2 Being Well
Digestion, Health and Nutrition

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates supply the body with glucose, a vital energy source.

Knowing how various foods affect glucose levels is important to anyone who wants to be in the best possible health. All carbohydrates are ultimately converted to glucose. It is the rate of conversion to glucose that provides us with the tool for managing blood sugar fluctuation. Consuming foods that convert to glucose quickly (high glycemic foods) contribute to increased appetite and cravings for sweet and this, of course, leads to weight gain. Significant health problems such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are associated with over consumption of foods with a high glycemic load.

Glycemic load and blood sugar levels – The difference between simple and complex carbohydrates is how fast they convert to glucose and raise blood sugar levels. The measure of how quickly foods in a meal are converted to glucose and how fast they raise the blood sugar levels is known as the glycemic load. The glycemic index ranks foods according to their glycemic load.

Generally, foods containing fat or protein are not rated as they do not increase glucose levels. Foods containing simple sugars or refined flour increase your glycemic load and your blood glucose. Choose grain foods wisely avoiding highly processed and refined ones in favor of unrefined whole grains. Refining or processing grains increases their glycemic load. Fats, proteins and fiber work to lower the glycemic load in a meal, promoting balanced blood sugar.