Carbs in a nutshell

by Daphne Lambert

Carbohydrate along with fat and protein is one of the three macronutrients we need in varying amounts to meet and sustain our metabolism and energy.


With the rise in advocates of low carb diets many people are confused whether to eat or abandon eating carbs.

So what are carbs?


Carbs are made up of one, or more sugar molecules that are bound together. When we eat carbs the bonds are broken down by the body to be used as fuel. There are 4 groups


Monosaccharides with 1 sugar molecule of which there are 3 types - glucose, fructose & galactose.

Disaccharides, like sucrose, lactose & maltose that are made from 2 monosaccharides

Oligosaccharides containing 3-10 monosaccharide units & found in a variety of foods.

Polysaccharides contain more than 10 monosaccharides & found for example in mushrooms & wheat & corn.

All carbs, of course, are not equivalent.


The time it takes for the digestive system to breakdown carbohydrate into glucose is dependent on the simplicity or complexity of the carbohydrate. The more complex the longer it takes to breakdown and enter your bloodstream, hence the more stable your blood sugar. Simple & refined carbohydrates lead to constant blood sugar fluctuation impacting overall human health.


If you eat a diet of refined & processed carb foods, like white flour, white rice, white pasta & fruit juices these carbs will wreak havoc on the body.


If you eat whole fruits and vegetables along with fermented grains and legumes you are eating nutrient dense, fibrous, carbohydrate rich foods which help your body function optimally, these carbs provide essential fibre to support healthy detoxification and elimination.


We do not digest many of the carbs in whole plant foods but instead they feed our gut microbiome. In the large bowel these resistant starches are fermented to make short chain fatty acids which provide energy for us and our gut microbes.


Abandoning carbs is not the answer. Eating the right carbs is.


Everyones carbohydrate needs varies dependent on factors like gender, age, body type, activity level and metabolic health, a very rough guide, by energy, for a healthy person is around 30/35% and for those with diabetes or blood sugar issues around 15%

Eating far less meat, less dairy and more plant based foods which contain beneficial carbohydrates as well as protein, fats, minerals and vitamins, choosing organic and aligning our diets to the seasonal capacity of our environments is the best dietary strategy for both planet & people.

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