Carbohydrates are molecules made of hydrogen carbon and oxygen they include starches, sugar and fibre. They are the body’s main source of energy and the first that the body uses. Carbohydrates are found mostly in plant food such as fruits, vegetables, grain and potatoes. Milk also contains some carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are normally classed into two different types complex and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates require digestion before the energy released can be used by the body and because of this gives steady blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates such as sugars go straight into the blood stream and as such give a large rise in blood sugar levels and this gives the body a lift and energy for about 20 minutes before it lowers and a sense of depletion results.
About 50% of the bodies calorie intake should be from carbohydrates to supply the body with its energy needs. A major problem in the industrialised world is that most of the carbohydrates that are consumed come from a refined source and as such much of the nutritional value and nutrients have been stripped away.
Refined foods tend to be higher in sugar and fat and therefore contain more calories; a diet that is high in refined carbohydrates tends to lead to diabetes and hypoglycaemia. Unrefined carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, peas and grains. Refined carbohydrates are white flour, white rice, cakes biscuits and snack foods. So there is no need to be afraid of carbohydrates as many popular diets suggest but it is best to keep in mind the type of carbohydrate that you eat.
Fibre is a complex carbohydrate that the body cannot digest and remains intact as it passes through the body. Fibre comes from plant cellulose and comes from leafy greens, beans, sweetcorn, apples and pears. It is important in keeping a healthy digestive system.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and accounts for the majority of carbohydrate that is consumed in a modern diet. Sugar if overeaten is quickly converted to fat and is responsible for tooth decay heart disease and diabetes.