Carbohydrate is also a bio-molecule made up of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. These are known as sugar molecules for a layman. But it’s role is beyond providing energy to the body. Just like as enzymes are made up of proteins, the coenzymes are made up of carbohydrate molecules which help enzymes to function properly. Even the carbohydrates have role to play in the genetic material of our body. It also helps to strengthen our immune system. It’s essential for our growth, development, functioning of our blood vessels, blood clotting and also essential for fertilization of eggs to produce children. Carbohydrates are also part of dietary fiber which are essential for bowl movements. All metabolism activities use carbohydrate molecules. Extra carbohydrates which are not used ate stored as glycogen in liver and muscles.
Carbohydrates may be termed as low quality or simple Carbohydrates and high quality or complex carbohydrates. Any item full of sugar is a simple carbohydrate whereas sugar with fiber, protein, vitamins & minerals would be a complex carbohydrate. Eating complex carbohydrates is the key to good health and weight management. However, keto diets having low quantity of carbohydrates in the meal are not recommended as these have their own side effects on the health. The carbs ( carbohydrates) are eaten in meals and the metabolism of the body breaks them into simple glucose in the stomach which gets absorbed I to the blood stream by small intestine. Through the blood stream, the carbs travel to each cell in the form of glucose and gets absorbed with the help of insulin to provide energy for it’s Survival. Low insulin levels may induce more glucose to remain in the blood stream triggering diabetes.
Sources of Carbohydrates
Simple Carbohydrates like sugar are found in soda, cola, chocolate, cakes, pastries, juices, toffee, refined sugar or anything sweet. All these are part of processed sugar to give instant energy. The natural sources are fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh milk etc. The complex carbohydrates are found in processed food such as bread, roti, burger, rice, milk products, roasted grains, potato, sweet potato, lentils, corn, pea etc. These fall under the category of starches. Another category of carbohydrates is fiber. These are sourced through nature i.e. fruits and green leafy vegetables with skin, carrots, cucumber, beans, spinach, radish, tomato etc. Eating fiber is healthy as the body uses more energy to break it down and it gives the feeling of fullness quickly thereby helping in weight management. Non vegetarian food sources such as poultry, meat, fish etc are low on carbohydrates and high on protein.
Symptoms of Deficiency of Carbohydrates
Though most of the items we eat have carbohydrate, yet there may be instances when we tend to avoid carbohydrates to reduce weight or during fasting or at conditions when we are unable to find anything to eat for a long time or if the body develops intolerance to carbohydrates due to some diseases. During suchcarbohydrates in the body:
- Fatigue: As we fail to provide the fuel to the body we feel weakness, laziness and low on energy.
- Loss of Appetite: Since the body stops getting sufficient food in the stomach, it’s sensors reduce the supply of acid to stomach and we do not feel hunger.
- Constipation: Since the intake of food is reduced, the movement of small intestine and large intestine are affected. The lesser quantity induces constipation.
- Dehydration: As we reduce the intake of food, we also reduce the intake of water which in turn triggers dehydration in the body. This would also lead to frequest vomiting sensation, indigestion, dizziness, bad breath etc in the body.
- Regular Headache: Carb deficient diet may lead to build up of gasses in the stomach. This may cause acid burps or may affect body sensors causing regular headache which is not controllable even with medicines.
- Diseases due to deficiency of vitamins & minerals: The body gets the vitamins and minerals through the carbohydrate rich food. The cut down on carbohydrate intake adversely affects the functioning of the internal systems of the body which require minerals and vitamins.
- Onset of Diabetes: The insulin harmone facililitates the transfer of sugar molecules from blood stream to the cells and maintains the desired level of glucose in the blood stream. In the absence of sufficient quantity of carbohydrates it’s working is affected which results in Onset of diabetes.
- Craving for Carbs rich food: In case of low carbs in the body, the mind signals all the senses to search for Carb rich food to satiate it’s needs. When you ignore these signals for the cravings for Carbs then comes the stage when you lose your appetite.
- Muscle Cramps: The low carbs may promote muscle cramps and continuous pain in muscles due to non availability of sufficient and quick energy due to which the working of various enzymes is affected.
- Lack of Concentration: When the body is starved of carbohydrates the mind is continuously pricking the senses to look for the diet rich in cabs. Whatever we do during this time we are unable to concentrate on the work. For your body the Survival is more important then your work.
How to get good Carbohydrate
Good carbohydrates are found in the food which takes prolonged time to give us the energy. The food such as whole grains (grains with the stalk), whole wheat bread (better than Multigrain bread), milk, paneer, curd, flour with chaff, millets, fresh vegetables salad, fruits including mango, banana, apple, grapes, nashpati, dates, watermelon, coconut, cheeku, ber, keenu, orange, guava etc, fresh vegetables including mustard & spinach saag, radish, carrots, potato, sweet potato, cauliflower, cabbage, pea, pumpkin, beans, brinjal, chholia etc are good source of carbohydrates. Such foods also have other nutrients such as protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber etc which are essential for the synthesization of food we eat. The bad carbohydrates include mainly processed food such as pizza, burger, chowmein, noodles, golgappa, tikki, daal laddoo, bhalle-papdi, vada-paav, samosa, kachori and such kind of street food made of maida. Similarly the sugar in refined sugars such as chocolate, sweet, cake, pastry, cola, soda, sweetened syrups, sugar cubes etc fall in bad carbohydrates. However, sugars such as mishri, honey, sugarcane juice, other fresh fruit juices, jaggery, shakkar etc are considered better options among sugars.
Precautions in the consumption of carbohydrates
Though the carbs are the main source of energy to the body, however, eating right kind of carbohydrates in right quantity would only be helpful. Wrong habits may lead to various problems. Consuming more than required quantity of carbs may lead to obesity. A low Carb diet is often recommended by nutritionists for weight management. Such diets are to be taken strictly under the supervision of your medical care provider. The best idea for weight management would be to have everything you want in moderate quantity.