Boomers Health – Food Series
FOOD – CARBOHYDRATES
The Ageing Accelerator
All Aussie Nutrition Labels Include the amount Carbohydrates in the food, plus the amount of sugars. See the article on Food Labelling. It is critical for Boomers to understand that carbohydrates themselves are made up of two components; Sugars and Fibre. Sugars are food for human cells and fibre is the food for the necessary bacteria that live in our gut.
When Carbs are ingested they are broken down in our gut into single molecules of sugar and they are absorbed into our bloodstream. That part that cannot be broken down into single sugar molecules is referred to as fibre. Glucose is the one sugar molecule that is essential for life, it is the food that our red blood cells require to survive. This being said we do not have to eat glucose to get the amount we need for survival, our body can make it from other foods we eat.
This means Carbs are not an essential food for human cells; but they are an essential food for the trillions of bugs that live in our intestines.
Carbs are found in plant foods and animal milk. Although technically animal food sources contain some Carbs the amount is insignificant. The three simple sugars obtained from carbohydrates are glucose, fructose, and galactose. Sugars cause cell damaging molecules to be created when they react with proteins and fats
Our bodies rely on the oxidation of food for energy, these are controlled chemical reactions carried out inside our cells. These reactions are called redox reactions and the healthy reactions are controlled by enzymes that ensure the result of the reaction between two molecules produces the result that our body needs and therefore have healthy results. On the other hand all simple sugars are “reducing” chemicals and reducing chemicals in our blood participate in a haphazard uncontrolled redox reaction called glycation, where sugars react with fats and proteins in an uncontrolled manner. Glycation reactions produce Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s) and their derivatives. These molecules damage the proteins and fats our cells are made and and necessary bioactive molecules that exist outside of cells. All sugars are reducing chemicals, that glycate proteins and fats! Glucose is the least reactive and the most prominent in our foods, Fructose is 10 times more reactive than glucose. Fructose, in natural whole foods, is found in berries, fruit and honey. Vegetables contain mostly glucose and only small amounts of fructose. Table sugar and sugar added to processed foods is half fructose and half glucose, these sugars should be avoided at all costs. Some weight loss products have added fructose, this is a really unhealthy way to get skinny! AGE’s have been shown to implicated in;
- ~Diabetes and Kidney Disease including Diabetic Neuropathy.
- ~Cardiovascular Diseases including heart attack and stroke.
- ~Alzheimer’s Disease
- ~Sarcopenia (loss of muscle strength)
- ~Protein Crosslinking associated with accelerated ageing, including collagen crosslinking (reduced tissue elasticity, including skin and artery muscle)
- ~Cataracts and other eye diseases.
The list goes on and on. There is no medicine available that significantly reverses the damage caused by AGE’s. AGE’s damage does not instantly wreck our bodies, it slowly accumulates over decades of time and contributes to almost all major age related disease. So far we have only discussed AGE’s formed in the body by sugars, especially Fructose. AGE’s can pre exist in food, we actually eat AGE chemicals! They occur when foods containing sugars are cooked at high temperatures (some say above 120 degrees C). That is the caramelisation of sugars with protein and or fat produces AGE’s. So foods like cakes, doughnuts, and barbecued meats basted in sugary sauces, as well as the Cola flavor in soft drinks and sugary roasted cereal grains, provide AGE’s directly in our diets. See how Cornflakes are made HERE. Cigarette smoke also contains AGE’s.
Does This Mean We Should Not Eat Carbs?
Well if only it were so simple. As each day passes medical science is learning how important the trillions of bugs in our gut are to our health and immune system. They live on that part of carbohydrates that we are unable to digest which is referred to as fibre. The by-product of them eating the fibre is gas, and very small fat molecules. These fat molecules are food for the cells that line our colon. Fibre also plays an important role managing the water content of our poop and keeping the toilet paper bill to a minimum.
Our bodies do also have AGE defence systems and the latest research we could find at the time of writing shows that there is no significant difference in all cause mortality between vegetarians and meat eaters. Plant foods also contain thousands of different phyto molecules not found in Animal foods. The fact is humans have eaten plant foods forever, and we have evolved to eat them. We have not evolved to eat to eat carbs that have had the fibre removed or sugar extracted from plants as an additive. We can’t eat sugar cane, it’s a stick!
As you will read elsewhere in other articles on this site. Our body attempts to keep sugars within tight ranges in our blood stream, simply because excess sugars are harmful. It should be noted that diabetic glucose meters and the blood sugar readings from blood samples requested by the GP do not measure fructose or the amount of accumulated damage caused by AGE’s. AGES’s are silent killers.
Blood Sugar Levels After Eating
When we eat blood sugar levels are initially raised depending on the amount and type of carbohydrate we eat and the effect of other foods eaten with. Raised Levels increase the risk of AGE’s being created. Below are examples of my own blood sugar levels after eating four different breakfasts. The amount of food in each breakfast was calculated out to have the same energy content. Blood sugars were taken after fasting overnight and before eating the breakfast and again 50mins after eating the breakfast using a glucose meter.
This example is important since it clearly demonstrates that we can consume the same amount of energy (similar weight loss or gain) which result in dramatically different blood sugar levels. This will be discussed further in the “Fats” article in this series.
The Take Home Message
The take home message is pretty clear. Limit the consumption of refined or processed carbohydrates, they are mostly the sugar glucose. This includes products made from refined (white) flour. That’s nearly all pastries, cakes, muffins and so on. Avoid carbohydrates that have been cooked at high temperatures (breads, cakes doughnuts etc). Limit fructose intake. Fructose is in any food that has added sugar, especially soft drinks, check the nutrition and ingredients labels prior to purchase. Limit fruit to one piece a day, and purchase fruit that is in season. Boomers Health does not believe that eating three to four pieces of fruit per day is good for long term health. Embrace all seasonal vegetables and eat a wide variety. We can tell when fruit and vegetables are in season and at their freshest; it is when they are at their cheapest. Mixed nuts are a great plant food to consume. Limit starchy vegetables like potato and sweet potato when trying to lose weight.
These guidelines are easy to follow once we “retrain our brains”, see the Diet Section of this site.