What Might Happen if You Have Too Many Simple Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates break down into glucose during digestion. Glucose is the main source of energy for each cell in your body. Some simple carbs, like sucrose or table sugar, are added to processed foods. Other types of simple carbs are naturally occurring in foods. Fructose, which is fruit sugar, and lactose, or milk sugar, are natural, simple carbohydrates. It is difficult to avoid naturally occurring simple carbs, but eliminating processed foods helps limit some of your processed simple carb intake.
Simple Versus Complex
Simple and complex carbs are eventually metabolized into glucose. While simple carbs break down quickly, complex carbs take extra time. Complex carbs, such as starch, start breaking down in your mouth when saliva turns them into maltose, which is a simple carbohydrate. Maltose travels down into your small intestine where it is further broken down and absorbed through intestinal walls as glucose. Both types of carbohydrates offer 4 calories per gram, and between 45 and 65 percent of your total calories should come from carbs. If you normally stick to a 2,000-calorie diet, you need 225 to 325 grams daily. Your diet should have a balance of complex and simple carbohydrates.
Consuming too many simple carbs may lead to weight gain. Eating a food item loaded with simple carbohydrates, such as white rice or white bread, causes blood glucose to suddenly spike. This makes your pancreas release extra insulin to help cells absorb the glucose. Your body uses whatever glucose it needs right away and then stores the rest as glycogen in your liver and muscles, although you can only store a certain amount of glycogen. Insulin helps store any extra glucose that is not used right away and cannot be stored. Excess glucose is stored as fat, explains Dr. Barry Groves in Diabetes Health magazine. Over time, the extra fat storage can drastically increase your weight.
Filling your diet with candy, baked goods and other foods high in sugar can lead to tooth decay. Sugar, especially sucrose, reacts with bacteria and saliva in your mouth. Glycoproteins, formed from carbohydrates and proteins, stick to your teeth and start forming plaque. When this occurs, bacteria feed on the glycoproteins and start to break down tooth enamel. If you frequently consume sugary foods, brush your teeth right after you eat to minimize damage to tooth enamel and lower your chances of developing a cavity. Even simple sugar carbohydrates from natural sources, such as apples, grapes and watermelon, can trigger the breakdown of enamel. If you have a fruit salad as an afternoon snack, brush your teeth shortly after to help protect your teeth.
Foods rich in simple carbohydrates are often higher on the glycemic index, or GI. The glycemic index is a scale of 1 to 100 that evaluates foods based on how quickly they raise your blood sugar. Foods on the high end of the glycemic index scale cause your blood sugar to rapidly rise and then drop quickly to a lower point than it was before you ate. You may get a sudden burst of energy right after eating your favorite candy bar but then feel sluggish and hungry a short period of time afterward. Having a slice of processed white bread toast with strawberry jelly for breakfast, which is high in simple sugar carbohydrates, can have the same effect. This “sugar crash” is a negative side effect of foods with a high simple-carbohydrate content.
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