Understanding Carbohydrates in Washington, IL
Created: May 26, 2010
Sugar is sugar, right? From a physiological viewpoint, blood glucose is blood glucose, right? Wrong. The source of the glucose is what counts and has everything to do with your ability to use food for energy.
Complex carbohydrates - found in fruits and whole-grain cereals - are digested and broken-down into glucose - the body's usable form of sugar. This process of digestion takes time and the glucose produced is slowly released into the bloodstream, where it is transported to cells for use as an energy source.
When you eat simple sugars - a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee or a sticky bun with icing - you're ingesting ready-made glucose. No digestion is necessary - the glucose is already in its simplest form and goes directly into the bloodstream. Such rapidly available glucose is probably not immediately needed for energy and therefore is stored as fat. Also, the rapid surge of blood glucose stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, setting off a whole cascade of responses.
Bottom line - consuming a lot of simple sugars causes your body to store fat and ultimately impairs the functioning of the pancreas, possibly leading to diabetes. Consuming complex carbohydrates provides glucose for energy and is part of the natural pathway to good health.