What happens Carbs after you eat them – Part 2

 

I discussed the initial breakdown and digestion of carbohydrates last time. So, what happens from here? Where does all this glucose go in your body? What does your body do with it? This is actually where things get more interesting (I think) and how carbs get a bad reputation (and basically the whole premise of low carb diets).

So we just ate, digested (which really means, our digestive system broke down in tiny pieces) carbohydrates into little sugar molecules that get sent to your liver: mainly glucose and fructose. All carbohydrates contain glucose. But you also get a fair amount of fructose sugars too if you have eaten anything containing table sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave, high fructose corn syrup, and fruit! So now you have a bunch of glucose and fructose hanging out in your liver.

Your liver’s main job is to process everything that gets into it from your digestive system. Everything that gets digested and absorbed from your small intestine (except FAT), gets transported to your liver directly to be processed. Your liver basically decides if its good/useful (and sends it into your blood stream), bad (breaks it down to be eliminated) or needs to be changed into something useful.

Glucose is put in the “useful” category. Fructose is put in the “needs to be changed” category.

Fructose is then turned into glucose, to make it useful. So now, you have a ton of glucose hanging out in your liver! Three main things are done with it:

  1. A good amount is sent into you blood stream to be circulated in your body (this is your blood sugar). It does this because you blood is basically a highway to all your cells in your body. In order for the glucose to reach your cells, it needs to be put into you blood to actually get to them. Once they reach your cells,  your cells absorb it and turn it into energy. Your body uses this energy to keep your body running. This is why when your “blood sugar drops,” you feel tired and hungry. You body used up its quick, available energy source and is now telling your brain to add more (or eat something! to provide more glucose!).
  2. Extra glucose can be stored for later. It can be stored in your liver and in your muscles. The fancy word for this storage system is glycogen. You body only makes a limited amount of glycogen though. Enough to really last about a day. Your muscles use this stored glucose for you when you need extra energy (like heavy lifting or exercising), fasting (not eating), or in times of stress (both mental and physical stress). Once, your glycogen is used up, you will need to make more (eat more glucose!).
  3. Extra extra glucose gets converted to fat. Since your body only needs a limited amount of glucose for energy, and a limited amount to make glycogen, anything remaining gets converted to fat. Fat really is your body’s way of creating long term energy storage. Remember glycogen only lasts about a day (you need to constantly replenish it), but fat can last a long time, if its not used. Your body is very smart. It will put something it knows it can use into long time storage as a survival mechanism.

There is one important player I forgot to mention that is also involved in these three processes…INSULIN.

What is insulin? Its a hormone. What’s a hormone? Its a molecule whose sole purpose is to tell other things what to do. Hormones literally talk to your cells to get them to do things. Cells have these little “switches” on them that need to be turned on or off. Who controls these switches? Hormones.

So what switches does insulin turn on?

  1. Tells your cells to take in glucose to be used for energy.
  2. Tells your liver/muscle cells to store glucose (make glycogen).
  3. Tells your fat cells to make more fat!

Reason #3 is why low carb diets exist and a big reason why people are people told to limit their sugar intake. Insulin is only triggered when it senses glucose in your body. Therefore: no carbs = no glucose = no insulin

If insulin’s job is to tell your body to literally make fat, what happens when there is no insulin? There is nothing there to tell your body to make fat.

Now, if you are eating too much sugar/carbs over a long period of time, insulin is constantly being triggered. So any extra glucose that you body can’t use, will get converted into fat. ALSO, if insulin is constantly being triggered, your cells become desensitized to it (or “resistant” to it). So, what happens when your cells start ignoring insulin? There is nothing to tell the glucose where to go. This is bad. This is how diabetes is formed. Its almost like the “boy who cried wolf.”

Also, all this fat that is created overtime is what leads to obesity, heart disease and other problems.

So what to do? Obvious answer: eat less sugar! At least start with less “added sugars.” In the average diet in the western world (aka Standard American Diet or SAD), too many people are eating processed foods and not enough real, whole, home cooked food. Processed food contains a lot of added sugar

Just read the labels, if you don’t believe me. Look at the grams (g) of sugar in each serving. A teaspoon = 4 g sugar (if you need a visual).

So a really good place to start if you are in this category, is to start eating more real food and less processed food (basically anything that has ingredients in it you can’t pronounce, don’t know what it is, or is a laundry list of things). Stick to actual veggies and actual fruit. Make more meals at home. This is a really good starting point. Then you can tweak it from there. But by adding in more real food, you will naturally eat less of the other stuff and probably already will start feeling better.

Also, the more sugar you eat, the more you will want to eat it. And good news! The opposite is true too! The less you eat sugar, the less you will want to eat sugar! I would suggest a slow transition out. Just slowly start cutting out sugary things out of your diet. Give your body (and taste buds) a chance to adjust. This will be much more sustainable then the all or nothing approach. Slowly add in healthier foods to compensate. Or add in more protein/fat in your diet to curb cravings and also satisfy hunger (you will naturally eat less because you will get full faster).

You can also send me a message too, if you need help! If this was an easy task, no one would have health problems, so I get it! My job is to help in this transition and make it easier and sustainable for the long term.

Do you have any tricks to help cut sugar out? I would love to hear them!

 

What happens to Carbs after you eat them?

white ceramic mug filled with dessert

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

What happens to Carbs after we eat them?

I was thinking about what topic to write about this month and I figured in continuation with our digestion discussion last month, I will discuss how our body actually digests carbs and how that can be related to unwanted weight or even health problems down the road.

Remember digestion occurs in the mouth, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. So, lets dive into what happens in each, that’s specific for carbohydrates: 

Mouth: The enzymes in your mouth actually begin to break down carbs into smaller pieces. However, because food only spends a few seconds in your mouth, this is short lived. This is why the longer your chew (especially with starchy, or bready foods), the better. Gives your digestion a head start. Then it travels into your 

Stomach: The acid in your stomach actually shuts off these enzymes from your mouth, preventing them from working further. This means, that carbs are not digested at all in your stomach (boring!). They just wait there until they enter your

Small Intestine: Enzymes (lots of them!) are released here to really break down all the carbs you have just eaten. How fast this occurs depends on the type of carbs you just ate. I think most people have heard of simple vs complex carbohydrates. But what does this actually mean? Actually, it goes back to molecular chemistry (yay chemistry!) So get ready for some science talk real quick: 

Technically all carbs you eat contain a small sugar molecule called glucose. It doesn’t matter if its a candy bar, an apple or a piece of bread. They all contain glucose. What differs between them is the amount of glucose and how glucose is arranged. 

It can be just 1 or 2 glucose molecules together, or glucose can be with another sugar, like fructose. These tiny sugar molecules are what are classified as Simple sugars. Because they are only a few of them with only 1 or 2 bonded together, they are “simple.”

Table sugar (sucrose) for example, is 1 glucose molecule attached to 1 fructose molecule. Or lactose (like in milk products) are 1 glucose molecule and 1 galactose molecule (another type of sugar) bonded together. Since, these are small molecules, it doesn’t take any effort to digest them. Your body absorbs these little guys very fast, since they are already small. 

What has simple sugars in them? Anything with table sugar (sucrose), high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, agave…..basically anything we would classify as “sugar.” It doesn’t take a lot of effort to digest these things because they are already small. So, the sugar gets absorbed into your blood stream very fast (high blood sugar).

Now imagine you have 1000’s of glucose molecules attached to one another. That’s a lot of glucose! These are your complex carbs. Much bigger molecules, compared to the simple ones that only have like 1 or 2 sugars, hence why they are “complex.” 

These complex carbs are found in your starchy foods (like wheat flours, bread products, potatoes, rice, etc). The enzymes can still break these down into tiny sugars because they are still technically sugar, just more of it. However, it will take longer to break down, because the molecules are bigger, but it still will happen. Once, they are broken down small enough, all these tiny sugars are also absorbed into your blood (high blood sugar). 

This is why if you were ever to measure your blood sugar after eating a candy bar vs. pasta, your blood sugar will be high. It doesn’t matter the source of the sugar, its all sugar and your body treats it the same way.

But if it doesn’t get broken down in the small intestine, the carbs end up going into the

Large Intestine: If you have eaten too much carby foods that your small intestine can’t break down, it is all is up the bacteria in your large intestine to handle. This is why people complain about bloating when they eat too much bread or pasta. That’s the bacteria having to eat all the leftover sugars, causing gas and discomfort (not fun!). 

Now what about fiber?

Fiber is technically a complex carb too. It contains 1000’s of glucose sugars (and maybe some other things too). However, the way the glucose molecules are attached is very different than they are for starches. The enzymes in your small intestine cannot break these molecules down because their bonds are too strong.

This is why we like fiber. Fiber doesn’t get broken down into tiny sugars, but just keeps moving through your digestive system. Because of this, it actually helps slow the process down, and gives your body a chance to break down other things more effectively, so they can be absorbed at slower pace (avoiding that high blood sugar spike!). It also attracts water to your intestines, helping things move along too. This is why you are told to eat fiber to help your digestion. It just helps to “keep things moving.” Which, is what you want. 

So, eating an apple vs. a candy bar is different because an apple contains fiber (and vitamins and other good stuff too!). The fiber in the apple slows the body’s ability to absorb sugar, delaying it from entering your blood. However, the sugar from the candy bar just absorbs directly into your blood (blood sugar spike!), plus it has no other nutrients. Yes, you are still getting sugar from both, but since an apple has other helpful things in it, its actually better for you.

The same principle applies to white bread vs. whole grain brain. The whole grains still have their fiber intact (plus other nutrients!), and the white bread does not.

Now what?

All the sugar you eat, whether its from a simple (sugar) form or a complex (starch) form, enters your liver. Your liver than decides on what to do with it. It sends some to your bloodstream to be used by your body for energy. It stores some of it (for when you need energy later), or it converts it to fat.

You body only needs so much for energy purposes. And your body will never waste anything, it thinks it can use later. It loves to store fat. That is why any extra sugar you eat, will get converted to fat. That’s just your body’s survival mechanism. Unfortunately, this fat (too much of it over time), can lead to problems, like obesity, heart disease and diabetes. This is why we need to be careful.

So, how do you know if you are eating enough carbs, or too much? Well, first: Are you gaining excess weight (or having trouble losing excess weight)? Do you feel bloated or uncomfortable after eating something that is too sugary or carby? Do you get “sugar highs” and then “sugar crashes?” Another symptom, I’ve noticed is heart palpitations after eating too much sugar. Too much sugar can also wreck havoc with your hormones (leading to acne, or even fertility problems overtime). Brain fog, poor sleep, and just lack of energy are also signs of too much sugar. Basically,  you need to watch your physical symptoms after you eat. Everyone is different and there isn’t a one size fits all. The best way is really to just pay attention to your body’s cues. If you think you are eating too much, cut back and see what happens. (Be careful because your body can literally go through a sugar detox, which can take some days to work through). Also, if you cut back on carbs, your body will be looking for an energy source: healthy fats or protein need to be added to compensate. 

If you still are unsure, let me know! That’s my job is to help. Unfortunately our society makes eating healthy very difficult. It’s also a very sugary world out there. I can help you navigate it.

What’s your experience with eating carbohydrates or sugar? Do you feel low carb is better for you? How do you navigate this sugar world? I’d love to hear your experience!

 

June Newsletter

Hi Friends,

So, June is over, but I technically started this letter a few days ago and then life got in the way a bit, and I didn’t send it out, so let’s pretend its still June, haha.

In baby news, I am one week away from being officially in my third trimester!! I can’t believe how fast this year is going. (Also, I feel so huge already and I still have 3 months left!!, which freaks me out, no joke). We have started the process of getting his room ready. Majority of the the stuff that was in there, got relocated /stored (or rather, threw into a box that went into attic). We also bought the paint and supplies. I don’t want anything too “baby” or “blue” just because he’s a boy, so we are keeping a rather neutral theme (walls are going to be light gray), but then add in some fun details along the way. I’ll post pictures on IG, when its all done.

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I am halfway through my health coaching program, so excited!! I have learned so much already and I cannot wait to help people and spread my knowledge! This past month, we focused a lot on digestive issues, like gluten-sensitivity and how the microbiome plays such a fundamental role in our health. Also a lot about autoimmune diseases, allergies, food sensitives and leaky gut, and how nutrition plays such a huge role in helping people with these types of ailments too. Very interesting stuff.

I have thought all month about what to include in this month’s newsletter. I was thinking about getting back to basics.

Since “gut health” has been getting a lot of attention these days. For good reason though. Like many things, I have seen that many people still don’t have a good understanding of how our digestive system works and how it’s literally tied to our health. So,

 

“What’s up with gut health?” 

We have about four major organs involved in our digestion system (there are other helper organs, but let’s keep things simple): Mouth, Stomach, Small Intestine and Large intestine. 
I think we all have a rough idea of how each work, but there are some things that I have found teaching the digestive system in class that many people don’t realize exactly how each work. 

1. Mouth. Yes, you taste and chew food (hopefully!). But in addition to chewing, there are actually enzymes in your saliva that already begin breaking down food further. So, the longer food hangs out in your mouth, the better, because in addition to chewing it, the enzymes (especially ones for carbs) are actually breaking things down on a molecular level as well. 

Quick explanation of an enzyme: Its a protein. It looks like pac-man (yes, like the video game). It has a mouth and everything. You have thousands of enzymes in your body (not just in your digestive system). They are molecules that make your body more efficient by making new molecules and also by breaking apart other molecules.  

Ok, back to to digestion.

2. Stomach. The big takeaway for the stomach is that it contains hydrochloric acid (which is crazy acidic, think pH 1-2, it would burn your skin if you touch it). The acidity of your stomach is so crucial for making sure proteins get broken down, pathogens get destroyed, and smaller food molecules can broken down. If the pH changes at all, these things just won’t happen. What could throw the pH off: Medicines (like an antacid…or others), bad food choices and even age can play a role. 

Side note: The pH scale is not linear, so even minor changes in the actual number, are actually big changes (The difference between pH 1 and pH 2 is 100 fold). So it’s a big deal if something affects that number. 
3. Small Intestine: This is where majority of your digestion happens. There are lots of enzymes here waiting to break things apart as small as possible. One enzyme for each job. Again, these enzymes are dependent on the pH of your small intestine (which is actually basic, pH 6-8). So, if somethings messes with that number, they won’t work.  Their job is to break things down as small as possible to get absorbed in the cells of your small intestine. Nutrients can only enter your body (for their destined purpose) if they are absorbed. No absorption = nutrients are useless. THIS is why they talk about the health of your gut being important. You could eat all the good things in the world, but if your small intestine does not absorb them, it’s pointless because they aren’t actually entering your body. The key thing here is to make sure your small intestine works properly. If the walls of your small intestine are damaged (from meds, bad food choices, allergies, disease, etc), nutrients will have a hard time getting absorbed OR the wrong things will slip by (creating even more havoc..aka “leaky gut”). 

4. Large Intestine. Everything that did not get broken down (and absorbed) by this point, ends up here. The major player here is bacteria! There are no enzymes here, only bacteria. The bacteria in your large intestine has been a big focus lately and there is a lot of research being done on it that is basically telling us, these little guys are doing A LOT. In addition to helping us break down food, they are linked to our mental health, autoimmune diseases and to our overall health in general. They even believe that these little guys are talking to our nervous system about other things. Isn’t that crazy? This is why you have seen an emergence in probiotics, fermented foods, and just gut health in general. What throws them off: meds (like antibiotics), bad food choices, chemicals, etc. 

So, what did we learn? A lot of things can throw off our body’s ability to digest food properly: too much medicine (especially antibiotics and antacids), wrong food choices and too much exposure to chemicals.  If we don’t absorb our nutrients properly, they won’t actually get into our bloodstream to go to the cells in our body. If we throw off the bacteria, it can lead to a whole cascade of problems that are linked to depression, brain fog, fatigue, autoimmune diseases, hormone imbalances, allergies, and basically so many things. 

Most of people’s “issues” are linked to bad digestion (improper nutrient absorption), but don’t realize it. If you suspect this may be the case for you, let me know and I can help your correct it. 

Arbonne’s nutrition program is also programmed to fix digestion too. Most people see it as a way to lose weight, but really you lose weight because your digestion is being fixed! Win win! I see now how powerful their program is to helping people fix a lot of problems…all stemming from digestive issues!! This program is perfect for people who don’t know where to start, work better with a support system, or just like being told what to do, because you get all the tools you need to be successful at it, like recipes and a support system! 

 

Super easy, quick,”real” pickle

Does anyone else love pickles, like I do? I don’t even think this is necessary a pregnancy thing either. I always loved them. I recently found out that pickles are a good way of adding more fermented foods into your diet to feed the good bacteria. However, those vinegar ones we generally buy in the store, don’t count! You have to make “real” ones. I found this super simple way to make them and I’m already on my 3rd batch this month. 

You just need a clean jar, veggies to pickle (like cucumbers, if staying conventional), salt, dill (dried or fresh) and one garlic clove. 

The amount of water and salt you need depends on the size jar you have. But for a regular sized one: Mix in 1-2 tab salt into 2 cups filtered water (you are making a brine).  Its ok, if salt settles to the bottom. 

Cut up veggies and shove into jar with the garlic and about 1 tsp dried dill (or 1 tab fresh). Pour in brine. Place (don’t tighten, keep lose) lid on top of jar. Place jar in a dark place in your kitchen (like in a cabinet). Let sit for at about 3 days. 

That’s it! You should see tiny bubbles and cloudiness, and of course they should taste like pickles. If anything smells or tastes off, throw away and try again. Store in fridge. 

These are for dill flavored ones, but you can totally change up the flavorings to your liking! Let me know if you try them! 

 

Lia’s Favorite Product of the Month

In keeping with today’s theme, I figured it made sense to showcase Arbonne’s Digestion Plus. This is a supplement, so it will not replace a bad diet, no matter what. Its job is to “supplement.” But if you are doing the 30 days clean eating program (which in itself improves your digestion), or already feel your eats are good,  it’s a nice compliment. What I love about it is that it contains the trifecta: probiotics (good bacteria), prebiotics (food for the bacteria) and enzymes! It also contains other natural things to help like chicory, peppermint and chamomile. Its safe to use everyday, and I think it tastes really good, sort of like unsweetened tea.

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It comes in single serving packets (really easy to travel with). I tend to be really lazy about it and eat it like pixie stick, and then chase it with water (haha), but you can do it the real way and mix with water too. Some people also mix it in their smoothies or with a fizz stick. I make little “shots” of it for my husband to drink, because he’s lazy like me and prefers to shoot it, haha.

 

Happenings

I wrote two blog posts this month about what my time in Vegas and also my top 5 personal development books that have really helped me. Both posts are very personal to me and took me a while to write, so check them out! 

My health coaching business is almost ready to go live! Yay!! If you would like a free health consult with me, I would love to talk to you! It can be via phone, video chat, or in person! Or, if you know of anyone, just send them my way too!

Follow me here! Instagram @balancedlifewithlia

Arbonne products can be seen here!    Liaplaner.arbonne.com

And if you are interested in a deeper discount on products, want some extra cash, an extra income stream to “take the load off” or just a fun thing to do! Arbonne is letting people sign up to be consultants this summer for only $49!
That’s insane! Very few places where you can literally have your own business for the cost of a dinner out! Let me know if you have any questions about this or anything!