Refined carbs can be delicious. They’re light, and fluffy and often come coated in sugar or other tasty toppings. However, while they may be tempting, refined carbs can be dangerous to your health. In fact, the dangers of refined carbs can be so gross, resulting in chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, among others.

Studies have shown that refined carbs can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of obesity, which are risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.

They can also raise your blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes. And if that wasn’t enough, refined carbs have been linked to low energy levels and poor productivity.

See, How To Avoid Processed Foods and Acidic Foods To Avoid

Let’s take a closer look at the effects of refined carbs on the body.

loaf of white bread on wooden background

What Are Refined Carbs?

Refined carbs are simple sugars that have been obtained from their primary source through too much processing. They can exist in two forms: processed sugar like table sugar, agave syrup, and high fructose corn syrup or processed grains.

Refined grains or processed grains are those that have been stripped of their natural fiber and nutrients. This happens when they’re milled, which is a process that removes the bran and germ from grains. 

What’s left is the starchy endosperm, which is then bleached and refined even further. This results in a product that’s much lower in nutrient density than its whole-grain counterpart.

Refined carbs have had much of their nutritional value removed, making them less healthful than unrefined carbs. They tend to be high in calories but low in important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. For these reasons, eating too many refined carbs can raise your glucose levels which can lead to weight gain and health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Refined carbs are found in many processed foods, such as white bread, white rice, pastries, and sugary drinks.

They can also be added to other foods to make them more palatable, like in frosting or candy coating, granola bars, some cereals, and yogurt.

The Dangers Of Refined Carbs

1. Weight gain

Processed carbs are high in sugar and calories, which can lead to weight gain. When you eat processed carbs, your body breaks them down into glucose, or blood sugar, which is then used for energy. 

However, if you consume more processed carbs than your body needs for energy, the excess glucose is stored as fat.

Processed carbs also cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving you feeling hungry and craving more carbs. This can lead to overeating (which in most cases will be unhealthy foods) and weight gain. 

In addition, processed carbs can cause inflammation in the body, which has been linked to obesity.

So if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to limit your intake of processed carbs. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains whenever possible, and opt for fresh fruits and vegetables rather than sugary fruit juices or snacks.

2. Increased inflammation

Inflammation is a natural process that helps our bodies heal. But when it becomes chronic, it can lead to a whole host of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. So how do processed carbs cause inflammation?

When we eat processed carbs, they are quickly broken down into sugar molecules called glucose. Glucose then enters our bloodstream and triggers a release of the hormone insulin from the pancreas. Insulin helps move glucose from the bloodstream into our cells, where it can be used for energy or stored for later use.

However, if we eat too many processed carbs or if we’re insulin resistant, our blood sugar levels can stay high and trigger a continuous release of insulin from the pancreas, which may result in an inflammatory response. Over time, this constant state of inflammation can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. See 13 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods Superfoods To Consume.

3. Constipation

Constipation is a common problem affecting people of all ages. It’s a condition in which you have fewer than three bowel movements in a week. Your stool may be hard and dry, making it difficult to pass. Constipation can cause bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. It can also lead to more serious problems like hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse.

There are many possible causes of constipation, including a diet low in fiber, lack of exercise, and not drinking enough water. See Foods That Cause Constipation

Refined carbs have had their fiber stripped, so they can’t provide enough to prevent constipation.

Fiber is essential for proper bowel function and helps keep things moving along smoothly. Without enough fiber, the digestive system can slow down and become sluggish, leading to constipation. 

Also, processed carbs can interfere with the absorption of water in the intestines. When the body doesn’t have enough water, it can’t properly break down food and eliminate waste. This can lead to hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. 

Besides, people that consume too many refined carbs also tend to neglect other essential health habits like drinking water. Instead, they are likely to prefer a can of soda which dehydrates the body even more, making constipation worse.

Finally, processed carbs can also disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, which again can lead to constipation. This imbalance can lead to inflammation and an overgrowth of bad bacteria, which can further contribute to digestive problems, including indigestion and constipation.

4. Insulin Resistance And Increased Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, a hormone that moves glucose from the blood into the cells to be used for energy. 

In people with insulin resistance, the body’s cells cannot use insulin properly. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being used for energy.

This can lead to various issues, including type 2 diabetes. In fact, insulin resistance is a major cause of type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not make enough insulin, or the body cells do not use insulin properly. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood leading to health issues.

Refined carbs are often quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a sharp spike in blood sugar levels. This causes the body to release more insulin than it would if you were eating a complex carb like a whole grain. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance, making your cells less responsive to insulin, and causing blood sugar levels to be out of control. How To Increase Insulin Sensitivity Naturally

5. Weakens the immune system

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from infection. It recognizes and destroys foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It also helps the body recover from illness and injury by repairing damaged tissue.

Diet plays a key role in keeping your immune system strong, and refined carbs like white flour and sugar can disrupt the delicate balance of your immune system. This is because they cause your blood sugar levels to rise too high, which causes inflammation and weakens the body’s ability to fight off infection and disease. 10 Foods That Boost The Immune System

6. Refined carbs can increase LDL cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is a type of lipid, or fat, that is found in all cells of the body. It is used to produce hormones and vitamin D.

There are two main types of cholesterol: HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). HDL cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries and transports it to the liver, where it can be broken down and eliminated from the body. LDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it can build up in the arteries and cause blockages that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Eating too many refined carbs can cause your body to make more LDL (bad) cholesterol and less HDL (good) cholesterol. This can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries, which can increase your risk for heart disease.

If you have high cholesterol or are at risk for it, limit the number of refined carbs you eat. Choose whole-grain bread and cereals, brown rice, and other unprocessed grains instead. These foods will give you more fiber and nutrients while helping to keep your blood sugar and cholesterol levels in check. How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally.

7. It may increase the risk of depression

Refined carbs cause a spike in blood sugar levels, leading to dopamine release in the brain. This gives people a temporary “high” that can be addictive. Over time, this addiction can lead to changes in the brain that make it harder for people to feel pleasure from other things (such as healthy foods or activities). This can lead to depression and other mental health problems.

Additionally, refined carbs are often void of nutrients that are essential for brain health. This means that people who eat a lot of refined carbs are at an increased risk for nutrient deficiencies, which can also lead to depression and other mental health problems. Tips For Better Mental Health

8. Causes fatty liver disease

Fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat is stored in your liver. This can be caused by several things, including obesity, drinking too much alcohol, and insulin resistance. 

Refined carbs can contribute to fatty liver disease by causing insulin resistance. When your body becomes resistant to insulin, it can’t effectively remove sugar from your blood. Instead, insulin resorts to its second function, converting the blood glucose into fat and storing it in the body, especially in the midsection and around the internal organs, including the liver.

Over time, this can lead to a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is exactly what it sounds like: a buildup of fat in your liver that’s not caused by alcohol consumption.

NAFLD is a serious problem that can lead to inflammation and scarring of the liver, which can eventually lead to liver failure. So, cutting back on refined carbs is a must if you’re struggling with fatty liver disease. Signs You May Have A Bad Liver.

9. Increases cellular aging

Cellular aging is a process that occurs naturally over time. However, certain lifestyle choices can promote cellular aging, including the consumption of refined carbs.

The surge of sugar associated with refined carbs can react with protein in the body and promote the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are damaging compounds that contribute to the premature aging of cells.

A study published in the journal Nature found that refined carbs can cause cells to age prematurely. The study found that when cells are exposed to refined carbs, they produce more free radicals, which can damage DNA, leading to cell death.

The study’s authors say that the findings could have implications for public health, as refined carbs are a major component of the Western diet. They say that reducing the intake of refined carbs could also reduce the risk of age-related diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Healthy Aging

female reading label

How To Eliminate Refined Carbs From The Diet

If you’re looking to eliminate refined carbs from your diet, there are a few simple steps you can take.

1. Avoid processed foods: This is the number one rule for eating healthy in general. Processed foods are loaded with refined carbs, as well as unhealthy fats and artificial ingredients. Stick to whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible.

2. Read labels: When you’re grocery shopping, take a moment to read the nutrition labels on the food you’re considering buying. Look for products that are high in fiber and low in sugar.

3. Limit sugary drinks: Sugary beverages like soda, energy drinks, and fruit juices are another major source of refined carbs. If you’re trying to cut down on refined carbs, limiting or eliminating these drinks can make a big difference.

4. Choose whole grains: When it comes to carbohydrates, not all types are created equal. Whole grains contain more fiber and nutrients than refined carbs, making them a better choice for your health. Choose options like brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice or pasta.

5. Fill up on vegetables: Vegetables are naturally low in carbohydrates and high in nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

6. Limit sugary snacks and desserts: Things like candy, cake, and cookies are high in sugar and calories but low in nutritional value. If you have a sweet tooth, try satisfying your cravings with healthier alternatives like fruit or raisins.

Final Thoughts

Refined carbs are a type of carbohydrate stripped of all its natural nutrients and fiber through processing. This causes them to quickly elevate glucose levels once consumed.

Sustained high blood glucose levels can result in different health conditions, including weight gain, insulin resistance, and type II diabetes. 

If you are currently eating a lot of refined carbs, make sure to cut back and replace them with healthier options such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Your body will thank you for it!

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