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Carbohydrate is a nutrient, just like protein and fat. Carbohydrates provide energy to the body and are essential to function optimally. For the brains and red blood cells, carbohydrates are also very important.
Distinction is made between simple and complex carbohydrates:
- Simple carbohydrates make the blood sugar rise quickly. This will cause, among other things, hunger peaks. Simple carbohydrates barely feed, but do provide calories.
- Complex carbohydrates are slowly absorbed by the body. They are satiating and prevent feeling hungry.
Carbohydrates can be found in many foods. Simple carbohydrates are the fast sugars. They are found, among other things, in liquorice, soft drinks, candy bars, cookies, candy, fruit juices, ice cream and sugar. Simple carbohydrates are often added sugars, which can be read on the label of food products. Complex carbohydrates can be found, among other things, in whole grain products such as bread, legumes, tubers, fruits, oatmeal, whole cereals, vegetables, whole grain pasta and brown rice.
- Carbohydrates provide energy to the body. They are converted into glycogen and glucose by metabolism. Glycogen provides energy for exercise. However, the stock of glycogen is limited. In intensive forms of exercise, such as cycling and running, a person can use the glycogen reserves for about an hour, then the resources are depleted. In moderate-intensity exercise, as is the case with walking and household chores, one can draw upon the glycogen reserves up to several hours. When the stock of glycogen is completely filled, the body converts the remainder of the carbohydrates into glucose. Next, the body converts this glucose into fat, which is stored in fat cells.
- Carbohydrates are also very important for the brains and red blood cells. The brains cannot even function without glucose, which is created by the intake and processing of carbohydrates.
- Simple carbohydrates provide enormous blood sugar peaks in the blood, causing the pancreas to automatically send more insulin into the bloodstream. This may create insulin resistance, which in turn leads to type 2 diabetes.
- There is controversy about carbohydrates. The paradox is that carbohydrates are needed, but not too much. Our ancestors ate little carbohydrates. Modern man eats a lot of carbohydrates, while our body isn’t made for it.
- Carbohydrates were discovered in 1827 by the British chemist, doctor and theologian William Prout.
- The term ‘carbohydrate’ is derived from the observation that this substance loses water (hudoor) when heated and carbon remains.