When a person eats a meal high in carbohydrate content, have you noticed how sleepy they become? Have you ever wondered why? Most of the effect comes from elevated blood sugar levels, which makes us sleepy. What has that to do with carbs? Well, when you begin to break down carbohydrates, they turn into starch or cellulose. Then the starches are broken down into simple sugars called monosaccharides, or complex sugars called disaccharides. Our body uses these sugars to produce energy.
The sugars called monosaccharides are glucose, galactose, and fructose. Glucose is the sugar produced naturally by our bodies. Galactose is absorbed through our milk and dairy food consumption. Fructose is a sugar found in fruit.
The sugars that are known as disaccharides are sucrose, lactose, and maltose. Sucrose is common table sugar, lactose is the combination of glucose and galactose that is found in milk, and maltose is a product of the digestion of starch from carbohydrates.
So what effect will this have on the body? Well, once you consume more sugar, starch or carbohydrates than you need, your body will store the excess as glycogen. The only people who actually benefit from excessive glycogen storage are marathon runners, who load up on carbs prior to a big race to be able to sustain extended periods of excessive exercise. For the rest of us, stored fat is not so useful, and at the extreme our body can reach levels that classify us as morbidly obese. This is more and more common in America today. The majority of our population is classified as obese, and we are experiencing epidemic levels.
Over indulgence in carbohydrates therefore causes us to become overweight. If we become seriously overweight, many organs have trouble functioning, due to fat surrounding them, or simply the fact that we are too large for them to properly support.
Either way, too many carbohydrates causes problems for our bodies. We can limit our intake by consuming more fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, and avoiding bread, rice, cereal, pasta, and grains.
The other option we have is to simply increase our daily physical activity to balance our food intake. Carbohydrates are the fuel producer for the body. If we want to burn more carbs, we simply need to increase our daily activity. If you are not already exercising, now would be a great time to start.
Responsible eating habits, proper nutrition and exercise, and an understanding of the foods you eat and what they provide, including carbohydrate content, is the basis of overall good health.