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Health Effects of the Excessive Consumption of Carbohydrates

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  • 0:01 Carbohydrates
  • 0:28 Type 2 Diabetes
  • 1:52 Dental Caries
  • 2:37 Obesity
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Excessive consumption of carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates and added sugars, can lead to negative health effects. Learn how type 2 diabetes, dental caries and obesity are linked to the overconsumption of carbohydrates in this lesson.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate-rich foods are a great source of energy, and many of them provide vitamins and minerals your body needs for good health. So, you might be thinking if some carbohydrates are good, more must be better! Well, the 'more is always better' rule is not the best one to apply when it comes to carbohydrates. In this lesson, we'll take a look at some of the health effects that come with the overconsumption of carbs.

Type 2 Diabetes

Carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of energy. When you eat carbs they break down into glucose, which is the simple sugar your body and brain use for energy. Glucose gets absorbed out of your digestive tract and into your bloodstream. Your body closely regulates how much glucose is allowed to stay in your blood. When there's too much, it calls on insulin, which is a hormone secreted by your pancreas to move glucose out of your blood, to address the problem. This system works nicely in healthy individuals, but this is not the case in a person with type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a disorder involving high blood sugar levels. In this condition, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Because insulin's job is to move glucose out of the blood, having too little means that blood sugar is able to linger in your bloodstream and this raises your blood sugar level.

Type 2 diabetes has been linked to the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates, which include white breads, pasta and many packaged snack foods. These types of carbs digest quickly and cause a rush of glucose into the blood. This increases the body's need for insulin and it's theorized that this higher demand wears out the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas leading to the onset of the disease.

Dental Caries

Dental caries are cavities formed by the destruction of the hard tissues of the teeth. You probably refer to them by their common name, cavities, but it's easy to remember the medical term if you recall that dental refers to teeth and caries is the Latin word for decay. They occur when bacteria on your teeth metabolize carbohydrates. This leaves behind an acid, which sits on your teeth, slowly destroying the hard enamel covering and underlying structures of the tooth, much like acid rain chips away at a statue over time. Dental carries are commonly associated with the overconsumption of refined carbs and added sugar because these are the easiest carbs for the bacteria to break down into acids.

Obesity

Weight gain is often blamed on carbohydrates, yet not all carbs deserve this blame. For example, foods that provide unrefined carbohydrates and high amounts of fiber, such as vegetables, beans and whole grains can actually promote weight loss. These carbs are very filling and slow down digestion, which makes you feel satisfied on less food. The troublesome carbs, when it comes to weight gain and obesity, are the refined carbohydrates that have been processed and stripped of fiber. These carbs cause a rapid rise in blood glucose, which we learned earlier stimulates the release of insulin. Insulin promotes fat storage by moving excess glucose out of the blood and into your fat cells.

Some people turn to artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and aspartame, as a way to reduce the amount of refined carbs and sugars they consume. When artificial sweeteners are used in place of the added sugars in your diet, they can help reduce cavities and manage blood sugar levels. However, there is some debate as to whether or not artificial sweeteners are helpful for weight loss. If the calories saved by using the artificial sweeteners are added back into the diet from other foods, then body weight will not decrease.

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