We need energy every day; firstly to live, and to be able to work. Without this energy we wouldn’t be able to participate in any type of physical activity. That is why carbohydrates are essential, because they are reliable sources of that much-needed energy.
The body converts the carbohydrates we eat into glucose, which is where our energy comes from. For that reason, we always try to include a reasonable quantity of carbs in our daily diets. If we fail to do so, we stand the chance of being affected by any of the following conditions.
It will also interest you to know that while an under-supply of carbohydrates is dangerous, consuming too much isn't any better. When you consume too many carbohydrates, your body suffers as a result. Below are some of the health challenges your body could well come up against if you overindulge on carbohydrates.
Heart disease is one of the major causes of death in today's world. It is estimated that 610,000 people die every year in the United States die as a result of heart disease, which is about 1 in every 4 deaths. It is sad to know that the consumption of excess carbohydrates is a significant contributor to that alarming rate.
How exactly do carbohydrates increase the risk of heart disease? One way is that when we consume too many carbs, the amount of triglycerides in our body increases. Triglycerides are unhealthy fats in our body, which increase the risk of heart disease by reducing the amount of good cholesterol (lipoprotein) in the body. When the amount of lipoprotein is decreased, chances are that we'll begin to experience swollen or blocked arteries, blood clots in the heart, and many other conditions which threaten our heart’s health.
Too many carbohydrates is one of the major causes of weight gain. Little wonder why being overweight is is so prevalent nowadays. The WHO medical fact sheet reveals that, 'In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these, over 650 million were obese.'
Carbohydrates are calorie-dense, and, though we need calories for energy, an excess leads to weight gain. The more carbohydrates we consume, the more calories we take in. When we take in more calories, the likelihood is that our body won't be able to use all of the energy these calories are providing. This unused energy is stored in our body as fat, which will automatically increase our weight.
So, as we keep on consuming excess carbs, we'll keep on gaining extra calories, our body will keeping storing the energy as fat, and we'll keeping gaining weight. As this process continues, it will soon dawn on us that we have become overweight, sometimes even obese.
At the beginning of this article, it was mentioned that carbohydrates help constipation by encouraging the digestive system. This, as said, is because of the presence of fibre in some carbohydrates.
However, if those fibre-rich carbohydrates are consumed in excess, it could also lead to many problems. One of these problems is diarrhoea, because too much fibre causes stool to become too soft. Another is constipation. Surprised? This is how it happens. When you consume too many fibre-rich carbohydrates without drinking enough water to complement it, rather than soften your stool, it dries it up, thereby leading to constipation.
Another possible effect of excess fibre is bloating. All these digestive problems can be avoided by cutting down your rate of carb ingestion.
When we consume too many carbohydrates, our blood sugar level is affected. Ordinarily, the sugar level in our blood has to be normal, because our tissue draws from it, and converts it to the energy which enables them to function. However, when we eat too many carbs, particularly refined carbs, this sugar increases.
Such an increase in the blood sugar level means giving more work to insulin, the hormone that regulates the blood sugar level. As the insulin is engaged in doing more work than it should be doing, consistently, for a period of time, there is every possibility that its production will decrease or even stop. Once that happens, the chances of developing type 2 diabetes becomes far more likely.
What then must be done to reduce the chances of experiencing any of the above abnormal health conditions?
What is usually advised is for us to reduce the amount of carbohydrates we take in. However, trying to reduce the quantity of carb intake may lead to consuming less than the needed quantity, which will of course cause its own problems, as has been seen.
The safer way is to be selective about the kind of carbs we consume, since carbs are grouped into good carbs and bad carbs. Good carbs are unprocessed carbohydrates like legumes, brown rice, banana, potatoes, and similar, while bad carbs are the refined ones such as white rice, fruit, sugary drinks, pastries, and others. Good carbs are considered healthier than bad ones, so more of them should be consumed instead of the refined ones.
Dieting is another solution. Some people find that reducing their carbs drastically for a short period is necessary for them to regain their health. Choosing the keto diet, for instance, would naturally reduce the level of carbohydrate ingestion, since it contains little to no carbohydrates. Over even a short period, a ketogenic diet can help people reset their blood glucose and insulin levels; and a break a bad carb addiction.
It is not the article’s intention to discourage you from consuming carbohydrates entirely. It's only to draw attention to the fact that when we eat excess carbohydrates, we are in trouble, and when we eat an insufficient amount of them, we are also in trouble. So, the best thing is to moderate intake by following the suggestions above.