Guide To Carbohydrates (Part 1):
All About Carbs And How To Make Them Part Of A Healthy Diet
Why do the latest trendy diets e.g. Keto diet, all seem to include cutting carbohydrates (carbs)? Do carbs merit such a bad rap? Is it necessary to completely cut carbs for a healthier diet?
We love our carbs and it’s hard to deny them in various forms such as bread, rice or noodles, making diets especially tedious to sustain.
Despite the trend of these low to no-carb diets, it is not necessarily wise to cut carbs off your diet without full understanding of what it actually does and what kind of carbs there are.
Many of us have the misconception that carbs are ‘bad’ for us, but how true is that? Let’s take a look at the different types of carbohydrates.
Types of Carbs
There are three types of carbs found in food i.e. sugar, starch and fiber. Carbs have been loosely categorised into what is commonly known as ‘good carbs’ and ‘bad carbs’,
GOOD (COMPLEX) CARBS
- Slowly digestible carbs
- High fiber content
- Whole, unprocessed foods
- Breaks down and digests slowly, preventing a sudden spike in blood glucose level
- Lower risks of diabetes and heart diseases, prevention of obesity while regulating your digestive system
BAD (SIMPLE) CARBS
- Rapidly digestible carbs
- Low fiber content
- Refined, processed foods
- Converts to sugar quickly, can cause a sudden spike in blood glucose level
- Higher risks of diabetes, heart diseases and obesity
Let’s break it down.
Complex, or ‘good’ carbohydrates such as peas and whole grains are digested slowly in our bodies, such food are also known as slowly digestible carbs, resulting in a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels after consumption. They are high in nutrients and dietary fiber, which aids in preventing diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart diseases. In the long run, these carbohydrates help to manage your weight and energy levels.
On the other hand, refined or ‘bad’ carbs such as white rice and white bread, usually cause a spike in blood sugar levels as they digest quickly. Which in turn requires a greater amount of insulin to remove the sugar found in your blood. This is why ‘bad’ carbs have a higher glycemic index (GI) (more on this term later). As ‘bad’ carbs digest quickly, most people would feel hungry within a shorter period of time as opposed to a meal filled with whole foods. You will likely have more food cravings and reach out for snacks after consuming ‘bad’ carbs. This might in the long run lead to weight gain and a state of ‘food coma’.
‘Food coma’, medically known as postprandial somnolence, is a feeling of sleepiness which occurs after the body works hard to remove sugars from the bloodstream, after a sugar spike. If ‘bad’ carbs are a regular part of your diet in large amounts, your body might develop an insulin resistance and lead to diseases such as type 2 diabetes in the long run.
By now you must be thinking, how then can I enjoy ‘bad’ carbs? Must I remove them from my diet completely and turn to only whole foods? Are there ways to continue consuming them without risking health diseases? Yes, of course! We know that not everyone enjoys eating whole foods, fruits and vegetables, and this is where Alchemy Fibre™ is here to help!
Alchemy Fibre™ makes your ‘bad’ carbs ‘good’
Alchemy Fibre™ can be added into your daily staples to aid in slowing down the digestion rate of carbs. To put it simply, adding our fiber into your preferred staple helps to digest the carbohydrates slower, hence helping to lower the GI, just like what whole foods do.
With slower digestion, glucose takes a longer time to be converted into starch, and then released into your bloodstreams. This helps in modulating blood sugar level with reduced sugar spikes. Aside from that, a slower rate of digestion also means that you will feel full longer which prevents over-eating and unnecessary snacking.
Alchemy Fibre™ can also help you to reduce the chances of getting into the state of ‘food coma’ by sustaining your energy throughout the day. Best of all, you do not have to give up your favourite foods just to eat healthier!
Guide to Carbohydrates (Part 2): Glycemic Index (GI)
Folks who frequently monitor their blood sugar levels may be familiar with the concept “glycemic index” (GI). However, this might be a stranger for those of us who are less familiar with GI. Let us briefly explain to you what it’s all about, so that you can make better informed choices for a healthier and balanced diet.
GI is the relative ranking of carbs in food (measured on a scale of 0 to 100), according to how much they impact your blood glucose level when consumed on its own. GI can be affected by various factors such as the portion, cooking time required and the overall composition of food, i.e. whether the carb is eaten alone or with other food, and whether it has been processed.
The presence of fats, protein, vitamins and minerals can also affect the GI of the food consumed. The GI of a carb can be lowered if you add, or consume it with fat and protein as it slows down digestion. However, this is not a full representation of the amount of nutrients in your food. It is important to also consider the amount of saturated fats, salt content and nutrients present in food when choosing your meals. A balanced diet varies for everyone, based on each of our body type and composition. Thus, it is best to consult a dietician to find out what your body needs are, so that you can feed it what it needs to be healthy!
Low GI (0 to 55) to Medium GI (45 to 69): brown rice, whole fruits, and leafy vegetables. These foods are better for you as they are digested and absorbed more slowly by the body, leading to slower and more gradual spikes in blood sugar levels. Consume more low GI foods such as broccoli to control your blood sugar spikes to lower the risk of diabetes. For people with diabetes, eating lower GI foods also helps in weight management.
High GI (70 to 100) GI: white rice, cakes, pizza, and white bread.
Simple “bad” carbs have a high GI so they are unhealthy in large amounts. Let us take refined White Jasmine Rice and Japanese Rice for instance. They have a high GI as the outer bran of the unrefined grain is removed during the process of making them into ‘white rice’, hence removing a physical inhibition action, and allows enzymes to attack the starch granules easily. In fact, a serving of white rice has almost the same effect on your blood glucose as pure sugar. Studies show that eating too much high GI foods regularly will result in repeated spikes in blood glucose, increasing your risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. This is because your body is unable to get rid of glucose in your blood fast enough, so your bloodstream will become thicker and stickier (think the consistency of water vs. sugar syrup) in the long run, which is a condition known as hypercoagulability. Your blood flow will thus be slower, and you can get clots which may lead to a stroke, heart attacks or even amputation.
That is why it is important to eat foods that have a slower digestibility, like carbs made with Alchemy Fibre™. Alchemy Fibre™ has a low GI and is formulated with high dietary fibre. It has been proven to reduce the digestion rate of white rice to that of brown rice in lab and clinical studies. Alchemy Fibre™ can hence lower the GI of white rice for a slower glucose release.
Foods with a high GI result in spikes in blood glucose levels whereas foods with a low to medium GI, such as those made with Alchemy Fibre™, result in slower spikes to a smaller extent in the same amount of time.