All of us living the Low Carb lifestyle use the words carbohydrate, sugar, and starch on a daily basis. But although we use the words freely, not everyone is clear on just what those words mean, how the substances relate to one another, or how they relate to other things we eat.
The idea that starch or fat can be blocked from digestion appears to be an appealing idea. For the past thirty or more years, these products have come to the forefront periodically with promises for a new generation of overweight people. Each time they come on the market, they offer up suggestions that you can eat what you want so long as you take their product. The product, so goes the promise, will protect you from the consequences of eating the blocked food group.
We’ve been talking about dieting and the history of diets. Most recently we looked at some of the herbal preparations that claim to help for obesity. In discussing herbal remedies, I reminded readers that just because these products are called herbs, and are considered to be “natural,” does not necessarily mean they are safe, and free from side effects. The herbs may, in fact, be safe at usual and customary dosages and amounts, but you should don’t merely assume they are because they seem to be related to parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme!
In my last article, I discussed the development of the diet pill phenomenon. This brilliant marketing strategy changed the course of the medical treatment for obesity by grouping together different kinds of drugs that might (or might not, for that matter) have some relation to weight loss, and then selling the patient all the drugs at once. The plan was enormously lucrative for the drug companies who manufactured the chemicals, and also for the so-called “fat doctors” who prescribed them. But before we put all the blame on the drug companies and the doctors, we must face a certain reality. The public was very willing to hear the message that overweight can be treated with chemicals.
In my last column, we followed sugars and starches through the trail of digestion. We followed the carbohydrate foods through the mouth and down to the upper part of the bowel as they were broken into simple sugars by the action of enzymes produced in the mouth, the stomach, and the small intestine.
As we have discussed in previous articles, digestible carbohydrates must be brought to the simple sugar stage before they can be absorbed. And, as we have learned, this is done in the mouth, stomach, and small intestines by digestion via the action of enzymes in a process called hydrolysis, which involves break down by the removal of water. When the sugars have reached the small intestines, no matter what carbohydrates are the source, they have all become simple sugars. The sugars diffuse through the selective membranes of the small intestines, and then enter the blood.