Could You Be Sensitive to Carbohydrates?

As a practicing clinician, I often see people who are carbohydrate sensitive or intolerant.

Carbohydrate intolerance is when the small intestine has trouble processing carbohydrate (which includes sugars and starches) into a source of energy for the body. Many times, it happens because of a deficiency or decline in the enzymes needed for digestion.

People who are sensitive or intolerant to carbs may gain unexpected pounds from consuming all the recommended high-complex carbohydrates that are touted for their high fiber content and nutrition. These healthy carbs include brown rice, wild rice, whole wheat breads, pastas, wraps, crackers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa and even some fruits. Some struggle with their health when they consume these foods too frequently or in moderate to larger amounts.

Not everyone will feel well and healthy eating too many of these starches, as these foods can cause irregular blood sugar levels, blood sugar highs and lows, afternoon slumps, foggy thoughts, poor concentration, muscle aches and pains and fatigue.

Some people are just not genetically geared to eat loads of starchy carbohydrates, particularly if they have functional hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, diabetes and easily gain weight. People who are also more sedentary will find these heavier starchy foods will contribute to easy weight gain.

Some symptoms that can be associated with carbohydrate intolerance:

  1. Afternoon slumps
  2. Fatigue, particularly after starchy meals
  3. Easy weight gain
  4. Increased appetite
  5. Sedentary lifestyle
  6. If you don’t eat regularly, you might experience dizziness, shakes or light-headedness
  7. High and low sugar levels or sit in the upper level of normal on blood tests
  8. Foggy thoughts, poor concentration, fatigue, particularly a few hours after a starchy meal

Do you feel better, experience weight loss and have more energy when you eat more green vegetables and less of these starchy carbohydrates? If so, you may be sensitive to carbohydrates and feel better eating lower carb vegetables with protein and healthy fats. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy a plant-based lifestyle and fresh juice.

It is important to note that some people can eat starchy carbs in larger quantities, digest, assimilate and consume these foods easily without ill effects and in-fact thrive on these foods, as we are all different.

So how does this fit in with juicing? It is important to note, that if you find that you do better eating less starchy carbs, remember that with juicing too.  You will want to make and consume juices that are lower in the sweeter ingredients and are predominately high in vegetables that are less sweet to taste. Think green juices with less sweet vegetables.

There are many low carbohydrate vegetables that can be consumed in a juice without it negatively impacting your sugar levels, energy or mood and in fact, can really offer many of the health benefits of juicing without the extra sugar that some may be sensitive to.

For me, I’ve always leaned heavily towards the less sweet juices and felt better with more greens.

One of the main keys to enjoying the benefits of a lower carbohydrate eating plan is the emphasis on vegetables and lots of them!! And less so of the starchy vegetables and whole grains.

Juices, smoothies and many plant-based meals are the key to this being beneficial and healthy while also enjoying all the plant compounds, potent antioxidants and micronutrients that are present particularly in the concentrated juices.

Choosing a vegetable dominant juice with only small serving of the sweeter vegetables such as sweet potato, carrot and beets and fruits with loads of the leafy greens and watery type green vegetables (like celery and cucumbers) will make your juices leaner.

Here are some great low sugar juices to enjoy!

You can also adjust some of the more popular and favorite juices to suit your own needs. For some, you may like to reduce the green apples in the all famous Mean Green and increase the green and very low sugar ingredients such as the celery, cucumber, parsley and kale.

Don’t forget the suggestion of the 80% vegetable and 20% fruit rule.

Vegetables that are low in sugar:

  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Fennel
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Spinach