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Part 2 of Carbohydrates Series: STARCHES

Starches are COMPLEX carbs containing long chains of joined glucoses.

They include:

  • Starchy vegetables – potato, sweet potato, yams, taro, squash, parsnips, beetroot, pumpkin
  • Wholegrains / cereals – wheat, oats, rice, rye, barley, millet, quinoa and corn
  • Legumes – beans, lentils, soybeans, peas, chickpeas

These are digested and broken down in the intestines into single glucose molecules + nutrients + fibre. This process of digestion leads to a slower release of the fuel into the body.

Glucose and Nutrients

A good way to look at this idea of glucose chains is to think back on when you were last chewing on a dry biscuit. It starts off being slightly sweet – but – the longer you keep it in your mouth, the sweeter it tastes. This is because the salivary enzymes are breaking down these glucose chains by constantly splitting off single glucoses. And the way you know that is happening, is that the biscuit becomes sweeter and sweeter the longer it stays in your mouth. Your taste buds are telling you the glucose content in your mouth is increasing.

In their natural form starches are very slow to digest compared to fruits and so produce a good form of slow burning fuel. When present as an unprocessed whole food, they also come packed with an enormous amount of important nutrients, and this is why they are considered to be an important part of a balanced diet. They act to provide both fuel and nutrients.

High GI and Low GI Starches

Starches are naturally slow-burning and therefore are generally LOW-GI carbs. The

Glycaemic Index refers to how fast or slow burning the carb is, where slower burning is preferred. High GI foods are quickly digested and burnt to produce a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. This contributes to weight-gain and the development of diabetes and needs to be restricted in a healthy diet.

Unprocessed and Processed Starches

Processed carbs, like white rice and white flour, to varying degrees have had the nutrients and fibre stripped out of the starch and so move towards the ‘empty calories’ area. They become both low-nutrient as well as faster burning high-GI carbs.

High Fibre and Low Fibre Starches

In their natural state the starches also contain varying amounts of fibre. Processed grains such as white flour and white rice have had their fibre content removed.

So why does this matter? Firstly, because low fibre starches then become high GI carbs which we need to restrict in a healthy diet. And secondly, because fibre is a critically important part of our diet in terms of maintaining gut health.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Carbohydrates: FIBRE

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Part 1 of Carbohydrates Series: SUGARS

Sugars are simple molecules that burn easily and rapidly to provide fuel.

Simple carbs contain just 1 or 2 sugar molecules.

There are essentially 3 basic single-molecule sugars:

Glucose (G)

Fructose (F)

Galactose (GA)

Then there are several double-molecule sugars:

Maltose (G.G = 2 glucoses joined)

Sucrose (F.G = a fructose and a glucose)

Lactose (GA.G = a galactose and a glucose)

So with this sugar letter alphabet in mind, what do we find in our usual carb foods?

  • Fruit is mostly 50/50 fructose and glucose
  • Honey is a mix of fructose and glucose and so is then quite similar to most fruits
  • Maple syrup, cane sugar, beet sugar are all sucrose-based

In nature, these sugars come packaged as whole foods that come with nutrients and fibre, for example fruit, honey and milk. Sugars in this natural form are perfectly healthy and are part of a healthy balanced diet – so when you hear the term “natural sugars” just think of this.

However, when foods are highly refined/processed, then the nutrients and fibre are progressively removed until only the pure sugars remain. At this point they become PURE FUEL and contain NO nutrients or fibre. It is for this reason that they are also called “empty calories”. When overdone, these processed sugars contribute to a range of health issues that are becoming more and more prevalent in modern societies.

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Carbohydrates Series Introduction

CARBOHYDRATES – what exactly are carbs?

There are lots of different terms used to describe them and this can get quite confusing… so here we will break it down for you. 

To start with, there are 3 types of carbs and we will look at these one at a time over the next 3 short posts

1. Sugars

Sugars are simple molecules that burn easily and rapidly to provide fuel.

2. Starches

These are complex carbs and consist of long chains of sugars. Starches are digested and broken down in the intestines into the simple glucose molecules. This process of digestion leads to a slower release of the fuel in the carb.

3. Fibre

These are the indigestible carbs.

Stay tuned for our next post on SUGARS.

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The Clean 15

We talked about the Dirty Dozen list in our last post, but do you know about the Clean 15? The EWG’s list of Clean 15 refers to the 15 crops with the least amount of pesticide residue.

Though this list is American-based, it’s a good starting point. Generally speaking, if buying organic isn’t possible or is too costly then conventional versions of these crops are relatively safe to consume.

As you may know, a key value of Tummy Gummies is that food should be good for us and we are big believers in consuming food that is free from chemicals, which is why we use certified organic wherever possible!

To learn more: