Chains of sugars are one of the main sources of the body’s energy. A single molecule or two-molecule chain of sugars is called a simple sugar, and longer chains are called complex carbohydrates. Both types fuel our bodies and provide energy, but there are some important differences between the two.
Starches and fiber are the two main kinds of complex carbohydrates considered when talking about nutrition. Fiber is the indigestible part of a food made of a carbohydrate chain called cellulose. Even though it can’t provide energy to the body, it’s important because it is a part of natural foods, and thus the body is made for a certain amount of fiber to be in our diets. Starches are the digestible kind of complex carbohydrates that can be used by our cells as fuel.
There are several reasons to eat complex carbohydrates rather than their simple sugar counterparts. One is that complex carbohydrates are more common in nature, and many simple sugars are processed. There are exceptions to this– fruit sugars in natural fruit are still simple sugars, as are the sugars in milk. But in general, simple sugars may be more processed.
A sugar rush happens because simple sugars are converted quickly into blood sugars, and then they enter the bloodstream pretty much all at once. This may trigger a large quantity of insulin, which causes cells to take up sugars. After the cells have taken up the sugars, the person may experience a sugar low because they now have low blood sugar. This can even make some people feel moody or ill.
The digestible form of complex carbs, starches, are slower to metabolize than simple sugars. They enter the bloodstream a little bit at a time, and thus don’t cause the same kind of sugar rush. They also don’t trigger the large amounts of insulin, and only more modest quantities are produced. This means that the sugar supply from starches to the cells is much steadier, with no huge highs or lows the way that can happen with simple sugars.
Whole foods are just now starting to get their due as the healthiest foods. Foods like brown rice and whole wheat are just the natural versions of white rice and white flour with their hulls (and starches and fiber) left on. Vegetables are the ultimate whole food, and provide fiber, and sometimes starches to the diet.
Simple sugars taste great, but they should really be eaten in moderation. Given that carbohydrates should make up a fairly large percentage of your diet, this means you should be eating a lot of complex carbs. Check with your doctor, or look up what kinds of foods supply these nutrients, and improve your diet by eating right.
Author: Marian O. DodsonThis author has published 1 articles so far. More info about the author is coming soon.