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Carbohydrates: Are they necessary for our diet?

Carbohydrates: Are they necessary for our diet?

The WHO -World Health Organization- recommends that 50% of the energy in the diet should come from carbohydrates. But if we analyze the body's metabolic pathways we come to the conclusion that they are not as necessary as it may seem.

In recent years, a multitude of low-sugar diets have proliferated that work really well, both for weight loss and for improving health. Among other benefits to a carbohydrate-free diet, it is attributed the ability to reduce the possibility of developing diabetes and complex diseases.

Carbohydrates are fundamentally energy

  • Proteins and fats have many different functions related to maintaining homeostasis and functioning of the body. However, the only function of carbohydrates is practically energy.
  • Glucose is one of the main sources of energy for the body. It can be obtained by consuming sugar or complex carbohydrates externally or by converting amino acids and fatty acids internally.
  • If there is no exogenous supply of glucose, the body adapts to produce it. This production is called endogenous and occurs from the nutrients stored in the body.
  • This ensures that the body never lacks energy and that vital functions can be carried out. The only point against producing glucose from fat or protein is that it is a less efficient process than burning exogenous glucose.
  • In this way it can be a limiting factor when doing a sport or one with a high strength component. However, for sedentary people or for individuals who practice an endurance sport, there is no problem not introducing carbohydrates into the diet.

Foods that are rich in carbohydrates.

  • Patients with type 2 diabetes should choose complex carbohydrate sources over simple ones.

Carbohydrate-free diet in the prevention of complex diseases

  • Many complex diseases are associated with the consumption of carbohydrates and simple sugars. Among them, diabetes is one of the most common and dangerous. A diet without carbohydrates and intermittent fasting is interesting when it comes to preventing and treating some cases of type 2 diabetes.
  • Furthermore, reducing the intake of carbohydrates from the diet or eliminating them can be positive for the prevention of tumors. However, eliminating carbohydrate consumption has a small disadvantage: not reaching the recommendations for fiber consumption.
  • To minimize this inconvenience, supplementation with prebiotics such as inulin or simply introducing fruit as the only source of carbohydrates can be considered. Fruits such as apples have a very low amount of sugar and are rich in pectins, which increase the fecal bolus and stimulate the production of short-chain fatty acids at the intestinal level.
  • Ensuring the intake of fiber is crucial to maintaining a healthy microbiota and preventing inflammation. It also represents a protective factor against gastrointestinal tumors.

No carbohydrate diet

  • The inclusion of fruits in a diet without carbohydrates provides the necessary fiber

The problem of addiction

  • One of the drawbacks when considering a carbohydrate-free diet is overcoming the barrier of sugar addiction. The industry usually introduces this element in almost all its products and our palate is too accustomed to the sweet flavor.
  • Furthermore, eliminating carbohydrates suddenly can cause a process similar to withdrawal syndrome. The first days of elimination there is usually discomfort that originates from the state of ketosis (metabolic disease in which there is an increase in acetone and its derived compounds in the blood and urine; it usually occurs in diabetic patients) .
  • It is best to make a progressive reduction in the consumption of sugar and processed products. Then begin to reduce the intake of complex carbohydrates. Finally, choose only fruit as the only source of carbohydrates or directly eliminate the intake of this macronutrient and supplement with dietary fiber.

Carbohydrate-free diet: conclusion

  • Carbohydrates have a fundamentally energetic function. It is possible to carry out a diet without them and this would bring health benefits.
  • Eliminating carbohydrates and sugars from the diet reduces the likelihood of suffering from complex diseases. However, it is necessary to ensure the contribution of fiber in this type of diet to avoid causing gastrointestinal problems.
  • Therefore, except in strength athletes, removing carbohydrates from the diet is usually a success when opting for health. But this withdrawal should be done gradually to minimize the symptoms of sugar withdrawal syndrome.

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