fiber, and important nutrients like calcium. Natural sugars and refined sugars are Simple carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are mainly found in cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Cereals and pulses which contain large percentage of carbohydrates are cluster bean, millet, barley, gram, maize, cow gram, oat meal, peas, rice, bran, soya bean, wheat, wheat flour, wheat bran and wheat sprout. Vegetables which contain large percentage of carbohydrates are Asparagus, Bamboo shoots, Sugar beet, Beans, bitter gourd, Brinjal, cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Drumstick, Ginger, White goose foot, Lady Finger, Lettuce, Lotus Root, Mango Green, mint, mustard, Onion, Peas, Potato, Pumpkin, Radish, Spinach, Tomato, Turnip, Yam, Sweet potato, Sugar Cane. Fruits and nuts which contain carbohydrates are Almonds, Apple, Apricot, Beal, Banana, cashew nut, Cherries, Coconut, Raisins, Dates, Figs, Grapes, Guava, Jackfruit, Blackberry, Lemon, Litchi, Mango, Water melon, Musk melon, Water nut Orange, Papaya, peach, peanut, pear, Pineapple, Pistachio, pomegranate, Strawberry and walnut.
The body's glucose (sugar) metabolism is a cycle of glucose, insulin and glucagon reactions. The slower the release of glucose and hormones, the more stable and sustainable the energy levels of the body. The more refined the carbohydrate, the faster the glucose is released into your blood. This can cause peaks and drops in your blood sugar level, and less stable energy levels in the body. Complex carbohydrates provide a slower and more sustained release of energy than simple carbohydrates. In their natural form they contribute to long-term good health, appetite control and sustained energy levels.
Eating too much will lead to weight gain, regardless of what foods you get your energy from. Sugar and starch are found in both healthy and 'unhealthy' foods, so the type of carbohydrates you select is important for your wellbeing. Many foods high in sugar are also high in fat or prepared with fat. Starchy foods which are rich in fiber are essential for digestive health and helps control appetite so you don't feel hungry.
Main points to remember is that your daily diet should be a balance of carbohydrate and protein thrice as many carbohydrate as protein. Base each of your meals on a complex carbohydrate such as potato, whole meal chapatti or brown rice, and include vegetables. You should ensure you get a balance of complex and simple carbohydrates. Good to use high fiber wholegrain cereals as part of your food. Cut down on the amount of refined white flour products in your diet the refining process produces simple carbohydrates and many vitamins and minerals are lost. The carbohydrates in some foods mostly those that contain a lot of simple sugars cause the blood sugar level to rise more quickly than others. Eating foods that cause big hikes in blood sugar will mostly be related to health problems like diabetes and heart diseases. "Sopanam” advice you to refrain simple sugars and eat more complex carbohydrates like whole-grain cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits and nuts.