Why Are Carbs So Complex?


Just this week a patient mentioned they are eating steel cut oats as a way to incorporate more protein into their vegetarian lifestyle. Steel cut oats have 27 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber and only about 5 grams of protein per quarter cup. There is no nutritional balance in those numbers.

Let’s break this down.

The three types of carbohydrates are sugars, starches, and fiber. You can eat the same amount of carbohydrates feasting on sweet potatoes than you can on bowls of Frosted Flakes. Our taste buds will know the difference but our bodies won’t. It all breaks down into sugar.

Well, with one exception.....fiber. And this is why fiber is called a complex carbohydrate, it's just that, complex. It takes our bodies a long time to digest, if at all. And there are a ton of health benefits that go along with this, fiber helps that good bacteria in our gut, improves digestion, and slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. On a nutrition label, we can subtract fiber from carbohydrates to get the total amount of carbohydrates. So there's that.

But the problems really comes when we eat too many simple carbohydrates like pasta or white potatoes, which are very high on the glycemic index and very low in fiber. These foods spike blood glucose levels to rapidly rise and then crash. This vicious cycle causes our adrenal glands to work over time and can lead to long-term problems like adrenal fatigue, constant sluggishness, and unresolved and unrelenting issues with weight, anxiety, and depression. And that is just the beginning. Degenerative diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity, all caused by crash and burn, nutrition depletion of sugar levels rising and falling in our bodies.

But when we stop this rollercoaster we often find our mood more stable, our sleep improved, our digestion awesome, and we will eat when we are hungry and not when we are tired and thirsty. We will be more connected to our body. Getting our bodies into balance will allow us to understand just what it needs.

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