What Are Carbohydrates and Starches & Fiber

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There are the major macro nutrients which we eat.  They are Carbohydrates, Fat and Protein.  When we eat, mostly we eat one of these three or mix of these macro nutrients.  Out of these these macro nutrients, we will have a look at what is Carbohydrates and how it is related to starch.  Depending on the economic status of the family, culture, region and geography people eat difference proportions of these macro nutrients.

What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the major source of energy and they are only found in plant based foods.   When you eat bread or rice or green veggies you are basically taking carbs (as carbohydrates are commonly called).  When you eat meats, you are taking protein and fats are carbohydrates are available only in plant based foods.  Carbs give you 4 calories of energy per gram.

carbohydratesBody prefers to get its energy in form of carbs.  Second preference is fat and then protein.  There are three types of carbs based of the number of molecule chain.

Type Of Carbohydrates

A single molecule carbohydrate is called monosaccharide, two molecule chained carbs are called disaccharide and multiple molecular chained carbs are called polysaccharide.

Example of monosaccharide is glucose. Example of disaccharide is sucrose and starches are examples of polysaccharide.

As you can guess, it takes very less effort to digest monosaccharide as compared to polysaccharide.  Which also means that monosaccharides are absorbed faster in the blood stream compared to polysaccharides.

Connection Between Carbohydrates and Fat Cells

Our body burns carbs for generating energy.  We use this energy to do all our activities. The surplus energy which remains gets stored as glycogen in Liver.  When you need energy in emergency situation or while sprinting when you need sudden energy, it is released from the Glycogen stored in the Liver.

When Liver has sufficient supply of Glycogen but you blood still has excess amount of sugar which cannot be absorbed by the cells your body tries to offload it.  In the process of offloading sugar from the blood it gets converted into fat and stored in the body.  For ladies fat gets deposited in the hip area while for males usually it gets deposited in the belly region.

What Happens When You Eat Fast Digesting Carbs

Fast digesting carbohydrates can be easily digested by our body and get converted to blood glucose.  If the blood glucose remains high for long time it is harmful for the body..  It can even lead to coma.  Hence body tries to remove it and it can get deposited as fat.  That is why when you eat more fast digesting carbs you get fatter.

What is Starch?

starchStarch is a major source of carbohydrate and most common foods are bread and potato and pasta.  However starch is polysaccharide since it consists of many molecules connected together.   Starch are broken into single molecule carbohydrate such as glucose before it can be digested by the body.

For starch to be digested it needs to be broken down using enzyme in the saliva.  Starch is present in green bananas and potatoes.  Some types of starch are known as resistant starch.  Resistant starch is touted as good for help and increasing insulin sensitivity as it is resistant to digestion.  When such starch reaches the small intestines, it is digested by the gut bacteria which causes fermentation.  In this process butyrate is released which is a short chain fatty acid (SCFA).  SCFAs and particularly butyrate are beneficial for colon health.  They reduce inflammation and increase the metabolic rate which means more fat can be burnt while resting.

What is Fiber?

If you are concerned that carbs increase your blood sugar rapidly then do not worry.  Not all carbohydrates to that.  There are slow digesting carbohydrates also which provide energy slowly and give you other health benefits.  One such example is Fiber.

Fiber are non starch polysaccharides and resistant starch which cannot be digested by our body.  Various forms of fiber are inulin, dextrin and pectins etc.  There are several health benefits of fiber and it highly recommended that you include fiber in your diet every day.  For example taking recommended dose of fiber can help you control blood sugar levels, reduce obesity and chances of heart disease.

Usually eating refined carbs such as white rice, flour etc raises blood sugar levels very fast.  Hence it is recommended to include fiber such as legumes, nuts, green vegetables, coconut etc as it cannot be digested and prevents fast rise in blood sugar levels which causes many health problems.

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