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Carbohydrates are basic in the diet of children and adults. Perhaps you already know that they provide us with energy, contribute to good intestinal health, are a source of fiber and are the main nutrient of the brain, among other benefits.
What you may not know is that there are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. We explain the differences between the two and tell you how many carbohydrates should children take of each of the varieties and in which foods they are found.
Carbohydrates are made up of more or less long chains of sugars, monosaccharides, such as glucose or galactose, disaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides, such as starch or cellulose.
We find two types of carbohydrates:
- Fast absorption or simple carbohydrates.
- Slow absorption or complex carbohydrates.
Rapidly absorbed carbohydrates are made up of small molecules, monosaccharides and / or disaccharides, among which honey, sugar, fruit juices or refined flours and their derivatives stand out. These carbohydrates are quickly absorbed because their digestion, which consists of dividing them into smaller molecules that the cells can use, does not place a great effort on the enzymes of the digestive tract.
You do not want your child's diet to contain more than 10% simple carbohydrates, without counting those that come from milk and dairy products (lactose) or fruit (fructose), although they should not exceed the consumption of these, and should limit the consumption of fruits rich in sugar, such as grapes, bananas or cherries, in favor of others that are not so rich, such as strawberries or oranges.
By contrast, slow-absorbing carbohydrates, made up of large molecules that must divide in the intestine to release simple molecules, They are characterized by the fact that glucose is absorbed slowly, and insulin secretion is gradual, without causing ups and downs, which is ideal for children. With a diet that provides complex carbohydrates, children will receive energy throughout the day, and is not that what we are looking for?
In fact, with the complex carbohydrates present in pasta, rice or potatoes, the body does not have to deal with surpluses, so the cells absorb glucose as they need it and release energy in the same way, as needed. Legumes are also a source of complex carbohydrates, especially chickpeas, whose glycemic index is very low and their absorption speed is very slow, also providing proteins and B vitamins.
Another benefit of these complex carbohydrates is the insoluble fiber that they usually provide, especially whole grains and legumes, and which helps the proper functioning and transit of food through the digestive system, in addition to facilitating self-regulation of the microbial ecosystem to maintain its balance.
The consumption of foods rich in slow-absorbing carbohydrates should be 80-90% of the total consumed daily. If insulin secretion rises unexpectedly and suddenly, as occurs with the consumption of simple carbohydrates or high glycemic index, the cells receive more glucose than necessary, causing excess energy that ends up being stored in the liver as glycogen. Once this reservoir is full, the excess glucose accumulates in the form of fat, so by offering simple carbohydrates to our children, we open the way to overweight and obesity.
You can read more articles similar to How many carbohydrates should children eat, in the Infant Nutrition On-Site category.