Nutrition experts recommend that our carb intake should be limited. However, refined carbohydrates still make way into every meal. Plus, refined foods like white rice and pasta taste so good that they often stop us from leading a healthy way of life. What we need to understand is that not all carbs are the same.
Complex carbs are nutritious and filling. Most whole wheat products contain complex carbs, and they are beneficial for your health. On the other hand, refined or simple carbs that have been stripped of their nutrition and fiber cause the most damage.
Eating refined carbs daily is the same as inviting diseases to take over your body. The intake of refined carbs is directly associated with obesity, heart-related diseases, and type 2 diabetes. If you’re experiencing a spike in energy levels after lunch and then facing an extreme crash later on, then it’s highly likely to be associated with your choice of food.
Let’s look at how carbs affect the blood sugar levels in your body:
Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar
According to a study, there is a significant relationship between the intake of refined carbs and developing type 2 diabetes. Let’s look at how refined carbs wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels.
Whenever you purge on carbs, the digestive system works on breaking down the digestible parts of the food into sugar. This sugar then enters the bloodstream causing the blood sugar levels to rise. As a result, the pancreas produces insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that messages the cells to absorb the sugar for energy. Once the cells absorb the sugar, levels in the blood fall. As a result of lowered blood sugar levels, your pancreas trigger glucagon production. Glucagon is a hormone that signals the liver to release stored sugar.
This interplay of insulin and glucagon ensures that all cells in the body, especially the brain cells get a steady supply of blood sugar. However, this natural process is distorted when you start eating too many carbohydrates, and the body behaves as it does in the case of type 2 diabetes. In this case, the body fails to make enough insulin or use it properly. As years pass by, muscles and other body cells stop responding to insulin altogether and this condition is known as insulin resistance.
Side effects of having refined carbs
The intensity of the side effects of having refined carbs vary from person to person. But there is still a general list of ways in which carbs are sabotaging your health. Check out this list and reconsider your dietary options. Ask yourself “do you need to eat carbs every day?”
1- Low nutrient value
Over the years, our food palate has transformed. Busy schedules and monotonous routines have now led people to consume large quantities of processed foods. Most of our calories now come from refined grains, sugar, and industrial seed oil- all of which are highly hazardous for the human body. Refined carbs are processed, and the actual nutrients which are beneficial for the body are taken away so that it tastes better and has more shelf life.
According to research, processed foods disrupt the gut microbiome in a human body and lead to a weak immune system. Hence, setting up the perfect breeding ground for diseases. You’ll be surprised to know that almost 80% of our immune system is housed in our microbiome- the body’s ‘good’ bacteria present in the gut. Refined carbs and other processed foods lead to an unbalanced state of microbiome that can lead to many chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, kidney diseases and other equally serious health issues.
Many foods like refined grains, white pasta, and rice are void of the essential nutrients. You only satisfy your taste buds while eating them. On the other hand, wholesome foods like fruits, vegetable, dairy, and legumes are not only delicious but also contain all the nutrients to flourish your body and mind.
So, instead of munching on a piece of white bread or pizza choose from an array of nutrient-rich raw foods that can help your body fight diseases and stay fit.
2- Disturbs your metabolism
When you eat foods that are nutrient dense and have ample fiber, your body has to work even harder to break them down into sugar. That’s why eating fruits, vegetables, protein and complex carbs help you lose weight faster. This process is known as “thermogenesis.” By making the right food choices, you can easily burn 10% of your daily caloric intake just by the process of digestion.
However, when you eat food rich in refined carbs your body doesn’t have to work to convert it into sugar. It is treated as sugar the minute it reaches your gut. This is why refined carbs are absorbed quickly and provide quick energy bursts and subsequent lows.
No wonder you feel hungry a few hours after having a big bowl of pasta for lunch. Refined carbs are a quick fix. Since they don’t contain essential nutrients like fiber, fat, and protein, you don’t feel satiated for long periods of time.
3- May lead to depression
Are you reaching for a sugary soda or a brownie, every time you’re feeling low? Well, it’s time to break free from this vicious cycle because according to a research a diet high in refined carbs not only leads to unnecessary weight gain but can also lead to depression.
A group of scientists at Columbia University Medical Center studied the effects of food rich in refined carbs on post-menopausal women. They concluded that the high blood sugar after eating refined grains could increase the risk of depression in them as compared to their counterparts who consumed more dairy, fruit, vegetables and dietary fiber.
While this study is observed in post-menopausal women only, the theory applies to the general population as well. If you’re facing health problems like mood changes, fatigue and other symptoms related to depression- it’s time to revise your food intake pattern. A cup of oats first thing in the morning can elevate your mood to start your day on a high note.
Not feeling motivated enough to go to the doctor? Simply install the best telehealth software on your phone and get in touch with an expert nutritionist who can guide you more about your food choices.
4- Increases risk for cardiovascular diseases
Your body can’t tell the difference between a brownie and a tablespoon of sugar. Once it reaches your digestive tract, it’s all sugar. A diet rich in refined carbs can put a lot of strain on your heart. Not only do refined carbs lead to inflammation in the blood vessels but to make things worse, they also contain high levels of unhealthy fats. All of which make your body the perfect breeding ground for cardiovascular diseases.
It has been proven by research that people who eat a lot of processed and junk food have a greater risk of getting heart attacks and stroke. Also, these junk foods also raise your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol levels (HDL) and also contribute towards atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
It sounds scary, but refined carbs cause a storm of unhealthy processes inside our body. Plus, the weight gain and fat around your belly puts you at a greater risk of death by a heart attack or stroke. Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between refined carbs and weight gain.
5- Leads to weight gain
As we discussed earlier, not all carbs are bad for you. In fact, good carbs are necessary for you to function properly throughout the day. But things take an ugly turn when people resort to candy bars and crisps as quick snacks. Not only are they loaded with refined carbs but also contain preservatives and sugar harmful to your body.
Eating processed food regularly is a nightmare for anyone thinking about weight loss. Instead of being translated into energy, refined carbs stick around your waistline due to the lack of fiber. Fiber is an essential component for excreting the bad guys out of your body. But since refined carbs don’t have fiber, you get fat.
According to research published in the journal Food and Nutrition Research, refined grains like white bread and rice are directly linked to weight gain over an extended period. So, if you want to lose those extra pounds and get rid of that belly pooch, it’s time to switch to complex carbs like wholegrain bread and brown rice.
Another study proves that the intake of refined carbs impacts the reward centers of your brain just the way people experience satisfaction during drug or alcohol addiction. Yes! You heard it right. Eating foods rich in refined carbs can lead to food addiction. After purging on refined carbs, your brain releases dopamine (the feel-good hormone) that makes you feel good temporarily.
It is a vicious cycle and often leads to serious issues like food binging.
6- Can cause malnutrition
Being fat doesn’t mean you are healthy. There are so many hidden dangers of refined carbs and malnutrition is one of them. Processed food is artificially manufactured and advertised to seem as if it contains all the essential nutrients. Don’t fall into the trap of labels that read ‘added vitamins and minerals.’ Anything that is eaten out of a box contains almost zero nutrition value, and these foods are imposters that will give nothing useful to your body. Also, they steal all the good nutrients from your body and leave an empty shell in its place.
No wonder, unhealthy eating habits lead to so many problems such as chronic diseases, decreased brain cognition, lowered energy levels, poor sleep quality and much more. So, don’t think that malnutrition is only found in people who are starving.
7- Decrease in muscle mass
As discussed above, refined carbs stop your body from absorbing the required nutrition. This results in a decrease in muscle mass, making you feel tired and sluggish all the time. Muscles help us store energy and use it when we need it the most. Carb-rich foods will make you feel drained even after the simplest physical activity.
So, if you are looking for ways to stay energized for the whole day- start by making major changes in your eating habits. Switch from simple carbs to more wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread, oats, brown rice, and quinoa. These provide long-running fuel to your body, and you will notice a steady flow of energy throughout the day. Once you experience how great it feels after making a healthy food choice, you will no longer look at refined carbs as a source of getting quick energy.
Additionally, carb-rich foods also result in weak muscles. This is because they lack protein, the muscle building block. Once you fill your body with food rich in protein and other essential nutrients, you will notice an increase in muscle strength and overall stamina.
It is as simple as opting for nutrient-rich foods and staying away from simple carbs. A small change in your diet will give you sustenance to last through the whole day without burning out just after climbing a flight of stairs.
For many years saturated fats had a bad reputation. They increased the risk of heart diseases. But according to recent research, refined carbohydrates are even worse than saturated fats. This high-fat and a low-carb formula paved the way for many new diets such as Paleo and keto that seem to work well for people who want to lose weight.
But even if you don’t want to be a part of the latest diet fad, bring a few changes in your daily food intake, and you’ll be doing your body a lot of good. Make sure you are getting enough nutrients. By replacing refined carbs with complex carbs and increasing the number of grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein you will notice that you feel so much more energized!
Have you ditched refined carbs for good? If yes, share ways in which your body changed for the better after giving up on refined carbs:
James Crook is a passionate blogger who loves to write on health and fitness related topics. Currently, he is working as a blogger for a Physical Fitness Dr. Wilson shoulder Surgeon. Follow @jamescrook911 for more updates.