Friday, July 3, 2009
Carbohydrates include the two main classes: starches and sugars. They are one of the primary sources of energy of our diet. One gram of carbohydrate yields 4 calories of energy. The amount of carbohydrates necessary in the daily diet is very variable and also depends on the amount of it eaten with the protein in meals. The average American adult consumes anywhere from 150 to 400 grams of carbohydrate daily. It takes about 500 grams to make a pound. Usually more than half the calories in the diet (from 50 to 70 per cent) are supplied by carbohydrate.
Unfortunately, these carbohydrates are usually refined to excess, as in the case of flours and sugars. Essential vitamins and proteins are lost in this way and certain nutritional deficiencies may result. If excessive carbohydrate is eaten in the diet, many individuals will experience symptoms of gassy distress, flatulence, belching, or bloating. Bread, flour, milk, cereals, potatoes, cornstarch, cakes, rice, and puddings are examples of dietary starch as are moat vegetables, although these contain lesser amounts of both carbohydrates and protein. Sugars are represented by cane sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple sugar and syrup, milk sugar, malt sugar, jams, jellies, and most fruits.
Two of the most common symptoms or sensations that humans feel daily are dependent on carbohydrate metabolism: that is, hunger and fatigue. Certain endocrine glands in the body control the level of blood sugar in the body and are linked to the feelings of hunger, fatigue, and exhaustion. When the blood sugar falls abnormally low, one feels headaches, nervousness, dizziness, or weakness.
Many of my patients combat these tendencies to hypoglycemia or low-blood sugar in the following simple ways: in between meals take fresh fruits, preferably bananas or apples, or canned fruit juices or fruits; English "tea" with whole wheat cookies or crackers, graham crackers, arrowroot cookies and if needed, some lean meat or fish in sandwich form; skim milk thickened and fortified with generous servings of skimmed milk powder; bread and jam; fat-free sherbet or ices; dietetic or low-fat ice cream; fruit jellos are refreshing; hard candies or chocolate bars are often very handy but not as desirable as the natural, healthful in-between meal "snacks," suggested above, as they often damage the teeth and may have too short-lived action on the blood sugar. Not infrequently sugar itself will cause a "rebound" reaction resulting in an even lower blood sugar fall one-half to one hour after the sugar has been eaten.