When carbohydrates – “Simple” monosaccharaides (Glucose or blood sugar/Fructose or fruit sugar), disaccharides (sucrose or table sugar & lactose or milk sugar), “complex or starchy” polysaccharides (glucose or fruit/ grains, potatoes, pasta, rice, cereal, whole wheat breads etc), “Fibrous” polysaccharides (vegetables) are digested in the intestines, they are changed by specific enzymes back into their original simple sugar form, called “Glucose.”
Carbohydrates closer in structure (simple sugar) to glucose are digested faster because there is less nutrient molecules to breakdown. This is what we call a High Glycemic Index or a high simple glucose content. For example, certain fresh fruit without skin, sweet refined foods, bleached white-flour foods, most low fat foods, and canned fruit in syrup/ sauces have a high simple glucose content. Most processed foods are refined carbohydrates. The processing changes their molecular structure, robbing them of nutrients and taste. Sugar and nutrients are chemically added to revive taste and molecular structure.
Carbohydrates not processed are more in their natural state and are digested slower. They have a more complex sugar molecular structure that is difficult to breakdown, meaning they have a Low Glycemic Index (like most starches and vegetables). Complex carbohydrates with greater fiber content (whole wheat or whole grain types, some types of fresh fruit with skin) are even harder to breakdown and are digested even slower. Their Glycemic Index rating is even lower, and both contain an abundance of natural nutrients.
However, during the digestion of all carbohydrates in the intestine, enzymes change them back to their original Glucose form. The pancreas then releases the hormone “Insulin,” which activates the storage enzyme “Glycogen Synthase”. This enzyme changes glucose to “Glycogen” and then stores it in the respective places (muscle and liver cells, along with all other living cells).
When blood sugar level depletes, you feel hungry and consume a balanced meal to replenish blood sugar along with many other essential nutrients. If this meal consists of low fat foods, sweet sugar-laden foods, refined bleached white flour foods (high glycemic index foods), no veggies or protein, or very little of each– the assimilation and digestion of these types of foods is extremely fast. The refined carbohydrates are converted to glucose quickly, rapidly filling the intestine with glucose.
How Does This Affect You?
This Glucose entering the digestive tract lacks nutrients. Consequently, it cannot be used by the body. High levels of glucose are also very toxic to the pancreas and kidneys. The pancreas reacts by overproducing “Insulin” to get rid of the glucose as fast as possible. Insulin over-production inhibits the function of “Glycogen Synthase”, which then cannot direct all glucose to healthy cells, therefore glucose will be directed to fat cells. Excess Insulin produced by the pancreas will find sugar to store even after the meal has been completely digested. This causes sugar from the blood to be stored, resulting in residual low blood sugar after about 30-45 minutes. Consequently your blood sugar is not maintained, and you will have sugar cravings, some excess insulin (if any) can be converted and stored as fat in fat cells.
Consuming foods poor in essential nutrients will not satisfy your nutritional requirements or your blood sugar. Being nutritionally unsatisfied, you feel that hungry sugar craving sooner than the normal 3-3½ hours. This leads to that so-called “sugar addiction” or “carbohydrate addiction” syndrome.
What Happens Next?
Consume a similar meal consisting of High-sugar foods, and guess what happens? The process repeats itself and your fat cells are filled with more low quality un-usable sugar. Your pancreas again over-produces insulin above what is required. Blood sugar is lower, sugar cravings increase, and the entire process is likely to repeat. The consequence is weight gain. Dieters usually experience this process and gain the weight lost and more (typical Yo-Yo dieting syndrome).
Repeat this again, and you will continue to “get fatter” on Low-Fat, High Sugar, Low Nutrient Food Products. Include inactivity, and diets that restrict calories, and another hormone, Glucagon, which is responsible for releasing fat, recognizes and counter balances this. How? By not releasing fat, enabling the body to have an energy reserve for Homeostasis, since there is a lack of energy (glucose) from the restricted calorie diet.
Other enzymes can also convert glycogen stored in muscle cells to glucose when there is insufficient energy from poor food choices. Your body has these mechanisms to provide energy for it’s metabolic processes. This can put more blood sugar in the intestines, causing insulin release. Insulin can store some of this glucose in fat cells to conserve energy because of the low calorie diet. Excess Insulin produced by the pancreas can be stored as fat (don’t encourage this).
The key is balancing each meal with quality low glycemic index food choices. It will result in slow digestion and release of glucose, which avoids wild Insulin production and will not inhibit the function of enzyme Synthase. These foods also provide the necessary nutrients, balance blood sugar, and improve the digestive process, your health, life and metabolism.
Balanced Meal = Lean Protein + Complex or Starchy Carbohydrate + Fibrous (vegetable) Carbohydrate.
Eat Simple Carbohydrates (fruit) in moderation early in the day along with, but after a well-balanced meal.