Refined carbs can provide the spring-board for many chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Leafy vegetables and spices can counteract adverse effects.
Refined carbohydrates (refined carbs) may be considered a man-made dietary hazard. Numerous chronic diseases are promoted by refined carbohydrates. These include obesity, effort angina, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and others. The incidence of excessive body fat and obesity alone is 61% among the adult population in the U.S. [1,2,3]. This unhealthy statistic is gradually spreading to other countries. In addition, many cases of morbidity and shortened lives are associated with refined carbohydrates. Therefore it is important to learn how to protect oneself against this high energy nutrient.
Dietary fiber is the key element removed from carbohydrates to refine them. Vitamins and minerals are often lost in the refining process. It is easy to discard fiber from grains and other food products on the mistaken assumption that they have no nutritional value. This removal of fiber is a costly mistake and there is a rising support for the contention that dietary fiber is the foundation of a healthy diet.
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Mechanisms by which Refined Carbohydrates Produce Chronic Diseases
Refined carbohydrates lay the foundation for chronic diseases by impairment of the body’s energy management. This impairment may be reflected by an increase in body fat. Refined carbohydrates generally have high glycemic indices and they can rapidly raise the plasma glucose levels.
Sustained or frequent elevations in the plasma glucose level can lead to sustained elevation of plasma levels of insulin – decrease in insulin sensitivity. and increase in insulin resistance. These changes make insulin ineffective in managing the body’s energy needs. Insulin’s ineffectiveness in carrying out its responsibilities becomes the prelude to various chronic diseases, ranging from obesity to type 2 diabetes.
Protective Measures Against the Refined Carbohydrates
The most effective defensive measure against the adverse effects of refined carbohydrates is to stop eating refined carbohydrates. One way to accomplish this is to follow a dietary protocol that includes only unrefined organic foods. A second approach is to minimize the adverse effects by eating only small amounts of the refined carbohydrates. A third approach is to add dietary fibers to the food when eating the refined carbohydrates. This will replace the fiber that were removed in the refining process. This third approach is more appealing because one can still enjoy the refined carbohydrates without being fully exposed to the adverse consequences.
Leafy vegetables (kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach cabbage, etc.) are excellent sources of dietary fiber. These vegetables also contain vitamins and minerals which are often lost in the refined carbohydrates. One positive side to the fiber replacement is that one has a variety of choices for the source of the dietary fiber.
The primary mechanism by which dietary fiber counteracts the adverse effects of refined carbohydrates is stabilization of plasma glucose at normal or near-normal levels. This keeps plasma insulin level under control. Dietary fiber can also curb the appetite, and this helps to keep excessive body fat at bay. Finally, dietary fiber can increase insulin sensitivity (boost metabolism). This makes it easier for insulin to effectively perform its task of managing the body’s energy needs.
Other dietary substances that can help to offset the adverse effects of refined carbohydrates include olive oil (good oil), chromium and spices like cinnamon, curry, cayenne pepper and cumin. Olive oil is a high caloric food with the same properties as dietary fiber. It curbs the appetite, stabilizes plasma glucose and increases insulin sensitivity. Chromium, and the spices will increase insulin sensitivity.