The Carbohydrate Story

The Carbohydrate StoryCarbohydrates are an essential food and energy source for all life.

Plants form simple carbohydrates as sugars from carbon dioxide and water and then link these simple sugars into long-chain carbohydrates for future energy release.

Animal creatures, including humans, consume carbohydrates as food, and the digested carbohydrates can serve either as an immediate energy source or become reconstituted as a stored energy reserve.

The word carbohydrate implies hydrated carbon, which these molecules are. Carbon atoms link as the backbone structure for carbohydrates, and hydrogen and oxygen atoms bond both to carbon and to each other. Glucose and fructose are the basic simple carbohydrate molecules formed by plants. Each has 6 carbon atoms, 12 hydrogen atoms, and 6 oxygen atoms. Glucose can bond to itself, forming maltose, a double-glucose or disaccharide molecule. Glucose can bond also to fructose, forming a second type of disaccharide, sucrose.

All of these compounds are made by plants and are stored in plants as mono-sugars or di-sugars.

Plants also form and store longer chains of glucose. These chains are “starch,” and starch is simply a glucose polymer, meaning a larger polysaccharide of linked glucose molecules. Formed starch resides in plants as an energy store for the plant’s life during nocturnal respiration events. Starch is broken down again to the basic glucose sugar in plants as necessary for the plant’s energy needs.

Most plants form starch polymers. Plant starch takes two basic forms: a linear helix of glucose molecules linked in a chain or a chain of glucose with multiple side branches. Both are digestible by animals and humans.

The digestion and assimilation of carbohydrates by animals and humans is straightforward. All carbohydrates must be broken down to the basic glucose and fructose components before their absorption from the intestine can occur. This process is “digestion,” and digestion requires enzymes. Carbohydrate digesting enzymes abide in saliva, in pancreas secretions. and are also bound to the inner intestinal cell lining. These enzymes cleave starches, maltose, and sucrose to the basic monosaccharide: glucose and fructose. Glucose and fructose are then absorbed and transported in the blood stream to the liver and other organs.

Glucose and fructose can re-polymerize in our tissues into polymer carbohydrates. Glycogen is the starch created from these two simple sugars, and glycogen becomes an energy reserve in animals and humans, abiding in the liver and in muscles for eventual breakdown into glucose during periods of fasting. Glucose thus continues to serve as the universal cell energy source whether the creature is fasting or eating.

How fascinating it is that plant life and animal life share carbohydrate molecules as energy sources. Only plants can synthesis a carbohydrate molecule from “scratch” – i.e. from carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Animal and plant life use glucose as the basic energy source for cell life, but the animal must ingest glucose and fructose either as simple sugars or as starch polymers to acquire the life-essential glucose molecule.

Why Unripe Bananas Are Best for Health

Unripe BananasFibre is essential in the diet to keep the digestive system in good shape. A lack of fibre causes problems such as constipation and irregular bowel movements, or worse.

Fibre-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables create optimal digestive health by assisting friendly gut bacteria. Certain fruits are also high in fibre. One of these is the banana.

Amazingly, the nutritional content of bananas varies with levels of ripeness. In the unripe state, bananas contain more digestive-resistant starch, which is ideal for optimal gut health.

However, most people prefer to eat sweet, fully ripened bananas, and tend to shun those that appear rather green. Indeed, that an unripe fruit is ‘healthier’ than a ripe one is counterintuitive.

The sugar content of fruits tends mimic their nutrient content. The sweeter the fruit, the more vitamins and minerals are contained. So, sweetness levels generally indicate fruit quality.

However, getting vitamins and minerals are not the only reason why we eat fruits. Dietary fibre is equally as important, and unripe bananas are best for that because of the higher levels of digestive-resistant starch they contain.

Fibre can be either soluble or insoluble, but for health, the fermentability of the fibre is most important. Digestive-resistant starches have low viscosity and therefore resist digestion in the small intestine. Instead, they ferment slowly in the colon.

Resistant starches are prebiotics, feeding healthy gut bacteria. The slow fermentation means less gas is released. They also bulk up stools and help to maintain regular bowel movements.

Because digestive-resistant starches are indigestible, they do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Indeed, they help to improve insulin regulation, reducing the risk of insulin resistance.

Mango and papaya are two other fruits high containing digestive-resistant starch when unripe. Vegetables with this beneficial fibre are lentils, white beans, potato and tapioca starch, and brown rice flour.

For ordinary white potatoes – which raise blood sugar levels quickly – cooling them in the refrigerator actually alters their molecular structure, turning a bad food into a healthier one containing digestive-resistant starch.

Green bananas are practically all starch – up to 70 to 80 per cent dry weight. Most of this starch is digestive-resistant starch, which works wonders for treating diarrhoea. As the they ripen, the starch turns to sugars such as fructose.

Green papaya are rich in antioxidants, fibre and an enzyme called papain. This enzyme aids protein digestion and eases inflammation. But be careful: unripe papaya contains latex, to which some people are allergic.

As for unripe mangos, the Langra variety contains as much vitamin C as nine lemons or three oranges, on top of digestive-resistant starch. The acids in these green fruits boost bile secretion, act as an intestinal antiseptic, and as a liver tonic.

However, try not to eat more than one unripe mango per day because of the risk of throat irritation and indigestion. Also, never drink cold water immediately after eating green mango because the water coagulates mango sap, which can cause irritation.

Big Difference In Health By Making Small Changes

Making Small ChangesSome changes can greatly alter that cause of your health and well-being. Such small changes, or let’s call them habits, because they can bring you to a better emotional and physical well-being. They may well extend your life or even have a deciding factor how much longer you are going to live. In making such a decision to a longer and healthier life is ongoing. It’s not something that easy and straight forward by making one or two changes and all is fixed. The changes you should make are small ones, put them into place one step at the time. Let yourself adjust to that change, get it under control before you go to the next one. This is where most people go wrong by trying to do it too quickly and most of the time will fail. We are known as cretaceous of habits, even cretaceous take time to change their habits.

Let’s look at some of the changes, as small as they are but that little effort by you can have long-term effects on your overall health.

Make Changes

• Some of the beverages we have every day is a good place to start with making changes. Replace all soft drinks and sodas, that also includes sports and health drinks, with clean filtered water. Not water from plastic bottles; use filtered tap water preferably, store water in glass not in plastic. How much water? Make sure your body stays hydrated, many health complaints come from dehydration: Drink plenty when you are thirsty; every ones water needs vary. For any other, drink tea and black coffee instead (no milk, no sugar in coffee, if any use honey). Coffee and also green tea are known for its antioxidants and many other health benefits.

Regulate Your Diet

• Reduce meal size if applicable, 2 main good quality nutritious meals per day. The evening meal best be eaten at least four hours before going to bed. Being on a good diet will replace your net carbohydrates with good fats; fat is the body’s fuel. Saturated fat (good fat) versus trans fat (bad fat) which is found in processed foods. Good fats are found in natural olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, butter, eggs, organic milk, and meat from grass-fed cows. All of these won’t do you any harm, just the opposite; but foods with refined vegetable oils, sugars and fructose as often promoted as healthy foods will, because these foods are unhealthy chronic inflammation promoters. Have an unlimited amount of a variety of vegetables which makes good fibre. Make your own juice from vegetables and fruits.

Keep Up Your Exercise

• Stay active, more walking, sitting less for long periods of time. Regular exercise and yoga will have a positive effect on stress and as well your sleep pattern. Exercise is very much part of health in general, including heart health. With regular exercise you will find to have fewer health complaints. We need being active as much as possible because this is what our body needs: Activity. This doesn’t mean to go overboard. Moderate exercise a few days a week will do. An extreme, extensive exercise program is not necessary. Going to any extreme without proper supervision could do more harm than good.

The Most Needed Vitamin

• Vitamin D is one of the most important of the vitamin family. Vitamin D is best from the sun, absorbed by the skin and transformed in to the vitamin as the body needs it. Other sources for vitamin D are fish, raw milk, egg yolk, and supplements, although the one from nature is the best. Did you know that vitamin D levels can influence over 400 different genes in your body? Although to cure a severe inflammatory and arthritis condition you will need a high level of vitamin D every day. It has been found that people who spend more time in the sun live longer than those who don’t, regardless of some backward reports to avoid the sun, although common sense profiles.

These are four relatively small steps to follow. The big obstacle is the one thing that stops people succeeding: Not to start! There are always plenty of excuses for not starting anything: Not knowing what to do, or not enough believe that you can do it. Start small: Put yourself on a mission to change your lifestyle and your diet gradually. Give your body time to make any biochemical adjustments. You can take control of your own health and this will be profoundly rewarding.

The Natural Antibacterial You Can Eat

Natural AntibacterialWe are all increasingly looking at ways we can use more natural products to consume, products that do not include added sugars, preservatives or any other unknown ingredients hidden inside. In a world of focus on healthy living it can be difficult to know which products we can trust and which products will have the highest benefit for us.

There are many products that hold themselves high in the claims of being good for us, but only the select few have the most benefits that can not only be used in everyday life but used to treat a range of diseases and ailments.

We are celebrating the wonder food known as Manuka Honey, since its incredible launch into the mainstream and the minds of consumers it has become the ‘must have’ product of the last 5 years. Consumers now flock to buy it in its many available forms, widely known for its purity and numerous health benefits.

Manuka Honey is produced by European honey bees who collect the all important pollen from the Manuka or tea tree. The European bees were introduced to keep up with demand and to ensure an ample supply of the amber nectar could be foraged.

Although predominantly grown in New Zealand and Australia, New Zealand hold the title of the biggest exporter. Growth of the product for export has been considerable over the last few years, with exports expecting to reach $1.2 billion by 2028. The UK are the second largest importer from New Zealand, accountable for over $46 million of the business.

The honey is typically dark brown in colour and is often characterized by its strong flavour; many describing it as earthy, herbaceous, rich and complex. The winning combination certainly make it stand out against other products in both colour and taste.

All honey varieties usually consist of 80% sugars and 17% water with the remaining component made up of enzymes, organic acid and minerals. All are regulated under these components but levels of enzymes and minerals can vary by product. To be classified as ‘Manuka honey’ at least 70% of the pollen it is made from has to derive from the Manuka Tree.

It is measured by a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), a global standard in identifying and measuring the antibacterial strength. The higher the strength the more nutrients it contains. The UMF logo should be clearly marked on the produce label, along with the rating it has been given.

Ratings range from 4-9 (Contains general health benefits), 10-14 (Contains a higher quantity of anti-bacterial) and 15+ with 15+ holding the most superior amount of nutrients. As the antibacterial properties are so potent at this level, we are advised to take only 1 tbsp at a time.

What makes Manuka so important for health? It has a considerably higher level of enzymes and phenols than regular products. The specific collection of enzymes create a natural form of hydrogen peroxide that work as an antibacterial both when taken internally and externally. It is easy to see why we want to buy this nutrient dense food.

It is currently used to treat a diverse range of diseases; from stomach ulcers, tonsillitis, sinusitis, common coughs and colds and more importantly it has been used to treat scalds and burns. Recovery from burn injuries have been greatly improved, showing how potent the anti-bacterial properties of this product are.

It has become increasingly easier to buy, although ensuring you buy a UMF measured product ensures you buy the real thing. Looking out for the UMF logos and choosing the ideal strength for you will mean you are putting the authentic product in your shopping basket. We are no doubt convinced the health food sector will continue to support this wonder food.