Carbohydratecapturing The Suns Energy

Foremost among the six essential nutrients is water. Since it is constantly being lost, it must continually be replaced. Water is nature's beverage of choice. We will look at its importance separately in a later chapter. Carbohydrate, protein, and fat are the energy yielding nutrients. They are what provide calories in terms of the chemical action which releases heat energy when our food is broken down. In the body's normal resting (not sleeping) state, half of the energy expended is used in meeting the metabolic requirements of the nervous system. Twenty-seven percent is used by the liver, much of which is involved in providing fuel for the brain. *15 The brain and nervous system are fueled primarily by glucose derived from carbohydrate. Vitamins and minerals provide no energy to the body directly, but they serve as regulators in all body processes and as such become necessary for the release of energy from food.

Next to water, carbohydrate is the nutrient needed in the greatest quantity. Nutritionists and researchers advocate the virtues of a high carbohydrate diet. It is the preferred fuel for most body functions and is involved in all of the body's cells. It is ideal to meet the body's energy needs, feed the brain and nervous system, keep the digestive system fit, and to keep the body lean. That makes sense, since it is carbohydrate which contains the sun's radiant energy captured by plants in the form of glucose. How could carbohydrate-rich plant food not help to pass the sun's life-sustaining capacity on to us, when nature has used plants as a storehouse for this vital force? As you read this page, billions of glucose molecules are splitting each second to provide the energy which enables you to learn. A marathon runner also must thank the glycogen (the body's storage form of glucose) in his muscles that delivered the power to finish the race. Carbohydrates are the body's premium fuel, and plants are its major purveyor. Nutritionists advise us to emphasize complex carbohydrates in our diet.

Complex carbohydrates are long chains of glucose or sugar units in the plant. These chains may link hundreds of glucose units to form a starch molecule. These molecules, packed side by side in the rice grain or potato, may be as many as a million per cubic inch of food.*16 Metabolism of our food breaks the bonds linking these units together and heat energy is released. Starch is simply the way the plant stores glucose. Sometimes people malign starchy foods as being fattening. That is a myth. In general we need to eat more starchy foods, not less. All starchy foods are plant foods, and grains are the richest food source of starch. Most of the world's people depend on grain, such as rice, wheat, corn, rye, barley, or oats as a staple for food energy. *17

Another benefit from the plant world is fiber, sometimes called roughage. Fibers make up the plant's supporting structures, such as leaves, stems, and seeds. The bonds that hold the sugar units together in these structures cannot be broken by human digestive enzymes; therefore, they pass through our bodies mostly unchanged and provide only negligible calories or energy. But they do make a valuable contribution to our health. Here's a list of what fiber can do for you:*18

Weight control. Fibrous foods contribute little energy and promote a feeling of fullness as they absorb water. A diet high in fiber-rich foods can promote weight loss if those foods displace concentrated fats and sweets.

Constipation, hemorrhoids, and diarrhea. Fibers that attract water into the digestive tract soften stools and relieve constipation and hemorrhoids. Other fibers help to solidify watery stools.

  1. Fiber keeps the contents of the intestinal tract moving easily, which helps prevent bacterial infection.
  2. Fiber stimulates the muscles of the digestive tract so that they retain their health and tone; this prevents the muscles from becoming weak and bulging out in places, as they do in diverticulosis.

Colon cancer. Fiber speeds up the passage of food materials through the digestive tract, thus helping to prevent exposure of the tissue to cancer-causing agents in food.

Heart disease. Some fibers bind cholesterol compounds and carry them out of the body with the feces, thus lowering the body's cholesterol concentration and possibly the risk of heart disease.

Diabetes. Some fibers improve the body's handling of glucose, perhaps by slowing down the digestion or absorption of carbohydrate.

Do you know of any pill that can deliver such benefits? How ever, as good as fiber is, remember the balance concept. Most Americans eat too little fiber; but it is possible, if one became fiber obsessed, to get too much. In this case essential vitamins and minerals are bound and excreted without ever being available for the body to use. Even as an apple is different from a grain of wheat, so is the type of fiber they contain. The following list summarizes some of the differences.

Water-soluble Fiber. Primarily pectins. These could play a role in heart disease, diabetes, and weight control as described above. These slow the transit of food through the upper digestive tract. Good sources: Barley, fruits, legumes, oats and oat bran, rye, seeds, and vegetables.

Water-insoluble Fiber. Primarily cellulose and hemicellulose. These could play a role in colon cancer, diverticulosis, appendicitis, regulation of bowel movements, and weight control as described above. They speed transit time through the colon. Good sources: Brown rice, fruits, legumes, seeds, vegetables, wheat bran, and whole grains such as wheat. *19

You can see that several foods contain both kinds of fiber. The best way to maximize fiber benefits is to eat a wide variety of plant foods. The World Health Organization recommends these guidelines for carbohydrate and fiber intake: 50—75 percent of total calories should come from complex carbohydrates, 0—10 percent of total calories from refined sugars. 27—40 grams of dietary fiber daily.

The new food pyramid, which has replaced the four-food-group method for meeting nutrient requirements, suggests that to meet these recommendations we will need to choose five to nine servings daily from fruit and vegetables (with more emphasis on vegetables) and increase our intake of grains and legumes to six to eleven servings per day. Dietary guidelines are included in a later chapter. Fiber should also be obtained by eating a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, grains, and legumes rather than by intake of fiber concentrates. The following list may assist you in evaluating the fiber in your diet.

FIBER CONTENT OF SOME FOODS*20

Legumes:

About 8

grams per serving.

Serving size:

1/2 to 1

cup.

Baked beans,

1/2 cup;

Kidney beans,

1/2 cup;

Navy beans,

1/2 cup;

Lima beans,

1 cup;

Pinto beans,

1/2 cup;

Lentils,

1 cup;

Black beans

1/2 cup;

Garbanzo beans,

1 cup.

Grains and Cereals: About 2

to 4 grams per serving.

Serving size:

1/2 to 1

cup.

Rye bread,

1 slice;

Whole wheat bread,

1 slice;

Bulgur,

1/2 cup;

Barley,

1/2 cup;

Oatmeal,

1/2 cup;

Wheat bran,

1/4 cup;

Dry cereal, such

as Grape-Nuts, Shredded Wheat, Granola, All-Bran, or R<

Bran, 1/2 cup.

Vegetables:

About 2 to 4 grams per serving.

Serving size:

as indicated.

Artichoke,

1;

Corn on the cob,

2" piece;

Asparagus,

1/2 cup;

Eggplant cooked,

1/2 cup;

Beets,

1/2 cup;

Broccoli,

1/2 stalk;

Green peas,

1/2 cup;

Brussels sprouts,

1/2 cup;

Lettuce,

2 cups;

Green beans,

1 cup;

Cabbage,

1 cup;

Potato

1 small;

Carrots,

1 cup;

Pumpkin,

1 cup;

Cauliflower,

1 cup;

Spinach,

1 cup;

Celery,

1 cup;

Squash,

1 cup;

Collards,

1 cup;

Tomato,

1 medium.

Fruits:

About 2

to 4 grams per serving.

Serving size:

as indicated.

Apple,

1 small;

Kiwi,

1;

Apricots,

3;

Mango,

1/2 fruit;

Banana,

1 small;

Orange,

1 small;

Peach,

1 med.;

Pear,

1/2 small;

Cantaloupe,

1/2;

Pineapple,

1 cup;

Cherries, 20 to 30 cherries;

Grapes,

20 to 30 grapes:

Plums,

2 small;

Dates,

5;

Prunes,

2;

Figs,

2;

Blackberries,

1/2 cup;

Blueberries,

1/2 cup;

Raspberries,

1/2 cup;

Strawberries,

1/2 cup.

Can one eat too much carbohydrate? It is hard to eat an excess of complex carbohydrates because they are such a prized source of energy. What isn't used generally gets stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, as reserve fuel. This glycogen reserve is not cumulative; it is utilized and restored daily. If one is active, the reserve can be depleted after one strenuous exercise session. However, if carbohydrate intake exceeds the body's need for energy and reserve stores, then the excess will be stored as fat. This most often happens when an individual eats sugary sweets which also tend to contain fat. Table sugar is a carbohydrate, but it is not complex. The starch and fiber in the sugar beet or cane have been removed and calories steeply concentrated during the refining process. Fruit also contains the simple sugars fructose and sucrose (table sugar), as do some vegetables and grains.

It may seem unfair to point a finger at refined sugar as leading to excess carbohydrate intake, and not to apply the same concern regarding these foods. The difference is in nutrient density. These foods are packaged differently. Along with the sugar comes vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plenty of water, all of which have been removed from table sugar during refining.

One must beware of refining as a rule, and particularly when it comes to grains. Most people are aware of that, but manufacturers' labels are sometimes misleading. When a product is enriched, certain key nutrients have been added back, but many more are not, such as magnesium, zinc, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and chromium. The significance of these minor minerals on optimal health is still not fully understood. And to determine that you are actually getting a whole wheat product, the label must say whole grain or stone-ground wheat. If it merely says wheat flour, that encompasses any flour made from wheat, including white flour. Whole wheat flour is a recombination of some thirty fractions of wheat, but represents only seventy percent of the original grain.

One final word about these compelling high complex carbohydrate plant foods. They are also a treasure house of vitamins and minerals. We will examine their remarkable protective characteristics in the next section. Nature made it elegantly convenient for us to meet energy and nutrient needs, while at the same time protecting us from disease, when it gifted us with the almost endless, delightful array of plant packages, beautiful to look at, succulent to taste, and filled with the promise of life.

Get The Body Of Your Dreams

Get The Body Of Your Dreams

Everybody wants to lose weight. This is one fact that is supported by the countless weight loss programs on the market along with the numerous weight loss products, ranging from snack bars, powdered juices, shakes and even slimming soaps and lotions.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment