Fuel for our body
With the following background information you can better assess dietary carbohydrates.
Article from Sat, 30. September 2017
Why choosing the 'right' carbohydrates is so important
Nothing is possible without glucose
When we wake up in the morning, walk to the car, even for the smallest and also instinctive movements such as respiration, a smile or a wink, we require impetus and force, in short energy. The most important energy supplier for our body is glucose, a simple sugar - also known as ‚dextrose‘ - which it generates from dietary carbohydrates. In fact, it can also generate this important fuel from other macro nutrients, from fats and proteins; but carbohydrates are the main energy supplier because they are available in a relatively short time. From the intestine, glucose is rapidly transmitted into the blood stream. Either directly, after the consumption of dextrose - or more or less later, after the splitting of other dietary carbohydrates by specific enzymes. With about 140g per day, our brain is the organ that spends the most amounts of glucose. Physical symptoms such as dizziness, feelings of weakness and a slowdown of mental focus stand for a depletion of the short-term energy reserves within our body. When we eat, we gain new energy and feel better again. Not without reason, foods rich in sugar are considered to be ‚nerve nourishment‘ in some situations. When we deprive our body of food for a longer period, it must fall back intensely to the carbohydrate reserves in the body fat and must use them for energy generation, after it has depleted the glycogen reserves in the liver and muscles
The diversity of dietary carbohydrates
Let us note: Carbohydrates are the main energy supplier. Now, not all carbohydrates are the same. Each of us knows this very well: After eating instant products with plenty of sugar like lemonade, ice cream, chocolate and cake we are getting hungry faster; whereas a smoothie from scratch, a fruit salad or a serving of noodles and veggies keep us full longer. Why is that? The reason for this lies in the composition of the sugars or carbohydrates fed. There are carbohydrates that mainly taste quite sweet but do not really provide satiety - and others that are less sweet but let us get by without food for hours because their energetic effect lasts for a long time. But let us look closer at their structure:
Simply put, carbohydrates consist of single sugar molecules that are chained to each other. Depending on the length of this chain, they are divided into short, medium and long-chain carbohydrates. Short-chain carbohydrates contain up to three sugar molecules. From three to ten sugar molecules, we are talking about middle-chain carbohydrates, so-called oligosaccharides. Glucose (or dextrose) and fruit sugar (fructose) each only have one sugar molecule and are therefore called monosaccharides. Glucose and fructose are mainly present in ripe fruits and honey, galactose is the important energy provider for infants and the monosaccharide in breast milk. The body utilizes monosaccharides quite quickly, glucose even fastest because it is directly resorbed into the blood stream. Fructose is metabolized without requiring insulin which is why resorption takes more time. The extremely quick effect of glucose is particularly beneficial for diabetics who use dextrose in cases of hypoglycemia to recover. Short-chain two-fold sugars with two sugar molecules (disaccharides) include milk sugar (lactose) and regular beet sugar (saccharose) which consists of one glucose molecule and of one fructose molecule.
With more than ten single sugar molecules, we are talking about long-chained, complex carbohydrates or polysaccharides which include plant starch. Starch is primarily contained in bread, noodles, potatoes, rice and corn. First, the body has to break down the carbohydrate chains in order to synthesize them into glucose. This requires quite some time. Therefore, complex carbohydrates are also called ‚slow carbohydrates‘. In general it can be said: Simple, short-chain sugars taste sweet and work quickly, but shorter, long-chained carbohydrates taste less sweet and accordingly work slow and sustainable (exceptions are described in the next section). Very often, the effect of the ‚fast carbohydrates“ downright blow out. This is especially the case when we, as described in the beginning, consume foods with plenty of added sugar (saccharose). This sugar was isolated from the sugar beet, thus is not available in its original, natural form. However, this is important because it makes a difference for the body whether it gets sugar - and with that said, glucose - from an orange nectar out of a tetra pack or in the form of an untouched, whole and fresh orange. Isolated beet sugar or saccharose and also sugar syrups such as glucose syrup and fructose syrup which are contained in many instant products of the food industry are eventually denatured, strongly concentrated sweeteners, mainly used by the manufacturers for economic reasons. What is cheap and advantageous for them, however is nearly useless for our body. They only fill us, but do not nourish us. And this leads us to a particular group of carbohydrates: Pectin and cellulose are the fibrous parts of the cell walls in plants, also called fibres. These long-chained, indigestible polysaccharides are not used for energy generation. They swell in the intestine because they bind water and thus ensure a pleasant sense of satiety, a good intestinal mobility and as a result a regular digestion.
Carbohydrates and their effect on blood glucose
In the previous section, it became clear that dietary carbohydrates partly differentiate themselves considerably from each other. Depending on their chemical composition, they serve as an instant or slower energy supplier or as a ‚filler‘. At first glance, long-chained carbohydrates may be the ‚better‘ ones. But this is not always the case. This is where the so-called ‚Glycaemic Index‘ steps in (in short: GI). This figure pays less attention to the chemical composition of the dietary carbohydrates but rather considers their impact on the blood glucose level. An example: White bread and rice however have long-chain carbohydrates (mainly starch) but are considered to be foods with a high GI which is less beneficial because: After consumption of foods with a high GI, the concentration of blood glucose rapidly increases (but still less rapidly as if you were to consume pure dextrose). The rapid increase of blood glucose leads to an immediate and significant insulin secretion in our pancreas. The body must compensate the increase of blood glucose and reduce the concentration of glucose in the blood to a normal level. This leads to extreme blood glucose fluctuations, making us get appetite and feeling hungry faster. The reason for this is that these foods are deprived of indigestible fibres which are present in the form of cellulose mainly in the outer layers of the original whole grain. Dietary fibres not only satiate, they also slow down the resorption of glucose into the blood stream. White bread and rice were taken the ‚good‘ carbohydrates and actually they are denatured foods, pure energy providers with a high GI without an added value for our body. When we add further ‚fast‘ sugar on top of white bread, for example by spreading off-the-shelf nut creams or marmalade, we downright get sugar and also fat bombs with plenty of ‚empty calories‘. What applies to the fast sugars, hence also applies to the complex carbohydrates: It is of high importance for our body in which form the respective carbohydrates are present - in this case starch - and whether the original food was strongly processed.
The starch in cooked potatoes and whole grain foods is significantly more beneficial from a nutrition-physiological standpoint than the one of white bread and husked rice. Cooked potatoes which contain plenty of water and also whole grain products have a lower GI, due to the amount of dietary fibre. The already mentioned isolated and denatured beet sugar is high-glycaemic. In the end, it mainly provides the sweet taste but unnecessarily burdens our pancreas and in addition damages our teeth. More valuable for our body are natural sugars such as exotic coconut blossom sugar: That has a relatively low GI and is also rich in essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Diabetics who do not want to miss the sweet taste, coconut blossom sugar is particularly suitable because it does not cause intense fluctuations of blood glucose. Therefore, injections of large amounts of insulin are unnecessary. Isomaltulose (Palatinose®) which occurs naturally in sugar beet, sugar cane and honey, also does not provide complex carbohydrates. This disaccharide whose sweetening power comes close to the one of sugar, but is less sharp and aggressive, however has a low-glycaemic index. From a nutrion-physiological perspective, foods containing isomaltulose are more beneficial for our organism because the transformation into glucose takes place much slower so that it is provided as an energy source over a longer period of time. Intense fluctuations of blood glucose fail to appear which is definitely more sparing for the cells of our pancreas. Besides, another positive side effect of isomaltulose is that, due to its specific composition, it does not produce corrosive acids which can cause dental caries.
The natural plant matrix offers the best carbohydrates and more
The example of coconut blossom sugar and isomaltulose makes evident that the simple, short-chain carbohydrates also have a positive meaning. When sugar is integrated naturally in a food, the body does not only profit in terms of energy. During specific physical and mental activity (endurance sports, learning and exam situations), many people prefer to eat a ripe banana which has been proven as a quick and natural energy provider. The sugar integrated naturally in the fruit, is easy to digest but is utilized slower and more sustainable as it is the case with processed foods containing added sugar types. Chemically, in 100g of natural ripe banana can be found: 11g saccharose, 3,8g glucose and 3,6g fructose. But that is not all. Because the sugars come in a bundle very favorable for the body: Ripe bananas also contain pectin, the already mentioned polysaccharide which, as an indigestible fibre, is also present in ripe apples and is a good household remedy in the case of constipation. Moreover, bananas are rich in potassium that along with magnesium ensures an even electrolyte balance. Regarding vitamins, they provide plenty of vitamin B6 for strong nerves, amongst others. Fruits like bananas are most valuable for the body when fully ripened. Still green and inedible bananas mainly contain complex plant starch which turns into the easily digestible sugars only with advanced ripening. So the yellower the fruit, the better. Only then, it can unfold its full natural power and not only provides us with new energy but also with other vital substances for our health.
Detecting foods with the ‚right’ carbohydrates is not that difficult. A piece of cake or chocolate every now and then never hurt anyone. Some sugar cubes from time to time into the coffee also is not quite bad. It is crucial that the overall balance is positive, in terms of ‚good‘ carbohydrates, ‚good‘ fatty acids and proteins, vitamins and minerals, trace elements and phytonutrients (especially antioxidants). This is best achieved by eating a wide variety of high-quality foods. There are plenty of delicious recipes and versatility in preparation for healthy ingredients such as fresh vegetables, fruits and salads, grains and potatoes, nuts and seeds, preferably from regional and organic farming. Avoid heavily processed industrial convenience products that in many cases contain plenty of added isolated sugar and reduce the consumption of fat meats and sausages as well as dairy products. Fresh sea fish and certain plant oils provide healthier fatty acids (most of all omega-3s). Vegan protein is in no way inferior to animal protein and is equally suitable for muscle development; it comes with only small amounts of complex carbohydrates, but is rich in dietary fibre that keep satiated for hours. For baking, use the low-glycaemic coconut blossom sugar with its caramel-like taste instead of regular household sugar (saccharose). It gives your recipes a different, milder sweetness. Instead of white bread, which is no problem at all when consumed now and then, you should rather choose whole grain products for regular consumption. For an optimal digestion you should chew your food thoroughly and also drink enough. Furthermore, regular physical activity promotes blood circulation and as a result improves the resorption of all nutrients and vital substances from the food into the organism.
Berry.En products with ‚good‘ carbohydrates
- arrow_forwardB.EN IN A BOX
Premium nutrition drink based on fruit juice (contains naturally occurring sugars), with low-glycaemic isomaltulose (Palatinose™) for mental and physical top performances
- arrow_forwardB.EN NATURAL ENERGY & NATURAL COLA
Premium Energy drink and the first naturally-red cola, based on fruit juice (contains naturally occurring sugars) with low-glycaemic isomaltulose (Palatinose™) for mental and physical top performances
- arrow_forwardB.EN NATURAL ENERGY
Gel supplement with premium fruit juice (contains naturally occurring sugars) as well as low-glycaemic Palatinose™
- arrow_forwardBerry.En ORGANIC
Provides simple and complex carbohydrates with special blends of whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds, vegan proteins plus low-glycaemic exotic coconut blossom sugar