Many men and women regard carbohydrates as if they were poison, condemning an important food substance which is essential for health and is a staple for three quarters of the world.
There are five food essentials without which the body cannot function: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. If one of these should be missing from your diet for any length of time your health would suffer serious consequences.
In the minds of most of us carbohydrates are synonymous with fattening foods.
However, large amounts of carbohydrates can be consumed without putting on weight if one only knows how.
Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. The reason why so many people are frightened of them is that they are so easily converted into fat.
There are three kinds of carbohydrates: a) sugars, b) starches, c) cellulose and related substances.
The largest amount of carbohydrates in human food is found in starch, the form in which plants store most of their food reserves; for example, unripe green apples or bananas contain considerable starch which gradually converts into sugar as the fruit ripens.
This is why unripe fruit can give you a stomach ache or indigestion. Starches unlike sugars cannot be easily digested unless heated. That’s one reason for those with limited digestive powers to steam or cook their grains and vegetables.
If you look at the starch of a grain or potato through a microscope you will see that it is enclosed in tiny granules or capsules which burst when heated, releasing the starch, which can then be digested more easily.
Toast, which is heated again after baking is more easily digested than un-toasted bread because heat converts the more complex starch into a simple starch-dextrin.
When sugars and carbohydrates are ingested, enzymes convert them into glycogen which is stored in the muscles and liver. Physical work or exercise cause glycogen to pass into the bloodstream as a fuel.
Should you consume more starch and sugar than your body requires, the excess is stored in the liver. If there is too much for the liver to accommodate, it accumulates under the skin in fatty layers, clogs the heart and other vital organs and prevents the free flow of blood.
After 30, most people become less active BUT keep on eating and drinking just as they did earlier. Starches and sugars are then stored in the body as fat.
And you become rounded in the wrong places as fat accumulates mainly on stomach and hips.
When humans hunted for food this was nature’s way of storing the surplus. Sometimes days and even weeks passed without replenishment and the body had to fall back on these reserves.
Today they are rarely if ever called upon. Nevertheless we keep on adding and adding to these reserves. The result is obesity followed by degenerative disease, which is common in our society.
Carbohydrates are not bad for you but our present.mode of living is.
Excessive starch or sugar makes us obese.
The solution is to alter your diet so that you obtain sufficient nourishment without eating too much of either.
There is scarcely any article of food that does not contain starch or sugar in some form. I frequently come across patients who feel they are existing on a totally “carbohydrate-free” diet consisting of only protein plus fruit and vegetable salads.
No one has ever explained to them that apples contain 13 percent carbohydrates, pears 14.1 percent; plums 20 percent; cabbage 4.8 percent and even that innocent lettuce leaf 2.2 percent.
It is virtually impossible to live on an exclusive carbohydrate-free diet unless you exist on flesh foods only, and an all-meat diet, especially if it contained no fat, would upset your body metabolism so that in a short time you would become quite ill. (Your body does have the capacity, in emergencies, to convert proteins into carbohydrates.)
To recap, although sugars and starches are essential for your well-being, too much can be harmful.
For example, diabetes which thrives on excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars, and cataracts, which often go hand in hand with diabetes, are very much on the increase in our society.
Should the diabetes be cured or controlled, the cataracts tend to clear up also, as they are nourished by the same blood as the pancreas (the organ involved in diabetes) and the rest of your body.
Many people think that rye crackers or toast are less fattening than bread.
This is a common fallacy.
Because these are consumed dry, much smaller amounts than bread and butter are eaten so that less starch is consumed; consequently far less is stored in the liver and under the skin.
For those of you who think that a high protein diet is preferable to carbohydrates you should know that the human digestive system is not able to digest and assimilate the extremely large quantities of animal protein necessary to maintain pro. per body balance. For example, to maintain the body in reasonably good working order would require about six pounds of lean meat per day. Consumption of such large quantities is of course impossible.
According to Vilhjamur Stefansson, the famous Artic explorer, in an article entitled “Adventures in Diet,” Eskimos who eat from 10 0.20 pounds of meat, blubber and fish per day, supplemented by some berries, predigested moss and lichen found in the stomach of reindeer, fall apart rapidly after age 50 and rarely live beyond 60. At age 50, Eskimo women look 80.
Your body converts carbohydrates into sugar to help provide muscular energy. Honey, brown sugar and white sugar provide instant energy and are consequently of value to an athlete if taken a few minutes before an event. This has led to the belief that “sugar is good for you.”
BUT white sugar is a worthless food nutritionally and may even be termed a slow poison and nerve and body irritant.
Athletes requiring extra energy before a contest would do better with a handful of dates, raisins or currants an hour or two beforehand. These are all rich in natural sugars, are assimilated rapidly and do not bloat.
Like all starches, they must be well chewed, almost to a liquid state.
Vegetable salads and fresh food in abundance are one of the secrets in controlling weight because they contain carbohydrates in the form of cellulose and pectins, some of which cannot be broken down and absorbed by humans but help increase the bulk of the large intestine acting as roughage to help maintain normal bowel function.
Ruminants (cows) have special intestinal structures and bacterial flora which enable cellulose to be digested.
Fruits in particular contain carbohydrates in the form of pectin, which seems to have some beneficial effect on arthritic conditions in certain people. Apples are especially abundant in pectin.
When eating ANY form of carbohydrates, always chew thoroughly because the first stage of digestion always starts in your mouth when a substance (enzyme) in your saliva, amylase, converts the starch into maltose.
The process continues in your stomach where the starches and sugars convert into a solution. If your carbohydrates are not broken down properly by thorough chewing, they tend to ferment (rot or decay) in your stomach, causing foul smelling gas, acidity, lassitude and headaches.
Younger people can bolt their food quickly and get away with it because vigorous exercise burns up carbohydrates rapidly. However, as you age and do less and less exercise, the abused digestive organs gradually grow weaker and health problems of one kind or another are certain to follow.