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Fighting Sugar Addiction - Good and Bad Carbohydrates At War
Author: Cindy Lewis

Copyright 2006 Cindy Lewis

When did we all start counting carbs? After all, a basket of bread has long been the first dish to circle the dinner table. And how long have potatoes, rice and pasta been favorites in every meal?

Whether it's home fries with your eggs, rice with your beans, or a big plate of spaghetti, we love carbs and many people find themselves addicted to sugar.

Some researchers believe our society is paying the cost for all those carbs with diabetes on the rise and folks just getting fatter and fatter. If that's not confusing enough, some researchers are telling us that there are good carbs and bad carbs. So which is which?

Although the USDA maintains a food guide pyramid with 6-11 servings of bread, pasta, rice, and cereal at the base, diet gurus are shouting cut the carbs - particularly the bad ones, and America is apparently faithfully paying attention.

In a recent SG Poll on low-carb diets, 81% said they were following a low-carb diet. Skeptics may call it a fad, but the industry of low-carb eating is well established and getting bigger.

Are they wrong? Is it a money making scam?

They're definitely raking in the cash, but scientifically, it all comes down to what scientists came up with 20 years ago called the glycemic index (GI). Here's how it works:

When you eat carbs, your body converts them from starches to sugar molecules, which are either burned or stored. The faster carbs are broken down by the digestive system, the quicker your blood sugar will go up thus the higher the GI.

For example, white bread breaks down rapidly, while apples take a little longer. The theory is that when your blood sugar shoots up quickly, your metabolism is affected. The body then responds with a surge of insulin, which causes the sugar to be stored in muscle and fat.

A hormone that normally tells the body to burn it's stored fuel, is inhibited by the high sugar. Your blood sugar then decreases dramatically, leaving you hungry again in just an hour or so.

Sounds simple? Not, really. GI only measures the carbohydrate in food. So the GI can be deceiving. For example, a carrot has a high GI, but contains little carbs. Despite the high GI, the blood sugar is hardly affected. That's where glycomic load comes in, which is the GI multiplied by the amount of carb in a serving. A carrot has a glycomic load of 3 and a baked potato is 26.

Big difference.

It will probably take more time and more extensive studies to prove this theory and convince some of the more traditional nutritionists.

At this point, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) nor the American Heart Association recommend following the glycemic index as a weight-loss program. The ADA does agree that different foods have different glycemic responses, but they believe that first priority should be given to the amount of carbs consumed instead of the source of the carbs.

It should also be mentioned that research does not reflect what the glycemic responses are in combinations of foods, only single foods. Most people have more than one food on their plate at mealtime.

The bottom line is that highly refined foods, like sugared cereals, white bread and the like, are generally horribly bad carbs. Good carbs are raw, unprocessed foods like pears, oatmeal and the like.

Even while the nutritionists fight over the details, it is still a great idea to avoid the bad carbs and embrace the good carbs. It makes for a healthy lifestyle.

Living sugar free doesn't have to be boring, at first it may take a little more creativity to stay satisfied but the longer you go without feeding your sugar addiction, the easier it is to stay fit. The best part is that you can start now and be on your way in no time at all.

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More from Cindy Lewis on her gourmet sugar free recipes can be found at www.501sugarfreerecipes.com as she shares her good sense diet and weight loss tips that took took her from overweight and unhappy to fit and trim.

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