Carbohydrates & Glucose
This week the kids and I spent a lot of time reading and renewing our understanding of how the body uses the food and nutrients we feed it. All week long the kids and I have discussed if certain food choices were wise. I want my kids and myself to know details and proof about nutrition and health. I don’t usually believe what I am told just because somebody said it, and I want my kids to have common sense and think beyond the food hype that is common in our culture. Dietary advice needs to be backed by solid, historically true, scientific evidence.
Now why would I say historically true? Because much of the “science” and the foods we consume today are recent modern inventions and recent history, not historically true for the human race. Much of the “science” is tainted by the profits of big food conglomerates who want the public to believe their “man made” products are safe to eat. Much of the science is also used to get USDA and FDA approval to sell a profit making agenda to the public. Those are motives that don’t set right with me.
I believe I have a right to eat natural food that my ancestors ate for a healthy vigorous life, not a man made substitute to tempt me into a food addiction and make somebody rich. I once heard someone say that every human being has an inherent right to healthy food, safe housing, clean water, and freedom and these basic elements of life should be easily acquired and not cause one to go into poverty to get them while a few become rich from controlling access to it. This sounds like a very good place to be to me.
If it has been historically true that humans have consumed foods that were low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fats such as meat, fresh butter, fresh milk, fresh eggs, fruits, and fermented / soaked seeds (nuts, seeds, grains) and fermented starches (vegetables especially root vegetables) for 6,000 years, and it has was nourishing for them. Why would or should I believe the current food hype who say to avoid meat, eggs, fresh milk, and butter, but instead eat grains, artificial foods, soy based products, “egg beaters”, skim milk, soy milk, and margarine for your health? Obviously, with the evidence of increased health problems in our country, those who perpetuate this food hype are WRONG! Somebody told them, and they are repeating it, and modern industry is getting rich on marketing it, but it is not true! Humans are becoming SICK and FAT, because of our “modern” diet.
The kids and I studied about how cells in our body use two main dietary sources of fuel for energy, both glucose and fat. The body does not have to have dietary glucose because it can create its own glucose from fats and protiens. But in our modern culture, the first “go to” fuel for the body has become glucose. It is quickly metabolized and excess glucose and dietary fat is then stored away for future use. However if dietary glucose is not available, the human body processes dietary fat and stored fat into fuel for energy.
The body turns many things you eat into glucose through a metabolic process. You might eat glucose directly in foods, but other carbohydrates are turned into glucose too. So if you eat any grain, sugar, honey, most fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, etc. these things all get turned into glucose in the body. They all turn to glucose at different rates and in different amounts.
There are two main scales of measure used to determine carbs. The Glycemic Index or GI to measure the amount of carbohydrates in a food, and the more accurate Glycemic Load or GL measures the carbohydrates in the food and the load of carbs it places on the body. The GL is a more accurate measure and is used by scientists, but rarely used by dieticians. The formula to figure GL is
GL = (GI x amount of carbohydrate) divided by 100
Measuring carbohydrates in foods has very little to do with whether they are healthy food choices or not. Instead it is a piece of the puzzle of human nutrition. It does not show you how much vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, etc. are in a certain food. It is only a reflection of how quickly the human body turns the carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose in moderation is not a bad thing. Glucose in excess of what the body can manage is a deadly thing. Measuring carbohydrates can help you make better choices to choose foods that are nutrient dense and low in carbohydrates for your dietary needs.
Image by Dean Madden, Source from http://www.scienceinschool.org/2006/issue1/diabetes
During my research this week, I read that an ideal human diet would include a significantly less amount of carbohydrates than the standard American diet. Hum. . . significantly less. . . what exactly does that mean?
The Standard American Diet:
Image source mypyramid.gov
Most Americans consume over 300 grams of carbs a day. Current government suggestions on a 2,000 calorie diet are 300 grams, and 375 grams of carbs on a 2,500 calorie diet. They are also encouraged to eat a small portion of lean protein, and very little fat. Just check the nutrition label on the food you are eating. If it is a big enough label, such as those on a box of cereal, it will show you the carbs, protein, fat, sodium, etc in the food and also on the label it will include the government’s current recommendations.
Even though the government has recommended this level of consumption, everything I am reading points to this amount of carbohydrate consumption putting a strain on our bodies. It is way to high to consume on a daily ongoing basis and is making Americans very unhealthy and prone to disease.
Image from WebMed Image source and more info about diabetes
Consumption of a high carbohydrate diet puts extreme stress on the pancreas to produce insulin to regulate the glucose levels in the blood stream. Insulin regulates the amount of glucose allowed through the cell membrane. Eventually the cells through out the entire body become insensitive to insulin or insulin resistant. The body keeps sending more and more insulin so the cells are not overloaded all at once with the fuel, and eventually the cells do not recognize the insulin, the pancreas may get out of balance, reduce, or even stop producing insulin, because the whole system is out of whack. Too much glucose, too much insulin, and not enough insulin can all cause severe bodily harm. A person eventually will become diabetic. Over time the condition known as diabetes will continue to deteriorate the body, and cause additional problems such as kidney failure, blindness, neuropathy, and may even kill you. Please read the article from Science In School for more information about diabetes or do an internet search yourself. The amount of information available is mind bogling, but it is doing little to stem the tide of this wide spread illness.
This high amount of glucose in the body from too many carbohydrates in our diet also lowers the immune system’s ability to fight disease, specifically the white blood cells become disabled. As high blood glucose is hindering the immune system, damaging the pancreas, and causing insulin resistance, it is actually feeding pre-cancerous and cancerous cells. Cancerous cells consume glucose for fuel. Unless a person who has cancer is able to remove it with surgery, chemically kill the cancer with chemo and radiation, or stop feeding the cancer, it will continue to grow. But the good news is that many end stage metastatic cancers can be stopped if the cancer no longer has a food source. If glucose is cut off, then the cancer dies. Wow, knowledge of this could and should be life changing for all of us. Please read the article by Dr. Mercola to learn more about glucose and cancer.
Ideally, the amount of carbohydrates we consume should be somewhere between 100 to 150 grams a day for maintenance and 50 and 100 for weight loss and healing. There are a few disease conditions such as cancer and epilepsy that may require even less carbohydrates to heal. Check out this chart below from Let’s Get Primal and be sure to check out their article for more information.
Image source Let’s Get Primal
The actual amount of carbohydrates each person needs is an individual number for each person based on weight, lean body mass, insulin resistance, how much protein and fat are in our diet, and other factors. A healthy diet should also include carb re-feeding days too if you are athletic. So consuming carbs of 50 to 100 grams for several days in a row, then include a day when the carb consumption is up higher so the body can re-boot and repair muscles that were overused during athletic events. I also read about intermittent fasting where you spend one day a week not eating breakfast, (or not eating breakfast and lunch) and only consuming supper that day. This day of partial fasting gives the body rest and also resets several metabolic processes. Be sure to read Dr. Mercola’s article about intermittent fasting to learn more.
If you consume below 50 grams of carbs a day, you should be monitored through urine ketosis tests and blood work through a physician for the safety of vital organs, especially the liver. There are many popular diets out there today that are promoting low carbs below 40 on an ongoing daily basis, and these should only be done with a doctor’s supervision for good reason.
I am GUILTY of over-consumption of carbohydrates. I grew up eating a high carb diet, we had things made with grains and starch at every meal (bread, gravy, biscuits, pudding, potatoes, pasta, etc). In my 20’s I continued this high carb lifestyle. Eventually in my 30’s I began to learn the importance of protein and fats and other nutrients in the diet, and changed my eating habits to include nutrient dense foods. But these changes have not been enough to help me be at a healthy weight.
Now I am making strides to change my family’s nutrient balance even more. I am currently consuming close to 200 to 240 carbs a day, and about 2,200 calories. My carbohydrate intake is too high. I am overweight. My body has maintained my current weight (I am not saying how much) since having my last child. It seems that toward the end of my pregnancies I gain weight that I keep even after the baby is born and I never get back to my prepregnancy weight. I am using all the calories I am consuming, so my weight is stable, but I am not yet loosing weight which is my goal. I am still nursing my youngest son who is 14 months old. I generally nurse all my kids until they are around 2 years, though my daughter was 3 when she finally weaned. Nursing requires around 500 calories a day or so, and I don’t want to jeopardize my milk flow by reducing too many calories for the sake of loosing weight at this time. I don’t know for sure how much carbohydrates the children are consuming, except that I do know it is more than me. They eat a lot of snacks that are high in carbs. I am hoping by talking to them about their food choices, and providing them with nutrient dense foods, I can steer them better into eating nutrient dense foods that are lower in carbs so they are not overloading every day.
But instead of drastically reducing calories on a diet, I want to change the majority of the calories we are consuming from carbohydrate based to fat based. I want to offer more fat as a fuel. I want to nourish my family with good fats such as avocado, eggs, coconut oil, butter, cream, etc. pastured and grass fed meats, fresh raw dairy, and adequate amount of high quality proteins from grass fed beef and dairy, pastured free range poultry, and wild caught fish.
A lot of material I read said to not jump into a low carb diet, but to slowly wean your body down as you increase protein and fat intake. Wow, this is so radical! To burn fat, you must eat fat in addition to reducing the carbs. I need to train the body to use fat as fuel instead of using glucose for fuel. This is done by reducing the glucose and allowing the body to consume fat. If done incorrectly, in addition to possibly causing organ and liver damage, you can also induce your body to store fat, and burn muscle for fuel instead of the goal of burning fat. My goal is definitely to burn fat, so I am going more slowly and making small changes to reduce my carbohydrate intake. I will share more about this next time, but fats are a key player in this whole nutrition puzzle. I will keep a food journal that tracks all three areas: carbs, proteins, and fat.
I will be writing more about this and sharing lots of links to research and articles soon. So stay tuned for much more. I think you will be amazed how easily we, and the last two or three generations, have been mislead by dietary information through food conglomerates, food manufacturers, education and schools, health care, grocery stores, tv, resturants, etc. If you want to learn more about historically healthy foods, and how to prepare them, please check out the Weston A Price Foundation.
Disclaimer: I am sharing my opinion about my own experience and lifestyle choices and my experience may be different from yours. I am not a doctor. Please consult your personal health care provider before changing your diet or routine as these choices may have an impact on your life. Please use wisdom when making any changes in your lifestyle.
Family Fitness Activity Journal
This week we had bad weather on the night of our Cardio class so we did not go. I just will not drive in fog in the dark on the highway in the mountains. It is not safe. I have never seen more wrecks than I have since living here near this stretch of highway near Asheville North Carolina. The evenings during the rest of the week got busy and we skipped the Y. We also did not do our T-Tapp video. Why? I don’t know. However, we played a lot of indoor games though and made it to the park too.
One game the kids play inside that gives them some physical movement is army crawl tag. They have to crawl around with their bellies or hips touching the floor as they use their legs and arms to scoot along. They laugh so hard and get a lot of exercise playing this game. They also jumped on a mini indoor trampoline a few minutes each day. I love having a mini trampoline in the house. You can buy an inexpensive one for about $25.
We spent some time enjoying the great outdoors at a local park on one of the few nice days we had. Below are pictures from Saturday at our favorite local park, Lake Julian in Arden, North Carolina. It is about a 25 minute drive from our house. We picked up some lunch and had a picnic and we spent an afternoon feeding the ducks, geese, fish, sea gulls, and playing together.
Be sure to check out the story about our trip to Lake Julian this week and see some awesome pictures of birds, boats, fresh water clams, and more. This was a great physical activity to do together, and a fun learning adventure.
Goals For Next Week
My goals for next week are to continue my research about nutrition and the human body, reduce my carbohydrate intake, increase my intake of healthy protein and healthy fats, take the cardio dance class at the Y, play with my kids outdoors, complete two sessions of T-Tapp, and begin some form of strength training twice this week, create healthy meals for my whole family, pray and read the bible daily.
Further The Learning With Your Kids:
For a fun activity with the kids this week, look through your fridge, freezer, and cabinets at nutrition labels and discuss the nutrients listed with the kids. Also try having the kids make a nutrition label with a free online nutrition label maker.
Walk and Talk Wednesday Link Up
Please join us on our Walk and Talk Wednesday Family Fitness Journey. You can read other Walk and Talk stories from January and February and all our friends who have linked their stories and follow along on the journey.
You are welcome to leave your story in the comment section below, or if you write stories about family fitness, nutrition, weight loss, etc. on your web site you can link up. The blog hop link is open all month long, so link up as many fitness stories as you want all month long. Just be sure to grab this story link and include it somewhere on your post so others can find the link back here to read more stories of encouragement. You can also grab the blog hop code and place it at the bottom of your story too. Thank You!