Are carbohydrates inherently bad?

Our body is propelled by three major sources of energy, which makes it possible for our sustenance in this world. They are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Of these three sources of energy, carbohydrates are the ones that break down into glucose, while the other two sources, viz., fats and proteins, cannot break down.

As intake of carbohydrates increases the sugar content in the body through glucose, many people of late are of the opinion that carbohydrates are inherently bad for health. Are carbohydrates really bad?

Carbohydrates are classified into two broad groups – simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates, taking into consideration their chemical structure as well digestibility.

Simple carbohydrates, or simply sugars, generally form crystals and these sugar crystals dissolve in water and digest easily. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, have a range of molecular structures, colors, flavors and textures. These complex carbohydrates are further classified as fiber or starches.

The primary source of fuel for our body, viz., glucose or blood sugar, is derived from metabolizing simple carbohydrates or starches. Carbohydrates are high quality fuel because very little is required of the body to break them down and thus release energy to the body. While protein and fat also gets converted into energy, the process is little bit more complex and additional efforts are needed in the conversion process.

Glucose, the only form of carbohydrate that the body can use immediately, is very essential for the function of the brain, the nervous system, the muscles and various other important organs in the body. At any given point of time, the blood in our body is capable of carrying glucose required for an hour. Excess amount of glucose is converted into a large molecule named glycogen and this chain of glucose units is stored in the muscles and liver. In times of necessity, the glycogen stored in the liver or muscles is converted back to glucose. The first preference for glucose is carbohydrates and only when there are no reserves or fewer reserves in carbohydrates, the proteins or fat is resorted to for converting glucose. As such, higher intake of carbohydrates, while providing the necessary glucose for the smooth functioning of the body, keeps the utility of proteins and fats to the minimum, which might lead to excess weight or obesity.

It is for this reason that many people around the world are of the view that they can lead a healthier life if the intake of carbohydrates is less. Carbohydrates are being looked upon as bad guys in the league. Contrary to this misconception, many researches have proved that choosing the healthier carbohydrates such as the whole grains is very essential for the well-being of the body. A recent research report advises that an average adult person should get roughly 45% to 65% of their calorific intake from carbohydrates. In other words, in a 2,000-calorie diet per day, carbohydrates should roughly be 225 grams to 325 grams, is what the report suggests for a healthier life.

Carbohydrates, in this context, are not inherently bad. On the contrary, they play a vital role in our well-being. It is only appropriate that we exercise caution and become choosy in consuming essential carbohydrates.

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