Carbohydrate—The Dirty Word in Nutrition?
Carbohydrates or what most people refer to as “carbs,” have developed quite the negative reputation over the last decade. Often viewed as the saboteur of modern diet strategies, carbs have been vilified repeatedly for their lack of nutrition. But, not all carbohydrates are created equal and it’s easy to overlook the true role that carbohydrates play in the body—production of energy. And while fats can also be used for energy when absolutely necessary, avoiding carbs for any length of time can really start to slow the body down.
So, how can you balance carbohydrate intake to get the nutrients and energy you need, while also working to maintain a healthy balance? The answer lies in the power of carbohydrases or enzymes that hydrolyze carbohydrates. These enzymes play an important role in energy metabolism, as glucose is the primary energy source for the human body. Additionally, they can help alleviate gastric discomfort resulting from undigested carbohydrates, which often accompanies the ingestion of too many carbohydrate-rich or starchy foods.
The carbohydrase family includes enzymes such as glucoamylase that work together with the body’s endogenous amylase and supplemental amylase to potentiate the complete digestion of carbohydrate-rich foods. Also, the enzyme α-galactosidase is characterized by its ability to help digest indigestible sugars containing α-galactosyl groups that commonly occur in vegetables, especially in members of the legume and cruciferous families.
And while it’s always best to choose healthy carbs over empty carbs, aka; carbs from refined sugar with no nutritional value, there is actually an enzyme which works specifically in this instance—invertase. This enzyme is characterized by its ability to catalyze the inversion of sucrose solution and catalyzes the hydrolysis of sucrose into its component parts D-fructose and D-glucose. This action helps in the digestion of refined sugars that are common in modern diets. And it’s those modern diets that make it virtually impossible to avoid all refined sugar.
There’s a reality to be faced in the American diet and how precipitously unbalanced it can be most of the time. While the intent to eat healthy carbs or watch overall carb intake is there, it’s often difficult to pass up a dizzying array of tasty unhealthy ones. Regardless, getting the most nutrients out of your carb intake is a realistic goal with supplemental carbohydrase enzymes.
Takeaway— strive for balance, but prepare for the unexpected unhealthy carb to sneak into your day by using a carbohydrase enzyme supplement.