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Grace and Peace,
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I'm a 54 year old Husband, Father of Four Daughters, Pastor and Vice Principal of a private K-12 school on Long Island.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Carbohydrates are one of the main types of food. Your liver breaks down carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs.
Carbohydrates are called simple or complex, depending on how fast your body digests and absorbs the sugar. Carbohydrates can usually make up 50% or more of our diet. The amount of carbohydrates we consume is not the only issue. The type of carbohydrates we consume is equally important!

The Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization jointly recommend that national dietary guidelines set a goal of 55-75% of total energy from carbohydrates, but only 10% should be from simple carbohydrates. I try to stay at 40% complex carbohydrates, 10% simple carbohydrates, 30% lean protein and 20% beneficial fats. For my body type and chemistry this works the best.

Complex carbohydrates can be further broken down to starchy or fiber. Starchy complex carbohydrates include bread, cereal, potatoes, pasta, rice, and legumes (dried peas and beans). Fiber filled complex carbohydrates include bran, whole-grain foods, raw vegetables and fruit (especially the seeds and skins), legumes, nuts, seeds and popcorn. We should include more fiber filled carbs than starchy ones, especially when trying to control our weight.

Simple carbohydrates are predominately sugars and are found in the following forms:

Sucrose: commonly known as table sugar, beet sugar, or cane sugar. Sucrose occurs in many fruits and some vegetables.
Fructose: known as fruit sugar. Most plants contain fructose, especially fruits and saps.
Glucose: sometimes known as blood sugar, sometimes as grape sugar. Nearly all plant foods contain glucose.
Maltose: known as malt sugar. Found in grains.
Lactose: commonly known as milk sugar. It is the principal carbohydrate found in milk.

Table sugar and white processed flour should be eliminated from the diet completely. Their nutritional value is next to nothing and they take the place of other simple carbohydrates like fruit which have fiber, vitamins, minerals and live enzymes. Table sugar and foods loaded with sugar cause a quick insulin response which triggers weight gain. They are empty calories that provide no health benefit at all!

Being Italian I am a carboholic and my body has paid the price over the years. In my teens and twenties it was no problem. The metabolism and life style of an active, athletic young man just burned them away. In my mid thirties however they began to take their toll. Remember that carbohydrates are predominately used to provide energy. As our need for energy (due to a slowing metabolism and usually a more sedate lifestyle) decreases whatever is not used for energy will be stored by the body as fat. So lately it has been less pasta and more chicken. Less rice and more fish. Less potatoes and carrots and more leafy and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.

The body needs a certain amount of carbohydrates to function properly, and insufficient intake may cause fatigue, muscle cramps, and poor mental function. Although carbohydrates are an important part of our diet, the body can produce energy from fat and proteins alone. While this may do for short periods of time, avoiding all carbs will adversely affect your body. Many low-carb diets have been touted as healthy, but if taken to the extreme, they can be very dangerous to a one’s overall well-being. It's important to remember that "low-carb" doesn't mean "no-carb." Be sure to eat moderate amounts of the right type of carbs to keep your body fueled properly.

Grace and Peace,

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