Carbohydrates, Our Friend and Enemy


By Kay Leaman, Health Architect

Carbs are everywhere and necessary for our health. However, the carbs we choose can affect our gut health, immune system, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and energy. So, let’s learn a little about them.

Definition: (carbo-hydrate) A large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues, including sugar, starch and cellulose. They contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (1:2:1). This can vary depending on the type of carb. They are broken down in the body to release energy.

Carbs are an essential energy source, vital for good health. They convert to sugar (glycogen), which supplies energy to our bodies. There are two types of carbs:

Complex: These are polysaccharides and contain at least three glucose molecules. They are found in foods high in fiber and starch. They take longer to digest and contain important vitamins, minerals, probiotics and antioxidants. Complex carbs help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Simple: These carbs only contain one or two molecules and are referred to as monosaccharides and disaccharides. These contain naturally occurring or added sugars and are digested quickly. These simple carbs tend to raise blood sugar levels.

Processed carbs like crackers and chips lack essential nutrients such as fiber and vitamins. When grains are processed the bran and germ is removed (fiber) along with the vitamins and minerals leaving little to no nutritional value. What they add back is sugar, sodium and preservatives, none of which the body recognizes or needs.

Complex carbs consist of vegetables, legumes (beans), nuts and seeds, tubers (sweet potatoes and white potatoes (red is more beneficial) and whole grains (oats, quinoa, brown rice, barley, etc.). The healthiest wheat to look for is Stone Ground Whole Wheat or Sprouted Whole Grain. Simple carbs, on the other hand, consist of fruit juices, milk, white flour, white rice, sugar and soda. Fruit is also in this category but because it is high in fiber and has natural sugars it is a beneficial option.

Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is vital for maintaining a healthy gut. The soluble fiber (found in popular over the counter fiber supplements) binds to cholesterol and sugar mitigating it’s release into the bloodstream whereas insoluble fiber is responsible for reducing incidences of constipation and protecting against colon cancer (This is usually not found in popular over-the-counter fiber supplements).

Begin substituting healthy carbs for processed carbs. Brown rice pasta vs white pasta, gluten free crackers vs regular processed crackers (in moderation), whole rolled oats vs quick oats, etc. Add barley to homemade vegetable soup, add nuts, seeds and fresh fruit to plain greek yogurt. Use mashed avocados as a spread instead of mayo on sandwiches.
Feel free to reach out if you have questions or something specific you need help with.

You’re invited to an important Holistic Detox series this month. Registered Holistic Nutritionist Linda Murphy, RHN/NPP will share the importance of spring detoxing our bodies and the benefits it provides. These sessions are free. To attend these invitation-only events, email me using May Series in the subject line.

Here’s to Health
Kay Leaman Health Architect
HealthyDay HealthyLife, Inc.